PIET VAN ASCH - New Zealand's Aerial Mapping Pioneer

Piet van Asch with his pride and joy Monospar ZK-AFF
Bridge Pa Aerodrome, Hastings, is the home to
many of Hawkes Bay's aviation activities.
One company that made Bridge Pa its base of operations
prior to WW2 was NZ Aerial Mapping,
founded in early 1936 by Piet van Asch.

Piet was from a farming background in Havelock North, HB.
He had a great interest in photography and aviation
from an early age, and decided to make his interests his occupation.

Receiving wide support locally with his plans to form a company providing aerial photographs for clients'
survey requirements, he left for England four days after the company was formed to find a suitable aircraft.
An autogyro was soon rejected after testing.
A little twin-engine aircraft at the same airfield soon aroused his interest.
Produced by the General Aircraft Company and reasonably priced - a Monospar.

Cyril Whitaker on the prop,
Piet van Asch in the Cockpit
Piet acquired the NZ agency for the aircraft and the approval of his original shareholders to purchase it.
It was to provide such a wonderful, reliable foundation for his new company.
Those who flew it, had a lasting respect and affection for its reliability and performance. Ideal for aerial photography.
Piet named the Monospar "Manu Rere"
(Maori for Flying Bird)
and it was registered ZK-AFF.
It had Pobjoy Niagra 111 Radial engines.

ZK-AFF over Cape Kiddnappers.
They began with a survey of the Richardson Range near Queenstown for the
Department of Scientific & Industrial Research (DSIR).
Further contracts were forthcoming from local bodies, (town planning purposes), and from private surveys.
In the early stages of WW2, the NZ Government found it necessary to update maps of 'special areas'
for defence purposes. The RNZAF contracted NZ Aerial Mapping to take on this important task,
and provided the airforce bases & refuelling facilities for the company's use.

Aerial Mapping's Beechcraft
over Hawkes Bay's "produce gardens"

 ZK-AHO "on take off " Bridge Pa Aerodrome
In 1943, NZAM took delivery of an AT-11 Beechcraft - imported by the RNZAF.
It was the first time a new military aircraft had been passed over to
a private company - thus demonstrating the special link
and trust in Piet van Asch and NZ Aerial Mapping.
It was registered ZK-AHO.

ZK-AHO taking off Milford Sound
With the arrival of the AT-11, the Monospar was put into storage at Bridge Pa and came out of retirement
at times for displays at various aviation events around New Zealand.
It was in preparation for one such event, a proposed 50th Anniversary flight, that ended in tragedy.
June 1986 - whilst testing and calibrating the aircraft's fuel tank, a spark, (created by static electricity from one of the engineer's acrylic trousers), set the whole hangar alight. Every effort was made to move the Monospar out of the hangar, but it quickly caught fire and was a total loss.

Narrator: Cyril Whitaker

Aerial Mapping's three aircraft
(Cyril Whitaker 2nd from left).

 National film unit with ZK-AHO
(Piet van Asch 2nd from right others to be ID'd).
Tragic for those who had been invloved with it over the years - devastating for Piet, who had a special
association with ZK-AFF for nearly 50 years. It had been the foundation of a great company
that continues to flourish into the 21st. Century.

Bridge Pa aerodrome. The Monospar ZK-AFF, ZK-CDK and ZK-AHO.
We wish to thank Cyril Whitaker for granting us permission to copy his wonderful collection of photos
and memorabilia - thus helping to preserve HB's aviation heritage.
A great photo of the Monospar
Bridge Pa Hastings Date unknown