In commemoration of the First World War Centenary, MOTAT is celebrating the stories of the pilots who trained at the New Zealand Flying School in Auckland between 1915-19 before serving overseas.
In 2014 MOTAT launched the First of the Few website, which enabled people to research and upload information about New Zealand’s First World War pilots and the students who trained at the country’s first flying school.
The School was founded by Vivian and Leo Walsh to help the war effort by training pilots destined for the Royal Flying Corps or Royal Naval Air Services in Britain.
“The New Zealand Flying School and the pilots it produced played an important role in helping our country prepare for the First World War,” says MOTAT’s Experience Programme Manager, Brent Hemi. “We feel it’s important to share the stories of these little-known aviation pioneers and wartime heroes.”
With headquarters on the foreshore of the Waitemata Harbour at Kohimarama, the school went on to train more than 100 pilots, 83 of whom qualified for Royal Aero Club certificates. Of these, more than half saw combat in the First World War and many gained honours, awards and decorations.
Stage two of the project (launch TBA) will see information presented on interactive touch screens for all MOTAT visitors to explore. More information on this soon.
This project has received funding from the New Zealand Lotteries Grant Board.