THE INTERNAL FLIGHTS - 1930-1934
AIR TRAVEL: SPECIAL AIR MAIL, INAUGURATION OF CHRISTCHURCH - DUNEDIN SERVICEIn 1930 Mr. F.M. Clarke formed a small company known as "Air Travel". This company must not be confused with the company later formed by the West Coast pioneer Mr. J.C. Mercer and known as "Air Travel [N.Z.] Ltd". On November 6th, 1930, Air Travel inaugurated a daily weekday passenger service between Christchurch and Dunedin using a D.H.50 four-seater cabin biplane powered with a 250 h.p. Siddeley Puma engine. This machine was hired from the Government and operated regularly until April 12th, 1931, when it was returned to the Government. Squadron Leader M.C. McGregor was the pilot and mail was only carried on the first flight as a survey of the airmail potential. The plane left Sockburn Aerodrome, Christchurch at 9.16am and arrived at Mosgiel Aerodrome, Dunedin at 11.20am.
1930, 22-29 December
DOMINION AIRLINES LTD: GISBORNE-HASTINGS AND VICE VERSARegular weekday service was inaugurated by George B. Bolt flying a Desoutter II, ZK-ACA. The company issued sheets of 6 'stamps' imprinted 'SIXPENCE' to defray the air mail fee over the postage rate of 1d for the Hastings-Gisborne flight on the 22nd. 'Stamps' for the return Gisborne-Hastings service were not available until the 29th and were printed in single labels. A printing error on these labels read 'DOMINION AIRWAYS LTD' which was corrected to 'DOMINION AIRLINES LTD' by typewriter. The stamps were initialled 'A.R' or signed 'A. Rosenberg' by the Company Secretary. On 29 December the Post Office stopped the use of these 'stamps' and very few were used on flown covers.
1930, from 20 December
DOMINION AIRLINES LTD: GISBORNE-HASTINGS AND RETURNWeekday service continued to operate until 30 January 1931. By cutting the labels to remove the word 'SIXPENCE' the Company was able to continue their use and also issued a printed cover and a rubber stamped cachet. Letters accepted by the company were posted on arrival.
HAWKES BAY EARTHQUAKE EMERGENCY FLIGHTSA large loss of life and devastation resulted from a series of severe earthquakes that particularly affected the towns of Napier, Hastings, and Wairoa. Communications were largely destroyed and the emergency flights by various aircraft and pilots provided an essential link with the rest of the country.
1931, 21 February
NEW ZEALAND AERO CLUB PAGEANT, DUNEDINSpecial printed covers flown in a D.H.50 from Wigram Aerodrome, Christchurch to the North Taieri Aerodrome, Dunedin and at the Pageant by Squadron Leader M.C. McGregor. Covers were posted at the Dunedin C.P.O. after the flight.
1931, 10 March
GISBORNE AIR TRANSPORT LTD: INAUGURATION OF DAILY WEEKDAY SERVICE FROM GISBORNE TO HASTINGS AND RETURNOn the discontinuance of the service by Dominion Airlines Ltd a syndicate was formed and a new company was registered as "Gisborne Air Transport Ltd.". The first flights were made on the 10th March, 1931 when a D.H. coupe Moth left Gisborne at 6.45am for Hastings which was reached at 8.00am, the pilot being Flight-Lieutenant W.H. Lett. The return flight left Hastings at 9.45am and arrived at Gisborne at 11am. A charge of 6d per cover was made by the pilot for signing letters and only signed covers were carried. A special envelope was prepared for the first flights. Printed in black on manilla the inscription read; "GISBORNE AIR TRANSPORT LTD. GISBORNE - HASTINGS [or HASTINGS - GISBORNE] FIRST FLIGHT" at the top of the cover whilst the pilot signed in the lower left-hand corner. Mail was posted at end of flight.
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1931, 11 March - 1932, December
GISBORNE-HASTINGS AND RETURNSubsequent flights continued as a week day service with the addition of a Desoutter monoplane. A further printed cover was produced and also rubber stamp cachets. Covers were posted on arrival and are signed by the pilot.
