Fittall the Flyer

Vaughan Fittall desperately wanted to fly, so when WWII broke out he jumped at the chance to join the New Zealand airforce, and soon found himself in the thick of battle over Europe, fighting for our freedom!

Vaughan was just an ordinary New Zealander who had grown up making model planes and watching the pilots take-off and land at his local airfield at Rongatia near Wellington. He never thought he’d be able to fly, but the outbreak of WWII changed everything.

Rather than wait to be conscripted into the army, Vaughan decided to get in first and signed-up to the airforce. After completing his initial training with a flight around Mount Taranaki in a Tiger Moth, Vaughan was sent to England to join the 486 New Zealand Squadron, flying everything from Hurricanes to Spitfires.

Vaughans story has been reimagined in the inspirational children’s book ‘Fittall the Flyer’, available to purchase here.

Vaughan Fittall – Alexander Turnbull Library, New Zealand. /records/17800664

Vaughan would later be posted to the 198 Squadron based at RAF Manston in Kent, flying the Hawker Typhoon and focusing mainly on low-level ground attacks. He was an excellent pilot, rising to the rank of Flight Commander, but after months of fighting his luck had finally run out and his plane was hit and damaged over Belgium.

Over 100 miles from home, with his radio broken and his arm bleeding from a shrapnel wound, Vaughan somehow managed to keep his plane in the air and find his way back home.

486 New Zealand Squadron, Vaughan standing third from the right – Image courtesy of Angela Bailey

Vaughan was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, which recognizes exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy in the air. After completing his operational tour he continued to put his flying skills to good use as a test-pilot for D. Napier & Son’s, helping to improve the Hawker Typhoon’s infamously unreliable engine.

Vaughan Fittall’s Flying Medals, including the Distinguished Flying Cross far left

A pilot of exceptional merit. He has led his flight in numerous sorties over France, Belgium and Holland, in the course of which much damage has been inflicted on the enemy.

Vaughan later married his Welsh fiancee, Leading Aircraftwoman Kate Parry (otherwise known as Kitty), and they returned to settle in New Zealand. The competitive edge that had kept him alive in the skies over Europe saw him excel in athletics. At the ripe old age of 61 Vaughan was the Auckland Champion in his age group for the 800m, 1500m, 3000m, and 5000m, and the New Zealand champion in the 1500m, 5000m, and 10000m.

Vaughans story has been reimagined in the inspirational children’s book ‘Fittall the Flyer’, available to purchase here.

Toby Butland
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1 Comment
  • Christine Ottaway
    Posted at 22:37h, 22 May Reply

    Fittall the Flyer…..thats my Dad 😊 loved hearing his stories.

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