The Honourable Company of Air Pilots incorporating Air Navigators

The Jean Batten Memorial Trophy

 

Awarded in memory of the late Liveryman Miss Jean Batten, to recognise an outstanding individual, crew, group or organisation's contribution to New Zealand aviation.

 

2019  Awarded to:  Glyn Powell and Warren Denholm

 

Through the efforts of Glyn Powell and Warren Denholm, owner and Managing Director of Avspecs Ltd, three magnificent de Havilland Mosquito fighter bombers have been returned to flight. Each Mosquito rebuild took approximately 75,000-plus man hours with costs rumoured to be in excess of $US10 million per aircraft.

All three Mosquitos were rebuilt at Avspecs’ facilities at Ardmore Airport, Auckland, New Zealand, with the initial first flight of KA114 on 27 September 2012 and, most recently, the first flight of the third rebuilt Mosquito, PZ474, occurring in January 2019.

It is interesting to reflect that the first flight of KA114 in September 2012 meant it was only flying Mosquito from the 7800 built. It was also the first flight of a Mosquito since 1996. The most recent Mosquito rebuilt, PZ474, had particular relevance to New Zealand as it served with the Royal New Zealand Air Force post World War Two and after military service was briefly on the New Zealand civil aircraft register as ZK-BCV.

021 Glyn Powell In His Mosquito WorkshopThe Mosquito was one of the few World War Two aircraft to be constructed almost entirely from wood. This type of construction made it light in weight for its size, not dependent on strategic metals and with components able to be made in scattered locations by experienced cabinetmakers. The construction also made it both fast and versatile.

However, it also meant post World War Two that large sections of redundant airframes rotted away and it was a seemingly impossible task to rebuild such an aircraft. It took two intrepid Kiwis to breathe life back into this unique and historic type.

One needs to remember that rebuilding these aircraft takes an enormous amount of effort, not just in the physical rebuild but also in the sourcing of the original plans and the development of various tools and jigs. It was the tireless efforts of Glyn Powell in sourcing drawings, building jigs and finding discarded airframes that have allowed us to enjoy these machines once again.

The original idea came from Owen Fenner, who had worked on Auckland’s Museum of Transport and Technology’s Mosquito project, but it was Glyn Powell who started the process of rebuilding de Havilland Mosquitos to airworthy standards. He saw that these historic aircraft, being made from wood, were rotting away and would soon disappear. Glyn wanted these aircraft to be rebuilt to original specifications and quickly saw that New Zealand’s boatbuilding craftsmen would be an ideal asset in the production of fuselage moulds and in the building of wing and tail units.

Warren Denholm of Avspecs heard of Glyn’s work and passion for this aircraft type and teamed up with him to restore Mosquito KA114 for warbird collector Jerry Yagen and his Military Aviation Museum at Virginia Beach, USA.

021 Warren DenholmThis was not a simple task. Having spent many years making the moulds for the fuselage halves and gathering drawings and parts from all over the world, it took Glyn three years just to rebuild the wooden wings and fuselage structures for the first Mosquito. Warren and his team at Avspecs then took another five years to fit-out and complete the restoration – a very significant job. The Avspecs team had to fabricate or rebuild all major components of the aircraft, including the hydraulic and electrical systems, construct new cowlings, undercarriage system and a multitude of other parts.

For example, the radiators were created by a New Zealand company that had completed a number of P-40 Kittyhawk radiators. However, the Mosquito radiators were quite different and needed hundreds of hours of research before fabrication could even begin. It was not only building the various machines to help rebuild the aircraft but also through people like Matt Jackson and Simon Brown who helped track down parts like Mosquito cowls and spinners. It is interesting to note that that the cowlings for the most recent project, PZ474, came from a hangar in which they were being used as decorations!

Naturally — and in true Kiwi and warbird aviation spirit — the lessons from the three Mosquito rebuilds are being shared with others around the world, including the Mosquito Pathfinder Trust in the United Kingdom which aims to rebuild to flying status its own example. Warren has also developed a team with special rebuilding skills to tackle these Mosquito rebuilds, skills that could have been lost. These young aircraft engineers will eventually become the next generation of Warbird rebuilders and help ensure these vital rebuilding skills will remain alive for generations to come.

Without the efforts and uncommon determination of Glyn Powell and Warren Denholm, this unique and historic aircraft type could not be seen in its natural habitat — the air. It has taken two dedicated enthusiasts with a dream of getting one of the most iconic British aircraft back in the air again to make this goal a reality. For this we should all be thankful.

For their outstanding contribution to New Zealand’s international reputation for aviation restoration skills, the rebuilding of a pool of craftsmen so necessary for such formidable tasks, and their decades of focussed personal commitment and achievement, the New Zealand Region is proud to award Messrs Glyn Powell and Warrren Denholm as joint recipients of the Jean Batten Memorial Trophy.

 



Previous Winners

1992/93 Henry (Harry) Bielby Esq

1993/94 Captain A G (Gorden) Vette

1995  Not Awarded

1995/96 Raymond Gilbert Mulqueen Esq

1996/97 Air Commodore Stuart Mclntyre

1998  Not Awarded

1998/99 Ossie James

1999/2000 Captain Stuart Julian

2000/01 John William Reid MBE

2002  Not Awarded

2002/03 Captain Bryan Stephen Wyness BSc

2004  Not Awarded

2004/05 Ian Andrew Ritchie

2005/06 Maxwell Brooke Stevens

2007  Not Awarded

2007/08 William Ronald Tannock

2008/09 Squadron Leader James Rankin

2009/10 Michael Edmund Murray

2011  Not Awarded

2011/12 Guyon Moncrieff Robertson

2012/13 Lewis John Jenkins

2013/14  William (Bill) Arthur Black MBE

2015 Not Awarded

2016  John Funnell MBE

2017 - 2018 Not Awarded

2019  Glyn Powell and Warren Denholm