13 April 2023


Thanks to Matthew Beaven who sent in these photos of the Waco aircraft at the recent Omaka Yealands Classic Fighters Omaka airshow. I was particularly delighted to see the photo of Waco UOC ZK-ALA  given it's and the other cabin Waco aircraft parts in New Zealand aviation history.

Waco UOC ZK-AEL taken at Omaka on 9 April 2023. Photo : M Beaven

Waco UOC ZK-ALA (c/n 4336) was first registered to the Marlborough Aero Club on the 1st of May 1936. After assembly at the Wellington Aero Club it made its first flight at Wellington on the 9th of May under the control of Squadron Leader G L Stedman. 

Hawkes Bay Tribune 8 May 1936

Waikato Times, 16 May 1936

The Evening Star of the 15th of May 1936 on the delivery of the new Waco... The Waco cabin aeroplane imported by the Marlborough Aero Club was assembled at the Rongotai aerodrome by the ground staff of the Wellington Aero Club. The machine is of the same family as those used for air taxi and ambulance work by the Wellington and Otago Aero Clubs. It has, however, a, somewhat better performance than that familiar in Wellington, being a later model. With a 210 horse-power Continental engine, it is warranted to cruise at 135 miles an hour, compared with 115 miles an hour by the Wellington machine with the same engine. It seats four persons, and has fittings for carrying a stretcher in the cabin. Streamlining is highly developed, even the lights on the wing being retractable into the under-side instead of being perched on the leading edge with consequent disturbance of the air flow over the wing. The machine is coloured deep blue. The new Waco was tested last Saturday by Squadron-Leader G. L. Steadman, who later flew it to Blenheim for delivery to the Marlborough Aero Club,

With the outbreak of the Second World War the Waco was impressed by the RNZAF on the 5th of October 1939 and became NZ757. It was struck off charge by the Air Force on the 5th of February 1946 and was reregistered to the Marlborlborough Aero Club as ZK-ALA on the 2nd of September 1946. 

The following year it was sold to Stan Blackmore and registered to Blackmores Air Service Ltd, Rotorua on the 10th of October 1947. Stan Blackmore renamed it "Aotea." His Rotorua operation was sold to Hamilton-based James Aviation Ltd and the Waco was registered to this company on the 5th of September 1957. 

A couple of James Aviation's aircraft, to the left Waco UOC ZK-ALA and  Stinson SR-10C Reliant ZK-BDV taken about 1957... maybe at Rotorua??? The end of film white dots are unfortunate

The aircraft was damaged on the 26th of January 1958 when it overturned while landing at Rotorua aerodrome. It was cancelled from the register on 20th of October 1958. 

Some 64 years later, after rebuild, it was reregistered to the WACO Partnership of Blenheim as ZK-AEL on the 8th of September 2022. 

The Wellington Aero Club operated Waco QDC ZK-ACV (c/n 3580) and Waco UIC ZK-ADE (c/n  3820) prior to World War II... see https://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2011/04/capital-air-services-wellington-aero.html

ZK-ACV went to the Otago Aero Club before being sold to Queenstown-Mount Cook Airways... see https://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2017/05/queenstowns-first-scenic-flyer.html before being impressed into the RNZAF.

ZK-ADE, like ZK-AEL, was impressed into the RNZAF and post-War was registered ZK-ALG seeing service with the Tauranga Aero Club... see https://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2021/02/tauranga-aero-clubs-air-taxi-activities.html who in turn operated the Opotiki Aero Club's brief air service... see https://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2022/06/the-opotiki-aero-clubs-air-feeder.html

Waco YMF-F5 ZK-CFL at Omaka on 9 April 2023. Photo : M Beaven

Waco UPF-7 ZK-UPF at Omaka on 9 April 2023. Photo : M Beaven

Waco T-10 ZK-WTW taken at Omaka on 9 April 2023. Photo : M Beaven

Waco YMF-F5C ZK-YMF taken at Omaka on 9 April 2023. Photo : M Beaven

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