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Thread: Blue Skies- Michael Le Mesurier RNZAF TAF Mustang Pilot

  1. #1
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    Blue Skies- Michael Le Mesurier RNZAF TAF Mustang Pilot

    Sadly, Mike passed away recently after a long battle against cancer. He was a very close friend and former teacher of mine. His passing may also be of interest to the New Zealanders who visit this forum. I know that whilst Mike was at No.3 Canterbury Squadron, the adjutant was Bryan Gault whose son operates/operated the Thunder Mustang in NZ. Mike's first solo on the Mustang was on aircraft NZ2427 at Wigram on September 19th 1954.An extract from Mike's diary, which has previously been published, recalls that experience,

    " Flew my first solo on Mustang swotted my gen last night and today felt fairly confident. Mike Daniell let me go after surprisingly little amount of briefing and vetting. Away I went, and enjoyed extra power, lighter control, and thrill of being in advanced machine. After doing a couple of loops, rolls and stalls, plus trim and rev practice, came back slap over school [Christ's College] at 5.30pm.Felt thrill for the boys more than my own conceit, maybe was wrong in this.
    Did the now customary bum approach(only this time in fact correct) and went round again and second landing according to P/Os was quite reasonable, but nevertheless not a patch on my 'Spit' first solo, which was split ****..........."
    ( Mike flew Spitfires in the SAAF)

    Mike was teaching at Christ's College, Christchurch at the time he was flying the Mustangs. Amongst his pupils were Tim Wallis, and it was he who, many years later owned NZ2427. Perhaps, Tim
    Wallis witnessed Mike's low fly-over of Christ's College that day; it would be interesting to know if he recalls that event. I believe Mike also taught Tim Wallis's wife to be, or she certainly knew Mike. On August 17th 2003, Mike flew again in NZ2427, thanks to Maurice Hammond's generosity. Mike had some wonderful stories to tell about flying the Mustangs and of his brother's adventures flying Gloster Gladiators from Northern Kenya against Italian CR.42s in Abyssinia, and later, Hurricanes in North Africa. Mike's last ever flight was in a Tiger Moth when he was in his early eighties, and his last tenuous link to aviation being a NPAS Helicopter Observer moving into his street.
    If anyone reading this thread has any memories of Mike, be it as a teacher, TAF Mustang pilot or friend, then it would be lovely to hear them and equally for me to share them with his family, who are all very close friends.

    I have attached a copy of the obituary taken from the Order of Ceremony of Mike's funeral, which highlights what a rich and interesting life he lived

    Foxtrot 01
    [/CENTER]
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  2. #2
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    Blue skies, Mr Le Mesurier.
    NZ is graced by a P-51D in the markings of No.3 Canterbury Squadron, here it is at NZ Warbirds founding President Trevor Bland's funeral.

    ZK-TAF tribute pass - TT Bland by Errol Cavit, on Flickr

    And here is the Thunder Mustang that Simon Gault part-owned.
    Thunder Mustang by Errol Cavit, on Flickr

    Thanks for bringing to our attention Foxtrot01.

  3. #3
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    Foxtrot 01, you mention that Le Mesurier's diary has been previously publishing. Just wondering if you could give a few details, title, etc, as I'd be keen on getting a copy.

    Thanks,

    Tim

  4. #4
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    Sad to hear this news, I had the great pleasure of meeting Michael when he visited Hardwick in 2003. It was great speaking to him and hearing his recollections of flying the Mustang in New Zealand.

  5. #5
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    Dear Tim,

    The extract from Mike's diary was published in Air Enthusiast Magazine October/November 2003. The article was titled, " Mustang Reunion."

    Foxtrot 01

  6. #6
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    Dear Yak 11,

    I may have met you that day. I drove with Mike up to Hardwick. I ended up driving him all the way home because he was so exhausted by the days excitement! I will post some pictures of the day's events, and some local newspaper coverage etc., although I may have to start a new thread as I am experiencing difficulties attaching them to this " quick reply".

