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Website lets Kiwis solve mysteries of WW1 Aviation Heroes

Media release

11 November, 2014

Interactive website encourages Kiwis to solve mysteries of WW1 aviation heroes

MOTAT has launched a new website that enables people to research and upload information about New Zealand’s WW1 pilots and the students that trained at the country’s first flying school.

The School was founded by Vivian and Leo Walsh in order to help the war effort by training pilots destined for the Royal Flying Corps or Royal Naval Air Services in Britain.

“The New Zealand Flying School and the pilots it produced played an important role in helping our country prepare for World War One,” says MOTAT’ Experience Programme Manager Brent Hemi. “Without the School, New Zealand’s contribution to the war would not have been as great so we feel it is important to share the stories of these little known aviation pioneers and wartime heroes.”

With headquarters on the foreshore of the Waitemata Harbour at Kohimarama, the school went on to train more than 100 pilots, 83 of which qualified for Royal Aero Club certificates. Of these, more than half saw combat in World War One and many gained honours, awards and decorations.

The launch of the website coincides with Armistice Day and is part of MOTAT’s World War One commemorations. After visiting the website people can register and then select a name (or names) from the pilot list and begin research and uploading information about their lives.

“The aim is to have photos, documents and biographical information that celebrates the lives of each and every one of these aviation pioneers,” says Mr Hemi.

MOTAT has also produced a school education programme as a way of getting younger people involved in the project and the Museum also hopes to encourage genealogy groups and historical and aviation societies to help out.

“There are a lot of people out there who are passionate about aviation and wartime history,” says Mr Hemi. “Anyone who can help us with research and content should register on the site.”

Once completed, the information on each pilot will be retained on the Auckland War Memorial Museum database.

To find out more or to get involved, visit the website www.firstofthefew.co.nz

ENDS


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