New Zealand Airshow Display Teams

 
Central Flying School
Wigram Team

 

 

The Central Flying School Wigram Team

This team formed in February 1948 with three aircraft . They flew for a season, including a display, perhaps only for the RNZAF Wigram photographer, on the 23rd of September 1948 where two of the Harvards, NZ1051 and NZ1089, were tethered together by a rope attached to their wingtips - real precision flying. The team disbanded after the season, but were reinstated in 1953, this time with just two aircraft. After two more seasons of airshow performances by the CFS team, the 1955 season saw a third aircraft added again. And then in 1962, a fourth Harvard joined the team.

As the team expanded its routine its popularity continued to grow.For the 1966 season a fifth aircraft was added to the team, which became the solo performer, while the original four aircraft did the formation routine. This mix became the standard and continues today with the Red Checkers team. However that was the last season for the CFS team as such, as the 1967 season saw them renamed The Red Checkers (see below). The various CFS Wigram teams were piloted by instructors from the RNZAF's Central Flying School, and from Pilot Training Squadron. Their Harvard aircraft were modified with the addition of diesel-oil smoke tanks fitted above the rare seats which emitted the white smoke that enhanced their routine, and extender pipes fitted to the exhaust to keep the oil off the fuselage.

Note: Regarding the dates below for team seasons where it says for example 1956/57, that refers to summer season of approximately Nov 1956 till March 1957. The team would have begun practising late in 1956, and public displays begun in early 1957, etc. So in the public's eyes it's the 1957 team.

 
A CFS Wigram Harvard Team

 

1940's____1950's____1960's

Display Dates Venue Pilots Notes


The CFS Aerobatic Team - 1948___________________________________Three-Ship Harvard

12-19 of Feb 1948

20th of Feb 1948

6th of Jun 1948

Wigram (practices)

RNZAC Pageant, Taieri

Harewood, Christchurch

Mick Walker

Jack Scott

Max Hope

Leader

 

 


Notes:

Max Hope recalls this first CFS team:

"Led by Mick Walker, from Wigram,  with Jack Scott, and me - we practiced formation loops in Harvards. On the 20th, we carried out formation loops over Taieri, as part of the RNZAC Pageant.

On the 6th of June, we carried out formation loops and Barrel Rolls, as part of a display at Harewood."

SEmail to me from Max Hope


The CFS Aerobatic Team - 1948____________________________________Two-Ship Harvard

22nd of Jan 1949 Formation Loops at
RNZAF Whenuapai
'Open Day'

Max Hope

Stan Quill

 

 

18th of Mar 1949
_
_ _

4th of Jun 1949

16th of Sept 1949
_

RNZAC display at Mangare
(tied together with
bungee-cord)

Invercargill display

Whenuapai Open Day
(tied together)

Jimmy O'Donnell

Jack Scott

Max Hope

Leader

 

 


SEmail to me from Max Hope


The CFS Aerobatic Team 1952/53___________________________________Two-Ship Harvard

unknown unknown  
 


The CFS Aerobatic Team 1953/54___________________________________Two-Ship Harvard

  unknown unknown  
 

The CFS Aerobatic Team 1954/55___________________________________Three-Ship Harvard
unknown unknown  
 


The CFS Aerobatic Team 1955/56___________________________________Three-Ship Harvard

  unknown unknown  
 


The CFS Aerobatic Team 1956/57__________________________________Three-Ship - Harvard

  unknown unknown  
 


The CFS Aerobatic Team 1957/58__________________________________Three-Ship - Harvard

  unknown unknown  
 


The CFS Aerobatic Team 1958/59__________________________________Three-Ship - Harvard

  unknown unknown  


The CFS Aerobatic Team 1959/60__________________________________Three-Ship - Harvard

  unknown unknown  
 


The CFS Aerobatic Team 1960/61 __________________________________Three-Ship Harvard

