1 Mar 2009

Historic Wigram Aerodrome closed

8:19 am on 1 March 2009

The historic Wigram Aerodrome at Christchurch has been officially closed, after operating for more than 80 years.

The last commercial flight left the airfield on Saturday with the Christchurch mayor, Bob Parker, on board.

Mr Parker says while the closure is sad it is a sign of the evolution of the city and he is thrilled that part of the site will be turned into a museum to preserve its rich history.

Wigram became home to the Royal New Zealand Air Force Training School in 1923, when Sir Henry Wigram gifted land to the government.

The first trans-Tasman flight was completed at the aerodrome when Charles Kingsford Smith landed the Southern Cross there in 1928.

Ngai Tahu Property now owns the aerodrome and plans build a $200 million residential development on the land.

The decommissioning has been steeped in controversy with many in the aviation industry saying it is reckless to abandon an aerodrome so rich in history.