Posted by Allan Vester on Jul 20, 2018

Local Aeronautical Icon and British Motor Car Enthusiast Visits Pakuranga Rotary

Monday’s meeting featured the Reverend Dr Richard Waugh a noted expert and author on New Zealand aviation history. In a topic entitled, Pioneer Airlines That Changed New Zealand, Richard gave an informative and entertaining history of the development and importance of commercial air travel.

With early aviators starting flying locally early in the 20th century by 1930 NZ had its first commercial flights running between Christchurch and Dunedin. This service lasted just three months as attracting passengers to travel in what seemed a very risky way was difficult. December 1934 saw a Fox Moth providing a regular service from Hokitika on the West Coast followed shortly by an airline operating a De Haviland Dragon.

These airlines showed the enormous benefits in term of travel times with the Gisborne to Napier trip being nine hours by road but only fifty minutes by air. As a long and narrow country, with a rugged topography and with the two main islands divided by the Cook Strait New Zealand was well suited to travel by air. New airlines continued to be created and by 1939 New Zealand had a network of air routes that was very sophisticated by international standards.

This continued to grow with a succession of what are now iconic aircraft; DC 3, Vickers Viscount, Fokker Friendship, and Boeing 737 with travel times getting ever shorter, more comfortable, cheaper and passengers more casually dressed.

Richard has been actively involved in the establishment of monuments to remember the victims of air accidents and noted that between 1930 and 1963 seventy three people died in commercial airline accidents, a human cost in the development of aviation. A memorial for the victims in the Erebus disaster is now planned.

At the same time he reported that in 19,821 crossings of Cook Strait in a twin engine De Haviland Dominie there was no accidents and not one engine failure. Similarly, there have been no ditching or fatalities in commercial flights between New Zealand and Australia.

The presentation ended with a report on the Auckland Brit and Euro Classic Car show which is held at the Lloyd Elsmore Park . Starting in 2014 this event has grown rapidly with Richard hoping to have 1000 cars and 12,000 spectators for the 2019 event.