Towards the end of 1976 two Hokitika men, Norm Bishop and Pat Pascoe, successfully applied for an air service licence using Piper Cherokee 6 (ZK-ECV) from Hokitika for scenic and charter work. Tom Sunnex was appointed as the first full-time pilot and the company became busy with a range of air charter and scenic flying, the mainstay of the operation in the early days being scenic flights from Hokitika over the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers and around Mount Cook. The aircraft was also used for local air ambulance work.
|Westland Flying Services' first aircraft Piper Cherokee 6 ZK-ECV taken at Hokitika in the late 1970s.|
The company soon started flight training, initially with Piper Cherokees but later with Cessna 172s. As a high school student a friend and I rang up about the possibility of a local scenic flight – we had the princely sum on $5 each... it was suggested instead of a local flight there were a couple of seats going to Motueka in the Cherokee 6 if we would be interested... as if we wouldn’t!
|A classic old Piper Pa28 Cherokee 140 ZK-DBT was used for flight training. It is seen here basking in the glorious Hokitika sunshine in September 1978.|
|Cessna 320 ZK-EGN was used for a short time on charter work and scenic flights. It is seen at Hokitika in 1979.|
|The first passengers on the first day of operations, Mrs D Ferguson, Miss V Bannon and Messrs S Orr and R Coburn in front of Air Chater's Aztec ZK-DHB. Source : Greymouth Evening Star 5 December 1979.|
|Westland Flying Services' Cessna 402 ZK-DHW retained its James Air origins but carried Westland titles and a small white heron on the nose of the aircraft. Photo taken at Hokitika in April 1980.|
In addition to the air service the 402 was used on scenic flights to Mount Cook and the Glaciers, and for passenger and freight charters. It flew both whitebait and live deer to the North Island. The 402 would also occasionally offer charters to Christchurch to fly Air New Zealand passengers when the Friendship service was cancelled. During 1980 negotiations were entered into for Westland Flying Services to take over some of Air New Zealand’s unprofitable services. Local interests soon stymied this as an option.
|Westland Flying Services had a counter in the Hokitika terminal but all the flights left using the company's office in the Hokitika Aero Club hangar.|
|Cessna 402 ZK-DHW awaiting its passengers in Christchurch|
Westland Flying Services was, again, an airline that looked for a niche, that, is to provide Westland with a service suitable for businessmen, something the two mid afternoon Friendship services to Wellington (via Westport) and Christchurch failed to provide. Like a lot of other similar attempts it was thwarted by the equipment used, people not having through fares to other destinations, a poor public perception of small aircraft, in their case an unpressurised aircraft over the Alps and the short, unlit runway in Greymouth.
Jill Bishop- Administration, Reception
Norman G. ‘Norm’ Bishop- Managing Director and Shareholder
Tony Budd- Pilot
Duncan Hamilton- Part-time pilot
Bill Hende- Part-time pilot
Geoff Painter- Pilot
Pat Pascoe- Director, Shareholder and Pilot
Duncan Sharp- Pilot
Tom Sunnex- Pilot
Ray Sweeney – Part time pilot
Cessna 172: DFI, DKH, DPN, DSM, ERK
Cessna 320: EGN
Cessna 402: DHW
Piper Pa28 Cherokee: DBT, EBY
Piper Pa32 Cherokee 6: ECV