New Zealand Aviation Pioneer
George Bruce Bolt, OBE, FRAeS. (1893 - 1963)


George Bruce Bolt was born in Dunedin, New Zealand 24 May 1893. He was interested in flight from a very early age. In 1910, with two close friends, R D Wraight and W M Angus, Bolt formed the Canterbury Aero Club. They became involved in gliding experiments from Christchurch's Cashmere Hills, using run-and-launch gliders. Bolt later developed ailerons and hand controls for his gliders, and at the outbreak of World War I was developing an engine which would assist glider flights.

He is credited with the first aerial photographs in 1912, an interest he developed further in later years.

In 1916 Bolt became an apprentice mechanic at the Walsh Brothers Flying School in Auckland. There he learnt to pilot flying-boats, (B & W Seaplane) and soon became the flying instructor at the School's Kohimarama flying-boat base.

Bolt is famous for "firsts" such as making the first airmail delivery in New Zealand and the first business passenger trips in Australasia. He was also famous for breaking or setting many aviation records, including the altitude record of 6,500 feet in 1919, and in 1918 the non-stop flying record Auckland to Wellington (382 miles) in 5hrs 6 mins. He later held positions as pilot, engineer, and administrative, flying and technical positions with local and overseas airlines.

In this photo of 1917 George Bolt is working on an aircraft engine at the New Zealand flying School, Kohimarama, Auckland.



Royal New Zealand Air Force base, Hobsonville, New ZealandSquadron Leader J Palmer and Wing Commander George B Bolt - September 1939

RNZAF Base Auckland is a Royal New Zealand Air Force base located near the upper reaches of the Waitemata Harbour in Auckland, New Zealand. The base formerly comprised two separate airfields, Whenuapai and Hobsonville. Hobsonville was established as a seaplane station in 1928 and was the RNZAF's primary flying boat base in New Zealand until 1967. Construction of Whenuapai as a base for Wellington bomber aircraft began in 1937, and from 1945-1965 Whenuapai was also Auckland's civil international airport. Post World War II Auckland became a centre for RNZAF transport and maritime squadrons. These two independent bases were integrated in 1965 to form RNZAF Base Auckland. Hobsonville subsequently became a grass airfield for No. 3 Squadron RNZAF which has now moved to Ohakea. A small army unit was closed down in 2003, and there was some controversy over its future intended use.

Whenuapai was expected to close as well, with the RNZAF being centralised at Ohakea. Infrastructure company Infratil and Waitakere local body leaders carried out feasibility studies to develop Whenuapai into a commercial airport if the RNZAF moved to Ohakea. In 2009 the government decided to retain the air force base at Whenuapai and implemented a reconstruction programme.

May 1950

He served with the RNZAF and the Royal Air Force during World War II, and in 1944 Bolt was appointed Chief Engineer of Tasman Empire Airways Limited (now known as Air New Zealand), a position held until his retirement in 1960.

George Bolt achieved world-wide respect for his aeronautical engineering ability, his flying prowess, and his tremendous contribution to aviation in New Zealand. By example he led a generation of pilots and aero engineers to whom perfection was paramount.

Tasman Group. executives (left to right), Captain Brownjohn, Mr F Larson, Captain Clarke and Mr George B Bolt - May 1950