22 October 2016

EVO exposed

Thanks to Keith who sent this photo of Fly My Sky's Islander ZK-EVO in it's new colour scheme at Ardmore on 21 October 2016
Keith also caught Kiwi Air's Reims Cessna 406 Caravan ZK-XLF at Ardmore yesterday 

19 October 2016

Ardmore News

Thanks to MRC Aviation who has sent me this update from Ardmore. He writes..

Hi Steve

I'll leave for you to blog - you've been slack since you got home!! This was outside the maintenance hangar at Ardmore just a short time ago. Interestingly they're obviously revising their livery.

BN Islander ZK-EVO at Ardmore on 19 October 2016
EVO last year at Auckland on 10 August 2015
A comparison of what the colour scheme was... ZK-SFK at Auckland on 26 October 2015

The FlyStark Airvan seems to fly most evenings from/to Ardmore. Not sure if they have a regular run somewhere or what the story is. They also have two large, brand new passenger vans that spend time at Ardmore.

Sunair have ZK-DHN parked at Ardmore while ZK-CBZ was there yesterday as well.

Flight Hauraki seem to keep there Cessna fleet busy however no sign of ZK-JGA flying.

10 October 2016

Just how much faster is a Mitsubishi MU2?

The Westpac Mu2 and a Sunair Aztec just took off from Hamilton bound for Gisborne... I know which I'd prefer to fly in!

09 October 2016

SPANZ - Gore’s First Air Service

South Pacific Airlines of New Zealand, SPANZ, began scheduled services of the 14th of December 1960 initially connecting Auckland, Hamilton, Matamata, New Plymouth, Napier, Masterton, Blenheim, Nelson, Christchurch, Oamaru and Alexandra.

In the years following Rotorua, Whakatane, Taupo, Gisborne, Timaru, Dunedin and Invercargill were added as destinations while Matamata, Whakatane, Taupo, Gisborne and Dunedin were dropped from the network. 

On the 21st of December 1962 Gore was added as a destination on SPANZ’s thrice weekly service from Invercargill to Christchurch. Passengers travelling north from Gore to Christchurch had three stopovers at Alexandra, Oamaru and Timaru. By this stage SPANZ had three Douglas DC-3 Viewmasters, ZK-BYD, Ernest Rutherford (c/n 13906), ZK-BYE (c/n 13529), Jean Batten and ZK-CAW (c/n 18923), George Bolt.

Gore appears on the timetable for the first time - the Airlines of New Zealand timetable effective 21 December 1962

The beginning of 1964 saw a change of name and branding. The “A of NZ” markings on the tail gave way to the SPANZ roundel.

SPANZ timetable effective 18 December 1964

Douglas DC-3C, ZK-BYD, at Gore on 30 December 1965.

From the 22nd of March 1965, after much lobbying, SPANZ was granted a contract for the carriage of air mail. First day covers were issued to mark the event. The original contract was to other provincial destinations on the SPANZ network and mail was not carried to any of the main centres. That changed on the 4th of May 1965 when mail was carried to and from Christchurch for the first time.

Despite receiving good passenger approval and loyal support from the smaller centres SPANZ always struggled. By late 1965 the writing was on the wall and the end loomed. In December 1965 it was announced that there would be no Government assistance for SPANZ. Subsequently, Captain Rex Daniell, the airline’s general manager, was reported as saying “South Pacific Airlines of New Zealand is now dead” and the receiver announced that SPANZ’s services would end on the 28th of February 1966. Representations were made for Government support though while Oamaru was to receive an NAC service and Alexandra a Mount Cook Airlines service no comparable replacement service was offered for Gore. 

On the 28th of February 1966 Captain Rex Daniell captained the last northbound flight through Gore to Christchurch in the aptly registered ZK-BYE while Captain Graham Gribble captained the final flight from Christchurch to Gore and onward to Invercargill in ZK-CAW.

Douglas DC-3C, ZK-BYE, at Gore on 31 December 1965. I love the collection of cars in the photo above. Also in the photo above you can see Mooney ZK-CKF which was to run the replacement air service

While SPANZ did lose its DC-3 service it did gain a new air service. On the 1st of March 1966 the Southern Districts Aero Club introduced an air service from Gore to Dunedin’s Momona Airport using their Mooney ZK-CKF. See : http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.co.nz/2016/06/gores-airline-southern-district-aero.html 

