30 June 2021

Fly My Sky's operator in liquidation


Sad news for Fly My Sky with Commercial Helicopters Ltd, the company that operates the airline, going into liquidation yesterday on the 29th June 2021. 

Fly My Sky's final services were operated by BN Islander ZK-SFK (ISLAND 2 KILO) from Auckland to Claris (FS15) and return (FS9015) on the same afternoon. So ended 23 years of servicing Great Barrier Island, from 1998 to 2008 as Mountain Air and from 2008 as Fly My Sky.

The airline's facebook page is no longer live and the status board on the website tells the sad story.

A history of Fly My Sky can be found here... http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2011/11/fly-my-sky.html

Fly My Sky's status on their website

Stuff's story...

The operator of Auckland airline Fly My Sky has gone into liquidation. The registered company behind the third tier airline Commercial Helicopters had Clive Bish of Ecovis KGA appointed as a liquidator on Wednesday. Fly My Sky’s website has been stripped of information and the company’s contact numbers have been disconnected. Commercial Helicopters was owned by Christine and Dylan Young and Marcham Trustee Company, who bought the business in March last year. It operates out of Auckland Airport and started services to Great Barrier Island as Mountain Air more than 20 years ago. Commercial Helicopters has been in continuous operation for more than 40 years, originally starting in 1980 flying helicopters. Now the business was exclusively a fixed-wing twin-engine operation. It has provided private aircraft charter flights throughout New Zealand and had a fleet of four twin-engine Britten-Norman Islanders aircraft, each carrying up to nine passengers. In April last year Fly My Sky was one of several small airlines to receive Government funding to support vital air links to remote islands. As part of the Government’s $600 million aviation support package it fast-tracked funding of up to $1.7m to maintain those air links. Commercial Helicopters received three rounds of Covid-19 wage subsidies worth $156,000 for between 13 and 20 staff.

Source : https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/125607569/company-behind-auckland-airline-fly-my-sky-in-liquidation

29 June 2021

Jet Air Ambulance


Operating into Hamilton yesterday (28 June 2021) was Cessna 510 Citation Mustang ZK-YDZ operating an air ambulance flight from Napier.

28 June 2021

CIE in action

Thanks to Barry who sent in these great shots of Air Chathams' recently withdrawn Convair 580 ZK-CIE on departure... We will never see the likes again when the final Convair ZK-CIB bows out of Kiwi skies...

Air Chathams' Convair 580 ZK-CIE departs Auckland Airport on 27 January 2018 after takeoff from 05R

27 June 2021

Hood Aerodrome plans

I missed seeing these last month...

More questions were raised than answered at a community workshop about the future of Hood Aerodrome held at Masterton War Memorial Stadium on Monday night. Three concepts were presented to an audience of about 80. Each of the concepts would require changes to Manaia Rd, which ran roughly perpendicular to the existing runway. Concepts 1 and 2 would divert Manaia Rd around the proposed runway extension. Concept 3 would require the diversion of Manaia Rd through residential areas to Andrew St in Kuripuni, or the closure of Manaia Rd. All the proposals involved a lengthening and widening of the existing runway to allow for expanded services. Representatives from independent design and engineering consultancy Beca, who presented the options, recommended a runway length of 1280m. “None of these options work without changing the road,” Beca landscape architect Craig Pocock said. Manaia Rd residents present at the workshop said they were given three working days’ notice before the proposals went before the public meeting. “All of these plans are getting moved on to our front lawn, basically,” one resident said. The workshop came nearly 10 months after Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced a $10 million funding package for the airport. Masterton District Council would supplement the central government funding with an additional $7 million. MDC project manager Martyn Round said he had talked about plans to extend the runway with all affected landowners last week. Council spokesman Steve Rendle confirmed on Tuesday landowners had been told of the potential for land acquisition last week. Another attendee asked what would happen to the $17 million total funding for the project if nothing ended up going ahead. Round said some of the money had already been committed to hangar developments in the next five years. Concept 2 would also require operational changes to air show Wings Over Wairarapa to free up land for development south of the airfield. Wings Over Wairarapa general manager Jenny Gasson said she had held several conversations with Beca about the proposed changes. “It would be pretty accurate to say that we’re not there yet. It certainly presents a lot of challenges for us.” However, Gasson said Wings was not saying no to any of the proposals and would work with whatever was decided. Masterton district councillor Bex Johnson said the purpose of Monday’s meeting was to gather the community’s ideas to help develop a master plan for Hood Aerodrome. “Hood is a key asset to the council and our community, and work is required to bring it up to standard,” Johnson said. “We also want to make sure we are ready for any future opportunities.” The plan would look at least 20 years into the future and shape how any aerodrome development would unfold. “We don’t want to do something now that prevents or precludes us doing something in the future,” Johnson said.

