07 August 2022

Two minutes at Auckland International

I had a few minutes to do a quick drive around at Auckland International and timed if right to get Boeing 737-400 ZK-JTQ arriving at Auckland after doing a post-maintenance test flight...

Airwork Flight Operations Limited's Boeing 737-400 ZK-JTQ at Auckland on 7 August 2022


13 years earlier, while with Qantas' Jet Connect, Boeing 737-400 ZK-JTQ at Auckland on 23 June 2009

01 August 2022

Additional Flight


 

Barrier Air have announced that they added a new daily Great Barrier Island return flight to their schedule.

The airline's Facebook page says, Due to popular demand, we've added two additional flights from Auckland ↔️ Great Barrier Island at a reduced $139 rate. From the 18th of August, you'll be able to head from Auckland to Great Barrier Island on a 7.30am flight, with a 8.30am flight from Great Barrier Island to Auckland. 

Whitianga reopened

Whitianga aerodrome reopened this morning after being closed for some weeks. Barrier Air's Cessna 208B Grand Caravan ZK-SDE operated Barrier Air flight 441 from Auckland and the return flight 442. 

Barrier Air returning to Whitianga this morning as on Flightaware...


Sunair also operated a service into from Tauranga this morning using Cessna 172 ZK-DPN.

Sunair returning to Whitianga this morning as on Flightradar24...


With all the wet weather on the Coromandel Peninsula some drainage work has been done to alleviate the impact on the grass runways. However, with the growth of the Whitianga area and the success, in particular of the Barrier Air service, you think the local council would be thinking of putting in a sealed runway.

 

31 July 2022

Caravaning in Auckland

New Zealand's newest Cessna 208 Grand Caravan EX N932DT arriving into Auckland today, 31 July 2022. Apparently it will become ZK-ROW 



I think Barrier Air's Cessna 208B Grand Caravan is my favourite in the fleet. It was off to Claris at Barrier 107 on the 31st of July 2022


 

30 July 2022

I'm losing it...

My first day plane spotting at Auckland International was a few minutes before picking up some people... and two Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9s took off without me being ready.

After all the crap weather I am so out of practice at plane spotting

Malaysia Airlines' Airbus A330-223 9M-MTW arriving at Auckland from Kuala Lumpur on 30 July 2022

 Fiji Airways Airbus A330-343 DQ-FJW arriving at Auckland from Nadi on 30 July 2022


NZ Flying Doctor Service's Beech 200C Super King Air on the taxi at Auckland for departure to Christchurch on 30 July 2022

 

23 July 2022

Whitianga Woes continue

Posted on Sunair's Facebook page on Friday was the following...

🛩 With Whitianga Runway closed for maintenance we have been flying into Pauanui to service customers in the Coromandel. Daily deals for Sunday are up and include some Pauanui flights. 

The Whitianga runway is NOTAMed as closed until Sunday.

Meanwhile, I am sorry not to be able to try a flight to Pauanui...



21 July 2022

A Capital Voplar Idea

As part of the AirHistory.net  - The Aviation History Image Archive - John Mounce sent out a couple of photos of Swiss-registered Volpar Turboliners.  Volpar Turbo 18 was a conversion of Beech Model 18s fitted with the Volpar MkIV tricycle undercarriage and powered by two 705-hp Garrett TPE331-1-101B turboprop engines.

Volpar Turboliner HB-GFU at Belp, Switzerland in August 1976. Photographer: Daniel Ruhier – Rainer Haufschild Collection via Neil Aird

Volpar Turboliner HB-GGB at Belp, Switerland on 25 January 1976. Photographer: Daniel Ruhier – Rainer Haufschild Collection via Neil Aird


In the 1970's the Wellington Aero Club's commercial wing, Capital Air Services http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2011/05/capital-air-services-aero-club-to.html, put a proposal to NAC to take over over their Wellington-Blenheim service using Volpar Turboliners. While the proposal was unsuccessful Capital Air Services' then general manager, Murray Turley, went on to revolutionise regional air services in New Zealand first with Capital Air Services' Cessna 402s but more importantly with Air Albatross and its Swearingen Metroliner services https://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2018/02/air-albatross-cook-strait-commuter.html.

Looking back to his 1972 proposal, however, on the 31st of May 1972 this article appeared in the Nelson Evening Mail...

