Mangere Aerodrome

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Mangere Aerodrome was the original home of the Auckland Aero Club. It is now the site of Auckland Airport.

Early years[edit]

Established in 1928, after purchasing farmland on the northeastern edge of the vast Manukau Harbour near the (then) small town of Mangere, the aero club allowed aircraft owners a place to enjoy their 'hobby' without offending the residence of Auckland.[1]

In 1936 passenger air travel was inaugurated by Union Airways from Mangere as part of the fledgling main trunk air route linking Auckland with Wellington and Christchurch. Union Airways built a large hangar to house its Lockheed Electra and de Havilland Express airliners, also building a comfortable passenger terminal building of the era.

Mangere Aerodrome's claim to fame was when it was the arrival point for New Zealand aviator, and aeroclub member, Jean Batten's solo flight from the United Kingdom in 1936.[2]

World War II[edit]

When war was declared in 1939, the RNZAF requisitioned the aerodrome, renaming it RNZAF Station Mangere. The grass runway was extended to handle large aircraft up to Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress size. The Air Force used the aerodrome for Flight Instructor training until 1940. The No1 Anti-Aircraft Operating Flight was also based there amongst other wartime operational units. Squadrons from surrounding Manukau Harbour bases such as Ardmore and Seagrove were regular visitors along with aircraft from United States Armed Forces.[3]

Severely restricted civilian air services by Union Airways continued to operate throughout the conflict.

The RNZAF returned the aerodrome to the Auckland Aero Club in 1944 after Allied forces had gained the upper hand in the Pacific Theater of War.

Later years[edit]

The aerodrome carried on with flying post war with flight training and general aeroclub activities. Passenger services from Mangere ended in 1947 when the newly nationalised airline, NAC was forced to move to the joint Air Force and Civilian airport at Whenuapai. At the time international flying operations were located at Mechanics Bay for flying boats and Whenuapai Air Force base for land based aircraft using a civilian terminal. It was logical that internal air services operated from there. In 1948 Mangere Aerodrome was short listed along with others as a possible future site of an overseas international landbased airport. In 1956, the aerodrome was chosen as the site of Auckland International Airport, due to its isolation from major built up urban areas with the prospect of jet transport on the horizon. In 1959, with preliminary construction underway, the Auckland Aero Club moved to Ardmore aerodrome and Mangere Aerodrome closed. The new Auckland Airport opened in 1965.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ History of New Zealand Aviation, 1976
  2. ^ Reaching for the Skies, An end to Isolation|Television New Zealand,1989
  3. ^ RNZAF Stations Auckland region|Wings over Cambridge
  4. ^ Where New Zealand Touches the World|The History of Auckland International Airport Limited,2003.