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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.


SCOTLAND, James William Humphrys


Pioneer aviator.

James William Humphrys Scotland was born on 21 September 1891 at Pahi, in the Kaipara district, North Auckland, the second son of Henry Scotland (1821–1910) M.L.C. and of Mary Ann, née Spriggs. He was educated at King's College, Auckland, and in England where he became interested in aviation and gained his pilot's certificate – the second New Zealander to do so, the first being J. J. Hammond of Auckland. He obtained considerable flying experience in England and America before returning to New Zealand where he joined New Zealand Aviation Ltd. and gave aerial exhibitions in various centres. Early in 1914, partly in order to popularise aviation and partly as a commercial venture, this company arranged for Scotland to make a series of cross-country flights from Invercargill northwards, with flying displays at certain centres on the way. On 20 February 1914 Scotland flew from Invercargill to Gore, thus making the first cross-country flight in New Zealand. From Gore he made his way north, stopping at Dunedin, Timaru, and Christchurch (6 March). His flight came to an ignominious end at Wellington on 25 March when his Caudron biplane crashed at Newtown Park. Part of the wing brace of the biplane is now in the Dominion Museum, Wellington.

When the First World War broke out, Scotland returned to England and joined the R.F.C. He served in Persia for a short time before being invalided home to New Zealand. After the war he was associated with the flying school at Wigram. He continued to give flying exhibitions until the late 1920s when he settled in Melbourne, Australia, where he lived until his death in November 1963.

In recent years there has been much interest in whether Scotland carried airmail on his flight between Timaru and Christchurch. According to the Christchurch Sun, which covered the flight fully, Scotland carried two items of “mail” on this section. These were a small parcel and a letter. In Scotland's words: “Passing over Temuka I dropped a parcel for a friend of mine, Mr Andrews. There was nothing breakable in it”. The letter, which was handed to Scotland in Timaru, was delivered by him in Christchurch. In neither case was the New Zealand Post Office involved.

by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.


Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.