Post by baronbeeza on Oct 15, 2020 17:22:41 GMT 12
Jack Kilkenny was an enthusiastic supporter of Westport’s aerodrome. In 1929, with four other men, he had invested in a kitset aircraft with a Model A motor and a sawn-off broom handle for a gear stick.
Yep, an account from a reasonably modern newspaper article. The Press dated 2012.
There is talk of an aeroplane like this in town but I have heard nothing officially about it. I am not even sure it was ever registered.
I may be able to find the gear stick but the rest may be rotting away at Carter's Beach someplace.
The aircraft kitset imported from the USA by Jack Kilkenny and partners was a Storms WhizBang. In April 1933 following assembly it was inspected by a member of the NZPAF and found to be built from substandard material. Nevertheless the group were not deterred and it was taken to Carters beach with intentions to fly it. However although one of the group had previously had two hours dual instruction, he and Kilkenny's brother-in-law were unable to get it of the ground. A week or two later John Spencer-Allan after additional dual flying tuition successfully flew the aircraft on several occasions however it crashed with Spencer-Allan at the controls following engine failure and was badly damaged. Plans to rebuild the aircraft were shelved following a second visit from the PAF inspector who advised them of the consequences should they fly it again. In June 1970 John Spencer-Allan was killed near Taupo in the crash of AESL Airtourer ZK-CXS. His passenger survived.
. . . In June 1970 John Spencer-Allan was killed near Taupo in the crash of AESL Airtourer ZK-CXS. His passenger survived.
His correct name was James Spencer ALLEN (no hyphen).
Allen was born in England on 11 July 1909, just a fortnight before one Louis Bleriot created a sensation by making the first crossing of the English Channel by air.
Author: Swift to the Sky – New Zealand’s Military Aviation History Author/publisher: For Your Tomorrow - A record of New Zealanders who have died while serving with the RNZAF and Allied Air Services since 1915 & A Passion For Flight - New Zealand aviation before the Great War. Publisher of Gp Capt C M Hanson’s By Such Deeds - Honours and Awards in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, 1923-1999
Post by baronbeeza on Oct 15, 2020 20:51:52 GMT 12
Thanks for the great replies. I am sure the townsfolk will have long forgotten the details. My father saw the machine and mentioned that the inspections didn't go too well. I did guess that it may not have been registered etc.
Dave, By all accounts the WhizBang kit was a real "Heath Robinson" affair. The PAF inspector noted that the timber supplied for wings and fuselage was Sugar Pine, the aileron hinges were cheap cupboard hinges and the elevator and rudder hinges were fashioned from leather shoe tongues and tacked to the spars. Perhaps the broomstick control column was also part of the imported kit! It appears to not have been popular and I can find only six examples registered in the USA. The Westport aircraft was kit #7 and another kit is believed to have been imported by Mr Hildred, Te Aroha, but it seems probable construction of this aircraft was not completed
Post by baronbeeza on Oct 16, 2020 13:24:35 GMT 12
Excellent stuff. With the info provided here I went back to the Westport people and refreshed a few memories. It seems the locals referred to it as a Storms Flying Flivver and we do have some more history for it now.
Not only that but there is talk of one or two other early aircraft in town, again I doubt any were registered.
I will reply with the info once I have collated it all and removed the obvious errors.
I am hearing that our particular aircraft here did have a life after being condemned, it was used for pax high speed taxis along the beach. The motor may have ended up in a sawmill, my father said he has started it. Some of this history may be closer to home than I thought.
Last Edit: Oct 16, 2020 13:25:18 GMT 12 by baronbeeza
The term 'Flying Flivver' was a general term applied to many small amateur built aircraft of that era.
Further information I have is that following the accident it was taken to the premises of Len Powick and Sons, cabinetmakers were restoration work commenced however after the second visit by a PAF inspector it was relegated to outdoor storage where it deteriorated.
I will be interested in any further details you discover about the aircraft