27 January 2013

Flying the News - Nairn Air

Nairn Aviation Ltd was registered on the 12th of October 1972 by Bryce and May Nairn. Bryce had been with the Nelson Aero Club for six-and-a-half years and, at the time the company was established he had had 15 years of commercial flying experience and 5,500 flying hours behind him.

Trading as Nairn Air, the company started operations in November 1972 and initially offered flight training and charter work such as aerial photography, air ambulance, supply drops and power line surveying using two Cessna 172s and a Cessna 150 out of Nelson though later training was also provided at Westport, Greymouth and Hokitika between 1974 and 1977.

Bryce Nairn and the Nairn Air fleet at Nelson in November 1972. Photo : Nelson Photo News, No 145, 11 November 1972

Training with Nairn Air - Cessna 150 ZK-COI at Greymouth on 29 November 1973. Photo : I Coates

On the 8th of September 1975 Nairn Air commenced a scheduled service between Nelson and Westport for the carriage of the Westport newspaper, “The News”, which was printed in Nelson. Previously Capital Air Services had flown the newspaper to Westport but when Capital moved to their summer timetable the newspapers arrived too late to catch the country buses north as far as Karamea and south to Charleston. The Nairn Air flight from Nelson was scheduled to arrive at Westport, Monday to Friday, at about 2.45 p.m. and depart immediately after on return to Nelson. Passenger seats were available northbound and on the southbound flights subject to space. At the time this meant there were ten aircraft movements to and from Westport each week day; four operated by NAC, four by Capital Air Services and two by Nairn Aviation.

Nairn Air's Cessna 172 ZK-CDS at Greymouth on 12 January 1975. Photo : B Whebell

The Westport News continued to be printed in Nelson until 1977. Did Nairn Air continue to operate the Nelson-Westport service until then?

Nairn Air's Cessna 172 ZK-DEP at Hokitika in 1978. Photo : S Lowe

In 1980 Associated Aviation (Nelson) Limited took over Nairn Aviation and this new company continued to offer flight training, air charter and air taxi work from Nelson.

Fleet Included

Cessna 150
ZK-CKS (c/n 150-61567)                              
ZK-CSV (c/n 150-66005)
ZK-COI (c/n 150-62870)
ZK-CXF (c/n 150-68392)
ZK-CXK (c/n 150-68247)
ZK-CXL (c/n 150-68308)

Cessna 172
ZK-CDS (c/n 172-50524)
ZK-CWK (c/n 29604
ZK-DAT (c/n 172-59648)
ZK-DBL (c/n 172-57339)
ZK-DEP (c/n 172-58879)
ZK-DUK (c/n 172-66203)
ZK-ERB (c/n 17268887)

Morane Saulnier MS880B Rallye Club 
ZK-CKL (c/n 5347)

Piper Pa28R-201 Arrow
ZK-EIF (c/n 28R-7837132)


  1. Hi

    I know the Nairn family, and one small error is that Bryce's wife is May not Mary as on your web page.

    Nice to see that Bryce's business has been captured I must let his daughter know.


    Tim Banks tim.banks.001@gmail.com

  2. hi there ,there was another aircraft that Bryce had, that I trained in at Westport, in 1970, it was a RALLYE 100 ZK CKL. cheers colin edge,

  3. I was also a student in ZKCKL at Westport from October 1971 until September 1972 when I worked as a flight service officer on the aerodrome. Later flew out of
    Nelson in ZKCSV and ZKDEP.
    Regards Derek Wratten

  4. Anyone have more photos of cds back in its day? Cheers

  5. As Bryce's granddaughter in law I can confirm that his wife's official name was Mary but she was known as May to everyone.

  6. I used to sky dive out of CDS and DEP at nelson.