05 October 2014

Bell Air memories

During the week I received this email with memories of Whakatane's Bell Air. Bell Air was the first airline profile I did on the blog and the email has inspired me and I have updated the Bell Air post... see http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.co.nz/2010/02/bell-air-remembered.html.  Here are Kevin's memories of Bell Air...

Hi Steve,

Have come across your article about Bell Air in Whakatane. I lived in Whakatane from 1979 to 1998 have fond memories of using Bell Air between there and Auckland on a number of occasions. As a local I was one who believed in supporting local business, so when the occasion arose they were my first choice for the rather noisy 50 minute flight to Auckland. I was the airport when he landed the Beech 99 for the first time.

I also knew 2 pilots, Cliff Stockwell and Murray Wellington who operated the aircraft with Graham.  

Prior to leaving Whakatane in mid 1998  I lived out by the airport, so enjoyed watching the aircraft arriving and departing.

While I can’t remember the exact date, I was at Whakatane airport for the last departure of Tranzair. For those of us loyal to Graham Bell it was indeed a sad day. That flight was operated by a Rex Aviation Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante and I believe it was a Sunday.  I travelled to Dunedin via Christchurch with Ansett NZ in August 1996 on the BAe146, and had used Tranzair to travel to Auckland for a connecting flight to Wellington  and Whangerai on 2 occasions.

By July 1997 the only option to fly out of Whakatane enroute to Rarotonga was on a Air NZ Link flight operated by Eagle Air. The plus for this flight was the ability to have our bags checked through to Rarotonga, a new thing for the local community. This was actually my first flight out of New Zealand and the beginning of many more around the world. 

Many years later I am now an avid aviation enthusiast, and whenever I return to NZ I enjoy spending time at Auckland International taking photo’s.   

Last year I had the good fortune to be part of the Jet Star function at Gold Coast Airport to welcome their new 787-8 and was among the lucky few to have a good look over the aircraft before it went into service. Managed to see Air NZ 787-9 when I was last over at the end of July. Sadly could only get a photo for my new  photo book of it’s rear end sitting inside the  ANZ hangar the day before I returned

Pleased I have come across your blog as I like keeping up with what’s happening across the ditch. 


Thanks for taking the time to write with your memories Kevin

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