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









Visit of the US Navy Combined Fleet
July 1925
____Date of Public Demo____

Vought UO-1 Floatplane

Similar aircraft catapulted from a destroyer


12th of August 1925

Aircraft from the ships
Auckland City
21st of August 1925
Farewell Flight by four aircraft from the ships
Wellington City
24th of August 1925



A total of 57 vessels carrying around 25,000 officers and men of the combined Pacific and Atlantic Fleets of the US Navy left Hawaii on the 1st of July 1925 to tour the South Pacific, visiting Australia and New Zealand for the first time.

This was both a good will tour and also politiically a show of strength towards nations that were feared as possibly getting too politicially close to the Empire of Japan. At the three main ports the ships launched shipborne aircraft which flew over the cities to show them off to the public.

On the 11th of August 1925 as the fleet entered Auckland's waters an aeroplane launched from the USS California was airborne scouting ahead of the vessels. A representative journalist from the Auckland Star newspaper was permitted to board the USS Mississippi where he watched from the bridge with the ship's captain, Captain T.C. Hart, and Lt. R.M. Signer, as a "M.O. monoplane seaplane could be heard as the 350 horse-power Curtiss engine was warmed for the flight." he then signed some documents in the ship's office, donned a parachute, and boarded the aircraft, which he wrote was the largest monoplane in the US Navy, and was known in the Navy as the "Galloping Goose".

As well as the flagship USS California and the USS Mississippi it was known that the USS Idaho also carried an aircraft and catapult. The latter ship's floatplane had an incident and suffered a damaged float on the 24th of August 1925 when the catapult failed to properly fire. It was quickly recovered from the water and repaired, it's crew unscathed.






Southern Cross Arrival
Wigram Air Base, Christchurch, 11th of
September 1928

Fokker Trimotor "Southern Cross"


Charles Kingsford Smith

Charles Ulm (Co-pilot)

Harold Litchfield (Navigator)

Tom McWilliam (Wireless Op)

NZPAF Bristol Fighter

NZPAF Bristol Fighter

NZPAF Bristol Fighter

NZPAF Bristol Fighter

NZPAF Bristol Fighter

Gloster Grebe
Captain Jim Findlay


This was the first ever international aircraft arrival by air in New Zealand, and marked the end of the first crossing by air of the Tasman Sea




Marlborough Air Pageant
Waterlea Racecourse, 9th of March 1929

DH60 Moth (presented to NZ by Sir Charles Wakefield)

Captain Sam Burrell with Lt Jim Buckeridge as passenger

Avro Avian

Captain K. Hall of Hororata with J.H. Preston as passenger
DH60 Moth
Captain Noel E. Chandler with Frank R. Dix as passenger


This was the first organised Air Pageant ever held in New Zealand using local aircraft, and marked the opening of the Marlborough Aero Club and Omaka Aerodrome.

The DH60 Moth was presented to the Marlborough Aero Club by the Hon. T.M. Wilford, Minister of Defence, having been presented to New Zealand by British aviation enthusiast and former Mayor of London Sir Charles Wakefield. Also in attendance for the ceremony were Major Tom Wilkes (Director of Air Services), and Mr Walter Ingle (representative of Sir Charles Wakefield in the Dominion of New Zealand). Concluding the ceremony, Mrs Dix (wife of the Marlborough Aero Club's President, Mr H.R. Dix) christened the aeroplane Sir Charles Wakefield, in honour of the man who donated it.

The first air race saw the pilots and their passengers each have to cycle 100 yards, drive a car 200 yards, then run the last 50 yards to their aeroplanes. They had to then take off and fly around a given point 2 miles away and return, then land, fold the wings of their aeroplanes, and return to the starting point via the cars and cycles. The narrow winner was Captain N.E. Chandler of Christchurch with Frank Dix as his passenger. Captain Hall's aircraft was second and Sam Burrell's crew was third.

Captain Hall won the slow race in his Avian, where the object was to take the longest time to cover the course without circling or losing height. Captain Chandler was send in this event.

After the races the pilots gave a demonstration of aerobatics including spins, loops and rolls.



Auckland Air Pageant
Mangere Aerodrome, 20th of April 1929

Bristol Fighter of the NZPAF

Captain Sam Burrell

DH60 Moth of the NZPAF

Captain Jim Findlay

DH60 Moth of Canterbury Aero Club

Captain Bert Mercer and Mr. W. Williamson

DH60 Moth of Marlborough Aero Club

Captain Noel Chandler
Captain John Seabrook
Major Keith Caldwell
F. Douglas Mill
Captain Euan Dickson
Captain Donald Harkness


This was the first Air Pageant ever held at Mangere Aerodrome by the Auckland Aero Club, and it attracted a huge crowd.