Source : https://times-age.co.nz/aerodrome-masterplan-landowners-share-fear-of-flying-blind/, 13 May 2021

A Masterton pilot associated with Hood Aerodrome for 70 years says plans to extend its runway are ill-advised. His call to halt the extension comes after nearby residents expressed frustration with the project at a master plan meeting on Monday. The pilot, who asked not to be named, said there had been a “shroud of secrecy” over plans for Hood Aerodrome, with landowners kept out of the loop. “This sort of secrecy is not on … no one was consulted. When all is said and done, we as ratepayers, me as a property investor on the aerodrome, none of us knew about this. It just came out of the blue.” At last Monday’s community meeting, Beca representatives Adam Vorstermans and Rick Pemberton presented their reasoning for a runway length of 1280 metres. They said the length would be suitable for small commercial airlines using Saab 340 and Q300 aircraft. The pilot said extending the runway would be futile because he did not expect commercial airlines to return to Masterton. He said many airlines were also condensing their fleets, and production of aircraft such as the Saab 340 had been discontinued. “There’s not going to be one little bit of benefit to Joe Public in the town … we’re doing it to provide for aircraft that are disappearing out of the skies.” Vostermans and Pemberton had proposed three different concepts for the aerodrome’s development. Concepts 1 and 2 would divert Manaia Rd around the extended runway, while Concept 3 would divert Manaia Rd to the north to connect with Andrew St in Kuripuni. While some Manaia Rd residents said they had received little warning of the plans, other residents were less concerned by the proposed changes. National Party Wairarapa candidate and Manaia Rd resident Mike Butterick said he would accept whatever proposal was chosen. “If we need to have a bit of change, that’s the way it is. Whether they block Manaia Rd off or do a loop … if it’s what we need to do for growth in Masterton then so be it.” Butterick said the aerodrome master plan had to look a long way into the future if it would have a practical use. “There’s no point, for example, in plonking a whole lot of houses on the land on the northern end and then deciding that we need more capacity at the airport.” Butterick said although it was convenient for residents to drive the short distance up Manaia Rd into town, a detour to Andrew St would not add much travel time. However, Butterick said there could be issues for residents of Andrew St and surrounding areas, who would experience higher traffic volumes, including logging trucks, passing through. “I would imagine they’re probably not going to be super impressed, but we’ve got to make long-term plans and allow for that growth.” Butterick said the planning process needed to include strategies to mitigate the effect of any increase in traffic. Fellow Manaia Rd resident and 2016 Masterton District Council candidate Ross Cottle said he was not concerned about a diversion to Manaia Rd. “It won’t particularly worry me if they put a bend in it and we have to go around it – that’s probably not a big deal.” Cottle supported the project but worried excessive traffic would pass through Kuripuni if Concept 3 went ahead. “That would push a lot of big logging and stock trucks through town, and I think that would be a very silly idea.” Cottle said, overall, the development would benefit Masterton residents, including business people who could use it for travel. “It won’t become fully evident or used in the next 10 or 15 years, but I certainly do see it as being a plus for Wairarapa generally.” MDC Hood Aerodrome Governance Group chairwoman Bex Johnson said elected members of the council received the master plan concepts only two days before they went public. “They were shared with property owners over the same period, ie before they were made public.” Beca had been openly discussing possible requirements with operators and stakeholders since March, she said, but there was little to show property owners before the draft concepts were finalised. The plan aimed to ensure it delivered maximum value to ratepayers over time, Johnson said. “The master plan aims to look 20 or 30 years into the future and ensure that what we do enables development, rather than creating obstacles for projects we haven’t yet envisaged. “There are exciting opportunities to make Hood a true community facility that delivers jobs and economic growth, but it requires proper planning.” Johnson said Hood Aerodrome was one of the council’s key assets and said the infrastructure work proposed for the next five years was more than just the runway extension. MDC chief executive Kath Ross agreed, saying while the announcement of government funding was made on July 15 last year, the concepts were finalised only on May 4, 2021. “Once these had been received, meetings were immediately set up by council staff to share the concepts with individual landowners whose properties might be affected. This took place over the following few days.” The concepts were made public on the council’s website on May 7 to allow them to be considered before the community workshop on May 10, she said. Ross confirmed council staff met all five landowners whose properties would potentially be affected. Beca had also been working with operators and other stakeholders since March to gather information used to develop the three concepts, she said. “This engagement has included individual discussions, group meetings, and invitations for email submissions.” The Strategic Advisory Group for Hood Aerodrome had also been involved in the process.

