First Officer Orville Darcy Openshaw

Orville Darcy Openshaw – New Zealand Herald, Volume 82, Issue 25116, 1 February 1945 – reproduced under Creative Commons New Zealand BY-NC-SA Licence

B: 11th June 1909, New Zealand

Orville Darcy Openshaw certainly had a mechanical bent and was enamoured of aircraft early on.  He was a member of an Aero Club from its formation in 1932 whilst employed as a mechanic and later as a proprietor of a garage in Katikati, NZ.

Working as a ground engineer and taking flying lessons with mentor Captain Blake, he gained a pilot’s licence and began flying for Air Travel (N.Z.) Ltd. in New Zealand. With the advent of WW2, he was appended to the NZ Ballot list in 1942 whilst living and working in Hokitika, NZ.  By early 1943, he was commissioned as a pilot officer on the Reserve of Officers Class A list but relinquished this commission some 18 months later.

Ozzy, as he was known, was no stranger to the hazards of flying which was an inherently dangerous pastime. Planes were light and fragile and very susceptible to the impacts of adverse weather.  Ozzy’s skill as a pilot was recognised when he successfully landed a damaged De Havilland Fox-Moth on the Franz Joseph Glacier in 1943. He and his four passengers, all members of the NZ W.A.A.F, walked out to safety.

Describing his recent forced landing in a Fox Moth on the Franz Josef Glacier, the pilot, Mr O. D. Openshaw, said he ran into an air pocket that took him down like a shot and made him powerless to lift or guide the aeroplane. The left wing struck an ice pinnacle and came off. He jammed the rudder over as hard as possible and the aeroplane swung round and round in a circle, all he could see being a huge pinnacle of ice in front of him, as they came down and struck the icefield, and flattened out without great force. They landed on crushed ice, with enormous crevasses and high ice pinnacles all round. The crevasses were of unknown depth, and looking down them was like looking into a blue mist.

Ozzy had married on 24th April, 1935 to Clara Bright.  Clara, was also known as Claire and by the nickname Curly, had two children.  Curly and the children were still in New Zealand packing and preparing to move to Australia to join Ozzy when the crash of the Stinson occurred. Reproduced under Creative Commons New Zealand BY-NC-SA Licence


OPENSHAW. – On January 31 (result of accident), Orvill Darcy, dearly loved
husband of Claire (Curly), of 48A Davenport, Tauranga New Zealand, loving father of Delwyn and Warren, loved son of Fred and the late Sarah, Tayforth-road, Wanganui, N.Z., aged 35 years.

OPENSHAW. On January 31, Orvill Darcy, dearly loved nephew of Emma Willis, of 28 Gordon-grove, Preston, loving cousin of Cecil, Frank, Mary, Gwen and Sylvia.

Family Notices (1945, February 2). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), p. 7. Retrieved January 22, 2019, from

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