Thursday, September 4, 2014

Mr Fritzschner's baby biplane dreams

Auckland Weekly News 31 August 1911, AWNS-19110831-16-3, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries.
Paul Fritzschner, eighteen-year-old son of Mr P. Fritzschner, a settler living on the main county road, Pahiatua has, during his spare moments in the past eighteen months, been working unaided on an aeroplane. A Pahiatua Herald representative was last week shown the aeroplane, which is of oblong shape and is built of light wood knitted together with wire. The inventor stated that when in full working order it should be capable of carrying about 300lbs. He claims that the design possesses advantages over other flying machines. His aeroplane will be easy to steer, and not liable to topple. The inventor clams for it that it will soar away like a bird, and that, covering the ground at the rate of ten miles an hour before rising, it should easily attain in the air a speed of a mile a minute. Fritzschner also states that the machine is so constructed that when the engine of 6 h.p., which has been specially made for the purpose and imported from England, has been installed, it will be possible for it to reach a good altitude, its movements being regulated by means of cords which he would manipulate from the ground. He hopes to make a trial shortly.

 (Manawatu Times 3 August 1911)

Fritzschner designed his baby biplane and completed in a market garden shed in August 1911. He was born in 1894, his German father arriving in the country in 1879. One or two trials were apparently run, before his father, fearing the extreme danger of the machine, set fire to it. (Info from A Passion For Flight, Errol W Martyn, 2013)

Less than 18 months later, however, in 1913 young Fritzschner was at it again, assisted by A Simmonds in Palmerston North to build another plane, away from his father's matches. They called their partnership the New Zealand Aviation Company. (Manawatu Times 6 January 1913) There, the story drifts away, nothing more known about the young aviator and his dreams.

Auckland Weekly News 31 August 1911, AWNS-19110831-16-4, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries.


  1. Here's a clue as to why the trail seems to have gone cold on Paul's later life:

    During WWI Paul changed his German surname to an English one.

    Papers Past - NZ Herald 24 Aug 1918 - p. 12, col. 1

    David Paul Fritzschner - Notice of Change of Surname

    Change of name to Paul David Chamberlain, of Te Puke, Motor Garage Proprietor

  2. A Google search of the changed name suggests Paul David Chamberlain (Kritzschner) may have moved to the US & sought naturalization in 1926. I can't see more because I don't have an subscription.

  3. Very interesting. I'd never heard of this family until a couple of weeks ago I discovered them on the Certificate of Title of the farm where I lived for 12 years as a kid, on the outskirts of Palmerston North. The apparently relocation to the US makes sense. His parents' marriage broke down with the three kids of that marriage were little. The mother later married a guy named John Muir, and died in 1945. The many spellings of the German surname cause a bit of a nightmare when researching them. We played in the old house on the property as kids, that these kids will have lived in when it was new. Its great to see these photos. I've seen them before, but had no reason to give them a second thought until a couple of weeks ago.