Friday, April 11, 2008

Harold 'Pip' Lord Piper 1899-1965

Harold Piper was born in 1899 and lived on the family farm in Banks,New Zealand. He learnt to fly in a Caudron aircraft at the Canterbury Aviation Company's site at Sockburn,going solo in 1918 after 5 hours and 30misn of tutoring. Sadly for Piper, WWI ended before he could enlist for service.
After a gap of several years,Piper joined the NZPAF in 1926 and was commisoned as a second Lieutenant. In 1927 he decided he would join the RAF and did so that year. After gaining considerable flying experience he sought leave from the RAF IN 1930 to undertake a flight from England to Australia with a fllow Kiwi who was also in the RAF. Piper bought a Dessouter aircraft which he called 'Aorangi' ,and the pair flew on what was to be an epic adventure across the World,via the Middle-East, India and South-East Asia, reaching Darwin six weeks and 2 ays after leaving England,completeing the eighth succesdul flight between England and Australia in the process.
His career with the RAF ended in 1933 and he joined Gravesend Aviation,training pupils and giving joy-rides. A year later he joined Shorts Brothers as a Test Pilot, with whom he stayed until 1948,having been their Chief Test Pilot for 10years. He had an extensive involvment with Flying Boats produced by Shorts, especially testing 166 Sunderlands. In 1946 he test flew the 4 Shorts Sandringhams ordered by Tasman Empire Airways Ltd (TEAL),before leaving Shorts and returning to New Zealand.
He retired from flying in 1956 and died in 1965 after having flown as a pilot for 41 years. He had flown 6372 hours on 91 different aircraft.