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Mans first powered take off!

pears01.JPG (42776 bytes) All Set For Take Off

This press picture is a cutting from the  local Timaru newspaper (2003) shows air show organisers with one of the Pearse replica aircraft parked in the local council car park.

Picture courtesy of 'Central South Island Tourism'.


Wright Or Wrong??

2003 is an historical year in the world of aviation, being the one hundredth anniversary of the first powered take off flight by man. The Wright brothers are now not considered the first for powered take off flight. Yes, they were the first to make a controlled flight (eventually), but a farmer in the south island of New Zealand was the first to be documented as making a powered take off flight.

Richard Pearse, from the small farming community of Waitohi 150Km south of Christchurch, without any outside assistance designed, built and flew his own aircraft. Not only did he build his own aircraft, but he also designed and built his own engine, using agricultural irrigation pipe for cylinders!

For full details on this remarkable piece of history I suggest you buy one of the several books published on the subject. In particular I will draw your attention to the ‘contractual clause’ initiated by the ‘Wright Family’ and signed by the ‘Smithsonian’ to ensure Wright Brother immortality.

31/03/1903 was the date for the Pearse flight, and we were present at the commemorations held 29/03/2003 through to 31/03/2003. Passport Travel operated a flexible and economical package to attend this historical event and then either return home, or pursue further touring of New Zealand.

Our intrepid party departed for a week in New Zealand which included a grand tour of the technological history of Canterbury - Trains, Planes and Automobiles.

In conjunction with the official programme there was an intention to fly a replica aircraft from the same country road that Richard Pearse first did in 1903. A group of enthusiasts, based in Auckland, had built both an aircraft and an engine replica.

In the end the replica produced too much vibration and although work will continue to eliminate this the engine could not be used for the take off attempt. Therefore a small engine from a 'powered parachute' was used.

Watch this site for pictures and notes about the event...

Click to see other aeronautical history notes about this region

TIMARU and the South Canterbury Region.

Don't forget our Pearse History page.