TIMARU and the South Canterbury Region.

South Canterbury's Aeronautical History
  • The exploits of inventor and aviator Richard Pearse are now more well known. Aside from achieving a mechanical takeoff flight prior to the Wright brothers, his concepts and inventions are still being used in modern aircarft.
  • In 1914 Will Scotland made the longest flight in NZ when he took off from Fraser Park (Timaru) on a flight to Christchurch.
  • The first airmail delivery in NZ was made on Scotland's flight when a parcel was dropped at Temuka.
  • A South Canterbury man was among the first group of pilots to graduate from the Wigram based flying school (Christchurch field now the RNZAF Museum) - later to fly with the Royal Flying Corps in WW1.
  • Pioneer passenger and freight services were operated between Timaru and Christchurch by the Christchurch Aviation Company from their base at 'Washdyke'.
  • An aircraft of the Canterbury Aviation Company was the first to survey the route between Invercargill and Auckland. On this flight two passengers were carried.
  • South Canterbury men were amongst the first to construct and fly a primary glider in the area.
  • The first successful flight over Mt Cook took off from and landed back at Washdyke airfield.
  • A Timaru man was one of the pioneers of commercial helicopter operations in New Zealand.
  • This same person was the first New Zealand pilot to undergo conversion to helicopters at a training school in the USA.
  • Local firms undertook pioneering development work in controlling pests by aerial poisoning and top dressing air.
  • Harry Wrigley, a noted local pilot, developed a set of skis for his Auster, which enabled him to take off from a hard surface and land on snow, then return. The 'ski-plane' was born!
  • Local pilots and engineers were amongst the first in NZ to construct and fly 'Gyrocopters'.
  • One of the Empire's most highly decorated and respected airmen, Lord Sam Elworthy, Marshal of the RAF was a South Canterbury man.
  • All the above have been achieved in an area which is primarily rural with a low population density.

Other intresting ‘things’.

Jack Lovelock Oak.

The New Zealand runner, Jack Lovelock won the gold at the Berlin Olympics in 1936 and as was the custom at this particular Olympic Games Gold Medal winners were presented with an Oak Tree seedling by none other than Adolf Hitler himself. Recently a historian researched this ‘event’ and discovered the known whereabouts of seven of these seedling presentations and one was in the grounds of Timaru Boys High School – Jack Lovelocks old school. It flourishes to this day as a mature oak.

The ‘entry city’ is Christchurch, although if you wish to tour prior to the event you can arrive into New Zealand at another city and then depart from Christchurch. Christchurch is home to the fabulous RNZAF museum at the old Wigram Air Force base and this should not be missed. In addition, for those who wish to explore more venues of a mechanical nature Christchurch also has the Ferrymead Technological museum.