Source : https://times-age.co.nz/hood-plan-flies-in-the-face-of-reason-says-pilot/, 20 May 2021

26 June 2021

Some glimpses into the future


This is a snippet from a Stuff piece after Greg Foran's visit to Hamilton

Foran was appointed Air New Zealand chief executive in February last year, just as the world was trying to come to grips with Covid-19. Dealing with the pandemic has been a “baptism of fire”. When faced with a crisis, Foran’s advice to staff is to “panic slowly”. Air NZ is forecast to lose up to $450m this year. A comparable loss is predicted in 2022. The airline burns through $175m a month, while the company’s workforce has shrunk from 12,000 staff down to 7500... 

Foran predicts long-haul flights could become a possibility by early 2022, and is keen for Air New Zealand to target the North America market. Despite its challenges, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated innovation and change. Green hydrogen electric planes, which were previously seen as a possibility in a decades’ time, could be operating in three years’ time. Electric planes are also being looked at and could operate on shorter routes, such as Auckland to Hamilton“When you put fossil fuels in a plane, the further you fly, the lighter the plane gets, which allows you to fly further. The problem with batteries is it’s the same weight when you land as what they are when you start off. So you’re limited to sort of circa 250 – 300km.”

Interesting about electric planes for a route Air New Zealand no longer fly. Perhaps they could set up a subsidary airline and call in E-agle Air http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2013/01/eagle-airways-part-1-fledgling-eagle.html

For the full article see : https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/inside-business/125549752/air-nz-boss-greg-forans-panic-slowly-approach-to-tackling-hard-times

25 June 2021

Six months to Christmas

 "Six Months to Christmas" has nothing to do this post... it just occurred to me as I naming these photos... My first glimpse of Originair's BAe Jetstream 32 ZK-JSJ arriving into Hamilton this afternoon with flight OGN 423 from Palmerston North. 

24 June 2021

Hainan Airlines' other Kiwi Connection

Hainan Airlines started flying to Auckland on the 31st December of 2016. But long before that Hainan Airlines had a kiwi connection...

A couple of days ago Christian Laugier wrote an email to me from France asking about the photo of the Metro 23 below. He wrote, I was recently searching on the web information about the Metroliner ZK-JSV (see attached photo) and I found your very interesting website, nice job !! I am wondering what is exactly this livery because this Metro has not got clear titles but i presume it operated for Origin Pacific, but what are the reasons for this scheme if you know :) This slide was taken in September 2000. I am a French photographer (slides) since over 40 years, I visited AKL and Ardmore briefly once in Dec 1999, so a while ago. I will certainly consider visiting NZ again when the situation will allow. 

So here is the Metro...

Metro 23 ZK-JSV at Christchurch in September 2000.

My reply said, I am sure you found my posts on ZK-JSV in the Air Chathams and Origin Pacific Airways profiles on my blog...



In particular, From the 16th of June 2000 Origin ended its alliance with Airwork and entered into a new arrangement with Air Chathams, though it continued to use Airwork aircraft at various times over subsequent years. Origin leased two Fairchild Metro 23s, ZK-JSJ and JSV, from Air Chathams to handle the growing demand for freight and passenger flights. The company contracted Air Chathams to operate and crew these aircraft on Origin’s passenger and freight services. Origin also used Air Chatham's Fairchild Metroliner III ZK-CIC. All three Metros flew freight at night and passengers during the day and at one stage the aircraft were averaging 12 flying hours a day! Dunedin was quietly dropped from the network in the latter part of 2000.

To answer your particular question, the registration history of ZK-JSV is as follows...

ZK-JSV        Fairchild Swearingen SA227DC Metro 23                         DC-868B

N30296        00/08/1994      Fairchild Aircraft Corp, San Antonio, Texas

                     00/07/1997      Registration cancelled

B-3952         00/08/1997      Hainan Airlines, Haikou, Hainan, China

                     00/05/2000      Registration cancelled

C-FAFI        05/05/2000      Alta Flights (Charters) Inc, Edmonton, Alberta

                     19/05/2000      Registration cancelled

ZK-JSV        22/05/2000      Inglis Aircraft Ltd, Nelson

                     25/05/2000      Orgin Pacific Airways Ltd, Nelson

                     25/05/2000      Air Chathams Ltd, Chatham Islands

                     01/10/2001      Orgin Pacific Airways Ltd, Nelson

                     06/07/2003      Air Chathams Ltd, Chatham Islands

                     27/06/2007      Registration cancelled

C-FAFI        01/08/2007      Alta Flights (Charters) Inc, Edmonton, Alberta

                     23/02/2011      Registration cancelled

N654AR       23/02/2011      EP Aviation LLC, Wood Dale, Illinois

The colour scheme in your photo is in the Hainan Airlines scheme. It was later painted into Origin Pacific colours.