1931, 24 March - 7 April
KAITAIA AERO CLUB: INAUGURATION OF INTERMITTENT AIR MAIL SERVICE BETWEEN KAITAIA AND AUCKLAND - FOR WHICH ONLY THE ORDINARY POSTAGE WAS CHARGEDIn November 1930 the Kaitaia Aero Club made arrangements with the Air Survey and Transport Co. Ltd to supply aircraft, and F/O F.D. Mill who had founded the company, made the earlier flights using a D.H. Moth plane. The passenger service commenced on the 29th November 1930, but according to records no mail was carried until March 24th 1931, when the first air mail was recorded as being flown from Auckland to Kaitaia and these letters were posted at Kaitaia after the flight as no official contract had been obtained. The first Kaitaia-Auckland mail was flown on the 7th April when covers were posted at Auckland.
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1931, from 8 April
KAITAIA-AUCKLAND AND RETURNSubsequent flights of Kaitaia Airways (Kaitaia Aero Club/Air Survey & Transport Co Ltd) After the inaugural flights, F.D. Mill was joined by J.D. Hewett and D.M. Allan and their signatures appear on some covers. F.D. Mill also had a rubber stamp facsimile of his signature. Special covers were produced for the company and letters were posted on arrival.
1931, 12 November
AIR TRAVEL: SPECIAL SURVEY FLIGHT FROM INVERCARGILL TO AUCKLANDThis series of flights was arranged by the N.Z. Air League in conjunction with the Postal Department, and was originally intended to pick up mail throughout both islands for dispatch to Sydney to connect with a special Australia - England direct air mail organised by Kingsford Smith's company Australia National Airways Ltd. However, it was later approved for the carriage of inland air mail also. The flight also has special significance in that it was the first on which official air mail stamps were used to frank correspondence in New Zealand, the 1931 Air Mail set having been issued two days before the flight on November 10th.
1931, 13 November
AIR TRAVEL SIMMONDS SPARTAN, ZK-ABUFlown by Squadron Leader M.C. McGregor made a return Wellington-Auckland flight departing at 6.45am and arriving at 12.16pm. No cachets were applied.
1931, 10 December
AIR TRAVEL: SPECIAL SURVEY FLIGHT AUCKLAND - GISBORNE AND RETURNThis was a further flight arranged through the N.Z. Air League in conjunction with the Postal Department. The flight was arranged to investigate the practicability of a service over a route not ordinarily well served by other means of transport. The air fee was again fixed at 3d per ounce in addition to ordinary postage. Squadron Leader M.C. McGregor again piloted the Spartan Arrow ZK-ABU of "Air Travel", leaving Auckland at 9.03am and arriving at Gisborne at 12.24pm. On the return flight the plane left Gisborne at 3.23pm and reached Auckland at 6.48pm. At Hamilton most of the postmarks in the morning were badly over-inked, whilst at Rotorua the backstamp was often insufficiently inked and is often difficult to read. Hamilton also omitted to backstamp a large proportion of the mail from Rotorua but in most other cases backstamps were applied. No cachets were used. The route was via Auckland-Hamilton-Rotorua-Gisborne; returning the same day.
1931, 24 December
SPECIAL CHRISTMAS SURVEY FLIGHTSWere organised by the New Zealand Air League with the co-operation of the N.Z. Post Office using different aircraft and pilots to cover the major part of the country.
1932, 20 January
AIR TRAVEL: SPECIAL SURVEY FLIGHT BETWEEN WELLINGTON AND THE WEST COASTThis flight was arranged by the New Zealand Air League with the co-operation of the Postal Department, which provided rubber-stamp cachets, similar to that used on the 1931 Christmas flights for use at the various offices. The pilot was S/L M.C. McGregor who flew ZK-ABU, the Spartan Arrow biplane operated by Air Travel. The route was from Wellington to Hokitika via Nelson and Westport and return to Wellington by the same route, in the one day. The colours of the cachets were: Wellington [purple], Nelson [Green], Westport [Red], and Hokitika [Deep Green]. At least one special type of cover is recorded; printed in four colours the cover depicts an aeroplane sweeping down at speed from the top-left corner and the caption, "Experimental Flight----Wellington - Hokitika ---20-1-32" appears along the foot of the envelope.
1932, 20 February
SOUTH ISLAND AIR PAGEANT AT INVERCARGILL:Captain T.W. White flew the New Zealand Airways Ltd. Simmonds Spartan from Saltwater Creek, Timaru to Invercargill carrying 153 special printed covers. He again flew these at the Pageant on the same day (20th) and after the flight 102 of them were posted at the Invercargill C.P.O. The remaining 51 covers, which had been overlooked, were not posted until Monday the 22nd at the Chief Post Office, Invercargill.
