Fly-in marks 100 years

Mandeville Fly-In organiser Maeva Smith enjoys the sun at the Mandeville airfield during the...
Mandeville Fly-In organiser Maeva Smith enjoys the sun at the Mandeville airfield during the weekend event. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON
Mandeville Fly-In organiser Maeva Smith celebrated a century-long family connection with the Mandeville airfield at the weekend event.

The annual fly-in, which attracts flying enthusiasts from throughout the South Island, was held in the grounds of the Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre.

The land had originally been part of the farm her great-grandfather, Robert Crombie, owned after he and his wife Mary migrated to the area from Scotland.

Mrs Smith said her great-uncle, John Crombie, and a friend had first used the paddock as an airstrip in February 1921.

“It’s one of the earliest pieces of ground that has been identified as an airstrip in New Zealand,” Mrs Smith said.

There was a fence her uncle would put down to give an aeroplane enough space to land.

“They would do a circuit and chase the sheep off.’’

Her uncle bought a Tiger Moth and kept it in a wooden hangar near the airstrip.

“We used to go down and play around it when he was cleaning it, but Mum wouldn’t let us go for a ride with him because she said he wasn’t particularly good at driving a car so he wasn’t taking her precious girls in his aeroplane.’’

At the fly-in people were able to go for a ride in a restored Tiger Moth owned by the Croydon Aircraft Company.

 - Sandy Eggleston

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