29 September 2021

A quick zip around the airport...


A quick zip around the airport scored a new one for me today, Cessna 185 ZK-NRC taken at Hamilton on 29 September 2021

28 September 2021

Air Services Resume

Sounds Air announced yesterday on their Facebook page that as of Tuesday 27 September 2021 Picton and Paraparaumu services have resumed after being paused due to the last lockdown.


26 September 2021

What Islander is this?

Someone sent me a photo yesterday of a Britten Norman Islander airframe that had arrived at Classic Flyers in Tauranga with, on one side, some Great Barrier Airlines markings. The question was, which Islander was it?

The answer is it is Britten-Norman BN2A-21 Islander c/n 759, which carried the markings ZK-KTR, but was never registered and was used for spares as far as I can tell. 

I'm told it will I understand will be in an RAF scheme. This is the first Islander to be preserved in New Zealand.

Note to Bring Home Our Birds - You need to ensure you get an Islander at some point... They have been (and still are) in continuous NZ service for over 50 years!

Unregistered BN Islander ZK-KTR at North Shore on 26 January 2009

The NZ Civil Aircraft blog has more details... http://nzcivair.blogspot.com/2011/06/new-colour-scheme-for-islander-zk-ktr.html

Out and about in ZK-NPA

Thanks Mike for a great flight yesterday...

My ride for the day... Cessna 172 ZK-NPA at Hamilton on 25 September 2021

Rolling 18 Left at Hamilton
The mighty Waikato River

Cambridge is growing so fast...


Coming up on Matamata

Joining left base for 28 at Matamata
Finals 28 for a touch and go

Off the top of your head, what are the five airlines that served Matamata???
Mount Te Aroha
Finals 23 at Te Kowhai for a touch and go
Douglas DC-3 ZK-AZL

We've had a wet month... the meandering Waipa River

25 September 2021

A couple of 750XLs at Hamilton

In Hamilton for maintenance on 25 September 2021 was Farmers Air Pacific Aerospace 750XL ZK-JBC

And a despeation shot more to read the rego, Andy Stevenson Aviation's Pacific Aerospace 750XL ZK-KEO in Hamilton on 25 September 2021. Looking forward to seeing this rolled out! 

23 September 2021

Another piece of history


One thing that keeps me doing thing blog is the contributions or questions I get from people who have read the blog. Sometime ago I had correspondence with a reader of the blog saying "I think my father was the first to fly and land on the Chathams. I have pictures documenting it but would be nice to confirm if this is accurate."

The operative word in what he wrote was "land" as opposed to "alight" (as in the flying boats).

In my history of air services to the Chathams, drawing on records in Archives NZ, I wrote...

In 1956 the Barker Brothers looked at developing an airfield at Hapupu despite the Chatham Island County Council thinking the site was too inaccessible. The Minister of Civil Aviation wrote to the Barkers stating that “If you are prepared to proceed at your own or local expense without Government support at this stage in constructing the NW-SE airstrip, then conditional on the Hapupu site being finally chosen for the aerodrome for Chatham Islands I will be prepared to recommend to Government reimbursement of agreed on and substantial cost of construction of the airstrip up to 60% of the cost with a top limit of Government subsidy of £2,000.” On the 25th of August 1956, the Barker Brothers replied that they had already commenced preparation of the Hapupu airstrip and this was ready for use by May 1957. 

Later there was a press release that read...

The first flight into Hapupu was made by the Civil Aviation Administration’s Douglas DC-3 ZK-AUJ on the 15th of May 1957. The 4000x400 feet airfield was built along a slight ridge of sand and shell composition and  had “a well-drained surface, with a thick sole of grass."  The first flight was flown by Captain Hewitt with First Officer George, Navigator Duke, Radio Officer Vaughan and Flight Engineer Young making up the rest of the crew. Also on board were Messrs Halley and Andrews of C.A.A. and Mr Pritchard of the Ministry of Works.

After some time Mike Sawyers emailed me with the photos which are posted in no particular order... He also wrote that the family story was that it was "an unofficial trip and took some mail."

In light of the photos I wrote to Mike saying:

The photos are definitely 1956 or early 1957... I can tell that from two facts 

- the airfield wasn't completed until early 1957...

- the RNZAF roundel included a fern painted in the red centre red from early 1957.

I then found a reference to a flight in 1957 from the Air Mail Society of New Zealand as follows;


By RNZAF Douglas Dakota of No.42 Transport Squadron on a training exercise, landing at the Hapupu airstrip. It is reported that some mail was flown but the report is not confirmed.

The question remains, were these photos taken before the Civil Aviation Department's DC-3 ZK-AUJ landed there on the 15th of May 1957?

Mike then checked his father's logbook. Squadron Leader Kenneth A Sawyer DFC was commander of the RNZAF's 42 Squadron from September 1955 to November 1959. His log book shows a lot of flights to the Chathams

This looks to be the first flight, on the 25th of June 1956! However, as stated above, on the 25th of August 1956, the Barker Brothers wrote to Wellington that they have commenced preparation of the Hapupu airstrip... so this would have been too soon. 

A second flight appears on the 16th of October 1956. This could fit the photo as the roundels are not carrying the fern which was introduced until January 1957. I also think the airfield looks too established, especially after it was still being cleared in August 1956. 

