First controlled powered flight in New Zealand

5 February 1911

Pioneering aviator Vivian Walsh made the first controlled powered flight in New Zealand. He and his brother Leo had built the British-designed Howard Wright biplane from imported plans.

Vivian Walsh flew the Manurewa more than 350 m at a height of 20 m, watched by a small group of spectators at Glencora Park in Papakura, South Auckland. The brothers went on to found the New Zealand Flying School, with Vivian becoming the first New Zealander to obtain an aviator’s certificate.

South Canterbury farmer Richard Pearse had worked on ideas for powered flight as early as 1899. He may have made his first attempt at flight on 31 March 1903, eight months before the Wright brothers made a controlled flight in the United States.

Image: The Manurewa (Te Ara)

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