The National Airways Corporation has turned down a proposal by Capital Air Services Ltd to take over the Wellington-Blenheim air service. This was confirmed yesterday by the general manager of Capital, Mr Murray Turley. The Wellington-based firm which is the commercial arm of the Wellington Aero Club has been negotiating with the corporation for some time. Late last year Capital undertook to prepare a proposal to make N.A.C.'s Blenheim service a profitable operation. At the same time Capital decided to plan for an increase in flights, while still maintaining service and reliability equal to that of N.A.C. Capital gave the final proposal to N.A.C. on May 3. This scheme provided for an increase in daily return flights from the present three to eight with extra flights at holiday peaks. Capital proposed using Volpar Turboliners, turboprop conversions of the Beech 18 that seat from 16 to 18 with capacity for baggage and freight. No increase in the present fare was contemplated. N.A.C. has now told Capital that its proposal is unacceptable and the corporation intends to continue operating the service itself, with its own aircraft. Last year N.A.C. lost $114,000 on the Wellington-Blenheim service. 

This was followed up in a longer article in Issue 33 of the Aviation Digest...

Using the same equipment to do the same job, a private enterprise airline could probably make a profit of about $20,000 from a service on which NAC lost $120,000 last year. This is one of the curious conclusions to be drawn from NAC's recent and even more curious wooing and last-minute rejection of Capital Air Services Ltd, the Wellington Aero Club's commercial arm. Aviation Digest is not clear when NAC-CAS overtures began but, with the coming of spring last year, there was a positive warmth in the liaison, and NAC was making figures available to CAS to help it prepare a proposal. The dovecot fluttering was prompted by CAS's thought that NAC would give its Wellington-Blenheim services as part of its marriage dowry. CAS conducted a detailed appraisal of six possible off-spring types, and finally plumped for the Volpar Turbo-liner, a stretched, turbo-prop version of the Beech 18 from the home of custom-built aircraft. With seats for up to 18 passengers, the Volpar was to make eight Wellington-Blenheim-Wellington flights a day. Though some prospective passengers could have been disappointed at peak time travel times, the proposed schedule - not to put too fine a point on it - would have given a somewhat better frequency than NAC now provides. CAS General Manager M. C. Turley typed up his initial assessment of the proposed service, its likely profitability and his supporting calculations last New Year's eve. In the 18 months preceding his presentation, NAC's Wellington - Blenheim fare had risen by 7½ per cent plus 12½ per cent plus $1 to $7.90 for the 50-mile overwater flight — a better buy, Aviation Digest hastens to add, than a taxi fare over the same distance when return charges are taken into consideration. Mr Turley's figures were subjected to periodic pruning in the next month or two. Nevertheless - even after their last downward revision CAS's sums showed that it could give a more frequent Wellington - Blenheim service than NAC, bear the standing charges of a backup aircraft and still make a $48,000 profit on the $7.90 fare after meeting costs of more than $467,600 including a payment of $78,000 or so to NAC for services rendered. But by now spring, summer and most of autumn had gone and, like the winter that followed, NAC turned cold. CAS, it forecast, would lose $51,900 a year on the service. In addition, NAC's Mr D. A. Patterson had resigned from the executive of the Wellington Districts Aero Club, Capital Air Services' owner. On May 17 he questioned aspects of Mr Turley's calculations and said that changed circumstances including halving NAC's Blenheim staff would almost completely eliminate the corporation's losses on the route. In fact, he added, if NAC closed its Blenheim office, the resultant savings—assuming the corporation's F-27 could be gainfully employed elsewhere — would be offset by the loss of more than $100,000 in sector revenue. Later, in Wanganui, Mr Patterson told a Press forum that CAS had omitted to include in its operating expenses interest charges on the money it would have borrowed on its Volpars. He then discussed other groups which had sought to take over certain NAC services without first considering all the factors involved. Sky Travel, he said, was an example. It left $40,000 worth of handling costs out of its calculations and "went broke" in six weeks. Meanwhile passenger traffic built by NAC fell from 11 to two a day. Curious, Aviation Digest subsequently inspected CAS's figures. They showed that interest on borrowed capital was included in its costings. Disregarding CAS claim and NAC counter-claim, there seems little doubt that both airlines could do quite nicely out of the Blenheim service if it were conducted by CAS with an F-27 hired from NAC at its charter rate of $225 an hour. NAC's profit from hire charges ($315,000 for 1400 hours should be somewhere between $14,000 and $28,000. Meanwhile, after allowing for half, discounted and pro-rated fares, CAS could expect to gross about $470,000 from a fairly constant 65,000 passengers a year at current charges. Approximate costs would include airport and airways dues $42,300 commissions on sales, $23,550; advertising, $7000; ground costs at Blenheim and Wellington (based on a firm private enterprise quote), $55,250; reservations and ticketing, $12,000; management, $10,000, and hire charges. When net freight revenue (conservatively estimated at $13,500) is added to the result-ant surplus, pre-tax profit totals about $18,850 or about 4 per cent on gross turnover. Mail revenue would further swell the total. Come to think of it, couldn't F-27 hire mean, for NAC, profit without tears? 

