Temple Martin
He was English born and emigrated to New Zealand
at the age of 18 with his two sisters.

While one of the girls returned to England,
he spent a couple of years in the Manapouri district
as a tramping guide. But the weather and terrain
drove him out to gentler climes and his next move
was to Dunedin, where he became employed as
an apprentice aircraft mechanic with the
Otago Aero Club based on Taieri Aerodrome .

It was here he obtained a few basic engineering
certificates and also did a bit of flying before moving
north to the Marlborough Aero Club at Blenheim.

1939 meant war.
The New Zealand Air Force commandeered all
private and aero club aircraft for training purposes,
so Temple was suddenly without a job.

He joined the RNZAF engineering section and as a sergeant was moved to Taieri,
which was now a basic training centre for pilots on Tiger and Gipsy Moth aircraft.
The next five years were spent in maintenance and rebuilding various aircraft,
mainly the Tigers, and at wars end Flight Lieutenant Martin left the RNZAF
as a fully-licenced aircraft engineer.

Now, in 1946 it was a move to the Hawke's Bay and East Coast Aero Club at Hastings,
to service the reformed club fleet - but it was the new industry of aerial topdressing
fertilizer which provided him a future where he could exercise the best of
his aircraft engineering knowledge.

It was discovered at this time spreading superphosphate by aeroplane on
marginal sheep farming hill country was a viable proposition.
Surplus wartime Tiger Moths were cheap.
There were plenty of keen ex war-trained pilots to fly them.

The Tiger Moth started this new aerial topdressing industry, but they were far from
being an ideal aeroplane for the job of carting a load of several hundredweight
of manure from small airstrips to spread it at low level amongst steep hill country.

The machine was underpowered, had no wheel brakesfor ground handling,
and mishaps were fairly common.
It was a habit of his to take his camera and
photograph most of the mishaps he was called
to repair. A huge selection of these pictures
are now recorded onto disc
which is held by
Being made mainly of wood and fabric, a small accident could severely damage
the construction and delicate rigging of the biplane.
Several topdressing companies with numerous Tiger Moths started in Hawke's Bay,
and Temple, with his experience on biplanes, kept the fleet airworthy.

18 months after moving to Hawke's Bay, he started his own business called Airepair,
using some leased space in the East Coast Aero Club hangar, followed by
building his first hangar on his own property at Bridge Pa aerodrome in 1951,
then another big building in 1961.

At one stage, during the 1950’s, he serviced and
maintained 56 Tigers, based from Dannevirke in the south
to Wairoa in the North, as well as a smattering of
private Austers, Whitney Straights, Proctors,
Chipmunks from grateful owners around the North Island.

He kept a huge rack of refurbished Tiger wings
in the hangar to facilitate rapid repairs when called out
to rescue a downed topdressing machine
somewhere out in the countryside.

When the big hangar was built in the 1960’s, son Gary joined the engineering team.
By then the day of the Tiger as a workhorse was almost done being replaced
with fewer but more powerful metal aircraft which Temple with his extraordinary
engineering ability, easily adapted. There were still a number of private Tiger Moths
around for years to come, the owners of which always knew to see Temp
to sort out their troubles. In this role, he leased out the large hangar and retired
to his first small one in 1976, till at the age of 84 he retired for good.
editorial: Roger Crow

Every pilot and operator who called on Temp could expect speedy response and expert advice to their troubles,
and here is a portrait of the man by an ex East Coast Aero Club member and later private owner .. Bill Shaw....

"As a very junior member of the Aero Club in the mid sixties, I had little to do with
Temp as he was always known. He had a reputation for being a bit grumpy,
even fierce at times, and one was never quite sure how to approach him should
the necessity ever arise. All this changed when I bought a Tiger Moth of my own
after the club machine that I had been learning in was written off in a rather
unfortunate accident. This was the start of an association with Temp which
lasted through twenty two years and two Tiger Moths and was to provide memories
which I will treasure always.

Like so many people of his time, Temp's gruffness was really
a veneer beneath which was an exceptionally kind, generous
and capable man, a true all–rounder who could turn his hand
to anything. He couldn’t stand trivia or suffer fools, had a
wonderful dry sense of humour and was a pleasure to
deal with, but heaven help anyone who tried to
outsmart him in any way.

Bill Shaw, (centre), talks
with Temple, (right)

The service he provided was legendary. In the Tiger Moth topdressing days he
employed a large workforce to cope with the endless prangs and mishaps that
were the norm and almost a daily occurrence Included in this workforce were many
local women doing nothing but fabric work, mostly covering wings which he always had many in stock. He was always available with his Landrover to come and recover
wrecked or damaged aircraft at any time, and would often work all night in the field
to get a topdresser flying again the next day.

To me, dealing with Temple was always a pleasure. He had incredible knowledge and
experience with the type of aircraft I loved and owned. He had a large supply of
parts which were a legacy from the topdressing and early aero club days and was
always available and willing to help no matter when or where.

A typical example was an incident in Taupo on my way to Tauranga one weekend
which resulted in a badly damaged bottom wing. A phone call to Temp produced
the usual gruff “What have you broken this time. How many wings should I bring.
Are you sure there is nothing else? Ill be there at 7.30 in the morning” and sure enough
he and Mrs Martin duly arrived having left Bridge Pa aerodrome early on a Sunday
morning to do it. Anyone handy was soon press ganged into giving a hand,
(one didn’t argue with Temp) and in no time at all the damaged wing was replaced,
and then Temp displayed his real skill. He rigged that side of the plane entirely by eye,
stood back when he had finished and squinted along the wings and said;
“She will probably fly a little right wing low but will sort that out when you get home”
and that is exactly what it did!

Temple was a unique product of his time and I consider myself most fortunate
to have been a small part of it."
---Bill Shaw