Memorial to mark air force crash

MEMORIAL: Retired engineer Ron Fensom at the site of a new memorial for 1953 RNZAF mid-air collision over Wigram, killing 7 men.

Five years of planning and fundraising to commemorate the deadliest air force crash on New Zealand soil has come to fruition.

A plaque will be placed in a Wigram subdivision, close to where the crash took place on October 15, 1953. Its unveiling is planned for October at Erling Ziesler Lane, Wigram, which is a street named after one of the pilots who was killed.

Retired engineer and Halswell Residents’ Association member Ron Fensom was delighted the work he began in 2014 paid off.

DEADLY: The two RNZAF Devons that collided over Wigram in 1953.

He said the time was needed to choose an appropriate location, draw up landscape plans, design the plaque and finalising the costings.

“It’s been a long trek but it’s come together nicely and I’m very pleased with the support from the community from this,” he said.

“Being in the residents’ association, I heard just by chance from a neighbour that the air crash took place, so I decided to work from that point on and make sure the site is identified,” Mr Fensom said.

The date of the unveiling is yet to be confirmed.

Seven men were killed when two RNZAF de Havilland Devons collided mid-air over Wigram.

His campaign has also seen three streets in the area named after crash victims, including Erling Ziesler Lane, and also Edwin Ebbett Pl and Sharman Pl.

The memorial plaque will be carved onto a block of stone taken from the earthquake-damaged Summit Rd.

The plaque is estimated to cost $7000 of which $2500 was granted by the Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton Community Board. The remainder of the money was raised through private donations.

“When I started working on this, I was concerned that the crash site would be subdivided and I thought it was a good opportunity . . . to mark the historical spot,” Mr Fensom said.