Fred North’s motorcycle business suffered when the depression came so he began to build the Tui. He used Lincoln Standard Sportsplane plans from the USA adapting them for New Zealand regulations. The modifications classed the Tui as a different model to the parent.
He intended it to be the prototype for a New Zealand aircraft manufacturing business. “I thought that if a fellow could build something like that there might be a market for it.” Unfortunately the outbreak of war in 1939 halted the venture.
The fuselage sat in the window of Mr. North’s motorcycle garage and passersby watched the progress. When Mr North moved to Dannevirke he took the Tui with him. He later moved back to Auckland after spending little time on the Tui, but much time repairing aircraft which flew into Dannevirke, and learning about aircraft design.
Mr. North wanted to see the plane in flight so Alan McGruer performed the test flight on 4 January 1934 at Hobsonville. Its top speed was 100 mph, and it stalled at 45 mph. Later, the Tui was used by men wanting to get experience to gain commercial pilots’ licenses. The Tui was cheap to fly at 30 miles to the gallon (10.7 km to the litre).
In 1934 Charles Kingsford Smith flew it from the Auckland aerodrome and, impressed with the construction, declared “You’ll never break her in the air”.
Registered ZK-ADV, after a 1941 crash it was not repaired by the owner.
Manufacturer: Fred A.N. North
Type: One-Seat Acrobatic Sportsplane
Engine: 1 three cylinder radial Szekeley SR3
Weight: 450lb (empty), 750lb (fuelled)
Top Speed: 100mph (160.93km)
Wingspan: 6.09m (20 ft)
Length: 4.87m (16 ft)
Accommodation: Pilot in open cockpit