Air Transport World

Mount Cook Airlines is helping expand New Zealand tourism.

Christchurch--Many airlines around the world have been developed because of somebody's love for flying. Tourist organizations similarly have been built because of someone's love for travel, or fondness of a destination strong enough to want others to come see and share it. Mount Cook Airlines is the product of all these affections emanating from the late Sir Henry Wigley and his father Rodolph Wigley before him.

The senior Wigley started the Mount Cook Motor Company in 1906 largely to transport tourists around the South Island of beautiful New Zealand. Operations centered around the Wigley home in Timaru, Mount Cook in the awesome Southern Alps, Queenstown and Christchurch. In fact the elder Wigley made the very first motor car trip to Mount Cook from which the company and later the airline have taken their names. He did it in 1906 in a six horsepower De Dion car.

The Wigley company got started mostly because of Rodolph's love for the splendors of New Zealand scenery, an enjoyment of its outdoor activities and the idea that others might enjoy it as he did and be willing to pay for the opportunity.

In 1920 the New Zealand Aro Transport Company was formed by Rodolph Wigley with World War I vintage de havilland DH9s and Avro 504s as a subsidiary of the Mount Cook Motor Company. The planes were used for sightseeing, later called "flightseeing" by Mount Cook. The airline didn't really make it as a business largely because of the depression, inadequate equipment and facilities, and the second world war.

When Rodolph Wigley's son Henry, who was better known as Harry, returned from the war where he flew Curtiss P-40s for the Royal New Zealand Air Force, the airline began to develop into the company that it is today. …

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