top of page

The Pither

In 2004 Colin Smith of the Croydon Aircraft Company built this marvelous reproduction of Pither's aircraft in order to test the design, and to perhaps finally answer the question of whether it was capable of flight. Working drawings for this 'new' Pither were created from contemporary newspaper reports and photographs.

Powered by a purpose-built reproduction V-4 engine similar to the one Pither developed, this aircraft is over 75 kilograms heavier than the original machine, but as seen in this video clip it's certainly capable of making it into the air under its own power, albeit briefly.


After several short test flights, pilot Jerry Chisum noted that the aircraft was stable and controllable in the air and that its performance exceeded his expectations. This, along with the fact that Pither was a top sportsman and businessman in an era when chivalry and honour were highly valued, certainly lends weight to the argument that Bert Pither did, in fact, produce and fly New Zealand's first (airworthy) indigenous aircraft.

This reproduction aircraft can now be seen in our museum and The Reproduction Pither Can Fly


  • Fuselage: All-metal, steel tubing, box girder principle.

  • Wings: Also steel tube, wooden ribs, fabric covered; span 28 feet (8.5 m); area 160 sq. ft (14.9 m²)

  • Total steel tube: About 65 m

  • Weight: 500 lb (230 kg) excluding the pilot.

  • Length: 26 feet (7.9 m).

  • Propeller: 6 ft 6in diameter (1.9 m) based on marine design; steel hub, aluminium sheath.

  • Engine: Four cylinder VEE capable of 40 hp.

  • Thrust capability: 250 pounds (113 kg).

  • Control in air: Pedal-operated tail rudder.

  • Lateral stability: Achieved by warping rear edges of wings, controlled by a steering wheel.

  • Pitch control: Lever-operated elevators.

  • Undercarriage: Motorcycle or bicycle wheels with fitted spring shock absorbers.

bottom of page