This aircraft is a replica of Britannia, New Zealand’s first ‘military’ aircraft.

It was a larger and more powerful version of the Bleriot XI, the aircraft in which inventor-turned-aviator Louis Bleriot had famously become the first person to fly across the English Channel, in July 1909.

The XI-2 was presented to the New Zealand Government in 1913 by a group of English businessmen known as the Imperial Air Fleet Committee. After an embarrassing start – it arrived in New Zealand without its propeller – Britannia’s first demonstration flights took place above the Auckland Showgrounds in January 1914. It was flown by official Government Pilot, Joe Hammond, one of the few New Zealanders who held a pilot’s licence at the time.