History of aviation in New Zealand

History of aviation in New Zealand

Share This Content
The history of aviation in New Zealand began in the late 19th century when balloon flights began. In the first decade of the 20th century, several New Zealanders began developing heavier-than-air craft with the first confirmed powered flight in New Zealand being made by Vivian Walsh in 1911. The First World War spurred the development of aviation in New Zealand. A flying school was established and several hundred New Zealanders went on to serve in British flying services in Europe.

After the war, the civil aviation industry began to take shape as aero clubs became active from the late 1920s and Trans-Tasman flights were attempted. The first major commercial aviation company, Union Airways of New Zealand, began services in 1936. Meanwhile, the nation had established its own air service, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and during the Second World War it played a significant part in the country's contributions to the Allied war effort with thousands of New Zealanders being trained under the Empire Air Training Scheme and serving in Europe, the Mediterranean and the Pacific as part of both mixed Commonwealth formations and primarily New Zealand-manned squadrons.