17 July 2022

Freedom

 After a week in isolation today was my freedom day so some plane spotting at North Shore on 17 July 2022


Thorp T-18 ZK-EDF

Vans RV-7 ZK-LDM


Beech A36 Bonanza ZK-NAZ

Maule MXT-7-180A ZK-RLT

Barrier Air's Cessna 208B Grand Caravan ZK-SDD arriving from the Barrier


Aeroprakt A-22LS ZK-SGI

Piper PA-32R-301T urbo Saratoga ZK-VQM

Tecnam P2008 ZK-ZZB

14 July 2022

It's not the weather... it's the runway

While airlines across the motu are experiencing challenges with Covid and weather, Barrier Air is experiencing another challenge on its Whitianga service...  

The reservations system paints a picture... 



With all the sodden weather on the Coromandel the Whitanga grass runway is closed to Barrier Air's Cessna Caravan ops. As CEO Grant Bacon says, "The whole of the Coromandel gets so waterlogged. It's painful as it (the Whitianga) service is going really well" 

Hence the "No flights" on the reservations system... And for those who have booked and find the flight cancelled Barrier Air buses the passengers.

The Coromandel town has certainly embraced its new air service which is set to expand in December. One wonders whether a sealed runway may one day be on the horizon. It would have made a great shovel ready project.

13 July 2022

Introducing Island Aviation

 

This just through from what formerly traded as Auckland Seaplanes... The Auckland Seaplanes group also includes Waiheke Wings. And it looks like Britten Norman Islanders are going to be operated scheduled services in the Hauraki Gulf again soon... It looks like a watch this space


Dear partners and customers,
 

We would like to share with you that Auckland Seaplanes will be rebranding as Island Aviation in the coming weeks to better reflect the growing role of wheeled aircraft and our ability to connect the Auckland region with Waiheke, Great Barrier the Coromandel and beyond. Our new website will go live in the coming days, our emails have already changed to the new domain but the Auckland Seaplanes ones will be available for the transition period.

We are in the final process of adding two 10-seater twin-engine aircraft to our fleet that is purpose-made to serve those destinations both in scheduled and charter flights. The twin-engine configuration will also give us the capability to connect various airports in Auckland and Waiheke with destinations all around the North Island.  

All passengers will have direct window seats and the aircraft are equipped with headsets for communication and commentary from the pilots. 

In April this year, we got recertified at Qualmark Gold Level with an award for environmental performance and we also renewed our pest-free-warrant with Auckland Council and DOC. In May we got re-certified our Carbon-Zero status to underline our environmental leadership in the aviation industry in New Zealand as the first carbon-zero airline back in 2017.

We have continued our pest and weed eradication efforts at Waiheke Airport and opened the facility to the community for an Open Day in May, which attracted nearly 1000 visitors.

For the coming summer, we got an array of new products including a Waiheke and Great Barrier Island combo flight to showcase the wide variety of destinations in the Hauraki Gulf.

Unfortunately, Panuku (one of Auckland Councils' entities) has informed us that they won't have space for a seaplane base in downtown Auckland after the America's Cup, so we will have to suspend seaplane operations until we can find a new base. Given the various stakeholders, this is unlikely before next summer. We will offer fly and dine options to Waiheke and the Coromandel with our great partners instead of the seaplane departures and will keep you updated on possible alternatives.
 
Thanks for your support and we look forward to moving out of Covid over the coming months. 

Please feel free to forward this email to your colleagues and friends who may benefit.

Kind regards, 

Chris and the team at Island Aviation formally known as Auckland Seaplanes.


