This seemes to have been an eventful air pageant with lots of famous names taking part.
The day began at 8.00am with a take off of six Auckland Aero Club Moths, led by WWI pilot S/Ldr John Seabrook, which flew over Auckland city at 8.30am to advertise the event.
The morning's programme then consisted principally of races and landing contests, while the finals and the more novel events were flown in the afternoon.
One special guest was the Australian pilot Guy Menzies, who'd become the first ever person to fly across the Tasman Sea solo in the Avro Avian "Southern Cross Junior", just weeks before on the 7th of January 1931. He left Hastings in the Avian for Mangere but it developed engine trouble after 40 miles of flying and over rough country so he was forced to return to Hastings. Menzies then hitched a lift and arrived in a Canterbury Aero Club aircraft. This is a pity as it was advertised that Southern Cross Junior would "later be placed in a convenient position for the public to view it."
Another foreign guest was Lieutenant Haakon Quiller, a well known parachutist. The New Zealand Herald on the 26th of January 1931 noted,
"Great interest was taken in the parachute descents by Lieutenant Haakon Quiller, who jumped first from 800 ft., and later from about 3000 ft. Ho was seen to climb from the front cock-pit of a Moth piloted by Flying-Officer D. M. Allan, and stand on the lower wing. At a signal from the ground he jumped, and the crowd saw his tiny figure detach itself from the machine, and plunge downward at a terrific speed. The parachute, trailing behind, then opened, and Lieutenant Quiller's fall was checked suddenly, causing him to swing to and fro below the parachute. He landed safely behind the hangars, and after repacking his parachute with meticulous attention to detail, went aloft again to repeat his performance."
Regarding that second parachute jump the Auckland Star wrote:
"The refolding of the parachute for the next jump was followed with careful attention by the spectators, for on the correct folding of his aerial lifebuoy does the safety of the parachutist depend. But the Norseman was not so embarrassed by the public stare as to make a mistake in so vital a matter, and in his next descent landed safely just inside the bounds of tlie aerodrome from a height of approximately a mile. Juggling with the sail and swinging his legs, the parachutist regulated to a considerable degree his rate of descent. Near the ground a gust of wind caught the bag and nearly carried him into the creek at the eastern side of the landing field, but quick work with his legs brought him down on the edge of the scrub."
The Mayor of Auckland, Mr. G. Baildon, was also present at the event. Also present was Mrs G. Field, a well known aviatrix from the Hawke's Bay, and Miss Ina Wight, a lady pilot with the Auckland Aero Club.
Many aircraft came from around New Zealand from Aero Clubs and the New Zealand Permanent Air Force also sent a contingent. It was reported in the Herald on the day of the event that:
"To take part in the air pageant at Mangere to-day nine machines from Southern centres arrived at Auckland yesterday. Four machines, part of Squadron No. 2 of the New Zealand Air Force, under the command of Squadron-Leader M. C. McGregor, arrived at the Hobsonville air base after a good flight from Blenheim, via Hawera, a landing was made. This flight was organised to replace the refresher courses at Wigram aerodrome. Flight-Lieutenant M. W. Buckley was adjutant, the other members of the'party being Flying-Officer Craig, Flying-Officer Arunsley, Flying-Officer Carter, Flight-Lieutenant Lloyd, Pilot- Officer C. M. Duthie and Pilot-Officer Parsons."Two machines from the Western Federated Flying Club, piloted by Flying- Officer I. H. Keith and Mr. Haybittle, from New Plymouth, a machine from the Hawke's Bay and East Coast Aero Club, piloted bv Mr. Guy Field, and an Avro-Avian, piloted by Mr. Goodwin, of the Goodwin-Chichester Aviation Company, arrived at the Mangere aerodrome. A Moth, piloted by Mr. Armstrong, of Blenheim, arrived at the Hobsonville air base with Miss P. Bennett, a well-known Blenheim pilot, as passenger."
One of the flying displays was described in the New Zealand Herald, on the 26th of January 1931, as:
"Parade of Machines,
Tho grand parade gave tho crowd an opportunity of seeing every machine at close range, and after taxying round the landing field they took the air in succession. A formation led by Squadron- Leader J. Seabrook carried out several manoeuvres directly abovo the aerodrome, three of the machines looping together, while the other two spun away earthward."
The same report stated:
"An exhibition of "acrobatics" by Flying-Officer Allan was one of the most exciting events of the day. He looped and rolled as near the ground as was within the bounds of safety, and concluded by doing a half-roll and flying across the aerodrome upside-down."
One display put on was by Dave Allan and Keith Caldwell (New Zealand's top fighter ace in WWI) flying a mock dogfight fright over the airfield.
Another was a solo aerobatics display by Dave Allan, who was regarded as the best display pilot in the country at the time.
During a display, 'Tony' Firth suffered an engine failure and crashed. The Press newspaper (Christchurch) reported on the 26th of January 1931 the following,
"A spectacular crash, fortunately without injury to the pilot, occurred during the Auckland Aero Club's display at the Mangere aerodrome, when one of the club's Moth machines, piloted by Mr G. M, Firth, was extensively damaged, after falling from a height of about 80 feet. The accident was witnessed by a large number of people, and the machine landed just clear of the crowd in a paddock south of the hangars. By the time the first spectators had reached the machine, Mr Firth had climbed from the cockpit, being only slightly shaken. It is thought that the crash was caused through a defective petrol tap, The aeroplane, the blue Moth, ZK-AAK, which had been in use during the morning, was allotted to Mr Firth to use in the bombing competition. He took off into the wind; but the machine was only about 50 feet from the ground when the engine began to splutter and miss badly. The machine rapidly lost flying speed, and as the, pilot saw that he was directly over the crowd, he started a forced landing and attempted to turn back on to the aerodrome, apparently with the intention of trying to land downwind.
