Aviation Historian 5
M.Garden - Oscar Garden the Sundowner of the Skies
In 1935 Garden joined the newly-formed United Airways Ltd, which provided services between London, Blackpool and the Isle of Man. Garden flew the airline’s Dragon Rapides, which were absorbed into the British Airways fleet on amalgamation with other airlines in late 1935.
Oscar helps a passenger disembark from a British Airways Dragon Rapide at Liverpool in 1936. Two years later he would join Imperial Airways and train to become a pilot on “hellish” flying-boats.
In April 1940 Garden and copilot Christopher Griffiths delivered the 37th Short Empire flying-boat from Southampton to Auckland. Registered as ZK-AMC and named Awarua (“two rivers”), the aircraft went on to fly more than a million miles in TEAL service before being broken up in Auckland in August 1948.
The Hon Mrs Victor Bruce (Mildred Petre) shakes hands with Oscar Garden alongside her Blackburn Bluebird IV, G-ABDS, named Bluebird, at Jask on October 25, 1930. The pioneering aviatrix was on her way to Tokyo, which she reached on November 24.
Kia Ora and its owner in New Zealand in late 1930. Garden acquired the Moth from keen aviator Harry Gordon Selfridge Jr, who went on to own a Comper Swift and a de Havilland Puss Moth.
The reluctant pioneer - Garden had no ambition to become a standard-bearer for long-distance aviation achievements, but merely wanted to get his machine back to the Antipodes while accumulating flying hours to go towards the 100 hr of flying time required for a commercial pilot’s licence.
The author’s father in Kia Ora before setting off on his remarkable 12,000-mile flight from Croydon to Sydney. Note the spare propeller carefully wrapped up and lashed to the side of the fuselage. Garden evidently had a great deal of faith in the Moth, as he took very few spares and tools along.
Oscar and a passenger beside Kia Ora at Rotorua in 1931. Garden’s pleasure-flying business in New Zealand thrived, but in mid-1931 he returned to the UK to undertake further training. He attended Air Service Training at Hamble in the summer of 1931, winning the blind-flying trophy for that year, before joining John Tranum’s flying circus to work extensively in Africa and the Middle East.
Kia Ora at an airfield in New Zealand after it had been transported by ship across the Tasman Sea. The Moth retained its UK registration until March 1931, when it was put on the New Zealand civil register as ZK-ACK. The following May it was sold to a new owner, Mr T.Mullen of Hamilton in the North Island, who sold it to Mr M.Scott, also of Hamilton, in May 1933. Four months later it moved on to the Auckland Aero Club, which flew it until December 1937, when it was sold to the Waikato Aero Club. It went on to be impressed into RNZAF service in 1939 as NZ510; it served with No 2 EFTS at New Plymouth before being used as an instructional airframe by Whangarei Air Training Corps from 1941. It was eventually broken up at Hobsonville in June 1946.
A D.H.60G Gipsy Moth in the distinctive red-and-black colours of the Brooklands School of Flying. Interestingly, Garden alleged that he went to Brooklands to see about learning to fly there, but found the instructors somewhat the worse for drink - perhaps he mistook the instructors’ high spirits for spirits of a different kind.
Kia Ora at the new de Havilland plant at Mascot airfield in Sydney in late 1930, the company having moved operations from Melbourne earlier in the year. Garden ’s flight was naturally a fine advertisement for the Moth’s dependability and ruggedness.
Garden’s arrival at Mascot on November 7 after his final 1,100-mile leg from Broken Hill. The intrepid airman had sent a telegram from Broken Hill the previous day, announcing his intention to arrive in Sydney at 1500hr. True to his word he arrived overhead the city at the appointed hour, to be greeted by a sizeable crowd.
A souvenir postcard of Oscar Garden flying his de Havilland D.H.60M Moth, G-AASA, named Kia Ora, over Melbourne, after his epic flight from the UK to Australia in 1930.
An extremely rare unused souvenir flight ticket for Garden’s pleasure-flying activities during 1931. Flights were very popular, passengers ranging from children to 75-year-old grandmothers.
Gipsy-engined D.H.60M Moth G-AASA in New Zealand in late 1930 or early 1931. The aircraft had originally been registered in the UK on November 9, 1929. Following the England-Australia flight it was transported by ship to New Zealand.