BN Islander ZK-SFK at Ardmore on 9 June 2022. Auckland Seaplanes brought SFK and PIY from the defunct airline Fly My Sky... I must admit, when I took this I was wondering whether it was all over for SFK and PIY.

11 July 2022

Another Aztec for Sunair

Registered to Sunair on the 30th of June 2022 was Piper PA23-250 Aztec C ZK-TCL. Also, on the same day, Piper PA23-250 Aztec E ZK-DIO was cancelled from the register. Earlier this year there was talk that Sunair had bought two Piper Aztecs ZK-TCL and ZK-DIO and that they were going to be trucked to Tauranga.

In the Stu Hobb's photo below ZK-DIO certainly looks worse for wear but ZK-TCL looks quite reasonable and the fact that it has been registered to Sunair indicates it may well take to the air again.




ZK-TCL was previously registered ZK-DUB. It saw service with Bell Air, before it commenced its service from Whakatane to Auckland but was chartered for use on Air North services (http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/02/bell-air-remembered.html), with Air Albatross as its first aircraft (https://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2018/02/air-albatross-cook-strait-commuter.html) and with Welair on its Paraparaumu-Nelson service (https://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2018/03/air-wellington-another-paraparaumu.html).

Piper Pa23 Aztec ZK-TCL taken at Paraparaumu on 24 August 2013

Piper PA23-250 Aztec E ZK-DIO's first airline service was with Air Timaru which flew north to Wellington and south to Invercargill (http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2012/08/air-timaru-friendly-line.html), and was later used by NZ Air Charter, the commercial wing of the Auckland Aero Club, which at the time was still operating its Great Barrier Island service,  (https://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2012/11/nz-air-charters-northen-air-service_25.html), Air Nelson to provide additional capacity on the Nelson-Wellington flights as well as providing back-up for the Motueka Air Services flights from Motueka to Wellington (http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2017/07/air-nelson-part-1-nelson-wellington.html) and finally Welair on its Paraparaumu-Nelson service (https://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2018/03/air-wellington-another-paraparaumu.html).

10 July 2022

The Oxford Freighters - Gould's Air Freight


 

In mid-1947 Jack Gould, a garage proprietor from Paraparaumu, was successful in his bid to buy two Supermarine Walrus amphibians and 110 Airspeed Oxfords from the War Assets Realisation Board which were declared surplus after the end of World War II. His plan for the Walruses was to strip the aircraft of their wing at Paraparaumu and use the hulls as runabouts for fishing.

 

The Gisborne Herald of the 13th of June 1947 was reported that, Although warned by the station’s commanding officer that the plane was not even to be taxied on the airfield let alone flown, Mr. J. W. Gould, Paraparaumu, made a sensational take-off from Woodbourne on Wednesday and flew a Walrus amphibian across Cook Strait to his home… A week or so ago he announced his intention of taxiing the amphibians across the Strait on a day when the weather was calm, but on Wednesday he achieved in an hour what might have taken weeks. In doing so, however, he seems to have started something of a “flap” in that an investigation is now in progress regarding the flying of the machine with no certificate of airworthiness. The aircraft had not been flown at all since 1945 when the amphibians were originally placed in storage. Mr. Gould is a qualified pilot, but it is understood that he had never flown a Walrus before. However, he handled the machine perfectly even to taking off with a cross wind, a fact which occasioned pungent comment from the stations’ personnel who witnessed the feat. Mr. Gould arrived back at Woodbourne yesterday in connection with his many other purchases, but it remains for history to relate how cordial was his welcome and whether he will again get his property into the air.

 

A couple of weeks later Jack Gould was charged that on June 11 defendant flew from Woodbourne to Paraparaumu a Walrus, the personnel of which, including himself, were not provided with prescribed certificates of competence and licences, and that on the same day he flew the Walrus without it having been certified as airworthy in the prescribed manner. He was fined £20.

 

Rather than being fined again he opted to taxi his second Walrus across Cook Strait on the 24th of July from the Wairau river mouth to the beach at Paraparaumu. Piloted by its owner and carrying two passengers, a Walrus amphibian aircraft was taxied across Cook Strait in about seven hours. It reached the shore at Paraparaumu at 10.46 p.m., after an uneventful crossing, to be welcomed by a group of residents, The aircraft is owned by Mr J. M. Gould, of Paraparaumu, and with him on the trip were his wife and a friend, Mr H. C. Fairlie. Mr Gould stated that the sea was a little rough for most of the trip, but after coming around Kapiti Island the going became smooth. There had been "no trouble in the running of the aircraft, though the condition of the sea created some difficulties. Mrs Gould said she dozed for the greater part of the trip.


