Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Douglas Mill, Hobsonville Airbase and Mangere Aerodrome

Ref: AWNS-19250924-48-4, the Hobsonville site purchased by the Defence Department, 1925,, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Douglas Mill’s house is one of 15 houses at Hobsonville Airbase classified as a heritage building. These built heritage landmarks are being retained during the transformation of the former RNZAF base into a new housing estate.  One of the reasons the house is being preserved is due the significance of Douglas Mill; one of New Zealand’s pioneer aviators.

Ref: AWNS -19280816-47-1, constructing the new naval base at Hobsonville, 1928, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Mill was one of the first fliers to see the potential for commercial aviation in New Zealand.  In 1927 he established the Air Survey and Transport Company at Hobsonville.  One of its specialities was aerial surveying and photography, but the company was also the New Zealand agent for Britain’s De Havilland Aircraft Company.  As De Havilland’s agent the company imported and assembled De Havilland Moths and Tiger Moths, which Mill then sold to aero clubs throughout New Zealand.
 
Ref: NZ Map 2248, Map of the Waitemata Harbour, 1940-1945, Sir George Grey Special Collections
 Mill was also one of the enthusiasts who formed the Auckland Aero Club in April 1928.  He served on the aero club’s committee from 1928 to1929.  In July 1928 the club set up its aerodrome at Mangere.  Mill often visited Mangere Aerodrome as he flew between airfields selling or delivering planes.
 
Ref: Footprints 04467, Auckland Aero Club, Mangere, c. 1935, photo courtesy of Auckland Aero Club, South Auckland Research Centre

Keen to find out more about this site? Check out Auckland Council's Hobsonville Walk brochure - Doug Mill's house is listed as number 3. The Hobsonville Point website and the book by Bee Dawson also detail the history of Hobsonville Airbase.

Ref: Footprints 04492, Auckland Aero Club, Mangere, 1931, photo courtesy of Auckland Aero Club, South Auckland Research Centre
Author: Christopher Paxton, South Auckland Research Centre

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