August - September 2011

In this Issue

  1. CEO Update
  2. Website Review
  3. How not to display your A4 Skyhawk
  4. P40 Kittyhawk Restoration
  5. Members Corner
  6. Member Profile - Bruce Chapman
  7. Member Events and Activities
  8. Hidden Gems in the Museum


ADG in cockpit.jpg
Hi Everyone,
The arrival of our Single Seat Skyhawk No 6201 at Classic Flyers is a keenly awaited event for us all.  Myself & the Management Board at Classic Flyers are really heartened not only by the expressions of interest from the public & our supporters generated by the event but also by the contributions the people of Tauranga and beyond are making to the cost of delivery. 

The Government has decided to retain the dismantling, the transportation and the reassembly to pristine display standard, in order to ensure the aircraft reach their new homes in suitable order.  The cost of this process has been averaged out across the various specified locations in New Zealand and hence the charge of $30,000 per aircraft. We are almost halfway there! So a huge thanks to everyone for their assistance and support so far.

Initially we were hoping for delivery of the aircraft in late August, but that has now been moved back to late October.  We will then clear our main hangar floor where the aircraft will be rebuilt by the RNZAF engineers, during which visitors & members of the public to the hangar are welcome to watch the process.  The rebuild will also be displayed on our website using time lapsed photography over approximately four days. We will have an “Unveiling” in early November, with an invite for all Skyhawk supporters & public, along with a special historic “treat” for those who attend.

On other news our Catalina platform is taking shape. Thanks to Phil, Rex and Roy for its initial construction. The next stage (thanks to Frank, John & co) we will be starting the steelwork on the stairway shortly. This will coincide with a general re-arrangement throughout the main hangar this Spring, and enable a shift & expansion of many display items to hangar 3 as well.

Our “Classics of the Sky” (Tauranga City Airshow) planning is now at full speed, with a large amount of infrastructure all being sorted out. The Rotary Crew has sold approximately half of the trade sites already & we have a growing lineup of display aircraft offering their participation. It’s shaping up to be a great weekend!

Lastly – I have just returned from my first ever visit to the EAA flying display & convention at Oshkosh in Wisconsin USA. Wow – what a place!
• 13000 aircraft on site (there are only 3000 in the whole of NZ)
• 37 degrees “C” each day.
• 200,000 to 270,000 people on site each day for 7 days.
Amazing things to see – including such items as a really excellent night air display. I even watched a young bloke bend an F16 on a fast landing! (he was ok –but I hope he’s still got a job).
You know, over there they don’t even have a crowd fence at their airshow. All the people just sit short of a painted line on the grass! It was a great week with time spent alongside guys like Bert Rutan & Chuck Yeager.

Bye for now-
Andrew Gormlie


Loath it or love it the NASA Space Shuttle has been an iconic space craft that has defined for a generation what it means to put a man into space.

shuttle_launch.jpgNo one could ever be accused of saying the space craft was beautiful to look at. Coupled with a flying characteristic not much better than a falling brick it would not win prizes for its flying characteristics. What it does do is make you stop and stare at the awesome sight (and sound) of its takeoff as it soars into orbit from the launch pad.

With the final flight of Atlantis now over you have to wonder what now for NASA and the American Space Dream. To find out everything about the Space Shuttle visit the NASA website by clicking here

Among many other things this site is packed with images, stories, articles and videos of 30 years of the Space Shuttle programme. Many of the photos and film are in High Definition (NASA being one of the early adopters of this technology). My pick of the videos would be this one. Watch it with your PC sound up loud and you will see what I mean (click here)

All of the retired space shuttles are destined for display in museums across America. I wonder what costs and facilities those museums will face taking on one of their country's most iconic aircraft of the century. We have a similar task ahead of us with the pending arrival of our own iconic New Zealand aircraft the Douglas A4K Skyhawk.

How Not to Display Your New A4 Skyhawk

The following sequence of photos shows what happened at an unidentified American Air Museum that received a refurbished A4 Skyhawk for display on a plinth. Pictures courtesy of Garrick Horwitz.

1 Lift her up now..."            2 "Ok now gently does it..." 3  "Hold it. Hold it........"

4  "Oh no......"                   5  "We need a bigger crane"


Project Manager Bruce Chapman and his team have been making spectacular progress on the P40 restoration project in a past two months.