The two Supermarine Walruses at Paraparaumu Beach in 1947, NZ157 above and NZ160 below



 

Meanwhile the Oxford bombers, which he was offering for private sale, were selling without difficulty around Blenheim. Some of them were being stripped for the material and equipment they contained, while others were being set up as fascinating playhouses for children. The result is that many parts of Blenheim are taking on the appearance of war-time dispersal areas, the big yellow fuselages, complete with their motors, looking somewhat out of place in odd corners of residential sections.

 

In his memoir, "A Steep Curve", Tom Empson who in 1947 was painting houses, writes that he was told of a fellow at Paraparaumu who was trying to start a flying school and air freight business and why didn't I approach him. I had heard of Jack Gould because he had been in the news when he had bought two Supermarine Walruses off War Assets. At the same time as he bought the Walruses he put in a tender for over one hundred redundant Airspeed Oxfords, the old faithful that I had spent one and a half years instructing on in UK. These were also down at Woodbourne. He won the tender on condition that they too weren't to be flown, although he did manage to get authority to have two brought up to flying condition later. The two Oxfords that were returned to airworthy condition and placed on the New Zealand civil register were ZK-APX (ex-RNZAF NZ1336) and ZK-APY (ex-RNZAF NZ1377)This is where I came in. As much to please John as anything I went to see Jack and was somewhat taken aback by his enthusiasm to take me on with hardly any questions asked. He never even wanted to see my logbook and I was to start straight away. 


A couple of photos of one of Gould's Air Freight's two Airspeed Oxfords, ZK-APX at Paraparaumu in October 1947. Photo : Whites Aviation Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library

ZK-APX again, also taken at Paraparaumu


He did his check in a Tiger Moth, a type he hadn't flown for four years, on the 21st of September 1947 and I was able to do some solo to get my hand back in. Jack already owned a Tiger Moth. One of the reconditioned Oxfords had arrived at Paraparaumu and reluctantly I fell in with a scheme of John Aldworth. This entailed taking passengers up for rides around Kapiti Island. John organised the loads. I never left the cabin. 


Jack Gould owned a de Havilland DH82 Tiger Moth, ZK-APL, which was registered to him May 1947. Tom Empson recounts, A lot of my time with Jack was spent giving flying instruction on the Tiger. I had quite a number of pupils among the locals. All ages too were keen to learn. At weekends I was very busy there being a lot of activity on the aerodrome at that time. The hundred or so Oxfords down at Woodbourne were in the process of being dismantled by a small team Jack had working down there. Every so often I had to fly the air worthy Oxford down there and bring back a load of parts stacked in the back. Sometimes these were badly stored and the aeroplane was not very stable to handle. Often I had what I considered a suitable load when Jack would appear with a passenger or two for me to carry as well. 


Another load we carried across Cook Strait was boxes of cherries. We'd get close to the aerodrome boundary at some selected point and a grower contact of Jack's would unload the cherries off his truck and into the plane for us to take to the Christmas market in Wellington. Jack Gould was very keen to start an aerial freight service. I don't think any such facility was available in 1947, only the passenger and mail schedule of Union Airways. He had no licence to operate one although he was endeavouring to get one, but he was up against bureaucracy and a Labour Government who didn't favour private enterprise. 


Nonetheless, J M Gould Ltd was registered in 1947 with Jack Gould and his wife Margaret Gould as directors. The company traded as Gould’s Air Freight. 


Photo : Whites Aviation Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library


On the 7th of November 1947 the Press reported that, An application for a licence to operate an air freight service between Blenheim, Nelson, and Wellington, using a twin-engined Airspeed Oxford aircraft, has been made to the Minister in charge of Civil Aviation (Mr F. Jones) by Mr J. M. Gould, of Paraparaumu. Recently, Mr Gould bought from the War Assets Realisation Board more than 100 Oxford aircraft declared surplus by the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and stored at Woodbourne aerodrome, near Blenheim. Two of these aircraft are reported to have been given certificates of airworthiness by the civil aviation branch of the Air Department. Mr Gould, who is a cartage contractor, also owns some Tiger Moths and two Walrus amphibian aircraft, which are on the beach at Paraparaumu. Most of the Oxfords, which Mr Gould bought very cheaply, have been stripped of their equipment, and the fuselages, minus the wings, have been used by Blenheim residents for children’s playhouses and baches, and for storage purposes. One purchaser proposes to convert his fuselage into a caravan.


