Calling All Paper Plane Pilots

Not many aeroplanes  are flying in our skies at the moment but that shouldn’t stop you finding out about some exciting air adventures by remarkable New Zealanders from our past.

Cliff Tait is one such person. Over 50 years ago, as an amateur  pilot, he flew a tiny single engine  Airtourer  115 around the globe to advertise New Zealand built  aeroplanes. Here are some highlights from MOTAT’s exhibition about Cliff, The Flying Kiwi.


This map shows the route Cliff took. Can you spot Japan where he faced one of his biggest obstacles when his next planned stop, Russia, refused him permission to land? He hatched a plan to ship his aeroplane Miss Jacy to North America and on he went.

Impressive Stats & Interesting Facts about Cliff’s epic journey 

80 days and 5.5 hours total journey time

284 hours flying time

49,084 km flown

Over 50 stops in 27 countries

13.5 hours longest flying day – Bali to Darwin

50% of time spent flying across open water

50% of time spent in or above cloud

45 cm square was the size of Cliff’s seat – not much bigger than a child’s car seat!

12 kg weight loss – ate mostly snacks like fruit, biscuits & popcorn

4.5 hours average night’s sleep

Cliff’s prize possession 

Cliff’s Rolex watch was one of the most important and treasured items he took with him. Its dual time feature stopped him getting confused by always telling the time correctly in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) as well as the country he was flying over.

Can you spot the watch on Cliff’s wrist in this photo?

Winging his way

Whenever Cliff landed at his next destination, he always posted an envelope to his wife Joyce and the children to let them know his location. Often there wasn’t a letter inside because he was too tired to write!

A flying inspiration 

Many children wrote to Cliff congratulating him on his amazing flight. Do you have a hero you would like to write to?  

50 Years Later 

At MOTAT in 2019, Cliff celebrated the 50th anniversary of his trail blazing global journey  in front of his beloved Miss Jacy, with a kiss from the same Kiwi airline hostess whom he met on his global journey.

Check out our incredible collection from Cliff Tait’s journey including photographs, letters and the marvellous Miss Jacy herself!  See it all on Collections Online

Why not make your own Flying Kiwi or paper aeroplane!  

These ones were made by the exhibition curator. We bet you could do better!