Sir Keith Park Memorial Airfield MoTaT

Discussion in 'Warbird Displays' started by nuuumannn, Feb 24, 2012.

  1. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    #1 nuuumannn, Feb 24, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2012
    Last week on a trip to Auckland to see Roger Waters in concert, I stopped in to see the new aviation hangar opened late last year at the Museum of Transport and Technology (MoTaT). It's pretty dark in there and I struggled with my low budget equipment to get any decent images.

    A bit of background. MoTaT has one of the biggest aircraft collections in New Zealand. It is the only place in the world where two Short Brothers four engined flying boats can be seen together. In the 70s and 80s MoTaT gained a bad reputation for the poor state of its aircraft collection as they sat outside for years, subject to the weather and frequent vandalism. Even once a hangar was built to house the bigger aircraft, the place was always a bit tardy and untidy. This new hangar reflects a change in the museum's approach to its things; it's amazing what a bit of funding can do.

    This is a previous pic of a Transavia Air Truk in the old hangar; note the amount of random stuff scattered around the aircraft.

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    The bulk of the aircraft collection is housed at the Sir Keith Park Memorial Airfield, which isn't actually an airfield and never was; it used to be a rubbish tip. To complete the MoTaT experience, visitors park and pay at the main MoTaT site and catch a tram to the aviation site via the Auckland Zoo. The trams are former Auckland public transport.

    Inside the new and impressive, but very dark hangar. Please excuse the dubious quality of some of the images. Lancaster.

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    Mosquito.

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    Rapide.

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    Fox Moth.

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    Vampire.

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    Fletcher Fu-24.

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    Gemini, Ceres and Fletcher.

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    Tui Sport; New Zealand home built.

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    AESL Air Tourer. This aeroplane was flown round the world by private pilot Cliff Tait in the 70s and stopped off at the Paris Airshow, where it was parked next to the Tupolev Tu-144 Concordski.

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    P-40.

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    A-4. A bit blurry, this one.

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    Hudson.

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    Harvard.

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    Electra.

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    AT-11.

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    The outside aircraft all need a bit of care from years outdoors.

    Solent and Sunderland.

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    Sunderland.

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    Lodestar

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    Ventura.

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    I hope they reproduce its artwork.

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    Solent.

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    DC-3.

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    Here's the gate guard; a wooden and glass fibre mock up of Keith Park's Hurricane he got about in during the Battle of Britain.

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    A memorial to a Corsair Squadron.

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    Over at the main site are artefacts from New Zealand's most controversial aviator. Richard Pearse was a farmer from the deepest darkest South Island, who built his own aeroplane round the turn of the 20th Century. According to many, he flew it before the Wrights, but there is no evidence that supports this, apart from some eyewitness statements made fifty years later. According to himself he didn't start flying until late 1904, still remarkable, although he never made a single successful flight; he always lost control and crashed. This is a mock-up and isn't entirely accurate, according to Pearse's description of his machine.

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    Pearse's second aeroplane that never flew, the "Utility Plane".

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    The engine and propeller of his original machine he made his early flights in.

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    That's all for now... Diggety diggety.
     
  2. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    #2 A4K, Feb 25, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2012
    Great pics and post mate, thanks!

    Glad they got the hangar sorted out. When I was last there (1994), the Solent had just been restored and was on display in the old hangar behind the Lanc. The lockheed birds stored away in a shed closed to the public.

    Some tidbits of info:
    -The Lanc is a Mk.VII, ex french Aeronavale
    -There used to be a Swordfish replica -where is it now?
    -If the Hurricane is the one that used to be there, it was one of the static aircraft used in the 'Battle of Britain' film. This had however heavily deteriorated after many years sstored outside.
    -They also have a TBF-1 Avenger under restoration (a much younger Evan drilled out the rivets in the fuel tanks for removal for restoration :) )
    -The wings of the Mossie (FB.40 NZ2305) were being stripped for restoration in the hangar where I spent my last month in the RNZAF (1992). I kept some of the wing fabric, which is now on loan to a museum.
    -The artwork of Lexington NZ4600 is dubious. She was one of 19 poor condition aircraft received from the USAAF in 1944 (instead of the promised B-24s), stripped of good parts to make 6 usable aircraft, and only survived as an instructional airframe. She never carried the original restoration scheme, and the artwork is thought to have been copied from another aircraft.
    -Pearse is one of 4 people who supposedly flew before the Wrights, none could get the act recognised (the Wrights themselves had trouble getting recognised). It has been recorded that Pearse flew in 1903 and there is mention of snow on one occasion, which makes it around May-July in NZ.
    Pearse did write a letter to an English newspaper stating he flew later, though he was a very modest man and most likely wanted to avoid publicity. He also didn't consider his flights as being successful, and not worthy of being recognised as such.
    What stands out in any case is his aircraft was the first designed from the outset with ailerons and rudder for control, and that he must have achieved a height of atleast 3 m to crash into the tops of the gorse bushes as he did on one or two occasions.

