The Story of Nelson Aviation

Author(s): Richard Waugh & Graeme McConnell

Aviation | Nelson

Aviation's influenece on Nelson has been profound. With challenging road access, no rail link and the barrier of Cook Strait, Nelson had the reputation of being a 'sleepy hollow'. It was isolated and in some way still is, yet has never been the same since the first aircraft visit in 1921. After aero club beginnings, a pioneering scheduled airline was established at the Stoke Airfield in 1935. The opening of Nelson's new airport at Tahunanui in 1938, close to the city centre, was a key milestone for the region's social, economic and tourism future. The airport led to a wartime air force station and a growing post-war airline scene. It became the main commercial aviation centre for the upper South Island, including helicopter work. Illustrated by many rare photographs, this book tells the story of Nelson aviation - its aircraft, personalities, innovations and events - and how it helped develop the whole sunny province. Nelson Airport serves more than 750,000 passengers annually, is the hub for the country's largest regional airline and is the fourth busiest airport for scheduled flights in New Zealand.


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  • Graeme McConnell is a life-long Nelson resident and Nelson’s own aviation historian. His father learnt to fly at the Stoke Airfield in the 1930s and later served at RNZAF Station Nelson during WWII. After a career with Lands & Survey Graeme pursued a range of community work including belonging to the Nelson Historical Society, Vintage Car Club and is involved in local conservation issues.He remembers hearing from his home in Atawhai the sound of NAC DC-3s doing their pre-takeoff engine checks on crisp winter’s mornings, the last Heron flights over Nelson in 1957, Len Trent bringing the Valiant four-jet bomber low over Nelson College in 1958 and the distinctive Vulcan bomber going through its paces at the 1971 Nelson airshow.Graeme has designed and worked to erect 18 aviation memorials around New Zealand including many in the Nelson region.  Over the past 20 years he has been co-operatively involved in nine historical aviation books, including being a co-author of three of these. In 2000 he co-edited Arthur Bradshaw’s autobiography Flying by Bradshaw. Graeme is married to Pam and they have two children and two grandchildren.

Richard Waugh’s father helped pioneer the first Christchurch to Nelson air service in the 1950s, following WWII service. Richard attended Nayland College and after several years working in the Nelson motor industry candidated for ordained ministry and for the past 30 years has served in North Island churches. He is a well-known evangelical church leader involved in many aspects of national church life and is the long-serving denominational leader of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand. He is a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary (USA), Massey University, Trinity/St Johns Theological College and the University of Auckland. Over the past 25 years he has become a prominent airline historian having co-authored or authored 12 aviation books and organised many aviation events around New Zealand, including several in Nelson. He continues to serve as chaplain to the Air Pilots Guild and in 2013 was presented with their Master’s Award to the New Zealand Region in recognition of his chaplaincy and aviation historical work. In 2007 he was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to aviation history and the community, and in 2012 was the Howick Local Board’s Citizen of the Year.  Rev. Dr Waugh lives in Howick, Auckland, and is married with three young adult children.

General Fields

  • : 9780473265786
  • : Kynaston Charitable Trust and Craigs Design & Print Ltd
  • : Kynaston Charitable Trust and Craigs Design & Print Ltd
  • : November 2013
  • : 297 x 210 mm
  • : New Zealand
  • : November 2013
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Richard Waugh & Graeme McConnell
  • : Paperback
  • : 387.7099376
  • : 336
  • : Colour and black & white