Tiger Moths gather at Ashburton Airport


Pilot Jan Chisum and her 1929 Gypsy Moth in Ashburton.
Pilot Jan Chisum and her 1929 Gypsy Moth in Ashburton.
Eight Tiger Moths, a Gypsy Moth, three Chipmunks and one Auster were among some of the classic aircraft to touch down at the Ashburton Airport last weekend.

The planes were flown by members of the Tiger Moth Club of New Zealand and among them was Jan Chisum, of Hawkes Bay, who owns a 1929 Gypsy Moth.

The Gypsy was predecessor to the Tiger Moth aircraft.

Jan was in the Gypsy’s pilot seat, while husband Jerry was flying one of the Tiger Moths, owned by friend, Des Strong, of Palmerston.

The couple have owned the rebuilt Gypsy for eight years, but more than 85 years ago it was owned by Jan’s father, Stan White.

Jan took up flying after her father. He was a pilot prior to enlisting in the Royal Air Force and owned the Gypsy back in the early 1930s.

The Gypsy has a 120 horsepower engine and flies up to 85 miles per hour; it was flown from London to Sydney by Jan’s father in 1934. It was then shipped across to New Zealand.

While her dad eventually sold it, Jan kept an eye on it and finally convinced the owner to sell.

She says flying gives a huge amount of pleasure and has become a passion.

She took it up at age 23, back in 1987, because it seemed like fun, and was a change from horses she was used to being around. One of Jan’s favourite competition events is the non-instrument circuit flying; she often competes against her husband.

She concedes to being a bit bonkers when it comes to owning an older aircraft.

“We are all nutters to be involved with old aeroplanes,” she said. Although they can do some basic maintenance, specialist maintenance is also needed on the aircraft.

Jan was due to leave her Gypsy in storage at the Ashburton Airport for next month’s Warbirds over Wanaka, but with the event cancelled due to COVID-19, she has flown it home.

The Tiger Moth Club members get together twice a year, including for their annual general meeting. They like to hold their AGMs in a different location each year and had the added bonus of the Ashburton Aviation Museum members catering their Saturday evening meal.

During the weekend they also took part in air races, flying challenges and events to showcase their vintage aircraft.


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