12 June 2016

Gore's Airline - The Southern District Aero Club's Momona Service

This post on the Southern Districts Aero Club was inspired by the NZ Civil Aircraft Blog post on Mooney ZK-CKF...  http://nzcivair.blogspot.co.nz/2016/04/mooney-zk-ckf.html  The following is the result of my research...  

The Southern Districts Aero Club was originally the Gore Flight of the Southland Aero Club which was based at Knapdale before moving to McNab in 1958. In 1961 the Southern Districts Aero Club was formed and the following year it moved to its present base at Charlton south of Gore. On the 6th of June 1963 the Southern Districts Aero Club (Inc) was issued with its own air services licence which enabled it to offer air charter and air taxi services and from Gore, Tapanui and Lumsden aerodromes using Cessna 172 ZK-CCJ.

The Southern Districts Aero Club's Cessna 172 ZK-CCJ on a visit to Masterton in the mid-1960s.

In September 1964 the Club was granted permission to add Mooney M20C Mk21 ZK-CKF (c/n 20C-2802) to its fleet with air taxi services being permitted from Roxburgh.

The Southern Districts Aero Club's flagship, Mooney ZK-CKF at Gore on 21 March 1965
The Mooney ZK-CKF at Gore again - not quite a skiplane!

Following the closure of SPANZ on the 28th of February 1966 the club introduced an air service from Gore to Dunedin’s Momona Airport starting on the 1st of March 1966. The Club used their existing air charter and air taxi licence and he service was mainly operated by the Mooney which flown by the Club’s Chief Flying Instructor, Murray Pope. The first month saw the passenger demand on 15 of 20 days possible and 41 passengers were flown.

In May 1966 the general manager of the National Airways Corporation, Mr Doug Patterson, asked the Southern Districts Aero Club whether it would be interested in NAC’s support of the air service between Gore and Dunedin. The Aero Club’s president. Mr R C Buchanan, responded that it would be more than willing to co-operate with NAC in any way possible to get the service going. The Club suggested that it provided a pilot and ground handling facilities for an aircraft supplied by NAC. This never came to pass and NAC’s support was that it simply advertised the service in their timetables.

NAC's support... the connecting airlines section of the NAC timetable of 5 February 1968 showing the Southern Districts Aero Club service.

The Club at this stage employed three flying instructors and these and Club members who held a commercial licence were used for the air service to Dunedin. The Club also employed its own aircraft engineer and apprentice and a full time clerk/receptionist. The summer schedule saw a 7.15am departure from Gore with a later 9.15am departure from May to August. The return flight operated according to passenger requirements but it was usually made operated after the NAC midday arrival into Dunedin. A single of fare of $6.00 was charged.

Another photo of ZK-CCJ... where is it taken???

The air service was formalised on the 31st of July 1967 when permission was granted for it be operated on a non-scheduled basis. In the year to 31 March 1967 the Club’s service had carried out 410 flights which carried 633 passengers and 5,090lbs of freight. In the remaining 9 months to the end of 1967 another 263 flights were made carrying 408 passengers and 5,636lbs of freight. At the same time the Club was given approval to operate Piper PA32 Cherokee 6 ZK-CNS. This aircraft was later to crash at Bruce Bay on the 7th of October 1967. It was replaced by Cessna 185 ZK-CFI. The Club was also given permission to operate from Luggate airfield in 1967.

Piper Cherokee 6 ZK-CNS was used for a short time by the Southern District Aero Club
Cessna 185 ZK-CFI at Luggate on January 1968
Repainted Mooney ZK-CKF at Gore in April 1969

The service never proved to the financial success the Club hoped it would be. In late June 1969 the Southern Districts Aero Club announced it would suspend its non-scheduled service from the 31st of July 1969 when it suspended operations due to it being uneconomical.


  1. Gore has always ho hummed over air services... Like Wanganui and Masterton, hamstrung by larger airports nearby in reasonable driving distance.
    Still, even Southern Air looked at using a BNI to Dunedin in the 80s. Gorgons favour Dunedin over Invercargill, although twice the distance simply because its way cheaper (along with ZQN).
    A Cessna Caravan service could work to either airports.

  2. Kevin Wilson ,I was a lightkeeper at Centre Island 1958 to 1960 and 1961 to 1963 I Spent many long hours building the airstip. When the piper Cherokee arrived I had to add another 300 feet onto the northern end this was a major with Fordson tractor and sandy soil ' members of the club did working bee to turf the southern end.Remember Neville Kenard and Jack Hart in the Auster.The hardest job was sewing the grass seed as the wind most of it to Bluff. It is great to see my grandson in law A J Jeffery is pilot with Southern Wings.I have many for tales to tell about Neville.I am now 80 great times. and many photos Kev.


    1. Thanks Kevin... If you have any photos or stories to share you can email me at westland831@gmail.com Cheers, Steve