United Aviation Ltd was established by John Plank in 1984 and initially operated as a flying school as well as offering air charter and aircraft maintenance services.
|Beech 58 Baron ZK-KVX at Hokitika on 19 May 1996.|
|Piper Chieftain ZK-KVW at Nelson on 9 June 1994.|
The company was not without its troubles, however. On the 8th of March 1994 the leased Wairarapa Airlines Chieftain ZK-PKC made a wheels up landing at Christchurch. After taking off from Christchurch for its flight back to Palmerston North the undercarriage did not successfully retract. After burning off fuel the aircraft successfully landed without bodily injury. Some years later, Chieftain ZK-NSO, experienced the passenger door flying open on one of the East Coast flights.
|Two of United Aviation's Beech Barons photographed at Nelson. Above ZK-KVT taken on 10 February 1997 and below ZK-KVY taken on 29 August 1992|
With the sudden collapse of Cookson Air in February 1993 the company looked at replacing the Baron on the six day a week Palmerston North-Napier-Wairoa-Gisborne service with the 10-seater Piper Chieftain. At this stage United Aviation flight left Palmerston North at 5.40am stopping at Napier and Wairoa to arrive in Gisborne at 7am. It left for Napier 10 minutes later and returned via Wairoa by 8.30am. It made the return trip from Gisborne at 5.30pm arriving in Palmerston North just after 7pm.
In the end it was Eagle Air’s withdrawal from its Napier-Gisborne service that led to the Chieftain being operated on the 14th of August 1995 using Piper Chieftain ZK-NSO which was obtained from Air Nelson.
|Piper Chieftain ZK-NSO at Palmerston North on 21 November 1996.|
|On the East Coast service, Piper Chieftain ZK-NSO taxis into Napier on 4 December 1996|
|The ill-fated Baron, ZK-KVL at Gisborne on 17 January 1996.|