The first plane to land in the Nelson region touched down on 11 November 1921. The flight was organised by Thomas Newman, who ran the local coach and service-car company. The plane was an Avro 504 – a converted First World War aircraft which had flown from Wellington and had landed in Marsden's paddock at Stoke. The pilot was Thomas Newman and the accompanying aviator was Philip Fowler.
Philip Fowler (1895-1970) had served as a pilot in WWI. On his return he worked for the New Zealand Air Transport Company in Timaru transporting passengers, and then for Walsh Brothers, Kohimarama, Auckland.