Museum digitisation technician, Hilary Ackroyd, talks about a World War II flying helmet, goggles and attachments. This piece of equipment, made of black leather, lined and sporting ear phones, belonged to Garth Satherleigh, a pilot in either the RNZAF or the NZ Fleet Air Arm. He was trained as a pilot in Canada and wore this flying helmet throughout the war. He gave it to Richard Stone in 1949, when Richard was learning to fly in Wanganui. Richard Stone donated it to the museum.
The goggles are made of perspex and have air vents to prevent fogging, says Hilary. The nose guard between the lenses is made of leather. Domes on the helmet are where an oxygen mask and microphone would have been attached. Tubes are attached to the headphones as part of the intercom system.
It’s a shame we don’t know more about Garth Satherleigh, especially his war record, then we’d know where this helmet and goggles have been.
So why did Hilary choose this item? “My granddad was really interested in airplanes – he was a fanatic,” says Hilary. “He made model planes and won so many awards, and I was brought up around model airplanes.”
Hilary seems to have inherited the aviation passion along with a wooden propeller and a few plastic models. She says her father and a cousin share the interest.
The digitisation process involved scanning photos from the museum collection, a mammoth task that will lead to researchers being able to find source material through the internet and order photographs online.
Original article appeared in the Wanganui Midweek in September 2010. Reproduced with permission from the Publishers.