An interesting little Kiwi connection I thought. 

Christian said I could use the photo... I have no clue who took it, maybe I received it by letter from one of my NZ correspondents when I used to trade slides actively. He also asked, Do you know any one who would be interested in trading slides with me ? I live in Paris, I have a collection of more than 125.000 top quality ramp shots slides and I am interested in growing my NZ collection. I just retired after I have been working more than 40 years at Paris airports airside.

If you are interested in trading slides with Christian email me at westland831@gmail.com and I will pass on your contact details.

23 June 2021

Developing the Whitianga Service


Barrier Air will be making a flying visit next week for a meet and greet with members of the Mercury Bay Aero Club, the owner of the Whitianga airfield, ahead of its daily service to Auckland Airport, which has been confirmed to start on Thursday, 16 December. The company has announced that there will be two flights daily, except Tuesday and Saturday when there will be just one. Although it is still six months until the service is launched, there have already been a number of bookings. All that remains to be done is fit out an office, arrange signage and hire two ground staff in the next few months. According to its new schedule, the first flight from Auckland to Whitianga will leave at 7:00am and return from Whitianga at 8:00am, while the afternoon service will leave Auckland at 3:30pm, returning at 4:30pm. Fares will be $79, or $89 including 20kg of luggage, while there will be a $10 discount for children. In order to get up and running with its 14-seater Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft, Barrier Air had to get Airways New Zealand to design an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) navigation system for the approach into the Whitianga airfield. The company’s CEO, Grant Bacon, said it was very similar to car navigation systems - except designed for planes - with waypoints and altitude restrictions which the pilot would follow down to the runway. “It essentially means that we can fly in virtually any weather, which obviously gives the service a lot of reliability,” Grant said. “It was quite a big investment for us, north of $30,000, to set it up. It shows our commitment to the route.” The only limitation on the schedule will be having to fly in daylight hours as there are no runway lights at the Whitianga airfield. Grant said they had a lot of feedback following an article in The Informer about the launch of the service a couple months back and had adjusted their scheduling accordingly. “Some people wanted to be able to go on day trips in either direction, returning home the same day,” he said. “We also got some feedback from people wanting to have connections to early flights from Auckland. The feedback has been excellent. People are really happy we are doing it in the first place, but more so the fact that it is being run as a reliable service with IFR, and also the feedback has been great on the pricing.” The company was also looking at doing packages for accommodation and local attractions. “I think it is going to work very well,” Grant said.

Source : https://www.theinformer.co.nz/detail.aspx?cid=4735&fbclid

Barrier Air has been listening to the market who wanted an earlier departure out of WTZ and so the morning weekday flights have been retimed 30 minutes earlier... The article is not quite right, two flights on Tuesday not one and one flight on Sundays, not two. The schedule will be as follows;

Monday - Friday

0700 and 1530 Auckland - Whitianga

0800 and 1630 Whitianga - Auckland 


0730 Auckland - Whitianga 

0830 Whitianga - Auckland


1530 Auckland - Whitianga 

1630 Whitianga - Auckland  

22 June 2021

I've been everywhere man...

It was announced recently that Convair 580 ZK-CIE was to retire on 1 June 2021, ZK-CIE's last flights, however, happened much earlier. On the 1st of April 2021 it flew from Auckland to Chatham Islands as CHATHAMS 580. The following day, the 2nd of April 2021, it flew its final service from the Chatham Islands to Auckland as CHATHAMS 519.

In the latest development it has been reported on the Wings Over New Zealand site that Air Chathams are looking for a home for ZK-CIE... https://rnzaf.proboards.com/thread/29348/convair-looking-good-home-roost

Meanwhile I got to thinking where ZK-CIE has appeared in New Zealand and in the Pacific. This post collects together a history of ZK-CIE and photos of it that have featured on this blog at different airports featuring the white scheme, the no-titled green scheme and the titled green scheme.

These are just the photos that I have taken but I'd be interested if you have recorded it at other airports in New Zealand and the Pacific... westland831@gmail.com

Air Chathams are certainly much more than the Chathams! It's a pity MOTAT didn't appreciate the opportunity to preserve something of this incredible airline http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2016/01/air-chathams-30-years-on.html

Before the photos, here is her history.

