‘The Story of Nelson Aviation’ by Richard Waugh and Graeme McConnell, launched at Nelson Airport’s 75th anniversary, is the most comprehensive regional aviation history yet published in New Zealand and the largest book on any topic about Nelson. A4 size with 336 pages and illustrated by over 500 photographs and illustrations, this book tells the story of Nelson aviation - its aircraft, personalities, innovations and events - and how it helped develop the whole sunny province. Aviation’s influence on Nelson has been profound. With challenging road access, no rail link and the barrier of Cook Strait, Nelson had a reputation as a ‘sleepy hollow’. It was isolated and in some ways still is, yet has never been the same since the first aircraft visit in 1921. After aero club beginnings, a pioneering scheduled airline was established at Stoke in 1935.
The opening of Nelson’s new airport in 1938 – 75 years ago - was a key milestone for the region’s social, economic and tourism future. The airport led to a wartime air force station and a growing post-war airline scene. It became the main commercial aviation centre for the upper South Island, including helicopter work and is today the fourth busiest airport for scheduled flights in New Zealand.