As Bruce commented “we may have to appoint a public relations person to answer all the questions from the museum visitors who all seem very interested in it.”
The aircraft is now standing on its own undercarriage and the wing skinning is well underway and looks very impressive.

Here the Ailerons can be seen laid out on a workbench in preparation for skinning.

The next major job will be to lift the engine into place and make sure the engine mounts are all correct. The engine will then be partly stripped to confirm its condition. We know that the bearing shells will have to be sent to the States to be re-sprayed, because of the type of metal used.
The tailplane is all but complete as seen in this image

Once the above work is complete, the project will probably look fairly static to the casual observer, but rest assured work will be continuing at the same rate to finish all that is still required to make the P40 a real asset to the museum.

Here the mighty Alison V12 engine sits in its cradle awaiting mounting onto the aircraft engine mounts.


By the time this newsletter goes to press the team will have mated (albeit temporarily) the engine to the engine mounts protuding from the filewall of the P40.
This image shows the skinning of the upper wing surfaces is well under way and the the two prominant engine mount frames are protruding from the front firewall of the P40

Well done to all on the team that has worked so diligently over the past 18 months.


Since we started the Skyhawk Supports Club campaign we have had a massive response. We now have an amazing number of people associated with Classic Flyers. Our contact database now numbers over 2000! To see the list of Skyhawk members click on this link to our website. On behalf of the Board of Trustees we welcome you all as Friends of Classic Flyers.

On a sadder note we have had a few members that have passed away. One newsworthy member was John Gard’ner. The following is an excerpt from an obituary by Phil Dawson of the Independent Newspaper (London).

Group Captain John Gard'ner: New Zealand fighter pilot fought in the Battle of Britain. John Gard'ner was one of the last surviving New Zealand fighter pilots who helped win the Battle of Britain.

A volunteer for the RAF, he was also one of the few survivors of an early disaster of that battle, when his sluggish, single-engine Defiant aircraft was shot down by vastly superior Luftwaffe Messerschmitts over the Channel.
A Bolton Paul Defiant Fighter in daytime camouflage over wartime England

It was shortly after noon on 19 July 1940, days after the Battle of Britain had begun, when nine two-seater Defiants of the RAF's depleted 141 Squadron, most of them with New Zealand pilots and gunners, took off from Hawkinge, near Folkestone, on a routine patrol. They were flying at around 5,000 feet when a greater number of Messerschmitt Bf 109Es came at them out of the sun. In their single-engine Defiants, the Kiwis never stood a chance. As a result of this loss the Defiants were removed from day to night-flying duty, where they had more success.

Of the nine Defiants four crashed into the sea, killing their eight crew members, a fifth crashed into the White Cliffs of Dover and a sixth crashed trying to get back to base. Gard'ner struggled to get out of his cockpit as his plane sank into the choppy waters of the Channel. "I kicked my way out and got myself to the surface just about bursting," he recalled. When a Royal Navy torpedo boat approached, his first concern was that they thought he might be a Luftwaffe pilot. He didn't wear NZ flashes on his uniform "Maybe they thought I was a Kraut but, God bless them, they shouted 'we gotcha, we gotcha. Are you all right?' I don't remember much more after that, for a while.”

Gard’ner stayed with the RAF until the end of the war, eventually becoming a squadron leader. He was credited with one aerial victory, a Fw190 shot down in November 1944.

Gard'ner was seconded to the US Marine Corps after the war, where he trained pilots in Gloster Meteors, early jet fighters. He also flew Skynight jet fighters during the Korean war of the 1950s but he avoided telling even his family how, when and where. He served as British air attaché in Brussels before retiring in 1965.
Gard'ner last flew a plane himself when he was 90. At the age of 92, he flew (in a commercial airliner) to London to witness the unveiling of a statue of his compatriot Air Vice-Marshal Sir Keith Park, a hero of both World Wars who was and remains a hero, not only to Kiwis but to freedom-loving people around the world.
With Gard'ner's death, there are now only three Kiwis left who, had volunteered for the RAF and helped defend Britain in the summer of 1940.
Gard'ner ended up doing what he had day-dreamed about during the rare, quieter days in the blues skies over southern England in that summer of 1940. He bought an orchard in the Bay of Plenty. Few of his neighbours knew he had played a crucial role in an air battle that probably changed the face of the world.