ZK-CIE/2     General Dynamics Allison Convair 440/580                      c/n 399

N98G           00/01/1957     

                     00/01/1957      First flight as a Convair 440-83

                     22/04/1957      Union Oil, San Diego, CA

                     28/10/1957      Gulf Oil Corporation, Pittsburg PA

                     04/11/1961      Converted to a Convair 580

N98GL         18/03/1971      Gulf Oil Corporation, Pittsburg PA

                     30/03/1971      Rowan Drilling Company

                     01/07/1975      RDC Marine Inc, Houston TX

N57RD         25/02/1977      RDC Marine Inc, Houston TX

N565EA       15/06/1996      RDC Marine Inc, Houston TX

                     30/09/1997      ERA Aviation Inc, Anchorage, AK           

                     16/04/2005      Arrived at Palmerston North on completion of the ferry flight -

                                             Anchorage - Cold Bay - Honolulu - Christmas Island - Pago Pago

                                              - Palmerston North

                     16/04/2005      Air Chathams Ltd, Waitangi, Chatham Islands

                     13/06/2005      Registration cancelled

ZK-CIE        10/08/2005      Air Chathams Ltd, Waitangi, Chatham Islands

                     15/09/2005      Ferried Palmerston North - Auckland - Tonga on lease to Reef Air

                                             operating on behalf of Peau Vava'u, Tonga. Over the next 10 years

                                             ZK-CIE and sister Convair ZK-CIF were often ferried between

                                             Auckland and Tonga operating services there for Peau Vava’u,

                                             Air Fiji’s subsidiary, Airline Tonga, Chathams Pacific and briefly

                                             in 2014 for Real Tonga. ZK-CIE and ZK-CIF also operated

                                 services for Air Fiji domestically in Fiji and international services

                                 from Tonga to Suva (Fiji) and Suva to Funafuti (Tuvalu). 

                     01/04/2021      Final services, CHATHAMS 580, Auckland-Chatham Islands

                     02/04/2021      Final services, CHATHAMS 519, Chatham Islands-Auckland 

@AKL, 5 October 2012

@BHE, 28 October 2014 

@CHC, 29 August 2006 - note the lack of titles when it first saw service 

@CHT, 10 February 2017

@HKK, 25 September 2011

@NPE, 29 February 2008

@NLK, 24 January 2020

@WAG on 17 May 2017

@WHK, 6 November 2015

@WLG, 28 October 2016

21 June 2021

Blast from the Past #11

Ryan STM-S2 ZK-BEM - Any ideas on the location again???


19 June 2021

Blast from the Past #10

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


18 June 2021

Blast from the Past #9

De Havilland 83 Fox Moth ZK-ASP at Matamata, ca. 1957-1960

 ZK-ASP was originally Air Travel (NZ)'s pioneer Fox Moth, ZK-ADI. After seeing RNZAF service during World War II it was added to NZNAC's fleet again for service in South Westland. It is still wearing its NZNAC colour scheme here minus its Māori name Mimiro.

ZK-ASP       DH.83 Fox Moth                                                                 c/n 4097

ZK-ADI       29/01/1935      Air Travel (NZ) Ltd, Hokitika

See : http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2016/09/air-travel-nz-new-zealands-first-airline.html

                     00/00/1943      Registration cancelled

NZ566          12/04/1943      Royal New Zealand Air Force...impressed

See : https://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2021/05/in-my-previous-existence.html

ZK-ASP       06/08/1948      NZNAC, Wellington - named "Mimiro"

See : http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2012/07/hokitikas-nac-de-havilland-days.html

                     03/12/1953      W.K. Wakeman, Christchurch

                     28/07/1954      Air Contracts Ltd, Masterton

                     18/01/1957      A.H. Blechynden, Hamilton

                     06/04/1959      R.N. Rae, Rotorua

                     10/11/1960      S.M. Marker, Christchurch

                     09/10/1961      J.H. Switzer, Christchurch

                     29/07/1968      A.J. Evans, East Tamaki

                     18/03/1970      R.M. Robertson, Auckland

                     20/04/1971      D.K. Lilico, Auckland

                     15/11/1972      R.M. Robertson, Auckland

                     15/07/1975      Registration cancelled

N83DH         23/09/1975      Hamburg Aerodrome Inc, Lakeview, New York

                     00/12/1984      Registration cancelled

G-ADHA     03/12/1984      B.D. Woodford, Hamble

                     15/04/1985      Wessex Aviation & Transport Ltd, Hamble

                     03/02/1997      Registration cancelled

ZK-ADI       04/02/1997      Croydon Air Services Croydon Aircraft Co Ltd, Gore

                     14/02/2001      Croydon Aircraft Co, Mandeville, Gore

                     30/08/2001      Double U Anchor Ltd, Paraparaumu

                     11/06/2002      Croydon Aviation Heritage Trust, Mandeville

                     12/11/2002      Croydon Aircraft Co Ltd, Mandeville, Southland

17 June 2021

Norfolk Island Saab Service Commences


Norfolk Island will see their new Air Chathams' aeroplane today with Saab 340 ZK-CIZ operating the Auckland to Norfolk Island flight, 3C 401.