A view of dismantled RNZAF Airspeed AS10 Oxford Mk II aircraft (No16), owned by J M Gould of Paraparaumu, being towed by a car, Woodbourne Airport. Photo : Whites Aviation Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library


An Airspeed Oxford in a back garden in Blenheim, 1947. Photo : Whites Aviation Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library

Tom Empson writes that not having a licence was a minor detail and no obstacle to Jack. He heard that some entrepreneur down in Christchurch had a shipment of frozen crayfish tails he wanted to get to Auckland to catch Pan American Airways who were to take them to the lucrative market in the US. His difficulty was to transport them to Auckland in a frozen state. Jack undertook to do this at I guess a worthwhile reward. I was his only pilot so naturally did the flying. We took the door off the Oxford and with plenty of warm clothing flew from Paraparaumu down to Harewood. We loaded the cartons of frozen tails into the aircraft and wasted no time getting into the air. We flew as high as we could to get into the cool air and headed for Paraparaumu to refuel for the long leg to Mangere. To save time we flew from Paraparaumu in a direct line which took us right out sight of land. The fact that we had no radio or dinghy let alone lifejackets was, apart from being grossly foolhardy, indicative of my complete faith in the Oxford. However all went well and the consignment was delivered in perfect order. Unwittingly we had started what developed into a thriving export trade until the depletion of crayfish beds was such as to call a halt to the business.


It was the next episode to the Gould era which proved to be the one which was to end my escapades in the air. When I look back in hindsight I think it may have been my salvation. For too long I had been blessed with good fortune and to expect such a run to continue was indeed testing the improbable. Although it is an episode which my conscience won't let me forget, I can console myself that it ended in the usual fortunate manner but at the same time it forced a definite halt to any temptation to flirt with lady luck in the air again. It was all as a result of a casual remark of a friend who had an interest in horse racing. His suggestion that I take him down to Christchurch to see the Grand National was treated as a possibility. Like a fool I mentioned this to Jack and of course he saw the commercial opportunity and insisted that I take a party of ten. Back to Walter I told him that I could take him along with nine others. In a couple of days he had the required number. They were largely local farmers including my Father, an Otaki publican and other responsible citizens of Otaki and Te Horo. I don't think any of them had flown before. In the meantime Jack had been busy with his mechanic and installed seating using metal bucket seats salvaged from scrapped Oxfords. These were bolted to the floor and cushions were added. The big day arrived thankfully with good weather. I primed Walter up so that he could assist with the start up procedure, it being necessary for someone to kneel on the wing along side each engine nacelle and crank up the starter system. It was an uneventful flight down and we landed at Harewood and parked the aircraft out of the way and got taxis to the race course. Every one enjoyed themselves although I couldn't relax with the return trip on my mind. On our return to the Oxford I reported to the control tower to give them my flight plan and was told that the aeroplane was grounded pending charges for contravention of air regulations. I explained that my passengers were largely dairy farmers and needed to return that day.. They said they were sorry but they could not give me permission to proceed. I felt I had no option but carry on despite the ban. No effort was made to prevent me and control co-operated in granting me permission to take off. The flight home filled me with foreboding and I fully expected to find the police on the airfield to arrest me on arrival. There was no such reception and I parked the plane and went home with my passengers. A few days later I was delivered a letter from the Air Department nullifying my licence pending court proceedings. 