Many of the regular volunteers around Classic Flyers will know Bruce Chapman as the pilot that flies Harvard 98 and the other wonderful old planes that are hangared in the Historic Aircraft Trust hangar across the way from the museum. I caught up with Bruce on a beautiful winter’s Sunday afternoon after returning from a flight in the De Havilland Dominie over Tauranga.
On a day like today it makes you realise why I have loved flying so much. I remember that I had always wanted to fly from seeing my first glimpse of an aircraft flying in the sky.  As a kid I use to love going to Mechanics Bay in Auckland which was the birthplace of NZ international aviation, to watch the arrival of the flying boats arrive from overseas. It was not until mid 1950’s that I began my flying career. My ambition was to join the RNZAF but unfortunately they were not recruiting pilots at this time so I therefore obtained my PPL, Commercial and Instructor’s ratings at the Auckland Aero club where I was able to carry out many chartered flights throughout NZ carrying anything from flowers to coffins.

In the early 1960’s I joined SPANZ flying DC3’s throughout the country on scheduled passenger services. In those days SPANZ was a direct competitor to NAC but as the cards were politically stacked against them and I saw the writing on the wall so to speak, I was fortunate enough to join TEAL before SPANZ eventually folded.

I started flying the Lockheed Electra with TEAL and after 10 months I gained my command with them and shortly thereafter I was promoted to a training captain. As TEAL became Air New Zealand in 1965, I continued as a simulator and aircraft instructor on Douglas DC8’s, McDonnell –Douglas DC10s and the Boeing 747. Certification on the DC10 was done with United in the USA and the B747 with Qantas in Australia. To this day I think the DC10 was my favourite aircraft to fly. At the time its technology and systems were well advanced for its day. Probably in no small measure to the experience gained by the manufacturer in the space programme.

Whilst flying heavy aircraft with ANZ, I always kept my love of flying light aircraft and never found it a struggle to transit from one aircraft type to the other.

I left ANZ in the mid 1980’s and joined Southern World Airlines flying stretched DC8. This operation covered the Trans Pacific route USA through NZ to Australia. You had to be careful flying stretched DC8 as many a pilot rotated too steeply on takeoff leaving behind a shower of sparks and a damaged aircraft. I also did a short stint as a training captain with Freedom Air when they first started their operation out of Hamilton. I also did a stint with NZ Post flying their Metroliners all night up and down the country.

In 1994 I joined Polynesian Airlines with long time friend Trevor Bland and enjoyed flying around the Pacific Islands. I assisted Trevor with his dream of creating the Warbirds Association and we had our first meeting of Warbirds in ANZ House in 1978.  I bought shares in Harvard 98 and enjoyed flying and socialising with other members of Warbirds.

A37_Dragonfly.JPGDuring this period I was rated on the Cessna A37 Dragonfly owned my Maurice Hayes and had many enjoyable hours blasting around the skies in this aircraft. The most memorable trip was flying this aircraft via Norfolk Island, Lord Howe Island and Sydney and on to Tasmania for the first ever world pylon racing event for jet aircraft in 1998. It was exhilarating flying the 7 km pylon course around 400 knots at 50 – 100ft as you can imagine.

In 1999 Beth and I moved down to Tauranga and not long afterwards met Andrew Gormlie and we soon found out we had the same passion for aeroplanes and formed a good friendship.  Andrew bought my shares in Harvard 98 and when he founded Classic Flyers in 2005, my interest in local flying was rekindled.  A year or so later Maurice Hayes moved the Historic Aircraft Trust Aircraft from Auckland to Tauranga and into a new building opposite Classic Flyers and I was asked by Maurice if I would manage the hangar for him which I greatly enjoy doing. Maurice and I have known one another since the 1960’s. I have great pleasure flying the Trust’s aircraft being the DH Dominie, A37 Cessna and DH Tiger Moth along with Harvard 98. There is certainly a wide variation in the performance of these aircraft from Tiger Moth to A37 Dragonfly (interestingly both named after types of insect)!