1932, 21 February
OAMARU AND DUNEDIN-CHRISTCHURCH FLOOD EMERGENCY FLIGHTSSevere flooding in North Otago cut the rail and road links north of Oamaru and the Chief Postmaster requested that aircraft returning from the Invercargill Air Pageant land at that town and pick up mails which had accumulated. Several aircraft under the command of Squadron Leader J.L Findlay carried this mail to Christchurch. Squadron Leader T.M. Wilkes was also returning from the Pageant and at the request of the Dunedin Postmaster, he landed there and picked up 4 bags which he flew to Christchurch. At the request of the Air Mail Society of N.Z. both Sqn. Ldr. Findlay and Sqn. Ldr. Wilkes agreed to sign any letters carried on these flights but despite the quantities flown, very few covers were offered for their signatures.
1932, 16 March
AIR TRAVEL: SPECIAL SURVEY FLIGHT WELLINGTON - DANNEVIRKE AND RETURNOn March 2nd, 1932, Air Travel replaced their Spartan biplane ZK-ABU, with a second Spartan biplane ZK-ABZ, and it was this plane which was used for the special Dannevirke and return flight of March 16th. The New Zealand Air League again arranged the flight whilst the Postal Department provided rubber-stamp cachets, similar to that used on previous survey flights for use at the various offices. The postage rate was again 5d for a standard letter. The pilot was S/L M.C. McGregor and the outward flight was made via Masterton and Pahiatua whilst the return flight was via Woodville and Masterton so that some sections were carried past their destination and delivered on the return flight. "Double Firsts" are also in existence from the Wellington-Dannevirke-Wellington and Masterton-Dannevirke-Masterton routes. The cachets were applied in the following colours; Wellington [red], Masterton [maroon], Pahiatua [green], Woodville [purple], and Dannevirke [mauve-pink].
1932, 29 March
MATAROA-FEILDING-WELLINGTONFlight by C.M. Duthie carrying a small unofficial mail. Covers have a typewritten cachet and are signed by the pilot. Covers were posted on arrival at Fielding - 29 MR 32 9.30 AM and at Wellington - 20 MR 32 4 PM. (Mataroa)
1932, 9 April
OFFICIAL OPENING TIMARU AIRPORTWas marked by an Air Pageant at which Squadron Leader T.W. White flew the N.Z. Airways Ltd Simmonds Spartan, ZK-ABK. An unofficial mail of special printed covers was carried and then postmarked TIMARU 9AP32 5.PM. Covers were signed by the pilot. (Timaru)
1932, 30 April
AIR TRAVEL: FINAL SURVEY FLIGHT BETWEEN AUCKLAND AND NORTH AUCKLANDThis was the last of the survey flights conducted by Air Travel under the auspices of the New Zealand Air League. The Post Office sanctioned a special air mail with the rate of 5d. per standard letter. The route chosen was a round one: Auckland-Dargaville-Russell-Whangarei-Auckland.
1932, 28-29 September
WESTLAND AERO CLUB: SPECIAL SURVEY FLIGHT BETWEEN HOKITIKA AND OKURUThis survey flight was made in a plane (Simmonds Spartan ZK-ABU) owned by the Westland Aero Club, and piloted by Messrs. J.R. Renton and A. Nancekivell. The Hokitika-Waiho Gorge-Okuru flight was made on the 28th, and the return flight by the same route the following day.
1932, 24 December
CHRISTMAS AIR MAIL FLIGHTSWere again arranged by the New Zealand Air League with the co-operation of the New Zealand Post Office. A special pictorial cachet was applied at the appointed Post Offices using selected coloured ink. Some letters that missed the cachet initially were later stamped with the incorrect cachet.
1933, 4 March
SIR CHARLES KINGSFORD SMITH - "SOUTHERN CROSS"Sir Charles Kingsford Smith flew 10 special covers during his visit to Wigram Aerodrome, Christchurch.
1933, 23 March
TAIHAPE-HAMILTONFlight by Desoutter ZK-ACJ flown by S.J. Blackmore carried a small unofficial mail. Covers have a typed inscription and were postmarked TAIHAPE 23 MR 335 (Taihape) and again at HAMILTON 23 Mr 33 7.3OPM.