The event included an 'Air Derby', or air race, with a triangular course of six miles of which they performed two laps. These were most probably carried out in Auckland Aero Club de Havilland DH60 Moths. The results were:
Heat One
First Place - Captain John Seabrook
Second Place - Major Keith Caldwell
Third Place - Mr F. Douglas Mill

Heat Two
First Place - Captain Donald Harkness
Second Place - Captain Euan Dickson
Third Place - Captain Bert Mercer

There was also a flypast and landing competition, formation flying and a bombing display during the pageant.

A crowd of approximately 20,000 people attended this pageant, and a sum of over £1,000 was raised by Auckland Aero Club.



Hastings Air Pageant
Hastings, 27th of April 1929

Bristol Fighter of the NZPAF

Captain Sam Burrell

DH60 Moth of the NZPAF

Captain Jim Findlay

DH60 Moth of the NZPAF

Captain Bert Mercer with Mr Climie, secretary of Canterbury Aero Club as passenger

DH60 Moth of Marlborough Aero Club

Captain Noel Chandler

Avro Avian

Captain K. Hall with Mr Wilson of Auckland Aero Club as passenger

DH60 Moth

J. Smith

DH60 Moth of Hawkes Bay Aero Club

Captain Trevor White

DH60 Moth (?)

Capt Malcolm McGregor


The Pageant's programme included:
• New Zealand Light Aircraft Blue Ribbon of the Air presented by Mrs Wilfred G. Stead and won by Captain Trevor 'Tiny' White
• A slow race for a cup presented by Mrs S.J.McKee
• A car bombing competition for a watch presented by Mrs Mason Chambers
• The Kessell Cup for the machine and pilot with the greatest number of points in the pageant

Sam Burrell and Bert Mercer gave a 10-minute "stunting" demonstration.

Competition results were:

1st Place - Captain Jim Finlay
2nd Place - Captain Bert Mercer
Time 4 min 25 sec

1st Place - Captain Chandler (Marlborough)
2nd Place - Captain Findlay (NZAF)
3rd Place - Captain Mercer (Canterbury Aero Club)

1st Place - Captain Hall (Hororata)
2nd Place - Pilot Smith (Auckland Air Survey)
3rd Place - Captain Findlay (BZAF)

1st Place - Captain Whte (Hawkes Bay Aero Club)
2nd Place - Captain Chandler (Marlborough)
3rd Place - Pilot Smith (Auckland Air Survey)

1st Place - Captain Whte (Hawkes Bay Aero Club)
2nd Place - Major Caldwell (Auckland)
3rd Place - Pilot Smith (Auckland Air Survey)

On the way back to Omaka from Hastings, while crossing the Cook Strait in bad weather, the Moth flown by Captain Noel Chandler and his passenger Mr. C.A. Macdonald (Marlborough Aero Club's secretary and a journalist with the Marlborough Express) disappeared. The press printed grave fears for the two men, however they eventually found to have made a forced landing at Ship Cove, in the entrance to Queen Charlotte Sound. They were uninjured and safe, the aircraft only slightly damaged.



Wellington Air Pageant
Rongotai, 16th and 18th of November 1929

DH60 Moth of Hamilton Airways

Capt Malcolm McGregor

DH60 Moth of Hamilton Airways

Captain Gibbons

Gloster Grebe from the NZPAF

Captain Sam Burrell

DH60 Moth of Auckland Aero Club

Capt. Ewan Dickson and
Capt. Donald Harkness

DH60 Moth of Auckland Aero Club

Capt. William Bloomfield
and Capt. John Seabrook

DH60 Moth of Canterbury Aero Club

Capt. Bert Mercer
and Capt. N.H. Barlow

DH60 Moth of Canterbury Aero Club

Miss Aroha Clifford
and Mr Don Grigg

DH60 Moth of Marlborough Aero Club

Captain N. Chandler, Mr J. Varasour, C.A. McDonald, E.J. Bramwell and Frank Dix

Simmonds Spartan of Hawkes Bay Aero Club

Captain Trevor White

DH60 Mothof Air Survey & Transport Co

Mr F. Douglas Mill

Avro Avian of Goodwin-Chichester Ltd

Captain George Bolt

Avro Avian of Goodwin-Chichester Ltd

Lieutenant Harry Lett

Avro Avian "Hororata" - privately owned

Captain K.W.J. Hall
and Mrs Hall of Hororata

DH60 Moth "Falcon" - privately owned

Captain Jim Hewitt

Velie Monocoupe M-5 (later registered ZK-ABD)

Mr W.F. Parke
Mr O. Cottrell


This Pageant mustered at least 15 aeroplanes in total and was to date the biggest held in New Zealand. The crowd was estimated at around 10,000 people, and the pageant was held to officially open the airport at Rongotai, Wellington. At this time the airfield had not yet had grass sewn and the roadways were still metalled, so the pageant proved to bequite a dusty affair. Also the wind forced several planned items to be cut form the programme.

