Air

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New Zealand Birthday Party

1981 is the Golden Jubilee of the birth of that most famous of all vintage aeroplanes, the DH82 Tiger Moth, being observed all around the world. New Zealand is no exception, and a celebration was held in Hastings during the three-day Queen’s Birthday Weekend at the beginning of June.

Undeterred by the thought of a rally in the Antipodean winter, no fewer than 14 DH82As, the biggest turnout for many years, gathered with their enthusiast owners for a weekend of socialising, flying, and talking Tigers. A formation of 12 drew people outdoors when it flew over the twin cities of Hastings and Napier, and thousands arrived at the aerodrome in the afternoon for an impromptu display of aerobatics and mild competitions.

Tiger Moths were made in their hundreds in New Zealand during WW2 as part of the Ernpire Training Scheme, so their survival as the country’s most numerous vintage type is no great surprise. However, their use in the 1950s in pioneering the aerial topdressing industry led to the demise of many, so the building-up from spares and derelict airframes will still be going on for some time. About 20 are currently active, or nearly so, with probably more than that number again still registered and potentially airworthy in the future.

Apart from the high cost of flying and scarcity of suitable fuel for Gipsy Major engines, New Zealand is a country admirably suited to sport and vintage aviation. Large expanses of uncluttered airspace, abundant friendly aerodromes, and a usually benign but sometimes fickle climate, all add to the enjoyment. – J.R.K.

Air Miscellany

A 1:24-scale model of a 1909 De Havilland biplane, made by R.A. Burgess, and a scale model of a circa-1916 Short 184 seaplane were auctioned in Durham last June. Aeroplane Monthly for July carried some interesting photographs of calamities involving aeroplanes from Brooklands, one of which was a Short Scion which crashed at Porthcawl, a long haul for the Brooklands Aviation Ford truck sent to retrieve it, and another was of R.G.J. Nash’s Bleriot XXVII monoplane that came to grief on a test flight across the aerodrome; Nash was not much hurt and this historic aeroplane is now in the RAF Museum at Hendon. At the time Motor Sport published an account of how Dick Nash and Dick Shuttleworth went about the search for historic aeroplanes.

Ronald King, author of the official history of Gatwick Airport, has been trying to contact anyone who remembers the late Ronald Waters who, with his partner John Mockford, founded the flying club in 1930 that occupied the site of today’s Gatwick Airport complex. Apparently he sold the Club in 1932 to the Redwing aeroplane people, makers of the Robinson Redwing light biplane, who disposed of the site for £13,500 in 1933. The founders of the Gatwick Flying Club, as we have said before, used an old AC Six two-seater to tow the grass-cutter. – W.B.

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