Pic: A-BTG191015HV3 Caption: Pahiatua's iconic Harvard NZ918 was built in 1941. Pahiatua Jaycee members in 1962 removing the engine from the Harvard. Alan Gray, John White, Joe Ridley, Kelly Wenden and Graham Maseman.
Harvard MkII NZ918 66-2711 was issued to New Zealand under the Empire Air Training Scheme.
Shipped to New Zealand on the Limerick in May 1941 and assembled at Hobsonville.
Sent to No. 1 SFTS Wigram
Sent to No. 2 SFTS Woodbourne in March, 1944.
Converted to INST135 for CMT trainees at Tairi in April 1950
Later transferred to Hobsonville
Sold to Bennett Aviation Ltd, Te Kuiti for two hundred pounds
Purchased by Jaycees and installed in children's playground at Pahiatua in November 1963.
By Steve Carle
Pahiatua's original iconic Harvard 918 aircraft will be 80 years old on May 20. It was replaced with a fibreglass replica in Harvard Park on December 10, 2015.
It came near to being disposed of in 2017, when Paul Gleeson stepped in to give it a new lease of life, purchasing it and repairing it to its standard today.
It has been converted to a weather vane. "It's the biggest weather vane in the Southern Hemisphere," says Paul.
In the 17 months that it has been a weather vane, it has survived seven windstorms greater than 40 knots. Gordon Herbert (pictured above), a top dressing pilot living next to Paul, has recorded this for him and advised on the "angle of attack" to position the aircraft so it doesn't have lift from the wings when the wind blows.
"Never a day passes by when at least two or three cars drive down to look at the aircraft. It has given immense pleasure to locals and overseas visitors alike," he said.
Paul had a small party to acknowledge the people who had helped him as 918 had been "flying" for one year. Richmond Harding flew over in his Spitfire aircraft to mark the event.
The Harvard has been piloted by Ken Busch (Woodville), Dennis Bourke (Hamua), Jim Bisset (Hukanui), Ransom Boyd, Geoff East (Feilding), Graeme Reid (Pahiatua) Jim Hickey senior and Allan Higginbottom (Pahiatua.)