The court proceedings were reported in the Christchurch Press of the 19th of June 1948. Apparently one of the Oxfords were flown from Paraparaumu to Christchurch flying passengers for a race meeting. Two convictions for breaches of the Air Navigation Regulations, 1933, were entered in the Magistrate’s Court against Thomas Arthur Empson, who faced four charges brought in connexion with the flight of an Oxford aircraft to Christchurch on November 22. The other charges were dismissed by Mr J. S. Hanna, S.M. Sub-Inspector W. J. K. Brown conducted the prosecution, and Mr R. E. Tripe appeared for Empson. The charges were: (1) that he flew an aircraft from Paraparaumu to Harewood and failed to ensure that ballast was safely distributed and secured; (2) that he failed to satisfy himself that the equipment and passengers’ seats were fit in every way for the proposed flight; (3) that he failed in the flight to observe the terms of the condition of the certificate of airworthiness that the number of persons to be carried in the aircraft, including the crew, was to be not more than two, and did carry eight; (4) that he failed to produce to a duly authorised officer the fitness of aircraft certificate required by the regulations. The Magistrate, after submissions by Mr Tripe, dismissed the second and fourth charges, and entered convictions on the. others. Fines totaling £40 were imposed. Tom Empson writes, I was grounded for six months and never bothered to reapply for my licence again being quite happy to stay on the ground in the meantime.

In December 1947 several consignments of cherries were brought to Auckland from Blenheim in a Gould’s Air Freight Oxford which newspaper reports indicated were piloted by Jack Gould. This was news to the Civil Aviation Branch of the Ministry of Transport. A Civil Aviation file note dated the 11th of December 1947 said, Arising out of an enquiry from Auckland regarding, the maintenance of an Oxford aircraft belonging to the above named it is understood that Mr. Gould is operating a freight service carrying fruit out of Auckland, and although no details of the service are known, there has not been any air service licence issued in respect of this service and the details as known are reported to you for your information. 

On the 22nd of December 1947 an application was made for an Air Service Certificate was made by J M Gould Ltd to operate charter air freight services to and from all aerodromes licensed by the Minister of Defence to accommodate twin engine aircraft of 3,000lbs or over. The Nelson Aero Club was nominated in the application as the maintenance provider with pilots listed as Tom Empson and Harold Newton.  The Operations and Personnel Manager  was listed as J S Brown and ground staff  J M Strapp, H G Fairlie, W Hough, C Gilmore.


The two Airspeed Oxfords... ZK-APX with Gould Air Freight titles

...ZK-APY, Margaret, named after Jack Gould's wife.
 

Gould’s Air Freight, however, was tragically short-lived. On Christmas Eve 1947 Jack Gould was killed instantly when the Tiger Moth he was flying, ZK-APL, hit a power pole in Paraparaumu crashing from the pole to the roof of a house and sliding in flames to the ground beside the house. The Tiger Moth was destroyed while the fire which followed the crash gutted the front bedroom, bathroom, and washhouse. A portion of the roof was destroyed and the kitchen was also damaged.

 

On the 11th of March 1948 the J M Gould Ltd's advised the Air Secretary of the Air Department that in the circumstances the above Company does not wish to apply for the issue of an Aircraft Service Licence. Accordingly would you please cancel original application of 22nd December last. As the Company is endeavouring to sell their Oxford Aircraft ZK-APX and ZK-APY any assistance from your Department in this connection would be greatly appreciated. Is there any possibility of these two aircraft being hired to the New Zealand National Airways Corporation in the meantime? Sadly there was no interest in the two Oxfords and they were withdrawn from use. The registrations were finally cancelled on the 11th of September 1950.



07 July 2022

Peter Mole RIP

Today was held the funeral of Peter Mole, aka the Hairy Mole Rat, Tauranga plane spotter extraordinaire... Of course Pete's plane spotting exploits took him further but it was at Tauranga that I met Pete and got to know him. Many years ago my father described someone "the spirit of the river"... he was always there. Pete, for me, was the spirit of TRG, and a plane spotting visit there wasn't the same if he wasn't there. 

I always loved our chats, but as Grayson mentioned at the funeral service, https://vimeo.com/725438886/e48c68607f, I couldn't get over the fact that Pete was in shorts and sandals no matter how freezing the wind was! 

Pete you were such a friend to us aviation geeks at TRG airport. Your time has been cut short far too soon but you live in our memories and hearts... And even though you were English I always saw you as a true Kiwi bloke... so fly high Pete and Rest in Peace

https://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2016/02/kiwi-regionals-first-day-in-tauranga.html

 

30 June 2022

New International Air Freight Flights


The Christchurch International Airport Facebook page has announced that from next Monday, 4 July 2022, FedEx New Zealand will increase overnight trans-Tasman service, linking Christchurch with Melbourne five days a week and using Airwork aircraft
 

26 June 2022

Ross - One of Air Travel (NZ)'s Ports

I was browsing on Papers Past the other day and I found an account of an Air Travel (NZ) aircraft calling at Ross. For those of you who don't know where Ross is, and I can't imagine anyone not knowing, it is 26km south of Hokitika, and was the terminus of the West Coast-Christchurch railcar service until the railcars south of Greymouth were withdrawn in 1972.

