Clouston & Rickets, 1938

A.E. Clouston and V Ricketts made a record flight from London to New Zealand and return in March 1938.

Their plane was the DH 88 Comet that had won the MacRobertson Air Race in 1934. They left London on 15 March and arrived in Sydney on 19 March. They then flew from Sydney to Blenheim on 20 March and back to Sydney on 21 March, arriving back in London on 26 March.

They carried a small unofficial mail that had stamps and postmarks added at significant points on the journey to authenticate arrival dates.


The cover is postmarked London at 12.45 on 15 March and an Australian stamp was added at Sydney where it was postmarked at 3.30pm on 19 March. A New Zealand stamp was added at Blenheim and postmarked 4.45pm on 20 March. There is then a further Australian stamp postmarked 23 March at Darwin and finally a London datestamp on 26 March.

The total round trip to New Zealand and back took 10 days, 20 hrs and 15 mins.

Many records were set on the flight including the fastest flights in each direction between England and New Zealand as well as the fastest trans-Tasman crossings in both directions (7 hrs 10 mins and 8 hrs 20 mins respectively).

According to the reference books, the above cover is one of only 12 carried from London to New Zealand and back again to London. A further 50 covers are reported to have been carried on part of the route. However, the frequency at which such covers turn up at auction suggests that the total number is greater than this.

A recent article [1] includes a letter (dated 28 September 1938) from Arthur Clouston to A.Phillips, the stamp dealer. It refers to extra covers that had appeared on the market and so there seemed to be problems with the number carried from the very start.

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All scans were made by the author. Information on this page is taken from:
Airmails of New Zealand, volume 2 (1986) compiled by Douglas A Walker, and The New Zealand Airmail Catalogue, (2nd Edition, 1994) by James Stapleton.
Both are published by the Air Mail Society of New Zealand
[1] D. Stratton, Alex Henshaw and Arthur Clouston, Air Mail News, vol 50, pp 90-95, August 2007.