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Royal New Zealand Air Force



In the years 1929 and 1930 there was a considerable increase in the military uses of the Air Force. In February 1929 the Navy and Army carried out combined exercises in the Auckland area, where a mock landing was staged. Captain Isitt, flying from the partly completed aerodrome at Hobsonville and carrying the Minister of Defence as a passenger, flew over the exercises on observation and photographic flights. This was the first time that the land, sea, and air forces had all co-operated in an exercise.

In January 1930 the New Zealand Permanent Air Force carried out its first active operations. Native disturbances were causing trouble in Samoa, and HMS Dunedin was sent from New Zealand to restore order. She carried on board a Moth seaplane, with Flight Lieutenant Wallingford1 as pilot, and two Air Force corporals as servicing staff. In the two months which the expedition spent in Samoa Wallingford did ninety hours' flying, including general reconnaissance, co-operation with the ground forces, message dropping, and distributing propaganda.

During the same year, Fairey III and Moth seaplanes from Hobsonville co-operated with the Navy in torpedo, gunnery and anti-aircraft exercises. This co-operation lasted until 1936, when HMS Achilles and Leander joined the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy. They carried their own aircraft, and machines of the New Zealand Air Force were in less demand. Even after that, however, co-operation between Hobsonville and the Navy was close, and the Air Force continued to take part in exercises. Co-operation was also carried out by aircraft from Hobsonville and Wigram with the Army in Northern, Central, and Southern Military Districts.

At the time of the Murchison earthquake in 1929, and again after the Napier earthquake in 1931, Air Force pilots, together with aero club pilots, did invaluable work in maintaining communications and flying medical and other supplies into the affected areas.

1 Air Cdre S. Wallingford, CB, CBE, Legion of Merit (US); Wellington; born Hythe, England, 12 Jul 1898; enlisted in Artists Rifles 1915; transferred to RAF1918; Fiji Constabulary 1921–23; short-service commission RAF, 1924–29; joined NZPAF 1929; RAF Staff College 1936; NZ Air Liaison Officer at Air Ministry, 1938–41; Air Force Member for Personnel, RNZAF, 1941–42; AOC No. 1 (Islands) Group, 1943–44; AMS 1944–46; Imperial Defence College 1947; AMP 1948–52; AOC Task Force Admin HQ 1952–53; retired 1953; Winner of Queen Mary's Prize at Bisley, 1928, and RAF Rifle Championship, 1927 and 1928.