A Tiger Moth over Byron Bay

Sunday, 14 February 2016

I did a flight over Byron Bay a couple of weeks ago in a 1940s de Havilland Tiger Moth biplane, my daughter Tashi bought me the flight as a Christmas present (thank you Tashi!).

IMG_5283 - Byron Bay from Tiger Moth - 540.JPG▲ You can see the Byron Bay lighthouse, marking the most easterly point in Australia, as we flew along the beach past Byron Bay and turned out around the promontory.

The Tiger Moth was first flown in the 1930s and thousands of them were produced right through until the end of WW II. They were the standard training aircraft for pilots in the RAF, RAAF and assorted other air forces. They’re still immensely popular and a great number of them are still regularly flown, even though even a ‘young’ Tiger Moth is now over 70 years old. It’s a classic ‘string and wire’ aircraft and they often appear in movies as a WW I fighter plane.

IMG_5310 - Tiger Moth instruments - 540.JPG▲ The instrument display in front of me (I was in the front cockpit). You’re totally out in the open in a Tiger Moth. Which was no trouble on a warm Byron Bay day.

IMG_5307 - Tyagarah final approach - 540.JPG▲ Coming in to land at the grass Tyagarah Airfield, just north of Byron Bay. This wasn’t my first Tiger Moth flight, I’ve also been up over Rotorua in New Zealand and over Torquay near Melbourne, a Tiger Moth flight is always a delight.

I J Wheeler log - March 1946 - 540▲ And I’ve got a very good reason to be interested in Tiger Moths. My father – who had a long airline career after WW II – was an RAF pilot instructor during and after the war. He learnt to fly in Canada – on Tiger Moths of course – and progressed to flying Harvards and various other aircraft. I’ve still got his logbooks, this is from the first weeks in March 1946, 23 Tiger Moth flights. His last months in the RAF were spent flying Tiger Moths to scrapyards, he’d fly one to its final resting place in the morning, take a train back to base in the afternoon and repeat the operation the next day. What a pity!

For an even older (and rather larger) biplane check the Vickers Vimy in the Science Museum in London in this video I made with KLM airlines.