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Three replica engines at Pearse Centenary Pageant

Three replica engines to be seen in Pearse centenary pageant

Three replicas of the engine Richard Pearse used in one of the world’s first powered take-offs will be on show at the Pearse Centenary Air Pageant in Timaru next month.

The March 29-31 pageant will be the most historically significant air show ever staged in New Zealand as it marks the centenary of the feats of pioneer aviator Richard Pearse.

Auckland enthusiasts are taking an engine to Timaru where it will be on static display along with both a new Timaru-built Pearse replica engine and an Australian version from Sydney.

All three engines have been built out of Pearse's designs and will be seen at the show on March 29 and 30.

As a tribute to Pearse, both Museum of Transport and Technology (Motat) in Auckland and the South Canterbury Aviation Heritage Centre in Timaru have built Pearse replica aircraft.

A replica of Richard Pearse's 1903 plane, arguably the first to achieve powered lift off in the world, will be seen at Waitohi near Timaru on the final day of the centenary celebrations on March 31. The Auckland replica airframe will be fitted with a microlite engine to provide sufficient running time for the display, as the Pearse’s engine did not possess engine cooling. The bamboo-framed replica was built by Geoff Rodliffe and supported by Motat enthusiasts in Auckland.

Rodliffe is the authority for the Pearse replica project in Auckland. He has written several books and has been associated with a play called the Pain and the Passion which opens in Christchurch on April 1.

They plan to display the aircraft with a microlite engine installed on Monday, March 31.

Pearse was a brilliant trail-blazing aviation inventor and was regarded by many as the first person to fly a powered aircraft. The debate about whether ``Bamboo'' Pearse actually succeeded in flying more than 90 metres at Waitohi, 28km north of Timaru, almost 100 years ago has raged for decades.

He made his first public flight attempt down Main Waitohi Road alongside his farm on March 31, 1903.

On March 31 this year, the three Pearse replica engines will be moved to the Waitohi property for showing.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force will transport the Auckland replica aircraft and both the Frank Ford (Motat) and Australian engines to Timaru.

Pearse's efforts almost 100 years ago pre-date by nine months what is globally acknowledged as the world's first powered flight by Orville Wright at Kitty Hawk in the United States on December 17 in 1903. Unlike Wright's attempt, no one at Waitohi possessed a camera or measured the airspeed of the gorse-bound flight.

Pearse's family and supporters have long claimed the South Canterbury farmer beat the Wright Brothers into the air.

South Canterbury’s Pearse replica will be exhibited on March 30 but not flown during the air show. Thousands of people are expected to attend the pageant celebrations.

The Pearse centenary celebrations lift off on Saturday March 29 featuring homebuilt aircraft, microlites, gyrocopters, gliders, aerobatics, many air force planes and warbirds.

© Scoop Media

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