the return of Ogilvie
from the disappointing UK venture, activity
'hangar' site would have more than likely been
dismantling the launching ramp, disposing of the
and probably pondering the futility of any
A sad time for all.
Throughout the 1914-18 war
and the influenza epidemic which followed, flying
interests would have been
overshadowed by the grief and family commitment
these two events created.
We have no record of hangar-happenings through
this period. However, there is a story...
Ogilvie, Hawkins and others were experimenting to
develop a system of
'dipping' a motor vehicle's headlights from the
With an increase of vehicles appearing on the
roads around then,
this problem was becoming more apparent.
the gradual termination of the the influenza
epidemic, and the return
from service of some Royal Flying Corps
personnel, the hangar, it seems, became
the meeting place of the aviation-minded locals.
They realised that powered-flight
had a future, so set about building an aerodrome,
close to the hangar - roughly where
Maraenui borders Riverbend Road, (at that time it
was called Richmond Block).
airstrip, (prone to flooding),provided for a
short time a landing area for
visiting pioneer aviators who, at this time, were
attempting to promote and
demonstrate the various aircraft becoming
available for sale. These pioneers were
also attempting to set up a network of
hazard-free landing-strips between
New Zealand towns and cities for future passenger
and mail services.
Dominion Airlines Ltd.
the same time the airstrip was in development, a
glider was 'in-build' in the hangar.
This project came about via some very
This glider shot, (right), taken on the
Embankment drome, could possibly be
similar to the one being built in the Riverbend
but was wrecked along with the hangar in the 1931
The area around the 1907
hangar site sited the homes of Captain
Hawkins and Lew
(later Sir Lew Harris, whose family is still
involved with the Napier Aero Club). Napier's
Collector of Customs also lived near the hangar.
Next door, unused tobacco from the National
Tobacco Coy was occasionally burnt,
(to avoid duty that was paid only on the used
The young son of the
company's Founder - Tye
Husheer - possibly
supervised the tobacco's transport to the site.
With his interest in aviation, eventually linked
up with the Ogilvie-Hawkins team.
The Husheer family had links to the Walsh
Brothers and their flying school at Kohamaramara.
So, too, a young pilot by the name of Arnold
Wright - gaining his
pilot's certificate, (1918),
at the Walsh Bros flying school.
So...the two periods of
Napier's early aviation came together.
The Napier Aero Club was formed from the old 1907
hangar in Riverbend Road on 10th.October 1928.
special General Meeting of the Napier
Aero Club on Thursday 14th.March 1946,
the Chairman, Mr. E.N.H. Stewart, (a
first world war R.F.C. pilot), outlined
the club's past history.
The minutes reveal he mentioned;
"..from it's founding after the
first world war."
Many records of Napier's history were
destroyed in the fire of damaged
at the time of the 1931 earthquake. We
are attempting to trace more info.
1928 - 1939
An inspection of the Riverbend Road airstrip as a
proposed airport for Napier,
by Squadron Leader L.M.
Isett, ( Commanding
Officer of the NZ Permanent Air Force base
at Auckland), produced an adverse report -
particularly since his visit coincided with
heavy rain and flooding. This confirmed what had
already been discovered earlier
by some visiting pilots.
S/Ldr. L.M. Isett
outcome sealed the fate of any further commercial
development in this area.
A sad disappointment for the Napier Aero Club
members, who had spent so much time and effort to
develop the airstrip.
February 3rd 1931
The day of the Earthquake (7·5 Richter scale)
which destroyed the Napier & Hastings
business areas, and caused destruction throughout
looking up towards
Shakespeare Rd. after
partial clean-up. 1931
Napier club's hangar was completely wrecked,
including the glider inside. What a sudden end to
historic site of early aviation pioneers...
and,for a short time,a frustration as to 'what
Hastings Street, Napier,
from bottom of Shakespeare Rd.
after partial clean-up. 1931
Earthquake raised, (by about 8-feet), and drained
the Napier/Ahuriri inner harbour - a very large
Previously, it was normally well under water - a
and swimming 'lagoon.' But now, here was a large
'new land' with 'potential.'
The members of the club were quick to realise
Inner harbour prior to
'gift from the sea' was their possible answer to
establishing an aerodrome.
They set about obtaining a lease of an area they
felt could be
successfully drained - also capable of handling
most aircraft types flying in New Zealand at that
This site became
known as the 'Embankment Drome' to
local folk because the area ran alongside a road
embankment. Eventually, it was called 'Napier's
The sea-bed area,
now exposed after the earthquake.
Photo - 1932.
leasing of this 'new land,' and the commitment by the
members of the club,
it was obvious there would be considerable effort
involved to drain areas still under slush and sea water,
clear patches of salt weed and to compact the spread of
sea shell layers over most of the site.