Squadron Leader Sawyers logbook shows more flights in the next two years. This is entry for the 17th of January 1957 in NZ3551 which does not match the photos. 

This flight is the 4th of June 1957 with Douglas C47 Dakota NZ3553 which matches the photo... but already by then the airfield had been visited by the Civil Aviation Division DC-3 ZK-AUJ.

And here is the entry that I believe matches the photo, on the 30th of July 1957 with the annotation "The first RNZAF landing on the strip" flown by Squadron Leader Kenneth A Sawyer with Flight Lieutenant Garrett, Flying Officer Webster, Sargeant Newman and Leading Aircraftman Lusby. On board were Group Captain Turner, 6 passengers and mail. 

There certainly looks as if other people were there which makes it clear the aircraft was expected

So I think the mystery is solved, not the first flight, but certainly the first RNZAF flight.

There is just one problem... the roundel doesn't have the fern. So how quickly were the ferns added to the roundel? 

Squadron Leader Kenneth A Sawyer logbook records other flights, on the 3rd of December 1957...

the 20th of May 1958 (which was a night flight)...

and the 9th of March 1959.

Whether these flights landed or not is not shown, but this does give a little history of the first RNZAF landing on the Chathams by a wheeled aircraft and also the RNZAF's cross country exercises over the Chatham Islands.

I have updated the history of the RNZAF's air service to the Chathams accordingly, see : http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-rnzaf-pioneering-air-services-to.html

And Mike says, "I suspect perhaps first RNZAF flight but as I said all just second hand info to me. Still an interesting family history and I hope to get to the Chathams early next year." I hope Air Chathams look after you Mike. Thanks for sharing the family history.

Restoration of Full Timetable

Originair has sent out an e-mailout today announcing the restoration of their full timetable including the new Hawke’s Bay flights...

Originally, we had plans to introduce services to and from Hawke’s Bay but were postponed due to the Covid-19 lockdown. We are very pleased to announce this service will now commence for Labour weekend with the first direct return flights between Napier and Nelson and Napier and Hamilton being on Friday 22 October. Our direct flights on Fridays and Sundays have been scheduled in the mid-afternoons to allow travellers a full weekend away with minimum travel time. After a period of reduced scheduled services following lockdown, our normal flight schedule will also recommence from 22 October including direct Friday and Sunday flights between Hamilton to Nelson to allow Waikato travellers a full weekend in Nelson. Our normal Nelson to Palmerston North and Hamilton to Palmerston North services will also resume from 22 October. To view the updated schedule please visit www.originair.co.nz or phone 0800 380 380.

Busy Airlines - Air Chathams


Despite the problems of Auckland being in Level 4 and now in Level 3 it is good to see that Air Chathams has also been busy. For example on Friday the 17th, a Metroliner (unknown rego) was AKL-CHC-AKL. A couple of Saabs were on provincial rugby charters. ZK-KRA was AKL-GIS-WAG-GIS-OAM and ZK-CIY was AKL-HLZ-PMR-HKK with the return sectors being flown over the next two days. Convair 580 ZK-CIB flew its final services AKL-IVC-AKL. ATR 72 ZK-MCO was operating the scheduled CHT-WLG-CHT. The airline has been flying freight flights from Auckland to Christchurch and Invercargill using Saabs as well as freight flights to the Chatham Islands.

Thanks to Jarden for this pic of Air Chathams' ATR 72 ZK-MCO and Saab 340 ZK-KRA on the gate at Christchurch on 21 September 2021

22 September 2021

Busy Airlines - Sunair


This on Sunair's Facebook page today... Whangarei, you have been one popular destination these past few weeks and we are loving it! A quick tip for those looking to fly to and from Whangarei over the next few weeks...if you are booking a flight online with us our system is set up to take a booking even if we might have that flight time already fully booked. Your booking request comes through to our head office and we will give you a call to finalise the details. With Auckland being under heavy restrictions our demand for flights has gone through the roof and as such, flights are booking fast. The good news is we are adding more flights to the schedule but these aren't viewable on our online booking system. If you're worried about securing a particular time or date, give us a call on 0800 786 247 and we can give you up to date information.

Way to go Sunair! 

From Sunair's Facebook page today

Hamilton's Three Scheduled Airlines

All three airlines that offer scheduled services through Hamilton have resumed services...

Originair's BAe Jetstream 32 ZK-JSJ about to head off to Palmerston North on 20 September 2021. In addition to flights from Hamilton to Palmerston North there is a weekly direct flight between Hamilton and Nelson. The airline will commence services between Napier and Hamilton on the 26th of October.

There is no doubt where Air New Zealand's ATR 72-600 ZK-MVE is parked on the gate. Air New Zealand offers multiple direct flights from Hamilton to Wellington and Christchurch.

Sunair's Piper Aztec ZK-DGS arrives at Hamilton from Whangarei. Sunair has been offering quite a number of services to and from Whangarei while Auckland has been in Level 4. Normally Sunair offers "scheduled" services from Hamilton to Whangarei, Great Barrier Island and Gisborne but these operate on an air taxi type basis... they fly when there are passengers.