Early aerial topdressing in Hawke's Bay
At the end of World War 2, many service folk were released from active service.
These included airforce pilots, aircraft engineers and specialist technicians.
Many of these people were from farming backgrounds and were keen to
get back to the family farm. There were also Government farm ballot schemes,
plus surplus aircraft. All these developments set the scene for a new enterprise...
the topdressing industry.
Topdressing pilot Keith Allington
with his Tiger Moth
Keith Allington (right), working at Aerial Agriculture, along with two other well-known HB pilots:
Glen Earl (left) and Basil Fox (centre).
Dozens of ex-RNZAF, ( and ex-RAF), DH82 Tiger Moths became available.
The process of converting them to carry fertilizer was fairly speedy.
They were able to operate from a short, semi-developed airstrip...and many
ex-service trained pilots were already familiar with the aircraft's limits of performance.
The Tiger Moth layed the foundations and the industry was soon off the ground.

We have a few photos of those early days, kindly loaned by Keith Allington
who was one of the early topdressing pioneers in Hawke's Bay.

Topdressing line-up at
Bridge Pa 1950s.

Glencoe Station.

A 'cuppa' first, then
another job ready to go.

No flying today...
a surprise snowfall.
Dalby Holdens - Tikokino.

Aerial Agriculture Coy
and the late Glen Earl.

Von Hartich loader at
Cambridge, Waikato..

Maraetotara Rd, HB.

Tom Chesterman on left.

road to the airstrip.


Dick Beattie

Every district in New Zealand, for sure, has its special, one-and-only,
unforgettable, likeable, completely-his-own-person type character
in the topdressing fraternity.
In the case of Hawke's Bay, there would not be too much argument
in thinking of the late Dick F. Beattie, who worked the area
around northern Hawke's Bay.
Anyone who flew with him, knew they would always return safely, even if it meant
having a 'bit of fun' - which usually resulted in a wee scare for the passenger.

The late Dick Beattie, (right),
and Dick Graham
with Astro Air's Cessna 185.
Eskdale 1974.

Dick on a low run in to
Brookfield's Station, in a DH Beaver,
(checking that the barrel was still flowing).

A story goes that the late Dick Beattie forced-landed a Tiger Moth in a
paddock, beside a golf course. Unfortunately for him, the plane hit and
killed a sheep during the landing roll, and the Tiger ended with the nose
in the dust and its tail in the air.
Being Dick, before going off to phone a report to the hangar, he lifted the
sheep into the cockpit and adorned its head with his leather flying helmet
and goggles. A passing golfing party, observing the nosed-down Tiger,
raced over to give assistance.
On seeing the sheep pilot, a woman in the party promptly fainted.
Submitted by Roger Crow
We've had a little poem passed on to us from Alec Olsen of Rissington, dedicated to Dick Beattie.
Au Revoir Dick
It was written by the popular local Port Ahuriri Constable at the time - the late Pat Hay.