The Canterbury Aviation Company Was Founded – 20th September 1916

On 20 September 1916, the Canterbury Aviation Company was founded by Sir Henry Francis Wigram – Christchurch’s 25th Mayor (1902 -1904).

It was a return trip to England in 1908 that changed his life forever. He saw his first plane. Upon his return, he approached the government about the great need to introduce aviation to New Zealand – for air defence in case of war and also for commercial use. Believing that New Zealand was too remote from the world for planes to be of any use, Henry was met with a wave of non-interest.

Undeterred, Henry purchased land in Sockburn and opened his own flying school. It was known as The Canterbury Aviation Company and it was the second of its kind in New Zealand. Three Caudron Biplanes were purchased from England and by 1919, the company owned 10 planes and 182 pilots had been trained. This area of Christchurch is now named Wigram to honour his memory.

The first flight of a plane in Christchurch took place on 7 May 1916.

For a more in depth look at Sir Henry Francis Wigram:

*image courtesy of The Wings Over New Zealand Aviation Forum

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