W/O Jim Macdonald

Now living in Ashburton, New Zealand, Warrant Officer Victor James (Jim) Macdonald 422417 was born on 17 September 1922. Two weeks prior to his 20th birthday, he began his service career as a Trainee Pilot at Rotorua on 3 September 1942 at Rotorua, being part of course 34.

He was posted to No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School at RNZAF Station Taieri before going solo in a Tiger Moth on 4 November 1942. He was then posted to No. 1 Service Flying Training School at RNZAF Station Woodbourne for a conversion course onto the North American Harvard prior to getting his "wings".

Jim's RNZAF identity card

By August 1943, Jim was in England where he initially completed a refresher course on Tiger Moths before continuing training as a fighter pilot, first on the Miles Master and then the Hawker Hurricane. Whilst flying the Hurricane he experienced an engine failure which necessitated a forced landing without flap.

Jim's dog tags, pilot wings, identity card and C Type helmet.

On 20 May 1944 Jim arrived in the Middle East and joined  No. 7 Operational Training Unit before being posted to No. 87 Squadron based in Italy. There, he did 87 operations flying Spitfires in the ground attack role with gun and bomb strikes on a variety of targets. On one operation, he returned with his aircraft damaged by "88" anti-aircraft fire.

A display of Jim's service jacket, flying helmets and maps of Italy at the Ashburton Aviation Museum.

On 10 May 1945, the war in Europe was over for Jim and, after doing some additional flying in Europe, he returned to New Zealand on the transport H.M.T. Stirling Castle, arriving back in Auckland on 18 November 1945.

Jim has continued his interest in aviation and is currently an active member of the Ashburton Aviation Museum.

Jim Macdonald (right) and Robin Corbett prior to going on a flight with Chris Rudge in a Grumman Ag-Cat biplane on 22 May 2010.

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