Air Chathams' flights to Norfolk Island resumed last week with the first flights being operated by ATR 72-500 ZK-MCO. The Saab 340s will now take over the Norfolk Island flights which operate on Thursdays. Air Chathams are adding a second weekly flight in each direction on Mondays from the 2nd of August 2021. 

Ownership Changes


A little piece on the Stewart Island News Facebook page reports that Raymond Hector retired as a Stewart Island Flights' pilot on the 15th of June 2021. 

Raymond and Bill Moffatt established South East Air Ltd on the 14th of May 1993 using Cessna 185E ZK-JEM for beach operations to Stewart Island's west coast beaches, Codfish Island for the Department of Conservation and general New Zealand wide charter flights.

South East Air Ltd bought Southern Air 1997 Ltd in April 2000 and the trading name for the airline was changed to Stewart Island Flights with Stewart Island Flights Ltd being established in March 2009.

Raymond and has wife Lynne have sold their shareholdings in the company to Leon and Antony Bax.

The Stewart Island News Facebook page said, "Thank you Raymond for the many years you piloted us safely across the Strait."

A full history of South East Air and Stewart Island Flights can be found here... http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/05/nzs-southern-most-airline-part-4.html

16 June 2021

What do you do with a third Jetstream?


Originair introduced its third Jetstream, ZK-JSJ, into service this week! The introduction of another aircraft to the Originair fleet provides the airline the capacity to not only increase current scheduled services but also supports its increasing demand in charter services. CEO Robert Inglis said “Covid-19 issues have delayed the preparation of this aircraft for service however, the delay has been worth waiting for, as the aircraft looks and performs like new”. Nelson’s aircraft interior experts, Generation Global, have refurbished the aircraft and the Freightways NZ Ltd owned Fieldair at Palmerston North, have carried out all engineering work, including fitting overhauled engines, undercarriage and propellers. Aircraft testing has been carried out recently by the Company’s Training Captain and crews. Inglis said “Initially the aircraft will be used to increase the Company’s popular direct services from Nelson to Palmerston North to four flights each weekday with two Sunday services. The introduction of another aircraft to the fleet also provides the airline the capacity to not only increase current scheduled services but also supports its increasing demand in charter services”. 

Source : Originair Facebook page

15 June 2021

Blast from the Past #8


TEAL's Lockheed L188 Electra ZK-TEA at Whenuapai

14 June 2021

JSJ in Service

It looks like Originair's BAe Jetstream 32 ZK-JSJ entered service today operating ORIGIN 335 from Palmerston North to Nelson and the return service ORIGIN 332.

13 June 2021

Utah Williamson Burnett's Private Air Service


The Manapouri power station was built in the 1960s. This project involved the construction of an underground power house and a 10 kilometre tail race tunnel to carry water from Lake Manapouri to Deep Cove in Doubtful Sound as well as the Wilmot Pass road. The contract was let to an American-New Zealand consortium of the Utah Construction and Mining Company, in association with Burnett Motors Ltd of Ashburton, and W Williamson Construction Company of Christchurch. The joint venture became known as Utah-Williamson-Burnett.  

To facilitate accommodation for the workers in the remote Deep Cove the 1930’s era TSMV Wanganella trans-Tasman passenger liner was saved from being scrapped. The ship sailed to and was moored in Doubtful Sound’s Deep Cove in August 1963. For the next six years the ship provided hostel accommodation for the construction workers. In April 1970 a tug towed the Wanganella to Hong Kong in theory to be repaired and returned to service. Faced with prohibitive costs the ship was sold in Taiwan where she was scrapped.

The Wanganella moored in Doubtful Sound. A magnificent history of the Wanganella can be found here http://ssmaritime.com/Wanganella.htm

In 1960 the Wilmot Pass walking track was the overland access between the western side of Lake Manapouri and Doubtful Sound. The 21 km unsealed road was constructed between 1963 and 1965 to accommodate heavy equipment transporters moving equipment loads from ships off-loading at Doubtful Sound for the power station construction. With a large work force at Deep Cove and with a lack of overland access an air service was essential. Initially Southern Scenic Air Services' Cessna 180 floatplanes and Tourist Air Travel's Grumman Widgeons were used to provide air access but it was clear a larger aircraft was required.