    Regards Foxtrot 01

  7. #7
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    Blue Skies- Michael Le Mesurier RNZAF TAF Mustang pilot- Photographs added

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  8. #8
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    Dear Tim,

    There was a slight omission from the diary entry I posted due to child safe-guards on the library computer, which blocked the second word. Mike's comment following his first Mustang landing should have read " Split-esra." I have had to spell the second backwards! This reminds me of another entertaining supply teaching story, which revolved around Queen Victoria's husband!

  9. #9
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    Dear Tim,
    The information you requested, concerning Mike's diary entry wasn't accurate. I have now found the exact information on another email; unusually, I used the article as a means of verifying my identity, and link to Mike's home, to UPSD at the end of September last year. Anyway, the article was in Air Enthusiast Magazine titled Kiwi Mustang/Reborn Kiwi P51,Nov/Dec 2003.

    Foxtrot 01

  10. #10
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    Dear ErrolC,
    I forgot to thank you for posting the pictures of the Thunder Mustang and the appropriately registered ZK-TAF, which wears the identity of 2415, which, I am almost certain, appears in Mike's log book.

    Thanks

    Foxtrot 01

  11. #11
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    Sep 2016
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    Dear Errol C,

    I have checked Mike's log book and found that he hadn't flown NZ2415, which is undoubtedly due to it having been his squadron leader's personal aircraft. I have attached a page from his log book, which shows many of those he flew, including two of the 4 survivors: NZ2417 and NZ2406, which are both airworthy and based in America ( Mike was a close personal friend and would have been happy for me to share his log book information with enthusiasts). The page from his log book is undoubtedly that of the annual get together of all the TAF squadrons at Ohakea, which explains Mike's flying other squadron's aircraft as they were undoubtedly pooled. I have some pictures I took of another survivor NZ2423, which was in a barn/shed in New Zealand near to where I worked as an apple thinner. I will try to find them along with some nice postcards I have of NZ2417 whilst in its Mobile Oil colour scheme and attempting a record attempt in 1965.


    Regards


    Foxtrot 01
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  12. #12
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    I see he also flew Harvard NZ1024 which is also still airworthy in Australia.

  13. #13
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    Wings over NZ forum with pictures of ZK-CCG (NZ2417) on page 3
    http://rnzaf.proboards.com/thread/17...ircraft?page=3

  14. #14
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    Thanks for sharing the logbook.
    The TAF squadrons only had a few P-51s each, so the boss must have held on to 'his' tight!

    Some bonus air-to-airs of NZ1024 from Gavin Conroy
    http://classicaircraftphotography.co...alia/a63w9724/

  15. #15
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    Dear Baz62,

    Thanks for the information about one of the Harvards Mike flew.

  16. #16
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    Dear ErrolC,
    I have attached the set of postcards of NZ2417 in its Mobile Oil colour scheme whilst attempting a record attempt. Does anyone have any further information about this record attempt?
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  17. #17
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    Dear ErrolC,
    I have also attached a list of all the TAF Mustangs Mike flew; the tally is the number of times that he flew each Mustang indicated.
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  18. #18
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    Mustang NZ2423

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    Dear ErrolC,
    I have attached the pictures that I took of the previously mentioned RNZAF TAF Mustang survivor NZ2423 stored in that barn in New Zealand. I will try and write up the amazing story of my visit to this barn and the eccentric chap who had all these old aeroplanes in there, including, and you're probably not going to believe me, a complete de Havilland Mosquito. I also have some colour photographs from slides of the TAF Mustangs at Ohakea, which I will post next time I visit the forum.

    Regards

    Foxtrot 01

  19. #19
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    I believe you about the Mossie, I've spoken to people who have seen it!
    Please keep on sharing.

  20. #20
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    I understand John Smith has asked people not to share photos of his collection online but if you have permission I'd love to see them!
    "those who know keep quiet, and those who don't are frowned upon for asking." - snafu

  21. #21
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    As an ex RNZAF mechanic, i underwent training at No 4 TTS at Woodbourne sometime around 1980. It was common knowledge of Mr Smith's collection, and the fact that if you supplied the Avgas, he would run up the Mossie. A few of us made friends with the MT flight guys and started collecting drain offs from the tankers. We filled up a car boot load of containers and drove off to see Mr Smith. True to rumour, we handed over the precious liquid and soon after, Merlin's filled the air.

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