By 1924, aviation in New Zealand was for all purposes dead. The flying establishments at Auckland and Christchurch that had done such good work in training tyro war pilots had been taken over by the Government and in short order were closed down. Certainly, the tiny permanent Air Force based at Sockburn (later re-named Wigram) maintained a degree of activity on ex World War 1 machines, but no new aircraft were entered into the civil register until 1928.
By 1927, an aircraft had been designed and built in the form of the De Havilland Gypsy Moth, a simple light aircraft, easy to fly and with a reliable motor, easy to service and a trendy sport machine.
On April 5th 1928, Cabinet approved the purchase of 8 DH60 Gypsy Moths. Four were to be issued on loan, two to Christchurch and two to Auckland. The remaining four were used as training machines at Wigram Aerodrome by the permanent Air Force. The aircraft were to be issued by the Defense department to approved clubs who were to arrange for the services of a qualified instructor and for a licensed ground engineer. The clubs were required to have roll of at least 30 members who were prepared to qualify as pilots. Clubs would receive £25 in respect of each member who qualified, the grant not exceeding £500 per annum.
With these factors in mind, on 24th April 1928 the first meeting to establish the Auckland Aero Club took place with the club becoming an incorporated company on 28th May 1928. By August 1928 the committee was starting to get concerned over the shipment of the two Gypsy Moths which were to be loaned to the club by the Government. Mr. Harkness, one of the committee members, went to Wellington to meet the Prime Minister. He was assured that the aircraft would arrive shortly. The first of the Government planes did not arrive until February 1929! The committee did keep themselves busy in the meantime trying to find a suitable airfield and in September 1928 the committee accepted with pleasure the gift of a Gypsy Moth from the Director of the New Zealand Herald paper and the Auckland Weekly news. This gift was the start of a long friendship the Aero Club had with the New Zealand Herald, all this evident in the numerous articles that can be found in the Manukau Archives.
The first aircraft to arrive was one of the Government loaned aircraft – AAL. It arrived in the middle of February 1929 and Major Cooper began instruction of the Aero Clubs first pupil on 24th February. The beginning of March the New Zealand Herald gift aircraft arrived – AAE.
Now that the Aero Club had two aircraft it was time to have the Aero Clubs first of many Air Pageants in April 1929. It proved to be a huge success as it made a profit of over £520, but the demand for the two aircraft proved to be too much. On 24th June 1929 the Aero Club placed an order for another Gypsy Moth and two propellers on the basis of a Government grant of the issue of another Moth for each aircraft purchased. This aircraft turned out to be AAT and arrived at the club the beginning of August 1929.
Flying aircraft was not all fun and games for the Aero Club as with an increase in planes, there is also a stronger possibility for incidents occurring. The next aircraft to arrive was AAK, which was bought on the 3rd February 1930 off Mr. F.D. Mill who was the local De Havilland representative. During this time, Mr. Ian Horton returned from England bringing with him AAO, a Gypsy Moth. It was online at the club for a while and he offered it to the club but the offer was not accepted, as the financial position was not good, moreover, the committee thought that their fleet was sufficient and AAO was sold to Wellington Aero Club.
March 1930 was a bad month for the aero club as they kept their engineers busy. AAL was damaged as it ran over a bank at Mangere and AAT was damaged during the Masterton pageant. Both aircraft were repaired.
By April 1930 the aero club had five aircraft; AAL which was named the ‘red machine’, AAE the ‘green machine’, AAK the ‘blue machine’, AAU the ‘orange machine’ and AAT the ‘yellow machine’.
The Aero Club over the next few months was gaining hours and students with the help of the pilot scheme from the Government and it wasn’t until November the committee decided to buy another aircraft. This was to be a Puss Moth, ACB.