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Crowd welcomes the first aeroplane to land in Palmerston North

Crowd welcomes the first aeroplane to land in Palmerston North

This plane was a 90hp de Havilland aircraft, owned by the Walsh brothers of Kohimarama, Auckland and piloted by 23 year old Captain Richard Russell. It landed in a farm paddock on the corner of Gillespies Line and Boundary Road (now Tremaine Avenue), carrying Captain Russell and 15 year old Violet Hibbard from Dannevirke. Captain Russell, a veteran of World War One, died later that year in an air accident in New Plymouth.

A record from the Middle Districts Aero Club provides the following information: "Seen in the air on its approach, with the sun's rays glinting from its glossing wings and frame, one would have declared it to be white, but the aeroplane is brown all over, and at first sight it looked as if [it] were made from thin iron, but instead it is of fine linen stretched taught over the frame work of light spruce wood. This was the description of the first aircraft to land at Gillespie's Line Palmerston North, on July, 31st. 1920, in [the] charge of Mr V. C. Walsh of Auckland, one of the owners of the plane, and with him as pilot was Cpt. R. Russell, D.F.C.

From tip to tip of the wings it measured 35ft while its length was 27ft from propeller to rudder on its tail. It was a De Haviland six, weighing only 14cwt and fitted with a 90 h.p. engine, and was home-built and imported by Messrs Walsh Bros. of Kohimaramara, Auckland."

Palmerston North