Bert Mercer

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James Cuthbert "Bert" Mercer (16 September 1886 – 30 June 1944) was a pioneer New Zealand aviator, establishing the country's first commercial airline in 1934 based around services operating between Hokitika and towns in South Westland.

Early life[edit]

Mercer was born in Dunedin and when he left school, he worked as a bicycle and car mechanic. Mercer learned to fly while working as a mechanic at the Sockburn airport in Christchurch and became the Canterbury Aero Club's first instructor when it formed in 1928.[1]

Career[edit]

In 1934 Mercer set up Air Travel (NZ) Ltd which became the first licensed airline to commence services in New Zealand with its inaugural flight on 18 December from Hokitika. Very shortly after the airline began delivering mail.[2]

Death[edit]

Mercer died in an aircrash in 1944 when the company's Dragon ZK-AHT, piloted by Colin Lewis, crashed on Mount Hope, en route from Nelson to Westport.[3] He is buried in the Hokitika Cemetery.[4]

Company control[edit]

In 1945, not long after Mercer died in an air crash, the company came under government control but continued until 1967 when the national air carrier NAC began flights into Hokitika. Eleven pilots flew for Air Travel (NZ) Ltd between 1934 and 1947.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/dnzb/alt_essayBody.asp?essayID=4M51
  2. ^ Waugh, Richard. New Zealand's First Airline: Hoki to Haast. ISBN 978-0-473-15937-5.
  3. ^ Waugh, Richard. New Zealand's First Airline: Hoki to Haast. ISBN 978-0-473-15937-5.
  4. ^ "Cemetery enquiry". Westland District Council. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  5. ^ Waugh, Richard. New Zealand's First Airline: Hoki to Haast. ISBN 978-0-473-15937-5.

External links[edit]

  • Biography of Bert Mercer [1]
  • Information about New Zealand airlines and various publications [2]
  • Waugh, Richard. New Zealand's First Airline: Hoki to Haast. ISBN 978-0-473-15937-5.
  • Waugh, Richard. When the Coast is Clear. ISBN 0-473-02851-4.