18-29 Mar 1961

North Island Tour
visiting Stratford, Hamilton,
Kaitaia, Kaikohe, Whangarei,
Dargarville, Tauranga,
Matamata, Paeroa, Thames,
Morrinsville, Gisborne,
Wairoa, Napier, Hastings
and Waipukurau

Flt Lt Mayne Hawkins

Flt Lt Alan Dyer

Flt Lt F. Barry Flavall

No. 1

No. 2

No. 3


Note:

Barry Flavall recalls the "North Island Tour" of March 18 - 29, 1961:

"We combined with a Bristol Freighter that accompanied the Harvards, and Flt Lt Barry Gordon in a Canberra from Ohakea, for displays at Stratford, Hamilton, Kaitaia, Kaikohe, Whangarei, Dargarville, Tauranga, Matamata, Paeroa, Thames, Morrinsville, Gisborne, Wairoa, Napier, Hastings and Waipukurau.

This was the most extensive display programme that the team was ever involved with, most displays being out and back forays.

The navigator aboard the Canberra was Peter Pennell who has contributed information to the No. 75 Squadron teams page here and the solo performance page here

A big thanks to Barry Flavall for providing information about the 1960/61 Central Flying School display team

Scanned from page 224 of RNZAF: A Short History by Geoffrey Bentley 

The 1961 CFS Wigram Team.
From left is Flt Lt Alan Dyer, Flt Lt Mayne Hawkins and Flt Lt Barry Flavall

Source for CFS Team - Photo and caption, RNZAF - A Short History, by Geoff Bentley, (Reed, 1969), page 224 and By Such Deeds by Colin Hanson (Volplane Press, 2001) pages 170 & 189, and the Air Expo 92 Airshow programme, and Barry Flavall


The CFS Aerobatic Team 1962 _____________________________________Four-Ship - Harvard

17th of Mar 1962

28th of Apr 1962

17 & 18 Aug 1962

November 1962
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-

10th of Nov 1962
_

8th of Nov 1962

RNZAC Pageant Taieri

Queenstown's Festival

Two displays at Gisborne

South Island Tour to
mark the RNZAF's 25th
Anniversary, including
displays at Dunedin,
Invercargill and Nelson,
with flypasts over inland
towns of Canterbury
and Otago and towns
of the West Coast

Wakatipu
Centennial Celebrations

Final display at Fairlie

Flt Lt Barrie Reid

Flt Lt Stewart Boys

Flt Lt F. Barry Flavall

Flt Lt John Buckmaster

No. 1

No. 2

No. 3

No. 4 (s)


Note:

Team leader Barrie Reid joined the Central Flying School in January 1962, and the team was formed thereafter. It performed throughout 1962 till December when key member Barry Flavall left CFS. So unlike most team seasons that overlapped the end of one year and beginning of another, this team only performed during 1962.

The Gisborne airshow was to mark the opening of that city's new airport terminal.

Team member Barry Flavall remembers this from the 1962 CFS team.

"A fourth member was added to the team in 1962. The addition of a solo man to the team in 1962 really enhanced the overall appeal of the team's routine, being able to fill-in-the-gaps while the team struggled for more altitude before performing the next manoeuvre.

I seem to remember that John Buckmaster's solo display was the talk-of-the-town at the Queenstown Autumn Festival in 1962. The routine was really pretty tame because of the limited power of the Harvard, but the immediacy of the display to the viewers, together with the smoke and noise from the Pratt and Whitneys made up for this shortcoming.

The most impressive manoeuvre was the final loop where the wing-men rolled away from the leader when going vertically up, and all continued their loops to "thread the needle" at the bottom before rolling left to "follow the leader" in a low flypast, (read beat-up).

I maintain that formation aerobatics in a Harvard was the most difficult thing I have ever done in aviation on a regular basis. This was because the Harvard had limited power and limited control, particularly in the rolling plane, and all manoeuvres were completed below 1800 feet, which around Canterbury was nearly always turbulent. Great fun being out-and-about doing the displays, but hard work for the wing men."

Stewart Boys remembers the Queenstown's Autumn Festival display:

"Like Barry, I remember that particular display well.  The setting was perfect with the aerobatics just fitting nicely into the bay, and pretty much a cloudless sky and a good crowd to play to. 