On the 15th of September 1963 it was announced that Utah-Williamson-Burnett had acquired a newly refurbished 12-seat Grumman G73 Mallard from Trans Australian Airlines. It was envisaged that the Mallard would make at least one return flight a day between Deep Cove and Invercargill carrying passengers, workers and freight as required. Ex-Fleet Air Arm and Southern Scenic Air Services' Te Anau Cessna 180 floatplane pilot Don Nairn was been appointed chief-pilot for the Utah-Williamson-Burnett operation and he flew the aircraft across the Tasman along with a Trans-Australian Airlines check pilot and an engineer. Don Nairn wrote in NZ Wings, I had never seen a Mallard, but as I had previously flown four Grumman types during the war, including the Goose and Widgeon amphibians, I was eager to get my hands on another of their pedigree line of aircraft. VH-TGA left Sydney for Norfolk Island on the 12th of October 1963 and then flew on to Whenuapai the following day. A TAA co-pilot was arranged to fly with Don Nairn on the ferry flight and for the first month of operations. It was placed on the New Zealand register as ZK-CDV on the 15th of October 1963. (The aircraft retained its TAA colour scheme, and hence the logo at the head of the post is because it featured on the aircraft rather than being representative of the consortium)

 Pilot for the amphibian operation Don Nairn in front of the Grumman Mallard. Source : Grumman-Mallard aeroplane, at Invercargill. Whites Aviation Ltd: Photographs. Ref: WA-61278-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23254592

Operations began on the 29th of October 1963 with the Mallard flying from Invercargill to Deep Cove at the head of Doubtful Sound. The normal payload of the aircraft was one ton, this being made up of passengers, freight and mail. The aircraft was also used as an air ambulance and could carry seven stretchers. Don Nairn, the operation's pilot explained the logistics of the Deep Cove flights in NZ Wings in 1996. All I was required to carry was an assistant to help with mooring and to operate the anti-squat strut at the rear of the hull. I was given Louis Walkenshaw, a keen Utah William Burnett staff youth the next day, and we flew into the Cove with an initial load of freight to test out my planned procedures for mooring and disembarking onto an anchored floating pontoon at Deep Cove. Prior to leaving for Melbourne to collect the Mallard I had asked to have a long low pontoon made up and anchored a couple of hundred yards out from the Wanganella as a temporary loading platform. This would have to be used until a turnaround area was built ashore, which was estimated to take only a few months. However, Deep Cove wasn't named on a whim and the steepness and depth of its shoreline were such that it took almost two years of spoil dumping before an area large enough to run the Mallard ashore was completed. To enable me to bring ZK-CDV alongside the pontoon I had a long floating rope run out straight downwind from the pontoon by one of the company's launches which always stood by during my takeoffs and landings. After landing I would taxi across this rope with my assistant standing in the bow with a boat hook. The moment he had a turn of rope around the bow cleat I cut the engines and drifted to a halt as we weather-cocked downwind, then my bowman slowly pulled us alongside the pontoon where another helped to secure us. The loads of men and freight were offloaded onto the pontoon and we were all taken by launch over to the ship, where I found out who and what were intended to go back to Invercargill. 

A couple of magnificent photos of the Grumman Mallard ZK-CDV at Doubtful Sound's Deep Cove. The Mallard and the pontoon.

 The Mallard and the Wanganella, both moored in Deep Cove

Don Nairn continues, Throughout all the first two years the Wilmot Pass weather remained the key to my ability to get directly into and out from Deep Cove. The weather there is the fastest changing of any I have experienced, anywhere I have flown. Many a time I came in through the pass under broken cloud, only to find the whole Deep Cove area completely closed under eight/eighths cloud by the time I had unloaded the plane. I then had to return to Invercargill by flying the 22 miles down Doubtful Sound and then around the coast. This took one hour 15 minutes, compared with the 45-minute direct flight. In his autobiography, Gold Wings and Webbed Feet, Don talked about at times having to land on the Sound closer to the sea and then having to taxi for up to two hours to reach Deep Cove.

