10 September 2017

Classic Fieldair Freight

With the retirement of Safe Air's Bristol Freighter fleet on the 30th of September 1986 Peter Vincent and Alan McGreevey saw the opportunity to establish an air freight service. To this in mind he imported Douglas DC-3C VH-PWM (c/n 11970) from Australia and also acquired the use of ex Fieldair Douglas DC-3 ZK-AWP. It had retired from topdressing on the 11th of May 1985 and had remained in storage at Palmerston North until it received freighter conversion for Classic Air Services Ltd., a Fieldair associated company, in late 1986.

Wearing Classic Air titles and NZ Railways' 'Speedlink' titles, Douglas DC-3 ZK-AMR arrives at Christchurch on 19 February 1987

A 12-month contract was signed with the New Zealand Railways Corporation to fly its freight under the Speedlink brand from Wellington to Christchurch, Nelson and Blenheim. Later a weekly flight to Auckland was introduced. Services began on the 15th of September 1986 with ZK-AMR flying the inaugural flights under the command of chief pilot Neil Abbott. The normal Nelson service saw two DC-3 flights a day, at 7am and at about 5pm with the Dominion newspaper being flown to Nelson on the morning service.

The Star reported on the arrival of the first flight to Christchurch: She swept in from the north through the cloud blanketing Christchurch Airport yesterday, hung for a brief moment over the main runway, then settled at the end of her inaugural freight run. Classic Air Ltd's 44-year old DC3 - ZK-AMR touched down shortly before 1 pm after an uneventful flight from Wellington with 2 tonnes of Railways Corporation cargo.

Classic Air's first flight into Christchurch on 15 September 1986
The Star, 16 September 1986

While the first flights operated as Classic Air the shareholding of the company had changed. Well established topdressing and engineering company Fieldair had purchased Alan McGreevey's majority shareholding and the company was rebranded as Fieldair Freight. ZK-AMR was still wearing Classic Air titles in February 1987 after which the Fieldair Freight logo was applied to the tail. Peter Vincent later sold his shareholding in the company and Fieldair became the sole shareholder.

Douglas DC-3 ZK-AMR with the Fieldair Freight titles at Queenstown on 24 October 1987...

...and in full Fieldair Freight colour scheme at Nelson on 14 January 1990.

Douglas DC-3C ZK-BBJ ended its topdressing career on the 5th of May 1987. It was then converted to a freighter and was registered to Fieldair Freight on the 18th of February 1988 joining ZK-AMR and ZK-AWP.

Douglas DC-3C ZK-BBJ in full Fieldair Freight colours at Nelson on14 August 1990

The Fieldair Freight service lasted for seven years and ended when Airwork won the contract to carry NZ Post's mail and parcels. The final services were flown on the 26th of March 1993.

Five months after the service ended Douglas DC-3C ZK-AWP was still looking quite sharp at Wanaka on 29 August 1993. It never wore the full Fieldair Freight colours.


  1. Hi Steve. Another very good report on a small operator. There is an error of dates however. You have several references to 1996 which should read 1986.

  2. Thanks Peter... Have fixed them