02 June 2019

New Home for Topdresser....

Douglas DC-3 ZK-AZL has found a new home at Hamilton's Te Kowhai aerodrome... I must admit I didn't know much about AZL and was surprised it never saw airline service. Here are photos from my collection of AZL...

Douglas DC-3 ZK-AZL with Airland NZ at Christchurch

Douglas DC-3 ZK-AZL with James Aviation at Hamilton in 1963

56 years later and a few kilometres down the road, the restored ZK-AZl at Te Kowhai

Could this be the start of a national topdressing museum???

Peter Lewis has written a history of AZL on the Wings over New Zealand site with some great photos, see http://rnzaf.proboards.com/thread/17606/photo-thread-douglas-dc-3?page=4

The same site has a thread on it moving to Te Kowhai, see


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  3. Recently I loaded the following on the Wings over New Zealand forum, expanding on Peter Lewis's notes.

    The wider picture of its history is: The aircraft served in the RNZAF as NZ3545, and along with the majority of its type, went to NAC where they were to be progressively converted into airliners and freighters. From an early Whites Directory I see it was given the name "Kuaka". As fate would have it, ZK-AZL was the last in line for conversion however before that took place, the maintenance hangar at Milson (Palmertson North), in which the conversions took place, burnt down, in October 1953. In the absence of a facility, AZL's conversion plan went out the window. Soon after, the RNZAF came knocking, "can we borrow AZL to use as a baggage aircraft for the Royal tour coming up in December '53 / January 54?". "Yes said NAC and handed over the aircraft, still in RNZAF livery. At the end of the tour, and with still no conversion facility, AZL resumed its wait. A while later Ossie James came knocking at NAC's door, asking "I'm looking for a DC-3 to use as a topdressing aircraft". "Have this one, pointing at a forlorn AZL" said NAC. So, AZL joined James Aviation as "Highland Duster" and entered service in a quasi civil livery which retained the RNZAF cheet line.