The final timetable up to the cessation of services on 28 February 1966

07 October 2016

Convenience the Key to Wanganui Air Service

The Whanganui District Council is getting proactive on behalf of the city's newest air service and is seeking consent to put up a sign on SH3 between Whanganui and Palmerston North to promote the Air Chathams service. Mayor Annette Main many people travelling from Auckland are not aware that they can fly directly to Whanganui with privately owned regional service. "We're working with Air Chathams and business groups in our community and in Auckland to get the message out that there are direct flights." Duane Emeny, Air Chathams airline general manager, told the Chronicle council had been "extremely supportive" of their operation. "They're helping us with promotions because they can see the benefits to the Whanganui community," Mr Emeny said. "We're a family business so we don't have the huge marketing budgets to call on like Air New Zealand and Jetstar do." The company and council were now meeting monthly to float ideas and to keep tabs on the operation. "But we're seeing very positive movements in terms of passenger growth. You've got to remember we've only been operating through Wanganui for two months now." Mr Emeny said Air Chathams was retaining its cheap $59 one-way fares deals and with just under 70 per cent passenger loadings on most flights was another positive. "Our weekend flights are generally chocka and week-day bookings are starting to pick up which is all good," Mr Emeny said. "We're getting support from Whanganui businesses but out-of-town corporates don't seem to realise we've got a daily service in and out of the city. So we need to find better ways to connect to these people and get them flying here rather than Palmerston North." He said another downside of losing passengers to the Manawatu was the impact on rental car business in Whanganui. "We've been told there's a been a drop of about 90 percent on rental car bookings but a 30 per cent increase for rental vehicles out of Palmerston North., That's not good for those Whanganui rental firms," Mr Emeny said. Ms Main said flying direct to Whanganui meant savings in time and rental car costs. "We understand many people are hiring cars in Palmerston North to drive to Whanganui and return. But it's obviously much cheaper and faster to fly into Whanganui, hire a rental car here to drive around the district or actually get collected from our airport by a local," she said. "We're encouraging everyone who has had a great experience flying with Air Chathams to help spread the word about their excellent service and ask why drive south to fly north when you can save time and money by flying direct Whanganui to Auckland."

03 October 2016

Waiting at and flying from Pittsburgh

The airport at Pittsburgh is huge but not many gates are used... Talking to someone he said that the reason is that US Airways used it as a hub and the city built a $1 billion terminal with more tahn a 100 gates to suit its needs as its largest hub.... The May 1995 timetable shows USAir nonstops from Pittsburgh to 91 airports, plus 28 more on USAir Express. By the late 1990s growth had leveled off, with USAir (now American Airlines) concentrating on expanding at Philadelphia and Charlotte as it hubs. These are the jets I managed to get while waiting my flight...

Delta Airlines' Bombardier CL-600 N349PQ at Pittsburgh on 28 September 2016
Delta Airlines' Boeing 737-800 N371DA at Pittsburgh on 28 September 2016
Delta Airlines' Embraer ERJ-170 N871RW at Pittsburgh on 28 September 2016
Southwest Airlines' Boeing 737-700 N481WN at Pittsburgh on 28 September 2016
Flying in a United Airline's Boeing 737-900 from Pittsburgh to Chicago...  I have never got to fly on a 737-600!

FlyStark's Airvan Welcomed

This from the Mercury Bay Informer from 7 September 2016

It was an impressive sight at Whitianga Airport last Friday morning when the Whitianga Volunteer Fire Brigade welcomed local airline FlyStark’s new eight-seater (pilot plus seven passengers) Airvan aeroplane to Mercury Bay with a traditional water salute. FlyStark commenced scenic and charter operations out of Whitianga less than a year ago with a single four-seater Cessna 172 aircraft. Soon a second 172, which was based at Ardmore Airport south of Auckland, was added to the fleet. The Airvan, registered ZK-FSR, will initially be based at Ardmore, until a new FlyStark hangar that will be able to accommodate two Airvans has been built at Whitianga Airport. A consent application or the new hangar is expected to be launched with Thames Coromandel District Council in the next few weeks. “The Airvan has large windows and a cargo pod that can take up to 200kg of baggage,” says Mark Hedley, the pilot who flew ZK-FSR into Whitianga on Friday morning. “The interior is spacious. It’s an ideal aeroplane for sightseeing flights and larger groups of people who want to travel together. “The plane is easy to fly and can operate in and out of relatively short airstrips. In the Airvan Ardmore is only 25 minutes away from Whitianga and Pauanui 10 minutes.” Several Mercury Bay community leaders, members of the Mercury Bay Aero Club, community volunteers and children attending Peanuts Early Learning Centre in Whitianga enjoyed a morning tea put on by FlyStark on Friday morning while witnessing the arrival of ZK-FSR.

01 October 2016

Gettysburg Fly In

Last weekend I was able to get to the Gettysburg fly in... The following are the more exotic aircraft I took...


American Champion 8KCAB Decathlon N551SB at Gettysburg on 24 September 2016
Piper PA22 Colt N5543Z at Gettysburg on 24 September 2016
Cessna 172A N7655T  at Gettysburg on 24 September 2016
The second day's fly in was much better... American Champion 8KCAB Decathlon N24BY at Gettysburg on 25 September 2016 
Rutan Defiant N770JL at Gettysburg on 25 September 2016  

Lockwood Aviation Aircam N965RS at Gettysburg on 25 September 2016  

Cessna 170 N8086A at Gettysburg on 25 September 2016  
Aeronca 7AC Champion N84646 at Gettysburg on 25 September 2016  
Davis D-1-K NC158Y at Gettysburg on 25 September 2016  

Waco RNF NC859V at Gettysburg on 25 September 2016  
Piper J3C-65 NCJ3C-65 at Gettysburg on 25 September 2016  
Westland 831 at Gettysburg on 25 September 2016