He was English born and
emigrated to New Zealand
at the age of 18 with his two sisters.
While one of the girls
returned to England,
he spent a couple of years in the
as a tramping guide. But the weather and
drove him out to gentler climes and his
was to Dunedin, where he became employed
an apprentice aircraft mechanic with the
Otago Aero Club based on Taieri Aerodrome
It was here he
obtained a few basic engineering
certificates and also did a bit of flying
north to the Marlborough Aero Club at
1939 meant war.
The New Zealand Air Force commandeered
private and aero club aircraft for
so Temple was suddenly without a job.
the RNZAF engineering section and as a sergeant
was moved to Taieri,
which was now a basic training centre for pilots
on Tiger and Gipsy Moth aircraft.
five years were spent in maintenance and
rebuilding various aircraft,
mainly the Tigers, and at wars end Flight
Lieutenant Martin left the RNZAF
as a fully-licenced aircraft engineer.
Now, in 1946 it was a move to the Hawke's
Bay and East Coast Aero Club at Hastings,
to service the reformed club fleet - but it was
the new industry of aerial topdressing
fertilizer which provided him a future where he
could exercise the best of
his aircraft engineering knowledge.
discovered at this time spreading superphosphate
by aeroplane on
marginal sheep farming hill country was a viable
Surplus wartime Tiger Moths were cheap.
There were plenty of keen ex war-trained pilots
to fly them.
Tiger Moth started this new aerial topdressing
industry, but they were far from
being an ideal aeroplane for the job of carting a
load of several hundredweight
of manure from small airstrips to spread it at
low level amongst steep hill country.
The machine was
underpowered, had no wheel brakesfor ground
and mishaps were fairly common.
It was a habit of
his to take his camera and
photograph most of the mishaps he was
to repair. A huge selection of these
are now recorded onto disc
which is held by .
made mainly of wood and fabric, a small accident
could severely damage
the construction and delicate rigging of the
topdressing companies with numerous Tiger Moths
started in Hawke's Bay,
and Temple, with his experience on biplanes, kept
the fleet airworthy.
18 months after moving to Hawke's
Bay, he started his own business called Airepair,
using some leased space in the East Coast Aero
Club hangar, followed by
building his first hangar on his own property at
Bridge Pa aerodrome in 1951,
then another big building in 1961.
At one stage, during the
1950s, he serviced and
maintained 56 Tigers, based from
Dannevirke in the south
to Wairoa in the North, as well as a
private Austers, Whitney Straights,
Chipmunks from grateful owners around the
He kept a huge rack of
refurbished Tiger wings
in the hangar to facilitate rapid repairs
when called out
to rescue a downed topdressing machine
somewhere out in the countryside.
big hangar was built in the 1960s, son Gary
joined the engineering team.
By then the day of the Tiger as a workhorse was
almost done being replaced
with fewer but more powerful metal aircraft which
Temple with his extraordinary
engineering ability, easily adapted. There were
still a number of private Tiger Moths
around for years to come, the owners of which
always knew to see Temp
to sort out their troubles. In this role, he
leased out the large hangar and retired
to his first small one in 1976, till at the age
of 84 he retired for good.
Every pilot and
operator who called on Temp could expect speedy
response and expert advice to their troubles,
and here is a portrait of the man by an ex East
Coast Aero Club member and later private owner ..
a very junior member of the Aero Club in the mid
sixties, I had little to do with
Temp as he was always known. He had a reputation
for being a bit grumpy,
even fierce at times, and one was never quite
sure how to approach him should
the necessity ever arise. All this changed when I
bought a Tiger Moth of my own
after the club machine that I had been learning
in was written off in a rather
unfortunate accident. This was the start of an
association with Temp which
lasted through twenty two years and two Tiger
Moths and was to provide memories
which I will treasure always.
Like so many
people of his time, Temp's gruffness was
a veneer beneath which was an
exceptionally kind, generous
and capable man, a true allrounder
who could turn his hand
to anything. He couldnt stand
trivia or suffer fools, had a
wonderful dry sense of humour and was a
deal with, but heaven help anyone who
outsmart him in any way.
Bill Shaw, (centre), talks
with Temple, (right)
service he provided was legendary. In the Tiger
Moth topdressing days he
employed a large workforce to cope with the
endless prangs and mishaps that
were the norm and almost a daily occurrence
Included in this workforce were many
local women doing nothing but fabric work, mostly
covering wings which he always had many in stock.
He was always available with his Landrover to
come and recover
wrecked or damaged aircraft at any time, and
would often work all night in the field
to get a topdresser flying again the next day.
To me, dealing with Temple was
always a pleasure. He had incredible knowledge
experience with the type of aircraft I loved and
owned. He had a large supply of
parts which were a legacy from the topdressing
and early aero club days and was
always available and willing to help no matter
when or where.
A typical example was an incident
in Taupo on my way to Tauranga one weekend
which resulted in a badly damaged bottom wing. A
phone call to Temp produced
the usual gruff What have you broken this
time. How many wings should I bring.
Are you sure there is nothing else? Ill be there
at 7.30 in the morning and sure enough
he and Mrs Martin duly arrived having left Bridge
Pa aerodrome early on a Sunday
morning to do it. Anyone handy was soon press
ganged into giving a hand,
(one didnt argue with Temp) and in no time
at all the damaged wing was replaced,
and then Temp displayed his real skill. He rigged
that side of the plane entirely by eye,
stood back when he had finished and squinted
along the wings and said;
She will probably fly a little right wing
low but will sort that out when you get
and that is exactly what it did!
Temple was a unique product of his
time and I consider myself most fortunate
to have been a small part of it."