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Working with the Ferrymead Aeronautical Society

Mosquito fuselage

Checking the alignment of the Mosquito fuselage.

Something we love about working at Fox and Associates is the diverse range of interests across the team, from windsurfing to drag-racing to fishing. You can imagine that the lunchroom discussions are often fascinating and wide-ranging. One of the team has a slightly unusual hobby that has great synergy with their surveying work.

For over 10 years Fox Senior Licensed Cadastral Surveyor Alex Liggett has spent nearly every Saturday restoring historic aircraft at the Ferrymead Aeronautical Society, which is part of the Ferrymead Heritage Park in the Heathcote Valley. His lifelong interest in planes, trains and automobiles was piqued when he discovered the Aeronautical Society on a visit to Ferrymead, and he soon volunteered to help out. The Society, which was founded in 1972 is a volunteer group which aims to preserve NZ’s Aviation Heritage. Their collection includes 10 fixed-wing aircraft, 7 complete or near-complete helicopters and 4 cockpit sections as well as a substantial collection of memorabilia and technical aviation literature. The jewel in the crown of the collection is a 1944 de Havilland Mosquito which was flown by kiwi crews during WW2.

Like most of the Society’s volunteers, Alex has no training in aircraft engineering but he is a keen woodworker, an interest that is useful to the team working on the restoration of the Mosquito, which is built almost entirely from plywood, spruce and balsa wood. His experience as a surveyor has proved valuable in ensuring that the fuselage of the aircraft is kept level and straight throughout the restoration, and in taking scans and measurements of undamaged sections of the complex curves of the fuselage that help with repairing damage on the opposite side.

The technology, communication and record interpretation skills that go with the job of a surveyor have been helpful in organising the huge collection of plans, documents and parts associated with the project, in researching and recording details of markings and equipment fit and in publicising and communicating with the public to raise awareness of the project. You can listen here to a presentation on the project that Alex gave to a gathering at the Air Force Museum last year.

Survey hangar

Undertaking a survey of the display areas.

Aside from the Mosquito, Alex has undertaken a topographic survey to inform the design of a new building to house the Society’s helicopter collection, and a survey of the inside of one of the display areas to try to maximise the use of the valuable space. He has also undertaken surveying work to help out other societies in the ‘family’ of the Park. Fox has generously supported all of this work with the free use of vehicles, equipment and materials for surveying activities, as well as giving Alex the flexible working conditions that enable him to undertake some Society work during the working week when this is required.

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