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2005

Big Retirement Complex remembers Famous Flyer - Aug 2005


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Jane Winstone's courage as an aviatrix has earned her the honour of Wanganui's newest retirement complex being named after her.

Miss Winstone was a pupil of Sacred Heart Convent. Aged 16, she took up flying as a hobby and was a foundation member of the Wanganui Aero Club. The Jane Winstone Retirement Village is being built by Ryman Healthcare on the site of the former Sacred Heart Convent, Oakland Avenue, to be officially opened early next year.

Ryman Healthcare managing director Kevin Hickman said he felt Miss Winstone was an incredibly brave woman and was devoted to serving others in peace and war.

“By dedicating villages after female pioneers, we hope that memories are rekindled for residents and local communities, of a generation of sacrifice and achievement,” Mr Hickman said.

Miss Winstone's family, who remain in Wanganui, said they are delighted that Jane was to be recognised as a great New Zealander.

Born in Wanganui on September 24, 1912, Miss Winstone was the daughter of chemist Arthur Winstone. She was New Zealand's youngest pilot at the time of her death at the age of 31, flying a Spitfire over England during World War 2. She flew solo at 17, became the country's youngest woman pilot at the time, and gained her pilot's licence before turning 19. Another note of distinction was flying in the first official plane from Wanganui Airport.

Miss Winstone flew Charles Kingsford Smith's Southern Cross and in New Zealand accompanied Jean Batten after her record-breaking flight from England to Australia in 1934. She was one of four female pilots to accompany Ms Batten in flight to Wanganui, Hawera and New Plymouth.

Shortly before Miss Winstone left New Zealand in 1942, she received word that her fiance, Angus Carr McKenzie, company secretary of a Wanganui garage, was missing on a raid over Essen in Germany. His body was never recovered and he was later officially assumed “missing at sea”.

Miss Winstone arrived in England in August 1942, and after passing her tests was appointed to the ATA. One of five New Zealanders among the 90 women who served the ATA during the war, she undertook hazardous work ferrying Hurricanes and Spitfires. The brave woman from Wanganui had to fly solo, radio contact was forbidden, and sudden changes in weather meant unscheduled landings in difficult circumstances. Miss Winstone worked her way up to second officer, and flew Supermarine Spitfires, Hawker Hurricanes, and also a Gloucester Gladiator for a film depicting the Battle of Crete.

Her tragic final flight was on February 10, 1944. The engine of her Spitfire failed at an altitude of 600ft, shortly after take-off. The plane spun to the ground near Tong Castle.

Miss Winstone is buried in the Maidenhead All Saints cemetery in Berkshire, west of London.

Courtesy of Wanganui Chronicle 9 August 2005
Amended from Diana Beaglehole, 'Winstone, Jane 1912 - 1944'. Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 7 July 2005. URL: http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/

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