Utah Williamson Burnett was not keen to have fuel available for me at Deep Cove because of the fire risk, so I had to leave Invercargill with fuel for the 45-minute trip over, plus 30 minutes' gas for possible abortive attempts to get out of Deep Cove, then an hour 15 to come home around Puysegur Point, plus the mandatory 45 minutes reserve. All this added up to a disposable load of one imperial ton only, generally eight or nine passengers with the heavy weights of luggage and tool kits people took into the Cove with them. On occasions we took the full 12 passengers with little or no luggage. Except for emergency rush flights in the case of serious accidents, the Mallard was always loaded to its limit of 12,500 pounds. For the first two years before the Wilmot Pass road connecting Deep Cove with West Arm on Lake Manapouri was completed, the only access to Deep Cove was by sea from Bluff, walking from West Arm or flying in by water-based aircraft. Helicopters were not around in our part of New Zealand then. Nearly half the direct flight into Deep Cove was over the 6000 foot mountains of Fiordland, but for many weeks of the year these are under cloud and I would fly below the cloud base to West Arm. Then I would fly between the mountain ranges and around the corner up to and through Wilmot Pass if it was still open, or else backtrack and proceed through some of the escape routes I knew from my floatplane days. In these conditions the Mallard's manoeuvrability and beautifully harmonised controls were appreciated to the full, as I was always faced with running into below-VFR conditions around the next corner. 

Apart from Fiordland's weather, the second problem I faced was that of landing on glassy water when I flew from brilliant sunshine into the inky blackness of early-morning shadow which would cover the entire Deep Cove area during the winter. Under these conditions it was invariably flat calm so I used to set up an instrument approach from well up the sound and set my altimeter to the height of a feature, known to be 100 feet above sea level, as I flew past it. I then sat glued to the DIG, ASI, A/H and altimeter until, at a rate of 100 feet per minute, some 60 seconds later I could sense the downwash from the motors on the elevators and feel the Mallard gently enter the water. It was like descending into a black inkwell as at no time during these landings was I able to make out the actual surface of the water. When both the West Arm-Deep Cove road and my turn-around area near the Wanganella were finished, life on the job became comparatively easy for me. Gone were the obligations of trying everything to get into Deep Cove when I was urgently needed to fly casualties to Invercargill. When the weather was unfavourable all I had to do was take the plane to West Arm (Lake Manapouri), to where the injured personnel would have been brought by road over Wilmot Pass.

One year on from the first flight, by the end of 1964 the Mallard had made 896 flights, 648 of these into Deep Cove and of those 126 were around Puysegur Point carrying 6,082 passengers, 321 tons of freight and a number of air ambulance cases. 

When the road over the Wilmot Pass was completed at the end of September 1965 the aircraft's role changed. Workers shuttled to and from Deep Cove by launch over Lake Manapouri and then bus over the Wilmot Pass. The aircraft use was reduced to being used for the transport of urgent supplies, the carriage of VIPs and as an ambulance. 

With the demand for the aircraft greatly reduced in November 1967 the Manapouri Messenger reported that the Mallard was to be given to the Fiji Government for use as an air ambulance for Fiji, Tokelau and Niue Islands. However, the departure of the aircraft, a Grumman Mallard, will depend on how quickly arrangements can be made for a suitable replacement aircraft to serve the power scheme. The assistant Commissioner of Works, Mr F. R. Askin, said recently that the Ministry of Works and the contractors were studying several possible replacements. Union officials on the project site have been given an assurance by the Ministry of Works and the contractors that continuous air-ambulance cover will maintained. The Chairman of the combined union's committee at Deep Cove (Mr R. P. Green) said in a telephone interview that the committee had first learned of the decision to transfer the. Mallard from the Manapouri area some weeks ago. Although there was a road into the works site, the frequency of accidents made it necessary to have an aircraft "on the job", Mr Green said.

Utah Williamson Burnett's Grumman Mallard at Invercargill

Grumman Mallard ZK-CDV on the turnaround area Deep Cove with the Wanganella behind 

The decision was overturned and the Mallard remained in service until December 1968. Two weeks before the Mallard ended service a massive explosion severely injured a number of workers. The weather is Deep Cove prevented the aircraft flying there but with the road over Wilmot Pass the wounded were ambulanced to Lake Manapouri's West Arm from where they were flown by the Mallard to Invercargill. All seven stretchers were in use. 

The final flight to Deep Cove was operated on the 10th of December 1968. The Grumman Mallard flew a total of 2,763 flights between Invercargill and Deep Cove (162 of them going round Puysegur Point)  supporting the Manapouri Power Project, carrying a total of 13,526 passengers, 287 stretcher cases and walking wounded and 737 tons of freight.

In early 1969 the Mallard was flown to NAC in Christchurch for some refurbishment and a new paint scheme for Fiji’s Air Pacific carrying the name "Na Secala." ZK-CDV was cancelled from the New Zealand civil aircraft register on the 21st of February 1969 being registered VQ-FBC in Fiji.

And a final word on ZK-CDV from Don Nairn, The Mallard proved to be ideal for this project. Anything smaller would have been inadequate, and anything bigger would not have been able to turn around in the many places in Fiordland which I confidently flew through in the Mallard. It was a real pleasure to handle, both in the air and on the water where its take-off performance was effortless.