Wartime residents of Wellington's south coast had front row seats to watch a biplane Baffin bomber's forced landing in Cook Strait after its engine failed.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force plane, flown by Pilot Officer SG White, came down about 3.5km from the Island Bay shore at 12.30pm on December 14, 1939.

White, of Woodbourne air base near Blenheim, was unhurt and didn't even get wet, according to a Press Association report in the Herald.

The incident happened in the early months of New Zealand's involvement in World War II. Less than three months later, three air force men