Effort to Avoid Crowd.
With the engine delivering no power, the machine suddenly stalled, and Mr Firth straightened out on his original course in an endeavour to clear the crowd and the parked cars. The Moth, which was moving so slowly as to be almost out of the pilot's control, made little response to Mt Firth's efforts to keep it aloft until the crowd was passed, and fell suddenly. Mr Firth pulled the joystick right back, and the machine landed on its wheels. The impact of the crash drove the landing gear up through the fuselage, which was broken in half at the passenger's cockpit, which, fortunately, was unoccupied at the time. The undercarriage was badly buckled, and one of the propeller blades was snapped off short at the boss. The wings were not damaged, and a cursory inspection of the engine failed to reveal any defect, although an overhaul will be necessary.
Pilot Wins Contest.
Immediately after the crash, a. squad of mechanics, under the supervision of /the ground engineer, Flying-Qfflcer E. J, Copley, removed the wings and cut the engine free from the broken fusalage, Various portions of the wreeked machine were then conveyed to a hangar, where the necessary repairs will be carried out. The machine will require a new fuselage, and the damage is estimated at about £350 or £400. Mr Firth took up another Moth immediately, and carried on with tho bombing competition, which ho eventually, won."
|The competition results from the day were thus:
|LANDING COMPETITION. A Licence Club-trained
E. K. Boucher. 1:
I.J. Ewington, 2;
E. B. "Ted" Firth. 3.
Pilots were required to make one landing from 1000 ft., without the use of the engine, and to finish rolling with the tail-skid in a circle on the aerodrome. The winner made a good three-point landing, although several of tho other competitors brought their machines in well.
|NEW ZEALAND AERIAL DERBY
E. B. "Ted" Firth, 1;
G. M. "Tony" Firth. 2.
J. C. F. Paine, 1:
Pilot-Officer C. M. Duthie, 2.
Pilot-Officer C. M. Duthie, 1;
E. B. "Ted" Firth. 2.
In this event competition was keen, but several pilots cut corners and were disqualified. Two machines touched wings while taking off in the second heat, but no damage was done.
|LANDING COMPETITION, B Licence Pilots
Squadron-Leader Jim L. Findlay, 1
Flying-Officer Dave M. Allan, 2
Wing-Commander Keith L. Caldwell, 3.
The conditions were the same as in the contest for A licence pilots, but the greater experience of the competitors resulted in a higher standard in this event.
Ron A. Kirkup (Technical College). 1
G. M. "Tony" Firth (King's College), 2;
Flight-Lieutenant Jim D. Hewett (Wanganui College), 3
P. C. Lewis (Pukekohe High School). 1: .
Johnnie H. Atwell (Mount Albert Grammar School), 2;
A, B. Ranby (Wellington College), 3
The final will bo decided next Saturday afternoon.
|BOMBING THE TARGET.
A Licence Club-trained Pilots.
G. M. "Tony" Firth, 1;
E. B. "Ted" Firth. 2:
G. D. M. Goodwin, 3.
Each competitor was given three flour-bag bombs to be dropped on a ground target from above 200 ft. Although several bulls were registered, many pilots flew too low and were penalised.
|CALDWELL TROPHY AEROBATIC CONTEST
A Licence Club-trained Pilots.
Len M. Squire, 1;
G. M. "Tony" Firth, 2;
Pilot- Officer C. M. Duthie. 3.
Pilots were required to do a left stall turn, a right stall turn, a loop, a left-hand spin of two turns, a right-hand spin of two turns and three minutes' free flying ofany approved "aerobatics." A creditable standard of skill was revealed by all competitors.
|ALL TRANSPORT RACE
B Licence Pilots
Wing-Commander Keith L. Caldwell, 1
Squadron-Leader Jim Findlay, 2.
Flying-Officer Ian Keith, 1
I. C. W. Cory-Wright, 2.
Squadron-Leader Jim Findlay. 1;
Wing-Commander Keith Caldwell, 2.
This event was keenly contested, and proved one of the most successful. Pilots were required to run a short distance, drive a car to their machines, and then complete the course in the air. In the second heat Flying-Officer D. M. Allan was leading when his motor stopped, and he made a clever forced landing across-wind.
B Licence Pilots.
Flying-Officer Dave M. Allan, 1:
Squadron-Leader Malcolm "Mac" McGregor, 2.
The conditions were the same as in the contest for A licence pilots. The two competitors completed every evolution of which a Moth is capable. Flying-Officer Allan's inverted flying gaining him the decision.
|BOMBING THE CAR
Squadron-Leader Jim L. Findlay. 1:
Wing-Commander Keith L. Caldwell, 2:
Flight-Lieutenant Jim Hewett. 3.
A light car was driven round the aerodrome, and pilots endleavoured to hit it with flour-bag bombs. No direct hits were registered but some of the bombs fell very close.
As well as the aerial action, the Auckland Aero Club also held a more social event, the Aero Club Ball that night with Guy Menzies as the guest of honour.
New Zealand Herald, 24 January 1931
New Zealand Herald, 26 January 1931
Auckland Star, 26 January 1931
Press, 26 January 1931