Oddly, the weather then "clamped" all along the east coast with moist south easterlies and we were treated to two extra days in Queenstown in perfect warm Autumn weather while we waited for it to clear enough to enable our return to Wigram.

There is also a photo of the team, plus the spare Harvard being flown by S/L Tony Williams completing (as far as I remember) an introductory pass over the waterfront at Queenstown before the formation aerobatic display proper began." 

 

 

The photo above, which was kindly submitted by Stewart Boys, shows the 1962 CFS Wigram team. From left to right are Stewart Boys, John Buckmaster, Barrie Reid and Barry Flavall. The photo was taken at Gisborne in August 1962. Stewart says:

"I remember the occasion, particularly 'Tiny' White, the Mayor of Gisborne speaking at the opening of the terminal building, and giving an interesting account of the history of aviation at the airport up to that point."

A big thanks to Barry Flavall and Stewart Boys for providing his memories of the Central Flying School display team

Source for CFS Team 1962 - Barrry Flavall and Stewart Boys via email


The CFS Aerobatic Team 1963 and 1964______________________________Four-Ship - Harvard

9th of Mar 1963

5th of  May 1963 

21st of Sept 1963

27th of Oct 1963 

28 October 1963 

7 & 8 Jan  1964
_

22nd of Feb 1964
_

RNZAC Pageant, Rotorua

Timaru Airshow

Alexandra Blossom Festival

Rangiora

Timaru

Oamaru
(Display each day)

Air Force Day 1964,
RNZAF Ohakea

Flt Lt Barrie Reid

Flt Lt John Canning

Flt Lt Stewart Boys

Sqn Ldr Ted Arundel

No.1

No 2

No. 3

No. 4 (s)

   

Notes:

Flight Lieutenant John Canning was a member of the Royal Air Force.

Stewart Boys remembers the following notes:

"The team reformed at the beginning of 1963. We had a busy time.

RNZAC Pageant at Rotorua (9th of March 1963) -  This was at the old grass airfield at Whakarewarewa, and there was just enough room for the Harvards to land there.  The CFS aerobatic team were the only RNZAF participants who were able to stay overnight for the "after-match" function.

Timaru (5th of May 1963) - This was at the pageant for the opening (or perhaps it was the extension) of the sealed runway at the airfield.

RNZAF Base Ohakea (22 February 1964) -  Display as part of a big international airshow at Ohakea with full rehearsals on 19 and 20 February.  Neither Barry or I can recall exactly what occasioned this show but there were displays from the RAF, RAAF and USAF (F105's and I think the C130 at Ohakea for the first time).  It may have come at the end of a large air exercise. This was the last time the 1963 - 64 team performed in public.

 

Above: The 1963 and 1964 team. Barrie Reid in the cockpit,
and standing behind from left to right are John Canning,
Ted Arundel and Stewart Boys

From January 1965, I became the solo Harvard low level aerobatics display pilot at Wigram for a year and I did a number of displays which would otherwise have been flown by the CFS aerobatic team (which was as far as I can recall in recess for the time being).  The displays I flew were 12 March 65 Ardmore (RNZAC pageant?),  10 April  Queenstown Autumn Festival,  1 July at Wigram (an open day?)."

Source for CFS Team 1963 and 1964 - Barrry Flavall and Stewart Boys via email

 


The CFS Aerobatic Team 1965-66_....___________________________Four/Five-Ship - Harvard

29th of Jan 1966
_

12th of March 1966

Opening of Auckland
International Airport

RNZAC Air Pageant, Timaru

Sqn Ldr Tom Lambert

F/O Roger E. Henstock

Flt Lt Don R. Smith

Trevor Bland

No. 1

No. 2

No. 3

No. 4 (s)

14th of March 1966
_

10th of April 1966

25th of November 1966
_

Display for the Air Officer Commanding Training Group

Westport A&P Show

Graduation Parade, No. 43
Aircrew Course, Wigram

Sqn Ldr Tom Lambert

F/O Roger E. Henstock

Flt Lt Don R. Smith

Gavin Trethewey

Trevor Bland

No. 1

No. 2

No. 3

No. 4

No. 5 (s)


Notes:

Trevor Bland recalls that he flew Harvard NZ1099 in this team, an aircraft still flying today (now in Australia).

