Date of Birth: 14th of October 1912 , at Worthing , Sussex , England
Details of Death: 10th of February 1985, at Wellington Hospital
Buried at: Karori Cemetery, Wellington
Personal Details: Ted was the
son of the Reverend Francis Graham Harvie (known as Frank) and
Kathleen Harvie (nee Willis, known as Kathleen to all), who had lived in Cambridge between the wars. He was
the brother of Squadron Leader Arthur Montague Harvie and Squadron Leader Guy de Laval Harvie. He was educated at Wanganui Collegiate School followed by a year at Auckland University's College of St John Evangelist, on a Maria Blackett Scholarship, before being practically asked to leave as he was not dedicated enough to religion, despite his family background.
Ted Harvie had an incredible childhood and youth when it came to aviation. Because of his passion for aircraft, he started to write away to all the aircraft companies and agents asking for brochures, specifications and other such ephemera, and soon built up quite a collection of data on all the aircraft available in the late 1920's and early 1930's. He also wrote to many well known pilots, and soon began to strike up genuine friendships with them. Other pioneers he met by chance, but on each occasion made an impression with his knowledge and struck up friendships.
So, as a teenager Ted was mixing it with Keith Caldwell, who was to take him on his first ever flight in the New Zealand Herald Gipsy Moth, ZK-AAE on the 19th of May 1929. He also met and went flying with Francis Chichester, the famous long distance flyer who had flown from England to Australia in his Gipsy Moth Madame Elijah. When Ted had his first flight in Elijah he noted how dirty and rough it looked, and how it had thousands of signatures on the wings of people who had encountered the aircraft on the long distance flight around the world. Ted was later to fly more in that aeroplane with Chichester as he prepared for his trip back to England via a new route - a journey that ended unsuccessfully when Elijah struck overhead cables in Japan and was destroyed.
While living in Auckland Ted also got to know Frank Douglas Mill, the owner of Mill's Aerial Survey and Transport Ltd., and also importer and agent for de Havilland aircraft. Mill's rigger, Bob Johnson, who'd previously worked with the pioneering Walsh Brothers, also became a friend. As did pilot Jim Hewett, whom he'd corresponded with back in school days, and later became very good mates with.
One of the most influential friends on his life however came by chance, when he'd snuck into one of the Walsh brothers' flying boats at Kohimarama for a play. He was caught red-handed by none other than George Bolt, who rather than scolding him, showed him around the workshops and made Ted very welcome. It would be George, later, who gave ted his first flying lessons in 1933 while they toured New Zealand with Charles Kingsford Smith's Southern Cross.
That's right, after another polite letter to 'Smithy', Ted was invited to become a crew member in Charles Kingsford Smith's 1933 tour of New Zealand in the Southern Cross. They flew around New Zealand with the 'Old Bus', a Fokker Trimotor, and George Bolt accompanied them with a Waco, in which during downtime Ted got valuable flying lessons. During that tour he even got the chance to fly the Southern Cross!
Ted came to know many more influential and important people in aviation of course, these above named are but a few of them who have passed into New Zealand aviation folklore.
In May 1933 Ted moved to New Plymouth and joined the Western Federated Flying Club, where he was trained further in flying by instructor I.H.N. Keith, on the five Gipsy Moths the club owned and operated from New Plymouth, Hawera and Wanganui. Having by this time amounted 80 hours as a passenger, and also the instruction he'd received previously with George Bolt, Ted was by now a natural flyer and only needed four hours instruction with Keith before he was sent solo.
He then continued to fly from New Plymouth, gaining experience, and occasionally ventured to Wanganui or Hawera for a change of scene. But he still to stay within the confines of the three mile radius of these aerodromes, as Squadron leader Isitt had not yet come down from Hobsonville to test him and grant a licence, so finding this boring after a while he decided to make life more interesting and see just how high he could fly.
