This Timeline mainly covers historic public displays prewar and later airshows containing military, warbird and classic aircraft presence. Other general aviation fly-ins and gatherings of limited public interest such as microlights, homebuilds, aerobatic meets and hang gliding are not necessarily included




"Wizard" Stone's Flight Demonstration
Auckland Domain, 19th of April 1913

Bleriot XI monoplane

Arthur Burr "Wizard" Stone



This was the first ever exhibition flight made in Auckland and in New Zealand.

Around 30,000 excited Aucklanders turned out at the Domain to watch this demonstration of flight by 'Wizard' Stone who had been engaged in Australia by a New Zealand syndicate to tour New Zealand. However the excitement of the large crowd (around 10,000 of whom had paid to be in the inner enclosure to see this rare feat) turned to disappointment and anger. This extract from the Evening Post's article dated the 21st of April 1913 explains what happened:

"The great white machine skimmed lightly over the broad expense of green, with its pinions outstretched for flight, and lifted gracefully into the air without a quiver. It was a great sight, and Auckland eagerly strained its eye to follow the aeroplane's flight.

Taking a slanting course, the monoplane soared out and up; then, even while the first outburst of cheering and handclapping echoed across the cricket ground, It suddenly tilted to one side, dipped uncertainly, and was seen swinging round towards Parnell instead of keeping straight on towards Newmarket.

For a few seconds it held along with wobbling wing, but speedily alighted with a bump on the slope of the opposite hill in the Outer Domain, and New Zealand's first aeroplane flight had come to an abrupt and unexpected end!

The actual time of flight was 35sec, a distance of 500 or 600 yards being covered.

A clamour of eager conjecture rose from the excited crowd, and there was a general stampede across the ground. Thousands who had evaded payment of the lawful shilling now had the best of it. In a few seconds the aeronaut and his Bleriot and the entire hillside were hidden from view by what appeared to be a large and singularly close-hung swarm of bees,

Presently mounted police cut a wide swathe through the crowd, and the machine reappeared like a big wounded bird fluttering back to its nest. It came down the slope with a crowd behind supporting Its drooping tail. It was lifted bodily over the boundary fence, back across the Cricket Ground, and finally disappeared into its improvised home.

A hostile demonstration quickly followed. There was loud hooting and angry yells. "Give us back our money", "Go up again" filled the air. Presently the crowd attempted to rush the tent. Mounted police endeavoured to keep them back, and in the confusion following one of the horses became ehtangled in a tent rope and came down right in the thick of the crowd.

Fortunately, the well-trained animal lay comparatively quiet, no one being injured, and the rope was quickly cut and the horse released. Then the crowd closed in again, angrier than ever, and for a few moments things looked serious. The sergeant of police finally suggested to the party inside the tent that unless they wanted the whole outfit crocked some effort had better be made to pacify the mob outside, as his men could not hold them back much longer. A diplomatic rumour was started by some peacemaker that Stone would go up again.

Stone had not the faintest intention of going up again, being at that moment engaged in taking his machine to pieces, the wings and tail having been injured by the hustling of the crowd when he came down. However, the uproar gradually subsided, and after waiting round for an hour or so longer the dissatisfied crowd finally d ispersed.

When seen later by a Herald representative Stone expressed the keenest disappointment at his failure to satisfy the public. In explaining his short flight and quick descent he said that although there was not a breath of wind the day was far from ideal for flying purposes. A fifteen mile an hour breeze would materially have helped him to make a quicker ascent, and so to have easily cleared the crowd. As it was, in circling round so as to rise up behind the trees he was unfortunate in being driven down by a gust of wind. He thought it safer to effect an immediate landing and to start again.

"If it had not been for the absurd behaviour of the vast crowd which was watching without paying I should have started the engine again and resumed my flight," he continued, "but as it was they surged around me in hundreds and actually trampled on the machine's tail, doing so much damage as to render further flight impossible." The airman concluded by saying that he would not leave Auckland until he had thoroughly satisfied the public. "You may take it for granted," he said, "that my next exhibition will be given at a place where the crowds can be properly controlled, and where the conditions for flight are better than they are in the Domain."



'Manurewa's Flight Demonstration
Aavondale Racecourse, Auckland, 20th of April 1913

Biplane 'Manurewa'

Frederik E. Sandford



This was not specifically an air display for the public, it was trial flights to try to get the aircraft airworthy. A huge crowd had gathered to watch the first flights, several of which were made on this day, thus making it somewaht of a public event. Although Sandford was even able to take passengers on some of the trial hops, including Miss Lester who's father Mr. A.N. Lester was involved in the ownership syndicate of the aeroplane - becoming the first female to fly in New Zealand - the flights proved that the aircraft was not performing as it should. it could only aquire thirty feet in altitude and its 60hp engine was producing just half that power. In the end the engineer-owners Sandford and William Miller decided to disassemble the aircraft and rebuild the fuselage with their own design. It flew around six months later much more successfully.




Joseph Hammond's Flight Demonstrations
Epsom Show Grounds, Auckland, 29th of January 1914

Bleriot XI monoplane "Britannia"

Lt. Joseph J. Hammond



Having enjoyed its first flight in New Zealand on the 17th of January 1914, the Bleriot "Britannia" which had been donated by Britain's Imperial Air Fleet Committee to the New Zealand Defence Department in 1913 was the star attraction in Auckland on the 29th, making its public debut on Auckland Anniversary Day.

On the spur of the moment, Defence Department pilot Lieutenant Joe Hammond invited visiting member of the Royal Pantomime Company Miss Esmee McLellan, to join him as his passenger. This caused consternation among the male politicians and dignitaries and the gaff effectively ended Hammond's career as the NZ Defence Department pilot, and the aircraft went into storage till the outbreak of WWI, when the aircraft was shipped to Europe with the 1NZEF First Echelon.







Public Exhibition and Open Day
Canterbury Aviation Company, Sockburn, Christchurch, 27th of December 1918

Caudron 100hp Biplane

Caudron 100hp Biplane



Cecil Hill

J.C. "Bert" Mercer

Midge 40hp
Cecil Hill






Motor Carnival
Sockburn Racecourse, Christchurch, 15th of February 1919

Caudron 100hp Biplane



J.C. "Bert" Mercer



At a motor show event staged by the Christchurch Pioneer Sports Club, Canterbury Aviation Company's Bert Mercer raced a motorcycle in his aeroplane over five miles around the course. The motorcycle, a 7hp Harley Davidson ridden by Mr. R. Crawley, was the winner of the Australasian heavy-weight championship. The prize was a blue ribbon and a purse of sovereigns. The Asburton Guardian newspaper stated:

"Mercer entered the course from the Canterbury Aviation Company's grounds. Crawley made a preliminary canter, and Mercer flew straight over the course, at a height of about 500 yards, and then followed the line of the track. Passing over the grandstand, he had a slight lead. In the first lap he was about 25 yards ahead of Crawley. The latter began to catch up in the second lap, and had passed Mercer before the end. Mercer again took the lead, and then lost it. Crawley led by 20 yards in the third lap. Mercer appeared to be inside the course in the next lap, but he failed to catch up to Crawley, who still led by abont 25 yards. He then increased his distance, gaining, another 25 yards. In the fifth Iap Crawley was 100 yards ahead, and increased that distance in the final lap, and then slightly lost his head in the straight. Crawley finished a winner by about 50 yards."