‘I feel he’d be very happy with Air NZ’: Daughter’s guide about flight pioneer father Oscar Backyard
Margareta Gee Collection / Alexander Turnbull Library
Oscar Garden in the cockpit of his de Havilland Gipsy Moth aircraft at Mascot Airport in Sydney after his solo flight from England to Australia on November 7, 1930. Reference number: F-181958-½.
Exciting flight stories surrounded Dr. Annamaria Garden when she was growing up.
Her father, Oscar Garden, was a New Zealand aviation pioneer who was chief pilot and manager of the country’s first airline, Tasman Empire Airways Ltd (TEAL), during the war, took a historic solo flight from England to Australia and became one of their first pilots from British Airways in 1936.
“In his day there were all these corporate risk takers who went up in the air to hit each other. Because of that, I think it’s a story worth telling, ”says Garden. “I’m proud of him. You had to have some grit around you.”
Her book, Oscar Garden: A Tale of a Man’s Love for Flying, will be published by Mary Egan Press this month. While it is the eighth book by Garden, this is a personal story based on the hundreds of stories her father told her growing up. about his flying life.
* The woman who almost made New Zealand judicial history
* Flashback: The first flight opened in New Zealand 90 years ago
* Roger Hanson: Remembering the Trans-Tasman fun in the flying boat era
Garden was born in Scotland but lived in New Zealand for many years. In September 1930 in England, not long after he learned to fly, he bought a de Havilland DH 60 Moth, a two-seat, light blue single-engine airplane – from Selfridge’s aviation division – which he named the Kia Ora.
The plane was traveling at only 137 km / h and it would take 18 days for him to travel to Australia, where he was greeted, and then too much fanfare in New Zealand.
Garden was married twice, and by the time his daughter Annamaria was born to his second wife, he had already flown. But the stories came close and fast. “He wouldn’t stop talking,” says Annamaria, “he really came to life when I talked to him about (flying).”
There were the huts in Indonesia where he slept petrified while taking a flight break where he was convinced the locals were cannibals. There was a time when his plane landed in the jungle between Cape Town and London after a few bolts came loose. He talked a lot about flying over the Timor Sea in a tiny single-engine airplane. He was scared because there were “more sharks” than other waters.
Author Dr. Annamaria Garden.
“I just laughed and said it wasn’t true. (But) he was afraid not to get into the water, but to get into the water with sharks. “
There was the flight from Auckland to Sydney, which took 12 hours and five minutes, and where they ended up with only about five minutes of fuel in the tank after encountering bad weather. Garden arrived at the hotel and “the story is the guy who greets you, the manager, took one look at the crew, all of whom were white faced, and took them straight to the bar.”
The Garden book reports on the establishment of New Zealand’s first regular Trans-Tasman flight service after pioneering flights by Charles Kingsford Smith, Charles Ulm, Harold Litchfield and Tom McWilliam, who made the first crossing in 14 hours and 25 minutes and returned in 23 hours. (“A cruel journey,” writes Garden.)
Like most airlines around the world, Air New Zealand has been crippled by Covid-19.
The New Zealand, Australian and British governments founded Teal in April 1940, renamed Air New Zealand years later, to operate a 23,000 km flight from New Zealand to Australia to the UK.
Garden recalls her father often at odds with the government over how Teal worked, including a dispute over whether the two flying boats should be replaced with land planes. The flying boats could only reach 10,000 feet and fought in bad weather.
Garden believes her father would now be blown away by the Air New Zealand fleet – to push a button and be able to get up to 35,000 feet quickly. He died in New Zealand in 1997 after many years as a gardener.
“I think he would be very proud of Air New Zealand,” says Annamaria Garden.
Oscar Garden: A Story of a Man’s Love for Flying, published by Mary Egan Publishing, available October 20. MSRP: $ 45.
Cover of Oscar Garden: A Tale of a Man’s Love for Flying; by Dr. Annamaria Garden.