Creator. Harry Wigley
Where. Mount Cook, NZ
A skiplane is an aircraft fitted with skis to enable it to land on and take off from snow. The skiplane configuration affects the overall operation and performance of an airplane in several different ways, including ground handling, takeoff, landing, and flight operations.
New Zealand tourism pioneer Sir Henry [Harry] Wigley made aviation history in 1955 when he made a world-first snow landing in a plane with modified retractable skis. Wigley had spent years perfecting the skis before he piloted the first ski plane from Mt Cook village to the Tasman Glacier. Less than a year after the retractable ski prototype was tested, the Mount Cook Company ski plane business was up and running.
In New Zealand, planes with retractable skis were developed to land on glaciers in the South Island. The first flight was to the Tasman Glacier in 1955, on the initiative of Harry Wigley.