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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


HOOD, Captain George

(1893–1928). MONCRIEFF, Lieutenant John R. (1899–1928).


The brief biographies of Hood and Moncrieff are as inseparable in history as they are in public recollection. These men perished together somewhere out at sea in a gallant if somewhat ill-organised attempt to be the first to fly the Tasman from Australia to New Zealand. Before they began to plan their flight they were ordinary undistinguished individuals, differing from the general run of their fellows only in the passion they had for flying, but from the moment of the announcement of their venture their names became widely known. George Hood was the son of a pioneer Wairarapa settler, F. Hood, and was born under the shadow of the Tararuas in 1893. He left the farm to serve in the First World War, and returned to New Zealand with only one leg. Despite this he was posted to the Territorial Air Force Reserve where he continued to be keenly interested in aviation.

John Moncrieff was a New Zealander by adoption. Born in Scotland in 1899, he came to New Zealand at the age of 16 and trained first as a motor engineer, later joining the infant New Zealand Air Force. He was rejected for active service flying in the First World War on account of his youth, but he joined an infantry unit in the later stages of the conflict and from there contrived to be transferred to the Royal Air Force, with which he served in France. On his return to New Zealand in 1919 he was, like Hood, posted to the Territorial Air Force Reserve, and here the two met. The ill-fated flight was originally conceived by Moncrieff, but the final plans were made and carried out by Moncrieff, Hood, and an Australian, Captain Knight, whose life was preserved only by the fact that the plane which they eventually acquired could carry only two. Knight lost out on the venture by the toss of a coin. In spite of many discouragements, including finance, the difficulty of securing a suitable aircraft, and fierce official opposition on both sides of the Tasman, the partners procured a Ryan monoplane, similar to the one used by Lindbergh in his Atlantic crossing, and the projected flight was announced on 23 December 1927. Test flights, apparently not over-exhaustive, were carried out, the Government ban was lifted, and the Aotearoa, as the plane was named, took off from Richmond, Sydney, on the afternoon of 10 January 1928. It was a 1,450-mile hop to Trentham, Wellington, and the plane's communications equipment was only elementary, relying on the morse code, in which neither of the airmen was very proficient. Little is known of the flight but carefully weighed evidence after the event established that the flyers were still airborne 12 hours after leaving Sydney on a flight which they estimated would take 14 hours. Their two wives, Mrs Laura Hood and Mrs Dorothy Moncrieff, waited at Trentham Racecourse with thousands of others, but the Aotearoa failed to arrive. The exact fate of the plane has never been finally determined, but the daring and spectacular adventure ended in failure and tragedy.

George Hood was the more experienced of the two airmen. He was a man of strong purpose and natural reserve, with a fierce dislike of anything in the nature of publicity hunting or stunting. He was considered to be completely devoid of fool-hardiness, but full of confidence as to the outcome of the flight, which he saw as the precursor of a commercial service across the Tasman.

John Moncrieff was a vigorous, wiry, muscular man in the prime of life, quick-witted and resourceful. He had plenty of the dour determination of the Scot, but was at the same time mercurially adventurous, and on active service had shown that he possessed a brain quick to act in the face of emergency and danger.

by Ronald Jones, Journalist and Script Writer, New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, Wellington.

  • Evening Post, 11, 12, 13, 14 Jan 1928.


Ronald Jones, Journalist and Script Writer, New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, Wellington.