What's in a name? Aviation history fun facts
28 Mar 2017Queenstown Airport 1948, pioneer aviators (from left to right): Barry Topliss, Fred ‘Popeye’ Lucas, Trevor Cheetham, and Bill Hewett with the Proctor ZK-AJY. Thanks to Malcolm Topliss for sharing this historic photo!
Aviation history fun facts - airport street names
Ever wondered how the streets around Queenstown Airport got their names? They’re all based on aviation pioneers…
- Lucas Place (SH6 to Remarkables Park): Named after Frederick Lucas, better known as ‘Popeye’. ‘Popeye’ served with RAF Bomber Command and later commanded an RNZAF Transport Squadron in the Pacific. With ex-servicemen Bill Hewett and Barry Topliss, he formed Southern Scenic Air Services in 1947, pioneering freight, scenic charters, topdressing, scheduled passenger services, and supply drop flying.
- Tex Smith Lane (laneway into GA precinct): Legendary bush pilot Tex Smith MBE was the longest serving pioneer general aviation pilot in this area, clocking up over 23,000 hours. Although he was a man of few words, Tex was revered by the GA community - hence the inspiration for the name.
- Sir Henry Wigley Drive (main road into airport): Sir Henry "Harry" Rodolph Wigley was a pilot, entrepreneur and pioneer of NZ’s travel and tourism industry who was well liked and respected nationwide. He became a flying instructor for the RNZAF, a fighter pilot, a businessman and an inventor – landing the first ski plane on the Tasman Glacier in 1955, a feat which became a part of Mt Cook’s core tourism offering. He was also captain of the NZ ski team in 1936-37 and, after the war, led his company in establishing new ski-fields and facilities at Coronet Peak and Ohau.
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