Tuesday 25th - Friday 28th January: Tracks closed each day but we will be open each day of the Long Weekend. Update for track conditions Friday evening.


Trivia x 12

Who says bikes don't fly !

maddix park mx

The skies were alive with the sound of airplanes during the weekend of February 6th and 7th, the date of the Tauranga City Air Show.  “The aim of any warbird display is to present the airplane’s shape and sound to the public” stated world renowned pilot, Keith Skilling, prior to the event. No-one was disappointed.  The large crowd of spectators was enthralled by the sound and the shapes and ,of course, by the skill of the pilots who flew the classic planes , a task which at times was  very physically demanding.  Shapes, sounds, skill, physically demanding – these same words can equally be applied to the attraction of the sport of motorcycling, which set us thinking , how many  bike – plane connections are there ? Probably a lot more than the ones we have listed but in no particular order here are a few.


  • Getting Air Time:  It’s the aim of every MXer or SuperXer as they line up for the jumps, Ben Townley included. In the Feb 2010 edition of the Red Bulletin he talks about working towards getting his pilot’s licence and says “I love being up in the air and seeing the world from a different perspective. Getting air time is a big part of motocross racing and I’ve always loved that aspect. It’s a different world up there”.

  • Flying Machines on the Roads:  The Motoguzzi  story began with 3 pilots in the Italian Air Corps during the First World War who dreamt of building motorcycles when the war was over.  A modified version of the Italian Air Corps symbol, the eagle with outspread wings, was chosen as the logo to commemorate one of the 3, who was killed in a flying accident before their venture into motorcycling history could begin. The first motorcycle prototype was produced in 1919 in the Mandello del Lario workshop with the help of a blacksmith.
  • The first engine design was a horizontal single that dominated the first 45 years of the company’s history. It was a 500 cc single cylinder with four valve cylinder head and overheard camshaft. It delivered 12 hp and had a maximum speed of 100 km/h. The model drew heavily on aircraft engine technology, well known by the designer. Already revolutionary and well ahead of its time, the G.P. was modified several times, mainly due to the excessive production costs, before arriving at the definitive version. Through 1934, each engine bore the signature of the mechanic that built it. And these bikes really did fly.  In the 1935 Isle of Man TT, Moto Guzzi rider Stanley Woods blitzed the competition an impressive double victory with wins in the Lightweight TT and Senior TT.

  • Speed Twins in the Air:  In England during the Second World War, the motorcycle industry turned its factories over to war production.  The Triumph factory at Meriden – the most modern motorcycle factory in the world at the time – was born thanks to the German Luftwaffe.  A German air raid over Coventry in 1940 had reduced the original Triumph works to rubble.  An old joke, (some say started by BSA), said the owners had painted a bulls-eye on the roof in the knowledge that factories destroyed during wartime would be rebuilt with financial help from the government. The new factory produced the army spec 3HW single for motorcycle dispatch riders but also components for a variety of military vehicles and aircraft.
  • One product was a portable electrical generator set powered by a detuned version of the 500cc Speed twin engine.  The generator unit was designed to be carried by Lancaster bombers for in-flight battery charging. Its cylinder head and block were cast in aluminium alloy.  Both castings featured square-sided cooling fins to mount the generator unit’s sheet metal shroud.  The lightweight head and block were later used with modification on the Triumph factory’s first post-war road racer, the 500cc Grand Prix, as well as the first TR5 Trophy.

    (Triumph enthusiasts can read more in Lindsay Brooke's book "Triumph Motorcycles:a century of passion and power".)

  • Kawasaki Flew Before It Could Ride: Prior to entering the business of motorcycles, the company was involved in metallurgy and the aircraft industry and was called the Kawasaki Aircraft Co.  Development of a motorcycle engine began in 1949 but the motorcycle division  produced  just engines that were adapted to other brand motorcycles until the 1960s, when Kawasaki became a motorcycle brand in its own right.

  • Flying Fleas, Corgis and BMWs:  The Welbike or Corgi - reputedly named in honour of the low-slung dogs so favoured by the English monarchy – was developed  for the British armed forces to be dropped with and used by air commandos and paratroopers in World War 2. The aim was that a paratrooper could remove the bike from its special green container (marked in white lettering with the words Motor Cycle) and be on the road within 11 seconds.  However, by the time it was in mass production much larger gliders had been developed that could carry bigger and more powerful motorcycles such as the Royal Enfield WD/RE.  Known as the Flying Flea, the Enfield was a lightweight 125 cc motorcycle designed to be dropped by parachute at the same time as airborne troops. The Germans dropped 750cc BMWs.

  • Aerodrome Race Tracks:  Once you had a road bike, you naturally had to race it.  Where could you find a large sealed area to demonstrate your speed and skill?  The obvious answer was an aerodrome and, worldwide, racing circuits for cars and bikes were established on a temporary or sometimes permanent basis.  Ardmore was the home of the NZ International Grand Prix organisation from 1954 to 1962, but it reverted to operational status as an aerodrome during the building of the new airport at Mangere, and was no longer available for motor racing. The aerodrome at Mount Maunganui was used by the Tauranga Motorcycle Club for several years for an annual road race event.

  • Aviation Fuel:  Everyone knows that high octane racing fuel or aviation gas makes their bike, jet ski, or ATV perform better than pump gas. The reason is simple. Higher octane fuels have a better combustion ratio than lower octane pump gas. Please Note: You can’t just front up and buy it at your local airport, however.  You need to produce your MNZ licence.

  • Tauranga Motorcycle Club Logo:  The club logo has a set of wings but we are still investigating as to why. Any clues anyone?

  • What are you? A rider or a pilot? : In English, we call the person who races a motorcycle a ”rider”  but in France, that person is called a “pilote”!

  • Flying Gear:  Flying goggles were used before the goggles became specifically designed for riders. In fact, early pilots and early motorcyclists were similarly dressed.

  • Ever heard of a motorcycle powered with an aircraft engine? http://thekneeslider.com/archives/2006/05/10/radial-engine-powered-motorcycle/

  • Ever thought about aeroplanes powered with motorcycle engines? http://thekneeslider.com/archives/2007/03/05/motorcycle-engine-powered-airplanes/
  • Has anyone anymore thoughts?


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