Specialists in research and writing about early New Zealand airlines.

New Zealand's First Airline

by Richard J.Waugh

New Zealand’s first licensed airline to fly scheduled services, operated the Hokitika to Haast route on the scenic West Coast of the South Island. Air Travel (NZ) Ltd was launched in 1934 by legendary pilot Bert Mercer, the first Kiwi to achieve 10,000 flying hours. The airline also pioneered airmail, air-ambulance, alpine tourist flying and versatile freight work.

Illustrated by many rare photographs this book tells the story of de Havilland Fox Moths, Dragonflies and Dominies and how these biplanes became indispensable to the isolated people of South Westland. The sturdy fabric covered, wooden and wire aircraft flew in demanding weather, mostly fully loaded, to landing strips on beaches, riverbeds and in the bush. After Mercer’s tragic death, National Airways Corporation (NAC) and West Coast Airways continued the air service with Chief Pilots Norm Suttie, Frank Molloy and Brian Waugh.

The world’s longest running de Havilland biplane air service lasted until 1967; an unforgettable mix of excitement and routine, romance and tragedy, ably demonstrating the growing role of aviation for ordinary New Zealanders.

Over 250 photographs and items of memorabilia (70 in full colour) 152 pages.

Craig Printing Co, Invercargill, 2009. See Order page for price and how to order.

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updated 21st January 2010

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