    Btw, where did they find the original components from Pearse's aircraft?
     
  3. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Great looking collection! Whats the history on the Mossie? Has RAAF roundels with a NZ serial.
     
  4. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    Ex RAAF Andy. Formerly FB 40 A52-19, converted to a T.43 on the line and reserialled A52-1053.
    MoTaT schemes and markings are often dubious, they either don't do the research or aren't interested in authenticity. I think this scheme may possibly be representative of her 'as she arrived' (with kiwi serial) rather than 'as she served'. She would have had RAF type roundels with red centres and red portion to the fin flash in RNZAF service.
     
  5. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the info Evan. It might be the wrong scheme, but it looks good! :)
     
  6. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Hi A4K,

    Regarding the artwork on the Lexington, shame it's not original, still looks good though. Many of the MoTaT aircraft are repros from bits; the P-40, the Mosquito and few of them are in their original markings. The Swordfish is on display opposite the Lanc, but replica is too kind a description. It's at best a poorly built mock up, it's not even the right scale. Yes, my slip up, the Solent was moved into the old hangar opposite the Lanc when it was completed and the Ventura was largely kept in store, but all those outside now have been out there for a few years now and the Lodestar and Sunderland have always been outdoors.

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    The myth of Pearse flying in 1903 is exactly that - it didn't happen. In a letter he wrote to a New Zealand newspaper sometime during WW1 - it's recorded in its entirety in the book The Riddle of Richard Pearse, he states that he began his experiments in late 1904. There's no reason why he would lie about this since if he was so modest about his work he would not have written the letter at all. Not only that but he also admitted that he did not achieve what he set out to do, which was to build and successfully fly an aircraft. This was in response to a correspondent writing about the achievements of the Wrights. I am also aware that he made a few errors in these articles, but I don't believe he would get the dates wrong when discussing the Wright Brothers, since he acknowledges that they achieved powered flight earlier than his own experiments. Why would he say such a thing if it were not true?

    Pearse's aeroplane did not have ailerons or a rudder at all, those on the wings were more like spoilers; they could only move in one plain away from the wing surface, thereby yawing the aircraft. I can't remember if they were differential or not, but they were hinged on their trailing edge, not leading edge as ailerons are. His aeroplane was most certainly not controllable about three axes and the only other control surface other than the wing surfaces was a hinged elevator. The mock up at MoTaT is based on Geoff Rodliffe's ideas of what Pearse's machine was like, but according to the patent that Pearse filed, bears only superficial resemblance to it. The machine is quoted to have had a wing area of 700 sq ft, which is huge. Pearse also mentions folding wings for storage and for ease of moving about on the ground, which the mock up does not have, since it is too small.

    The wreckage of Pearse's aircraft was discovered in Waitohi by George Bolt in the 50s after Pearse died, in a river bed, along with all sorts of other bits and pieces. His Utility Plane was discovered in the shed of the house Pearse built in Christchurch.

    As for claimants to flight before the Wrights, getting recognition had to come with considerable evidence, which none of the claimants could produce, including Pearse. Without photographic proof or eyewitnesses reporting on the day or the day after, there wasn't going to be any acceptance of the claim. It took years before the US accepted the Wrights, even after images were produced and eyewitnesses had seen them flying at Huffman Prairie in 1904; the Wright Flyer was in England between 1912 and 1948 because of the reluctance of the Americans to accept their claim. Shamefully the Smithsonian were so duped by Glenn Curtiss' efforts to promote Samuel Langley as the first to fly that they hung the rebuilt Great Aerodrome in their hall instead of the Flyer. Of the other claimants, Clement Ader did not achieve flight, nor did Alexander Mosshaiski or Gustave Whitehead. As for Preston Watson, like Pearse, he never made such a claim and was too young to have achieved such a thing at that time.

