T M Wilkes

T M WilkesIn 1920, Thomas Martin Wilkes was the only officer in the New Zealand Staff Corps who was qualified as a pilot. His appointment to the Air Board in 1920 followed, thus beginning a 20-year career that helped lay the foundations of both military and civil aviation in New Zealand. His responsibility for developing and regulating civil aviation was practically continuous for 20 years, apart from a two-year exchange posting with the Air Ministry in England.

Key Appointments
September 1917 Seconded for duty with RFC (9 months)
July 1920 Secretary to Air Board
June 1923 Transferred to NZPAF (Director Air Services)
August 1929 Air Liaison Officer, Air Ministry, England (21 months)
October 1931 Re-appointed Director Air Services
June 1933 Appointed Controller Civil Aviation (in addition to Director Air Services)
April 1937 Appointed Controller Civil Aviation in Air Department
March 1940 New Zealand Air Force and Army Liaison Officer with RAAF Melbourne

The Minister of Defence, speaking on the death of Wilkes in 1958, said, “In the face of much scepticism and opposition, he worked tirelessly for something he earnestly believed in. The subsequent achievements of the RNZAF and the fine position we are in today with regard to civil aviation are themselves monuments to his early efforts.”