12 May 2010

Mount Cook Airlines - The First Airliner

After looking at the first aircraft in both Eagle Air's (http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/04/eagle-beech.html) and Air Nelson's 'airliner' fleet (http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/05/air-nelson-no-1.html) it is now the turn of the third of the Link carriers, Mount Cook Airlines.

Douglas DC-3C VH-ANU (c/n 13521 arrived in New Zealand from Australia on the 14th of June 1955. It was registered to the New Zealand National Airways Corporation as ZK-BKD and was named 'Kotare.' BKD was subsequently leased to Mount Cook & Southern Lakes Tourist Co Ltd on the 16th of October 1961.

Mount Cook and Southern Lakes Tourist Co DC-3 ZK-BKD at Christchurch. Photo : D White

According to Mount Cook’s Harry Wigley in his book “Skiplane Adventure,” the airline operation commenced on 1 November 1961. The service had been planned for three years and when it began it operated from Christchurch into Mount Cook (with an alternate airfield constructed at Glen Cairn Station for the days when weather conditions meant flights couldn’t operate to Mount Cook), Cromwell (this airfield was constructed by locals eager for an air service) and Manapouri. Queenstown Airport was operated by the local bodies and the Civil Aviation Division and these were slow to prepare the airport for DC-3s. It was not until 1965 that DC-3s finally started operating to Queenstown.

Returning back to ZK-BKD, it was returned to NAC for sale to Fieldair in July 1970. Fieldair converted it for topdressing and it was used in this role from August 1971 until January 1983. BKD still exists today but sadly it is languishing at Gisborne after having been used for some time as the 'Smash Palace Wine Bar'... For other photos of ZK-BKD see http://rnzaf.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=civil&action=print&thread=10428 and look for BKD or http://www.kiwibeavers.com/BKD.html.

Mount Cook Airlines operated three other DC-3s...

ZK-AOD, Douglas C-47B-20-DK (c/n 15701/27146) was registered to Mount Cook and Southern Lakes Tourist Co. on 02 November 1964. It went to Fieldair on 17 November 1972.

ZK-BEU, Douglas C-47A-20-DK (c/n 13099) was registered to Mount Cook and Southern Lakes Tourist Company 25 June 1970. It was retired from airline service 16 May 1978

ZK-CAW, Douglas C-47A-65-DL. (c/n 18923) was leased to Mount Cook Airlines -5 August 1969 and went to South Seas Airways Ltd, Auckland - May 7, 1971

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