    You also have to remember that the fuss about Pearse only started after Bolt investigated the Pearse story in the 50s. This from a letter to Bolt by prominent British aviation historian Charles Gibbs Smith on Pearse with reference to Preston Watson's brother James claiming his late brother flew in 1903: “…the late J.Y. Watson admitted that his great edifice was false, and this after producing eyewitness to the actual event. The eyewitness who tells you what he saw fifty or more years after is, as often as not, completely unreliable; and this was driven home in the Watson case. People simply do not remember without prejudice.”
     
  7. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Good pics, thanks for posting.
     
  8. Hotntot

    Hotntot Member

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    Great pics and mix of aircraft. Thanks for posting.
     
  9. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    #9 nuuumannn, Feb 26, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2012
    Hi Everyone,

    Here are a few pictures of the interior of the Solent, which used to be opened to the public. ZK-AMO flew the last ever Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL) flying boat service, which was what was called 'The Coral Route', between Auckland, Fiji, Samoa, the Cook Islands and Tahiti. This took place in 1960. The interior images are scans of photos taken some years ago.

    The aircraft on display in the old hangar surrounded by clutter.

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    The flight deck. The bubble to the right was made so visitors outside the aircraft could get a better view inside.

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    The upper rear deck. Note the duty free alcohol miniatures, still unopened. The ladder at the front was for emergency purposes since the deck was high up off the ground, or water. the stair rail down to the lower deck can also be seen at the front.

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    The lower dining deck. The monogrammed TEAL crockery is worth a small fortune at auctions these days.

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    The following images were taken on the small island of Akaiami in the Aitutaki Atoll. The crumbling jetty was where the liberty boats used to moor that brought passengers from the flying boats that landed out in the atoll. The hut was used as the TEAL booking office on the island. While TEAL operated the flying boats, Aitutaki was the principal 'airport' of the Cook Islands. The main island, Rarotonga had a small coral runway back then and all international passengers came via Aitutaki; a few hours by boat from Raro.

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    For those of you who haven't heard of the Cook Islands, they are a New Zealand dependency located roughly halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii. The main island, Rarotonga is only about 15 miles across, so its not a big place, although it is popular with tourists.

    Lastly, an apology to Evan for ranting about Richard Pearse. I don't buy thew whole thing about him flying before the Wrights, is all. I had a colleague in the UK who wrote an objective assessment of Pearse in a British aviation magazine a few years back; he received death threats in the mail from New Zealand, as did the editor!
     
  10. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    Great pics mate, and no worries!

    My comment (re Pearse) is based on what I've read, so sorry if incorrect. My comment on the ailerons should have been worded differently maybe - the point was his was the first to have 'seperate controllable surfaces' as opposed to wing warping like the Wrights, Bleriot, etc...

    I've travelled too much to accept facts (or otherwise) on their face, and I don't think a completely accurate version of this story has ever been told, nor ever will be. I don't believe Pearse's own letters either, as there are a good many people who achieve great things, yet not being attention seekers (as has been said of Pearse), directly play down or keep quiet their achievements.

    Either way, NZ could not have developed the concept the way countries like the USA, England or France could (and did), so the first recognised flight took place in one of the most appropriate locations.
     
  11. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Cheers Evan - I suspect I was being a bit of a bad sport. I have to admit that I've looked into this sort of thing before, see my website Home I tend to stick with verifiable sources; letters, patents, articles written at the time, etc. The dearth of quality material about Pearse has made his efforts hard to verify, but a bunch of eyewitnesses who said they saw something fifty years afterwards is all we have to say Pearse flew before the Wrights - not useable in my experience. People don't remember without prejudice.

    His letters are written by him, so they stand - even if in places there are inaccuracies as the only solid evidence in his words of what he got up to. Also, his brother wrote a few letters verifying Richard's claim, but these have been discredited, since it's obvious he was being economical with the truth. It's also worth remembering that with all these other claimants to flight before the Wrights that they all disappeared into obscurity after making their so called first flight. What's important about the Wrights is what they did before and after December 17 1903.

    Nevertheless, Pearse should be recognised for the smartypants he was.
     
  12. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Great pics of an impressive collection.
     
  13. wheelsup_cavu

    wheelsup_cavu Well-Known Member

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    Cool collection. Thanks for the pictures. :thumbup:


    Wheels
     
  14. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Cool shots! Thanks for sharing.
     
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