Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 35, September 1991
By C W Malcolm
It was a school day in May of 1922. I was a first year pupil teacher at Paeroa District High School in Wood Street. I was 16 years of age. As was the custom in those days, all sport was taken outside school hours. I was in the Paeroa Domain with the primary school football team. I think it was the day when one of my pupils, Master George Paterson, son of Defence Department Sergeant-Major Paterson, accidentally kicked the ball with his left foot and called out his remarkable discovery, "Sir! I am amphibious!"
But that rugby practice was to be suddenly interrupted by the noise and appearance of an aeroplane approaching the town from the direction of the Karangahake Gorge. It landed in a paddock along Rotokohu Road. I mounted my bicycle; the boys ran. All Paeroa seemed to be headed in the same direction.
Soon flights were available at one guinea, one pound one shilling, (two dollars ten cents) a passenger. As I handed my entire salary of just under seven pounds a month to my Mother for board and lodging it was with some difficulty that I obtained from her the amount for the payment of a flight simply because she felt the risk of such an undertaking in such a flimsy craft with open cockpits was too great.
However, on Saturday 20 May 1922,1 successfully made my first brief flight over Paeroa. A remaining impression was the winding river, its course accentuated by the continuous accompaniment of white silt deposited along its banks. Attempts to look over the side of the 'plane for a better view of the town below were violently discouraged by the rushing air stream. I tried to use my hand as a shield but the rush of air brought my hand back with a slap to the face.
I was not to fly again until 1967 when, on a return cross-Channel flight, and later that year on a return journey to New Zealand with my wife, we flew Canadian Pacific Air from England, via Holland and the Atlantic to Canada, a vastly different experience.
THE PROPRIETORS of the MACHINE and THE PILOT reserve the right to refuse to carry the holder of this ticket as a passenger in any of the aircraft without giving any reasons. In the event of this right being exercised, the amount paid as fee for the passenger flight by the holder of the ticket shall be refunded without deductions.
IT IS A CONDITION of the contract that passengers take all risks of death, accident, injury, or mishap arising from any cause whatever, and the owners or pilot of the machine accept no responsibility in any such case, and no warranty or undertaking of any kind as to pilot or machine shall be deemed implied.
(Message on rerverse of ticket)
[In Journal 36 CW Malcolm adds the following paragraph: - E]
That cross-Channel flight in a small plane from England to France high above the Channel with "The Ditch" far below and the open beaches and green fields of England looking so innocently defenceless leaves a lasting memory of those in the Battle of Britain, including "boys" from Paeroa, who flew those same skies as I was crossing in peace and safety, and clawed down from them so heroically the planes of the enemy.