For the past 18 months Classic Flyers have been restoring a P40 Kittyhawk which I have greatly enjoyed managing in Hangar 3.  It has certainly kept the dedicated team of volunteers and I busy, building it up from what was little more than a container full of scrap metal to where it is now.  We still have a long way to go to get it to the point where it will be taxiable.  It is going to make a wonderful addition to the museum collection when it is finished.  I think we should all recognise the hard work that has gone into its restoration by all the team members of this project. Well done team!!

I must just mention one last fact which to me over shadows everything else.  Meeting my wife Beth in the early 1970’s was the real highlight of my flying career.   She was a cabin attendant on the DC10 and I met her on a flight to Tahiti and along came two sons and the rest (so they say) is history.....

What next awaits the attention of this very talented man I wonder? We are truly lucky to have someone of Bruce’s skills and experience working with us at Classic Flyers.

Garry Bentley


Battle of Britain Day – Sunday 18th September
Weather permitting – we are gathering a team to fly up to Ardmore on Sunday September 18th to support Battle of Britain day.
I will keep you posted – so look out for a special APB (email notice) to all volunteers and supporters in the next week or so.
If you would like to book a seat in one of the aircraft – just drop us a reply to register interest.
Anyone is welcome to drive up too of course. It should be a great day out, the first of the new season.
Wednesday 17th August at 7.30pm – Historic Aviation Society meeting at Classic Flyers.
This month’s speaker is Andrew Gormlie who will be speaking about his recent trip to the EAA Convention at Oshkosh. Could be the opportunity to see some great photos and hear some tall tales. All comers are welcome and tea & biscuits are provided (small charge).

HIDDEN GEMS IN THE MUSEUM - The Lulham Model Collection

The eagle eyed among you may have noticed a fairly extensive collection of model aircraft on display in the museum. They are collectively known as the Lulham Collection. Apart from them being fascinating to look at there is an interesting story behind them.

Donald Lulham (1932 – 1972) started building models in 1960. There are approximately 400 models in the aircraft collection. Donald also built model ships and military vehicles.

The collection was originally displayed at the Tauranga Historic Village. When the Tauranga City Council decided to sell the Village site the models displayed there were going to be dumped.  However Jack Browne and friends collected and packed up all the models into cartons and moved them to the Paraparaumu Airport Museum where they sat in storage for a number of years.

model_box_2.JPGWith the establishment of Classic Flyers and after discussion with the Lulham family, museum space was made available to display them once more in the Bay of Plenty. Jack Browne retrieved the model collection from storage at Paraparaumu.

Just a few of the many model aircraft that still await restoration for future display

Starting a couple of years ago Volunteers (Jack Browne and Roger Bailey) unpacked all the aircraft models, repaired those that had been damaged in all the moves (and there were many broken), and carefully washed them. At the same time Volunteer Diane Jeffrey spent time cataloguing the models and preparing a full readable list with which the models were individually identified so that they could be correctly labelled when the time came to place them on display.
Thanks to a generous Trust Fund put in place by the Lulham Family, glass fronted display cabinets were built and painted and Marty Cantlon produced an appropriate backing sheet for every cabinet.

The view of several display cabinet going up the back stairs leading to the Armoury Room

models_case_1.JPGOver a couple of years Jack and Roger, with willing assistance from other volunteers when required, have put together nine display cabinets. Five of these are mounted above the back stairs, three back onto the NAC display and one is in the Avgas café.  Each display cabinet has a theme eg Aircraft 1900 – 1939, World War II, Pacific etc.

A typical display cabinet with the art work in the back being relevant to the models on display

There are still a number of Lulham aircraft models in cartons but most of these are too badly damaged to repair. The ship and military models are still in cartons and won’t be touched until there is a working space in Hangar 3. The possibility has been discussed regarding a number of models being displayed in their broken form with suitable titles using actual WW2 footage and pictures taken from gun-camera action.

The displays are worth a look if you have not seen them. Jack and Roger have made a great job of putting these models back on display for us all to enjoy.
Garry Bentley

A group of passionate individuals got together to achieve this dream of creating Classic Flyers to protect the rich and precious history of New Zealand aviation.

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