17 July 2021

A Postcard from the Canary Islands... Floatplane Air Services


Earlier this week I received an email from Alberto... He writes, I am an aviation enthusiast and lifelong airplane postcard collector from Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Spain. I recently found the attached postcard at Orakei Korako featuring Cessna Stationair ZK-DWM on floats. Its livery depicts some local third level airline I have been unable to identify. While searching for information on the net I found your fantastic blog and decided to write to you for support. It appears to read Float something but does not seem to have belonged to Float Air. Any help would be appreciated. And above all my thankfulness to you for it.

So Alberto, here is the history of ZK-DWM...

ZK-DWM    Cessna U206F Stationair                                                    c/n U20602895

N1370Q        00/00/1975      Cessna Aircraft Co, Wichita, Kansas

ZK-DWM    15/10/1975      Rex Aviation (NZ) Ltd, Auckland

                     25/11/1975      Floatplane Air Services Ltd, Rotorua

                     17/08/1988      Sulphur City Aviation Ltd, Rotorua

                     10/07/1992      Invercargill Holdings Ltd, Invercargill

So there you have your answer Alberto...

So a little history largely drawn from Don Stafford's Flying the Thermal Skies...

During October 1973 Ian Palmer decide to divest Geyserland Airways (see http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/04/geyserland-airways.html) of its floatplane operation and a new company was formed to take over this business including the Cessna ZK-CKU. The company was to be known as Floatplane Air Services Ltd and those involved as shareholders were: Brian Brooker and his wife Gaylene, Alan Blazey, George Kay, Ewan Smith (see http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2014/06/air-rarotonga-airline-of-cook-islands.html) Ian Palmer (see http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2012/08/air-north-big-enough-to-serve-small.html) and Terry and Jenifer Spitz of Orakei Korako. Although the new company, managed by Brian Brooker, was operating as a separate entity it did so on the existing of Geyserland Airways until the end of the year.

In February 1974 the licence for Geyserland Airways' floatplane operation was transferred to Floatplane Air Services Ltd. In July Floatplane Air Services took delivery of a second aircraft, Cessna P206 ZK-DRD. Purchased New Caledonia it was converted to a floatplane in Rotorua. This aircraft was based in Rotorua while ZK-CKU was based in Taupō. In October 1975 the company took delivery of Cessna 206 ZK-DWM.

The beginning of 1976 saw both Geyserland Airways (the airline had been split and became known as Air North while Geyserland was offering land-based flightseeing and charter) recognising the need for expansion but also the rationalisation of resources and services and this happened at the end of the year with a merger of the two companies and the formation of a new company Geyserland Floatplane Holdings Ltd. The move resulted in a purchase of the shareholding of Floatplane Air Services and the appointment of Brian Brooker, John Burns and Mark Malone as joint directors. Both operations were to continue to under their original names. With the amalgamation came the availability of a larger fleet and more flexibility with staff and facilities. 

On the 19th of February 1978 the company experienced a disaster when Cessna 185 ZK-CKU crashed on landing on Lake Taupō with the death of two passengers. 

In 1981 Brian Brooker departed the company and moved to Australia and at the end of the year Mark Malone pulled out his shareholding in Geyserland Airways (1974) Ltd. This left John Burns in charge.

Floatplane Air Services' Cessna 206 ZK-EFD at Lake Rotorua in August 1981

Helicopter operations began in 1981 with the acquisition of Hughes 500C ZK-HMT

Another aircraft, Cessna 206 ZK-EFD was destroyed at Lake Tarawera on the 9th of November 1982 when it struck the side of a steep bushclad hill due to an engine failure. The pilot and six passengers were all escaped injured before the plane burst into flame. 

According to CAA aircraft register the company changed hands and became Sulphur City Aviation Ltd in August 1988 and in November 1993 it became Volcanic Air Safaris Ltd which continues to operate floatplane and helicopter services from Rotorua.

The following aircraft were registered to Floatplane Air Services Ltd;

ZK-CKU - Cessna 185D Skywagon
ZK-DRD - Cessna P206 Super Skylane
ZK-DWM - Cessna U206F Stationair 
ZK-DXC - Cessna U206F Stationair
ZK-EFD - Cessna U206F Stationair
ZK-EKI - Cessna U206G Stationair 

The following aircraft were registered to Geyserland Floatplane Holdings Ltd;

ZK-DSC - Cessna 337G Super Skymaster 
ZK-EOH - Cessna 180K Skywagon II 
ZK-ERY - Cessna A185F Skywagon II 
ZK-FEO - Cessna U206G Stationair
ZK-HMT - Hughes 369HS 

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