02 January 2011

An Old Operator - The Hawke's Bay and East Coast Aero Club

The Hawke’s Bay and East Coast Aero Club was New Zealand’s second aero club, being incorporated on the 12th of November 1928. Over the years it has operated two regular air services.

The first was in 1932 when it took over the air service between Gisborne and Hastings previously operated by Gisborne Air Transport. The Poverty Bay Herald of the 24th December 1932 reported;

Recent developments in regard to the air link between Gisborne and Hastings, which has proved so important on several occasions during the past two years, will be of general interest to readers in this district. During the past few days, the Desoutter cabin plane, ZK-ABY has changed hands, and is now under the control of the Hawke's Bay Aero Club, with headquarters in Hastings The passenger service formerly carried on by the Gisborne Air Transport Company will be maintained by the Hawke's Bay Aero Club, though it is understood that a minimum charge for the employment of the machine between Hastings and Gisborne is to be fixed on a scale which will make it desirable for passengers to arrange to travel in pairs. The plane has accommodation for two passengers, and whereas the Gisborne Air Transport Company was willing to run a trip to Hastings for a single fare, the organisation now controlling the machine anxious to maintain a wider working margin. 

Desoutter ZK-ABY

The pilot of the service was initially Flight-Lieutenant W. H. Lett, who moved to to the Manawatu Aero Club as an instructor. His replacement was Flying-Officer A. C. Gerrand, the Hawke's Bay Aero Club's instructor. The service operated on demand until the East Coast Airways started service started in April 1935.

In December 1936 issue of Wings magazine Desoutter  ZK-ABY was advertised for sale. The advertisement stated that about £100-£150 would need to be spent on it to restore it to C of A standard and that the club would sell it for £150 "as is". The engine had run 321 hours since last major overhaul. There were apparently no takers for the old Desoutter as its fate is listed as "Broken Up 1937".

The Club's second regular service began in the early 1970’s when it operated a Hastings-Wairoa-air drop at Nuhaka-Gisborne service on Sundays to deliver Sunday newspapers in early 1970s. The flight landed at Wairoa while the Nuhaka papers were delivered by an air drop. The Club mainly used Piper Pa32-260 Cherokee 6 ZK-CNE (c/n 32-41). This aircraft crashed on the 5th of July 1974 while making an emergency landing on the Manga¬ototo Station airstrip which is situated on the top of Morere Hill. The pilot, Mr Herb Maxwell, the club's chief instructor Mr Herb Maxwell and his four passengers escaped without life threatening injuries.

The ill fated Piper Cherokee 6, ZK-CNE.
The Nuhaka General Store - Newspapers were dropped somewhere near here

Nowadays the Hawke’s Bay and East Coast Aero Club continues to operate regularly through Wairoa on training and charter work under the banner of its wholly owned company, Air Hawke's Bay Ltd. The charter work often involves ferrying medical staff to the Wairoa Hospital.

One of Air Hawkes Bay's Piper Senecas, ZK-RSQ, at Wairoa on 2 December 2009

I have no details as to the start and finish date of this operation and whether any other aircraft were used. If you can provide some more information I would be most grateful of you could email me at westland831@gmail.com 


  1. Yes, Air Hawkes Bay has been doing the doctors run for some time now

  2. The doctors run has been running for some years now, certainly since the late 80`s. Predominantly by the two ex department Senicas DCM and DCI. DCM took a back seat in the mid 90's with the purchase of RSQ. This leaving DCI to do most of the Wairoa work, with RSQ helping out out when not doing longer flights to other hospitals with LWN. In later years DCM had major refurbisment done, with DCI being sold.

  3. First great site! Second doctors run is no longer operated by air Hawkes Bay, it was taken over by Skyline Aviation. DCM is still operated by Air Hawkes Bay for training but it is the only twin they operate.