DH60 Moth ZK-AAW of Hawkes Bay Aero Club flown by Captain Allen was to attend but was forced to stay at Dannevirke due to technical troubles.

Captain Maurice Buckley also got stuck at Omaka with one of the two Grebes that was intended to attend after defective controls caused him to crash. This was much lamented by the Evening Post newspaper as they said Buckley was a great 'stunter' and the air battle that could have been had between the two Grebes could have been a great thrill. However Sam Burrell was able to make a solo aerobatic display in the Grebe that did arrive safely at Rongotai. The Evening Post described Burrell as the 'lion of the pageant" and extolled that his display in the single seat fighter was the 'star turn'. Burrell demonstrated the rapid climb to altitude after take off, then dived again to swoop around the airfield and once again gain height. He then put the aircrfat through its paces with, the Post stated, "the loop, falling leaf, spin, half roll and several other evolutions that thrilled spectators."

As well as aeroplanes the crowd were entertained by the Highland Pipe Band and the Mirimar Silver Band.

Among the events throughout the day, pamphlets were dropped to the crowd from a Moth by Captain McGregor and his passenger Mr E. Lloyd.

There was a height estimating contest (with tickets sold be 'attractive young ladies in gold sashes'), and Captain John Seabrook then took Miss Doris Mitchell aloft, and at the official height she let go a red silken parachute to alert the crowd. The wind caught the parachute and it was last seen heading off to Cape Palliser still with a lot of altitude. The result was a lot of wild guesses for the height by the crowd.

It had been advertised that a small concrete building on the aerodrome was to be bombed by aeroplanes. The Evening Post reported afterwards:


Bombing the house" was rather a misnomer for the item which concluded the programme, since none of the three 'planes which took part dropped anything at all on their target. However, there was plenty to interest the crowd, for although the programme stated plainly that the house would be blown up when the 'planes were flying overhead, there was tense expectancy each time the machines, circling at a fair height, neared the dilapidated-looking structure on the south-eastern corner of the aerodrome.

Three "attacks" were made. The first double explosion indicated a miss some twenty or thirty yards from the house; the second attempt was also a miss. There was another wait while the 'planes approached the vicinity again, then, with a roar which awakened the echoes from the surrounding hills and was clearly heard in the Hutt Valley, the house "blew up," and a dense cloud of smoke enshrouded tho place for some time.

Eager eyes waited for the smoke pall to lift to see the damage wrought by the explosion, and there was not a little disappointment when it was found that the house bore much the same appearance as formerly. For all that, it was a good show as a spectacle, and one that could easily bear repetition at some future pageant.

Five aircraft flew a formation display, first in a vee formation and then a tail chase, and the formation was considered good and tight considering the blustery wind conditions.

Competitions were held, and the results were as follows.

Landing Competition (pilots had to cut the engine at 1000 feet and glide dead-stick to dand on a 'flagged circle', aiming for the centre)
First Place - Captain Malcolm 'Mac' McGregor in the Hamilton Airways Moth
Second Place - Captain Park in Mr O. Cottrell's Mono-coupe

Low Bombing - pilots had to bomb a well camouflaged car that was travelling around the airfield turning in all directions to avoid the aeroplanes. The pilots flew very low and banked around till they had the car in their sights and then dropped bags of flour, which made visible splashes as they hit the ground, pleasing the crowd. There were no direct hits so no prizes were given.

Aerial Derby - Due to the wind the intended 10 mile course for this air race was cut down to a one lap, four mile race. The results were:
First Place - Captain 'Mac' McGregor ( Hamilton Airways Moth) 3 mins 33 sec
Second Place - Douglas Mill (Air Survey & Transport Co. Moth) 3 mins 57 sec
Third Place - Captain N.H. Barlow (Canterbury Aero Club Moth) 4 mins 13 sec

The Air Pageant saw the Wellington Aero Club raise around £900 and allowed them to order a second aircraft for the club



Dunedin Display
Over The City, 9th of December 1929

DH60 Moth of Hamilton Airways


Capt Malcolm McGregor

Lt. Jim Buckeridge


Not really an airshow or pageant as such, but a public display. McGregor and Buckeridge flew down to Dunedin to inspect the Green Island aerodrome, and having done that Mac Mcgregor "gave an exhibition og stunting of a very high standard" over the city of Dunedin, before heading south to Invercargill.