RAeS Maverick Handover:

September 5, 1999 - Te Kauwhata

In early 1998, an unusual project was initiated by local aviation pioneer Ossie James through the Hamilton branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and St Paul's Collegiate. Seeking to promote aviation careers amongst young people, a scheme was sought to encourage participation at secondary school level. Arrangements were made with St Paul's to build an aircraft at the school in Hamilton, in association with a number of retired aircraft engineers. Mr James organised a variety of sponsorship from local business and other organisations and an unopened Murphy Maverick kit was purchased from a deceased estate in Christchurch.

The project was kicked off with an official unveiling on March 12 1998, while the kit was still being unpacked. Project supervisor Jack Godfrey, along with Ron Hildreth, Ken Derbyshire, Mike Cummings, and Bruce Henderson worked with up to ten students daily during the school term. Students were exposed to a number of construction techniques, working with metal and fabric. Construction took a year, with the RAeS members carrying out the critical work. The aircraft was registered to the RAeS and St Paul's Collegiate trust as ZK-SPC (note the initials) on April 8, 1999. Flight tests were carried out by Brian Farrell, with the first flight occurring on April 24 at Hamilton airport. The tests and NZ type certification were completed in May. After being displayed at the National Fieldays at Mystery Creek in June, the aircraft was relocated to Max Clear's airstrip at Te Kowhai (on the northern outskirts of Hamilton).

On September 5 1999, as the spring weather improved, a ceremony was held to pass the aircraft over from its builders, to the St Paul's Collegiate Trust which would operate the aircraft. A number of invited guests, including members of the RAeS, staff and students of St.Pauls, sponsors, and other interested parties were on hand to partake in a luncheon held in the main hangar. One notable, Hamilton Mayor Russ Rimmington, arrived in his Tiger Moth ZK-ARJ. After speeches, several awards were made. Vicki Hill, an immediate past student who had been part of the construction team, was the first recipient of the Jeff West trophy for her contribution to the school aviation programme. Attendees were then able to see the aircraft recieve a blessing from Rev. Ross Falconer, before the aircraft was demonstrated. A number of people then took the opportinity to experience a flight in the maverick.

A number of other aircraft were also active. Some of these including the newly completed SG Storm 300 ZK-VEE, and locally based Sky Arrow 480T ZK-CJW attracted considerable interest. Various visiting aircraft (like new Vans RV.6 ZK-???) dropped in during the course of the day. Attendees were also able to view the WestpacTrust rescue helicopter.

Further details on the Maverick can be found here .

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