1933, 4 May
STRIKE EMERGENCY FLIGHTSWhen a Cook Strait shipping strike disrupted the mail services between the North and South Islands, A.E. Willis of the Marlborough Aero Club flew mail to Wellington. One bag of letters was flown to Rongotai Aerodrome (Wellington) and on the return trip, one bag of letters was carried for Blenheim and two for Nelson. Initially no distinguishing markings were applied to this mail but on being approached by collectors, Willis agreed to endorse any of the flown covers submitted to him but very few were signed.
1933, 29-30 May
HAWKES BAY FLOOD EMERGENCY FLIGHTSHeavy flooding in the Hawkes Bay province cut road and rail access to some towns resulting in a build up of mail at Post Offices and A.G. Gerrand of the Hawkes Bay Aero Club was asked to fly 9 bags of mail and newspapers (approximately 3,500 items) from Hastings to Gisborne on 29 May. On the following day he flew 4 bags consisting of about 4,500 items from Gisborne to Hastings. No special markings were applied to mail and identification of flown covers is difficult.
1933, 7 September
AUCKLAND - HMS "DUNEDIN"In the Hauraki Gulf. Special flight by Fairey IIIF, S1805 of the NZPAF piloted by Flight Lieutenant S. Wallingford with despatches and mail from Auckland to HMS "Dunedin" which was on exercises with HMAS "Australia", HMAS "Canberra" and HMS "Diomede". Only 4 covers have been identified and have a typed inscription "Per Seaplane" and the backstamp AUCKLAND DELIVERY 75P 33 11AM
1933, 17 December
C.T.P. ULM: VH-UXX "FAITH IN AUSTRALIA" - SPECIAL NON-STOP SURVEY FLIGHT AUCKLAND-INVERCARGILLFollowing Charles Ulm's Tasman crossing to New Zealand in December 1933, arrangements were made with the Post office Dept. to carry out a non-stop air mail flight from Auckland to Invercargill to demonstrate the practicability of long flights in New Zealand. Special covers were issued by the Vacuum Oil Co., and distributed through the chief post offices. These were printed in black and bore on the left-hand side a circular portrait of Charles Ulm, below which were the words: "Faith in Australia" and a map of New Zealand showing the route, across which was superimposed an impression of the "Faith in Australia" in flight.
1934, 24 March
HAWKES BAY AND EAST COAST AERO CLUB PAGEANTTo commemorate the visit of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith in VH-USU "Southern Cross". A small printing of souvenir covers was made and no more than 90 of these were postmarked Hastings and carried to Kaitaia and then to Sydney by the "Southern Cross".
1934, 12 April
SPECIAL FLIGHTS WITHIN NEW ZEALAND FOR DELIVERY OF FIRST OFFICIAL AIR MAIL FROM AUSTRALIA TO NEW ZEALANDOn the 12th April, 1934, Mr. C.T.P. Ulm arrived at New Plymouth with the first official air mail from Australia, and the Prime Minister of New Zealand had arranged to facilitate delivery of the mails. Three planes were in readiness at Bell Block Aerodrome, New Plymouth, and as soon as the mail had been transferred to these craft from the "Faith in Australia", they left for their various destinations. Mail for the Auckland area was flown by Flight Lieutenant S. Wallingford of the RNZAF in a Fairey IIW. S.1805; that for Hastings/Napier flown by KG. Gerrand in the Hawkes Bay & East Coast Aero Club's D.H. 60X Moth, ZK-ABB and mails for Wellington District and to Christchurch and Southern areas was flown by Squadron Leader J.L Findlay in an RNZAF Puss Moth #2125.
1934, 19 December
AUCKLAND - NAPIERDuring the visit of H.R.H. The Duke of Gloucester to Napier, a special flight was made carrying mail and despatches to the tour party. No public mail was accepted and no covers are known.
1934, 31 December
AIR TRAVEL [N.Z.] LTD: INAUGURATION OF REGULAR SERVICE BETWEEN HOKITIKA, HAAST AND OKURUOn New Year's Eve 1934, Mr. J.C. Mercer, founder and chief pilot of Air Travel [N.Z.] Ltd inaugurated the South Westland air mail and passenger service which was to become one of the greatest assets of the scattered South Westland settlers. The plane used was the DH Fox Moth ZK-ADI piloted by J.C. [Bert] Mercer, which left Hokitika at 8.15am and returned the same day at 3.45pm. This was the first unsubsidised air mail service in New Zealand, and one of the first in the world.