He took Gipsy Moth ZK-AAX up to 18,400 feet, and the press hailed the new pilot for his feat for gaining the highest altitude record yet reached in New Zealand skies. Ted noted in his 1966 book 'Venture The Far Horizons' that the Marlborough Aero Club disputed the record, claiming that their pilot Susie Bennett had previously reached an altitude some 700 feet above Ted's record. But he cared not about the record and who held it, but more that the publicity he got focused on the legal point that he may have broken a law by going higher than three miles!
Ted soon had the Isitt test and gained his 'A' Licence, which was extended so he could carry passengers. He now began many cross-country flights, preparing for a flight that he'd long wanted to achieve, North Cape to Bluff in a day. This idea had been planted in his mind way back when he was at school in Wanganui, when friends reckoned it could never be done. He wanted to prove otherwise.
He carried out the first North Cape to Bluff one-day flight (a distance of 2040km) on the 1st of December 1933 in a Gipsy Moth.
See a separate page for local Cambridge reports and details on Ted's record flights here
Ted gained his 'B' Licence in 1934, which meant he was a commercial pilot and could then operate an aircraft for money, so he began his own business. To do this he needed an aeroplane.
Cambridge airman Gordon Easter remembers Ted Harvie well, and he says that Ted's parents presented him with his own aircraft as a 21st birthday present. I suspect it's more the case that they presented him with the financing because it was not till eight months after turning 21, on the 7th of May 1934, that he actually took possession of Avro Avian ZK-ACM.
It had previously been owned by another famous name in NZ aviation history, Ron Kirkup. In fact the aircraft's history with several famous names involved in its ownership. Details have been kindly supplied by Peter Lewis of the Aviation Historical Society of New Zealand, and the aircraft's last owner, Keith Trillo:
Avro 616 Avian IVM c/n 499
21 Nov 1931
23 Dec 1932
7 May 1934
6 Apr 1935
1 Nov 1935
1 Aug 1938
1 Nov 1947
24 Aug 1949
1 Aug 1952
15 Aug 1955
28 Jan 1964
23 Aug 1976
Goodwin Chichester Aviation Co. Ltd., Wellington (Agents)
Ronald A Kirkup, Auckland
Edgar F Harvie, Mangere
Auckland Aero Club, Mangere
Waikato Aviation Co. Ltd., Rotorua (with Stan Blackmore)
Blackmore's Air Services Ltd., Rotorua (name change)
W B Patterson, Puerua, North Auckland
K E J Broady
W M Harray, Galatea WFU
Keith C Trillo, Wellington (rebuilt, first flight) 30 Nov 1967
Reg cancelled - Destroyed By Fire while stored in shed at Kaikokopu Road, Wanganui, 23/24Feb74.
Peter Lewis expands on ZK-ACM's history here:
Goodwin Chichester were the Avro agents at that time, and ACM was the last of five new Avians imported by them (ADQ was privately imported later on). They assembled the aircraft and flew it around the country but no-one was interested in buying. After the aircraft arrived back in Wellington, Geoffrey Goodwin decided to cut his losses and send the aircraft back overseas (Australia? or UK?).
Ron Kirkup heard about this and made a cut-price offer based on asking price less the cost to G-C of disassembly and shipping. His offer was accepted.
My understanding is that Harvie had his commercial licence by the time he got the Avian (or soon after) and based himself at Mangere to try to earn a living on charter work. He found that this was not viable long term, and so he sold the Avian to the aero club and took jobs instructing.
Stan Blackmore bought the Avian specifically as a training aircraft (his Desoutter was a three seater - pilot in front, two passengers behind, so not suitable for this type of work). ACM was of no interest to the RNZAF and therefore escaped impressment that swept up almost all of the Moths in September 1939, and Stan operated the Avian until the RNZAF took over Rotorua airfield in August 1942. All his aircraft were then stored for the duration.
Blackmore resumed flying operations in October 1946, and with the availability of Tiger Moths sold the Avian into private ownership a couple of years later.