The Ross aerodrome was first used on the of 21st of August 1934. The Hokitika Guardian recorded the event as follows

Captain J. C. Mercer, in a Canterbury Aero Club Fox Moth machine (ZK-ADH), arrived at Hokitika last evening, having travelled up the coast from Okuru, and landing at Waiho enroute. On his trip down, he took the District Engineer (Mr J. Smith), land purchase officer (Mr F. S. Reed), and Mr Smart (surveyor). The latter stopped at Okuru to carry out survey operations. This morning Captain Mercer, accompanied by Mr Paul Renton, junr., left Hokitika at 9 o’clock for Ross where the first official landing was made on the Ross aerodrome, which, has recently been prepared. There was a large crowd assembled to welcome the visitors. The new landing ground is situated between the township and Ross railway station, on the tailing site of the old Mont D’or sluicing claim, and is formed of the sluice silt from the claim. There is an area of some 500 acres available. A portion of this has been drained and levelled, and the work is of an easy nature, there being only fine gravel and sand comprising the area. Captain Mercer received a warm welcome. He made a perfect landing, and spoke highly of the possibilities of the ground for aeroplane landing purposes, considering it could be easily made into one of the finest landing places on the Coast. Captain Mercer left Ross shortly after 10 o’clock and landed at Southside aerodrome about 10 30 o’clock, after a pleasant morning run.

The first recorded landing by Air Travel (NZ) in the Hokitika Guardian appears on the 28th of January 1935... A busy day was spent in passenger transport by Mr J. C. Mercer on Saturday. He left Waiho at 6.30am far Bruce Bay and brought two passengers to Hokitika. He returned to Waiho and brought up two more, one of whom he took on to Inchbonnie. Mr Mercer there awaited the express, and later brought a passenger south landing here before going on to Ross, where he arrived at 4.10pm. Mr Mercer left Hokitika this morning for the south with the air mail and one passenger.

The locals were clearly very interested in developing their aerodrome and had ideas of grandeur that never came to pass. The Hokitika Guardian of the 14th of March 1936 reported that A visit of inspection was paid to the Aerodrome at Ross on Friday afternoon by his Worship the Mayor, Town Clerk, Messrs Johnston, Renton and the secretary of the Aero Club, Mr K. O. May. The party were shown over the ground by Mr Thornhill Cooper, Public Works Overseer, who pointed out the recent improvements carried out. Some five years ago the writer could not penetrate much of the ground even in gumboots and was agreeably surprised today to be driven over it in a car. The splendid results of drainage can be seen on every hand, as a large drain on the top side cut off water before reaching the landing ground. Another large drain on the sea side takes the seepage into the Totara River. It was decided to take in another block which will give a run of 800 yards in a north and south direction. Much more work will have to be done before the area is to its capacity, as it contains some 500 acres. The prevailing wind comes from a south-west direction and it is imperative that an extension in this direction should be made as soon as possible so that eventually a run of a mile can be obtained when required. It is admitted, by experts that the nearest lauding ground in New Zealand from Australia is the hop from Hobart in Tasmania either to Ross or Hokitika. With present day machines the hop can be accomplished under eight hours so whether Ross or Hokitika will be the main landing ground or not depends on the facilities offered.

From the N.Z. Air Pilot, 1936


The Guardian of the 30th of August 1937 reported that a second runway was being developed. The whole of the area, comprising 41 acres, is at present being ploughed. The ground has already been levelled and drained, and when the ploughing is completed, it is the intention to disc, lane, manure, and sow it down in grass. The work is being done by Mr W. Hamilton, of Ross. When completed the aerodrome should have a runway in two directions of about 600 yards, and should form an important link in the chain of aerodromes throughout the West Coast air route. 

So where was Ross aerodrome... it was located between the town (the edge of the town is seen in the top right hand photo of the following photo) and Stuart and Chapman's sawmill and the Ross railway station bottom left) as seen in these 1948 aerial photographs of the Ross area.

From the https://retrolens.co.nz/ site... photos taken 12 April 1948


By 1966 there is no sign of the airfield in the aerial photos.