WONZ 199 – Bill Rolfe

Guest: Bill Rolfe

Host: Dave Homewood

Recorded: 29th of June 2013

Released: 19th of January 2019

Duration: 54 minutes 07 seconds

To mark the return to flight of de Havilland Mosquito PZ474 (aka NZ2384, ZK-BCV and N9909F) on the 13th of January 2019, we have a special treat. Dave Homewood has pulled a fascinating and previously unreleased interview from the archive that he did with Bill Rolfe back in June 2013.

Bill has a really interesting background, with his father and uncles being involved in aviation in New Zealand and Australia, and Bill himself grew up with it his whole life. His father Harry and uncle Bill had a flying circus in Australia. Harry had his own airline, and then became one of the senior engineers with Australian National Airways before WWII. During the war he was Director of Aircraft Production with a staff of 25,000 under him. In 1947 Harry moved back to his previous home of New Zealand and started
Aircraft Supplies Ltd.

That company bought up eight surplus de Havilland Mosquitoes from the RNZAF when they were sold off. At that time Bill himself was in the Royal New Zealand Air Force with No. 75 Squadron, working on Vampires. He took two weeks off work and got one of the Mosquitoes to a flyable state. It was registered as N9909F, and went to the USA. This is the very aircraft that flew again this past week!

There is a lot more to Bill’s story, memories of the RNZAF and No. 75 Squadron; working with his father in what became Air Spares Ltd and the international agencies and deals he was involved with; owning aeroplanes and flying and displaying warbirds, including in the first ever New Zealand Yak 52 team with Sir Kenneth Hayr and Garth Hogan; dealing with South Africa during the embargo years, and more.

Quick Links:

•  A Stuff article on Bill Rolfe

Mosquito PZ474 on its first test flight with Steve Hinton and Warren Denholm aboard, 13th of January 2019, at Ardmore Airport, New Zealand, This is the same aircraft that was one of the eight surplus machines Harry Rolfe bought and Bill Rolfe managed to return to the air so it could fly off to the USA. Photo kindly supplied by Stuart Russell. ©  2019

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