The series of images to the left show New Zealand pioneer aviator George Bolt. The Aircraft in the lower picture is Bluebill or B&W1 - otherwise known as “Boeing One”, a phrase coined by another of Bluebill’s pilots, Eric Paton.


Under this is the three page letter that George Bolt wrote to the Boeing Company in 1959 in which he explains that he had spoken to the men who had disposed of the NZ Flying School Aircraft and who had told him that they had sealed Bluebill off in a tunnel at North Head. This story was confirmed by Sir Leonard Isitt, the Officer who had been in charge of the Flying School cleanup after its closure in 1924, and by Doug Patterson, Bolt’s partner in the first search for ‘Boeing One’.


The bottom image is a press photo of George Bolt and George Salt (left) taken in 1961 and used to illustrate an article that claimed that the “Boeing Mystery” had been solved. This November 1961 newspaper article has since been proved to be a fraud. Nevertheless it gained public acceptance in the 1960s and went on to spawn other myths about the destruction of Bluebill either at the Flying School site or at North Head.

Top left is the man himself, William Edward Boeing who, with his partner at the time, Conrad Westervelt, designed and built B&W1 and 2, Bluebill and Mallard.


Below him is “The Red Barn” - the original home of the Boeing Company.


Below that Mallard sits on a beach, circa 1921 and Bluebill commences a take off run.


In the bottom image the replica of Bluebill sits next to an NAC Boeing 737 showing the great stature of the original Boeing.

The first two Boeings were powered by Hall Scott engines originally designed to power streetcars.  Here the big six cylinder is being connected to the Boeing airframe.


Workers pause for a photo at the Hall Scott company.


When the Flying School closed all of the aircraft engines were tendered off at Devonport.


One of the Boeing engines was later found and bought by John Earnshaw and is now in filmmaker Peter Jackson’s collection.

The New Zealand Flying School was founded by The Walsh Bros and Dexter Ltd and was sited at Kohimarama in what is now Auckland’s Mission Bay. Above a Walsh flying boat based on a Curtis design does a fly-by. The aerial of the school is circa 1920. The school closed in 1924. Above right Vivian Walsh sits at the controls of a biplane built by him and his brother Leo in 1911. Bluebill flew the first airmail in New Zealand and became quite famous. Its achievements were commemorated by an NZ Post $2.00 postage stamp (left).

John Earnshaw (left) emigrated to New Zealand in 1975 after a long international career in film making during which time he worked with luminaries like Kubrick, Polanski, Lean and Guillermin. Once in NZ he worked with Roger Donaldson and David Blyth.


He began his “Search for Boeing One” project in the Early 80s only to have it frustrated by NZDF and the Department of Conservation. Then, after being courted by TVNZ who were interested in screening his work when and if the North Head Tunnels were opened, his project was plagiarized by a student film maker who was working for a company owned by a TVNZ executive.


The student film maker, aided and abetted by the Department of Conservation, claimed she was filming the North Head / Boeing story because she had “more experience” than Earnshaw.


Below the picture of Earnshaw are some shots from an impressive portfolio of his long career, in particular stills from John Guillermin’s  THE BLUE MAX. Earnshaw was almost killed during this shoot when the wheels of a low flying biplane ripped the film magazine off the camera.


One of the BLUE MAX biplane replicas is now in  the Peter Jackson collection.

(Left to right above) The ‘Boeing Burning’ myth initiated by the bogus 1961 article is later given more credibility by an equally apocryphal magazine article. Doug Patterson, former General Manager of the National Airways Corporation who, with former Bluebill pilot George Bolt, conducted the first search for the Boeing in 1959/60, is photographed with John Earnshaw. Next, the Sunday Times dines out on the Tunnel Mystery (1991). After Wells McCurdy became involved (husband of the US ambassador and friend of the Boeing Family) The Herald reports a new search - but it didn't happen quite the way it was proposed - and it inspired a plagiarism of Earnshaw’s work. When the controversy finally boiled over into the high court (1994) the presiding judge was Sian Elias. During the case, when she was appointed ’chief justice’ she tried to back out and have another judge take over. Her final judgment flew in the face of natural justice. 

John Earnshaw (left) and Jon Smyth sort thru piles of press clippings and other files during a massive tidy up of all the material collected on the various searches for Boeing One dating back to 1959. This was a daunting task but resulted in all the records being bound and collated into a coherent historical record.


Below them is Ted Trower (left) who was the last person alive who had lived at the Flying School. Ted, in his 90s and as sharp as a tack, gave a brilliant interview that painted the definitive picture of life at Kohimarama during the closure of the School.


The gentleman under the photo of Ted Trower and Earshaw is Anthony Packington-Hall, an archaeologist with a long standing interest in North Head dating back to the 1970s when he entered a tunnel at North Head that can no longer be located and found therein the wing strut of an Avro 504 - a biplane of the kind used at the New Zealand Flying School.

The first aerial shot of North Head (above right) was taken circa 1938 and shows a tunnel big enough for a truck to enter on the east face. To the right are two enlargements of the tunnel entrance. This tunnel has since “disappeared”. In 1988 NZ Army surveyors pinpointed the entrance but the Army never excavated saying that they ‘weren’t going to dig away half the hill to get to it’. It has never been investigated. 


In the high court the Department of Conservation alleged that this was an old entrance of a gun battery on the north face 100 metres further around the Head from where the entrance was actually surveyed. The claim was patently false but was accepted by the court without any supporting  evidence.

LEFT. FW 1104 map 1 of 12, the last remaining original map of the North Head fortifications. This map has been used as ‘evidence’ that there are no “hidden tunnels” at North Head. However other evidence, including official records, point to this ‘map’ being a doctored reproduction from which evidence of sealed tunnels was purposefully removed sometime after 1969. Chicanery like this doctored map and the spurious claims about the tunnel entrance (above right), was used to justify a callous rort of thousands of dollars of equally spurious court costs off John Earnshaw and an attempt by NZDF, aided and abetted by further lies, to take Earnshaw’s house from him in retaliation for him taking legal action over their deliberate breach of contract.

North Head (above) is a dormant volcanic cone at the entrance of Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour. It was used as a military fort, ordnance depot, communications centre and mine and gunnery control centre from the 1880s to the 1960s. The two colour photos (taken in the 1990s) show the east (top pic ) and south (bottom pic) faces.

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A letter of support from Air Marshall Sir Richard Bolt (ret.), son of George Bolt, Pioneer Aviator, Bluebill pilot and Chief Pilot of the New Zealand Flying School.  Received by the author in response to a copy of the book proposal that was sent to Sir Richard in appreciation of his assistance with photographs from the family collection.


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