Keith Trillo was an NAC pilot based at Rongotai. He kept the Avian in Ivan East's overhaul hangar there, and worked on the restoration between flying duties (the rebuild incorporated parts from an earlier Avian IIIA AAF, which last flew in late 1945). After completion, the aircraft was flown in the lower North Island area (based, I think, at Paraparaumu) until stored in a shed on his parent's farm near Wanganui when he started work on his Pitts Special project that became ZK-EEU.
There was a scrub burn off on the farm on 23rd February 1974 that was supposed to be dampened down by the end of that day, but overnight the embers flared up and the fire spread, and engulfed the shed and the Avian. A sad end."
In fact Keith Trillo read this page recently and he contacted contacted me with more information on the aircraft. He told me more details of ZK-ACM's demise during a phone conversation, so i hope i have got this correct. He said that it was just at the time when NAC was becoming Air New Zealand, and he was to transfer from Rongotai, Wellington, up to Mangere, Auckland to continue his career there as an Air New Zealand pilot.
During his move he decided to put his Avian, ZK-ACM, into storage. His father had passed away in the proceeding year, but the family still had his father's farm in their possession. Land had been leased however to a crop grower to keep the farm profitable.
Keith had decided to put the Avian into a barn on the property, where it was safely cocooned away from the elements. His intention was to settle in at his new home of Auckland, and then fly the Avian up to join him.
However the crop grower who'd leased the land decided to burn off the left over stubble on the land after the harvest, which was very dry. The paddock as a north-south facing layout, with the said barn at the northern end. So some firebreaks were laid down to protect the barn, but they had not been enough. A southerly wind got up and the fire spread over the meager fire break, and the barn ignited. As it was tinder dry and high summer, the barn was quickly engulfed in flames and the Avian was lost. There was nothing left.
Keith said that at the time it was a big loss to him personally, but he moved on. However in more recent years he has realised just what a huge loss it really was, not just to him but to the country, as it was a very historic aircraft.
Here are some photos which were kindly been supplied by Peter Lewis, the first of which shows the Avian at Mangere prewar, possibly while in Ted's possession.
See a little of ZK-ACM's history and photos by clicking here
Getting back to Ted Harvie's involvement with ZK-ACM, he flew it all around the North Island and occasionally into the South Island during his ownership, both on charter work and for his own pleasure. he visited Cambridge in the machine several times and you can see more detail of this on the Cambridge Aerodrome page by clicking here.
During this time, local Leamington teenager named Gordon Easter, who was interested in aircraft, got to know Ted Harvie by going along to the racecourse and watching his plane take off and land. Eventually Gordon was often given the job of cleaning the plane, a great excitement for him to get 'hands on' with such a machine.
As time went on Gordon was rewarded by Ted with flights in the Avian, and before long Ted had taught Gordon the basics of flight and he was able to fly the machine himself. Later in 1940 when Gordon joined the RNZAF, he was posted to Taieri where the Chief Flying Instructor at No 1 EFTS turned out to be Ted Harvie, who called Gordon into his office and told him not to mention anything of the unofficial training he'd gotten 'under the table' and to pretend he was a novice. Gordon remembers these days fondly.
As Peter says above, Ted sold his plane on in 1935, and this is possibly because his own business didn't do as well as he'd hoped. It was sold in the April, and he embarked for England where he became a qualified flying instructor at Air Service Training Ltd., based at Hamble. He then flew for a period in both the UK and the USA.
He returned to New Zealand to become a flying instructor at the Middle Districts Aero Club through 1936 and 1937, and then took a position with the Hawkes Bay and East Coast Aero Club in 1937. He remained there till war broke out in 1939. Like most flying instructors he was absorbed into the RNZAF to become an important cog in the machine that was the Empire Air Training Scheme, training pilots for the war effort.
Service Details: Ted Harvie joined the RNZAF Reserve on the 1st of January 1939. He was mobilised to permanent RNZAF staff on 3rd of October 1939, just a month after the war broke out. As a very experienced pilot already, he became the founding flying instructor at the Central Flying School, RNZAF Stations Mangere and Hobsonville. This was the school that trained new instructors, and he remained there till January 1941, when he was appointed the RNZAF's Chief Flying Instructor and took command of No 1 Elementary Flying Training School at RNZAF Station Taieri, Dunedin.
