06 April 2015

Air New Zealand: 75 years of international travel

On Friday I went with some family visitors from out of town to see the Air New Zealand exhibit at Te Papa, which runs until 7 June, and is free to enter. I particularly enjoyed the advertising posters from previous decades, and a not-entirely-related slice of New Zealand aviation history that I didn't even know existed. We didn't bother with the long queue for the interactive video or the design-your-own-plane installation, but they both looked interesting.

Below is the prop and part of the engine from Richard Pearse's world-famous-in-New-Zealand prototype flyer that scudded over cow paddocks inland from Temuka near Timaru. Pearse himself said that the attempt on c.31 March 1903 could not be described as the first controlled heavier than air flight in the world, which is what the Wright Brothers achieved at Kill Devil Hills just under nine months later. But his endeavours show that around the world a generation of inventors had been infected by the great flying bug, and that a New Zealand farmer very nearly beat the Wrights. A great exhibit, although what it has to do with Air New Zealand, founded 37 years later, is another matter.

The art design of the wide range of Air New Zealand posters was particularly enjoyable. These three immediately below advertise South Pacific destinations, always popular for sun-seekers, while the set below depict New Zealand destinations for domestic and international travellers. The international airline was first known as Tasman Empire Airways Ltd - TEAL - from 1940 to 1965, and the National Airways Corporation - NAC - served domestic routes from 1947 to 1978. When the Government became sole owner of TEAL in 1965 its name was changed to Air New Zealand, and the NAC joined in 1978 to create an airline serving both international and national destinations. Despite 20 years of the 'Pacific Wave' design, I still think this is the best Air New Zealand livery, from just before NAC joined the fold.

See also:
Aviation: Seattle Museum of Flight, 25 April 2013
AviationMOTAT 2, 3 April 2013
Aviation: Le Bourget Air & Space Museum, 18 March 2011

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