This team began as a fourship and displayed as such, but they also were the first to develop and perfect the box formation loop with four Harvards after several attempts with various pilots involved in the combination - some of whom didn't stay in the actual display team for that year. They added a fifth aircraft later in the season.

Stewart Boys recalls he was one of the pilots who attempted to be part of the genesis of the box formation loop:

"On 20 Jan 1966 I flew some practice aerobatics as No. 4 in the box for a CFS team which had just been formed by Flt Lt Tom Lambert. 

As we all did, I found it difficult to keep up with the other three as we passed through the top of the loop because of the lack of power in the Harvard.  Eventually, with Gavin Trethewey in the No 4 position, they found the right technique to overcome this problem. 

The photo below shows clearly the Harvard's lack of power and speed over the top (although I have flown in a lot worse aircraft)."

Above: The formation loop.
Photo kindly submitted by Stewart Boys
 

Stewart didn't make it but Trevor Bland did, who adds:

"The first fourship team flew on February 28th, 1966, with myself flying No 4 and coaching Tom Lambert in the lead position. The experts like Ted Arundel said it couldn't be done.

On March 14th, 1966, the team displayed for the AOC Training Group, and got his seal of approval. Thereafter Gavin Trethewey flew box as No. 4 and I flew as No. 5 for a coordinated team plus solo display.

This combination has been carried through to today with the Warbirds Assn. Roaring Forties team, although I am no longer active myself."

Roger Henstock recalls of this team:

"I was not and never became a member of the CFS staff. In fact i was a student instructor, but because of the "Confrontation in Malaya" there were few pilots at Wigram with formation aerobatics experience and as I had been in the 75 Sqn Vampire team over the past two years I got the job."

Referring to the opening of Auckland Airport on the 29th of January 1966, Roger recalls:

"We started our display from the back of a larger formation of Wigram (CFS and PTS) Harvards and Devons.

 

 

The CFS Aerobatic Team 1966-67_..__..______________________________Five-Ship - Harvard

24th of February 1967
_

26th of February 1967

3rd and 4th of March 1967
_

21st of April 1967
_

21st of September 1967
_

Display for Peruvian Navy
Cadets at Wigram

Display Christchurch Airport

RNZAC Pageant and Opening of New Plymouth Airport

Graduation Parade, No. 44
Aircrew Course, Wigram

Graduation Parade, No. 45
Aircrew Course, Wigram

Sqn Ldr Tom Lambert

F/O Roger Henstock

Flt Lt Don R. Smith

Gavin Trethewey

Flt Lt Ken Gayfer

No. 1

No. 2

No. 3

No. 4

No. 5 (s)


Notes:

Roger Henstock recalls of this team's display for the Peruvian Navy cadets:

"They were visiting Christchurch in their training ship. I believe it was a sailing ship."

Of the display at Christchurch Airport on the 26th of Februray Roger says it was.
"to raise funds for the family of a well known local glider pilot who had been recently killed in an accident. The temperature that day was around 40 degrees and while we held over Brightton Beach waiting to start our display we allhad our canopies open trying to keep cool."

Above: The 1966/67 CFS Aerobatic Team
Left to Right: Tom Lambert, Roger Henstock, Don Smith, Gavin Trethewey and Ken Gayfer
Photo kindly submitted by Gavin Trethewey

 

Above: A newspaper report from the opening of the new New Plymouth Airport
Cutting kindly submitted by Gavin Trethewey

 

Above: A signed photo of the 1966/67 CFS team in formation.
Photo kindly submitted by Gavin Trethewey

 

 

After this point the team became known as
The Red Checkers
Click to go to their page

 

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