In 1943 he was sent to Canada, to the Special Duties Branch at RCAF Ottawa, in a training liaison role, where he was to oversee the training of all New Zealanders under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada and the USA.
In 1944 he moved again to Britain, where he underwent a course at the Empire Central Flying School, RAF Hullavington, and he graduated from the course in that year. He then resumed duties in Canada for some time.
On returning to New Zealand in 1945, he became chief flying instructor and CO at the Pilots' Grading School and the remained Station Commander of RNZAF Station Taieri till the school's closure.
Teddy Harvie was a warded the Air Force Cross in 1943. The citation (KB1943) read:
“Squadron Leader Harvie was granted a commission as a Pilot Officer on the Reserve in January 1939 whilst employed as an Aero Club instructor. At that time he had 1,900 hours to his credit. He was called up for service in the rank of Flying Officer on 3 Oct 1939, and has been continuously employed on instructional duties at Elementary Flying Training Schools. In January 1941 he was appointed Chief Flying Instructor, and has carried out these duties with merit and marked ability. By his encouragement, perseverance and initiative he has inspired the instructors under his command, setting up an enviable record of successful training. He takes a personal interest in each pupil, readily obtaining their confidence and as a result makes successful pilots of many who would otherwise fail to qualify. He has flown over 3,300 hours.”
He left the RNZAF on the 7th of December 1945 but remained on the RNZAF Reserve list till the 14th of October 1970
Postwar, Ted returned to the UK in 1949. He then worked in business in Canada through 1950 and 1951. From 1955 to 1960 he worked for BP (NZ) Ltd in Wellington. He then took on a position with the Air Accidents Investigation Branch at Wellington in 1961. He studied at graduate and post-graduate level at the National Air Accident Investigation School in the USA during the 1960's, becoming Chief Inspector of Air Accidents in 1968, a role he filled till 1977.
In 1966 his book 'Venture The Far Horizon' was published by Whitcombe and Tombs Ltd, a fantastic book on many of the aviation pioneers in New Zealand history. This includes his own record breaking flights. A highly recommended read. In 1974 his book 'George Bolt: Pioneer Aviator" was also published, by Reed Publishing.
He died in 1985, leaving a wife, two sons and two daughters.
Connection with Cambridge: Edgar Harvie was the grandson of Cambridge's Archbishop William Willis, the archdeacon of the Cambridge diocese. His mother Kathleen was born in Cambridge in 1886 (she died in 1965). And his parents, the Reverend Frank G. Harvie and Kathleen Harvie, both resided in Cambridge at various times. In July 1927 Frank Harvie took up the position of diocesan registrar in a new diocese in the Waikato - I believe at this time he and his family lived in Cambridge till 1930 when he had disagreements with the bishop of Waikato, and was suspended from office. During this time Ted was at school in Wanganui but Cambridge was 'home'.
Ted's father moved to Mt Eden's St Barnabas Church in Auckland to become vicar in 1930, and later became the canon of Auckland. he retired in ill health from Mt Eden in 1937, and returned to his birth country of England the following year, becoming vicar of Milton Abingdon. At some point the family returned to New Zealand (Ted had remained here throughout this) as Frank Harvie died in Cambridge on the 1st of August 1948. So we can safely call Ted a resident of Cambridge through direct family connections, and also wider ones. In the 1920's and 1930's Teddy spent a considerable amount of time in Cambridge for extended periods staying with his uncle, Mr Alan Newcombe de Laval Willis, and his aunties, the Misses Willis, of Cambridge. I consider these extended stays as residence, as they were undoubtedly breaks from school or college spent at 'home'.
See more here for a page on Ted Harvie's aerial feats:
Also See Ted Harvie And His Gipsy Moth Records
Note: Thanks to Peter Lewis of the Aviation Historical Society of New Zealand for information on Ted Harvie's Avian, ZK-ACM. Also thanks to Colin Hanson for details of Ted's RNZAF service