30 July 2023

Plane Spotting at Reagan - Southwest

On 22 July 2023 I had a couple of hours of plane spotting before my flight at Ronald Reagan National Airport Washington DC... a great place for regional jet spotting

 Boeing 737-700 N203WN

 Boeing 737-700 N439WN

Boeing 737-700 N946WN - Lousiana One scheme

Boeing 737-800 N8692F

29 July 2023

Plane Spotting at Reagan - United

 On 22 July 2023 I had a couple of hours of plane spotting before my flight at Ronald Reagan National Airport Washington DC... a great place for regional jet spotting

United Express Bombardier CRJ-550 N522GJ 

United Express Embraer ERJ-175LR N211SY 

United Express Embraer ERJ-170SE N865RW

My ride to Houston, United Airlines Boeing 737-800 N73251

28 July 2023

Plane Spotting at Reagan - Jet Blue

On 22 July 2023 I had a couple of hours of plane spotting before my flight at Ronald Reagan National Airport Washington DC... a great place for regional jet spotting

Jet Blue Embraer 190 N184JB

Jet Blue Embraer 190 N304JB - Blue Print scheme

Airbus 320 N76JB - New York Jets scheme


25 July 2023

Remembering the days of Air Mail

 In Washington DC last week I went for a walk and discovered a plaque for the first US air mail service...

While there an American Eagle Canadair 700 Regional Jet did a fly... undoubtedly carrying no air mail

15 May 1918... Our first air mail flight in New Zealand was 18 months later on the 16th of December 1919, see... http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2012/12/by-boeing-to-dargaville.html

A few days before I found the marker above I visited the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington's Dulles airport... which included an early air mail aircraft, a Western Air Express Douglas M2, NC 1475.

On April 17, 1926, Western Air Service, Inc., commenced operation on Contract Air Mail Route 4 (CAM-4) between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. via Las Vegas. For service over this route, a distance of about 660 miles, Western selected the Douglas M-2 aircraft, a mailplane version of the 0-2 observation plane produced by the Douglas Company to replace the U.S. Army DH-4 aircraft.

The Douglas M-2 was selected because it was far superior in strength, construction, performance, and flying characteristics to other aircraft entered in the Post Office Department’s competition for airmail airplanes. The M-2 was a single-bay biplane with the conventional form of axleless undercarriage. The fuselage, a truss of steel tubes and tie rods, was made in two detachable sections. The engine section was detachable at the station at the front wing beam and the engine cowling was hinged to facilitate inspection. The fuselage aft of the firewall was covered with fabric. The wings, vertical fin, and horizontal stabilizer were of standard wood beam and built-up rib construction, with the elevators and rudder made of Duralumin tubing. The power plant was a 400-hp, Liberty water-cooled engine, with nose radiator. Two main fuel tanks, each of sixty gallons capacity and made of sheet aluminum, were so mounted in the lower wing that they could be jettisoned by the pilot. A small 10-gallon gravity tank was located in the upper wing.

A design detail of particular interest was the location and construction of the M-2 mail compartment. It was situated in front of the pilots cockpit, sealed from the engine by a fireproof bulkhead, and lined with reinforced Duralumin. It was six feet long, had a capacity of 58 cubic feet, and could carry up to 1,000 pounds of mail. A unique feature was the provision of two removable seats that permitted carrying passengers or reserve pilots from one field to another. The passengers were seated well down in the compartment and protected by suitable windshields. Access was provided by the use of aluminum covers over the top, arranged and constructed so that, with passengers aboard, the roof door could be folded down. providing a cockpit opening.

Flights were scheduled daily in both directions on the Los Angeles-to-Salt Lake City run, with one-way flight time averaging slightly in excess of six hours. The record time for the route was 4 hours, 12 minutes. The schedule was maintained by four regular pilots, two reserve pilots, eight mechanics, and three radio operators at the fields. Although transporting the mail remained the airlines’ chief concern, Western Air Express invited passenger traffic, and invaluable experience was gained flying passengers in the M-2 over the same rugged territory of eastern California. southern Nevada, and western Utah traveled many years before by the Mormons.

The M-2 performed remarkably well during the early years on the CAM-4 route. Its load-carrying capability, remarkable stability, and rugged construction contributed to a perfect safety record and profitable operation. Government and airline experiences with the Douglas mailplanes and the 0-2 led to modifications of the basic design. Relatively minor changes in cockpit layout, engine accessories, and airframe construction led to the M-3 mailplane, which differed little in physical appearance from the M-2 version. A subsequent addition of five feet to the wingspan resulted in the final version, the M-4, which realized considerable gain in payload at a negligible loss in performance. While Western eventually added two M-4s to its fleet of six M-2s, the M-4 saw more extensive service with National Air Transport (later United Air Lines) from 1927 to 1930 on the Chicago-New York route. National Air Transport modified all of its M-3s into the M-4 configuration and eventually had twenty-four Douglas mailplanes on its roster, to become the largest operator of this type in commercial service.

The M-2 of the National Air and Space Museum is believed to be the last Douglas mailplane in existence. This machine is actually an M-4 model originally purchased by Western from the Post Office Department in June 1927 and registered as NC 1475, serial number 338. The aircraft saw considerable service on Western’s mail route until 1930. when it crashed and was sold to Continental Air Map Company of Los Angeles. The airplane had a series of corporate and private owners until it was reacquired by Western Air Lines in April 1940 and subsequently registered with the Federal Aviation Administration as M-2 NC15O, Western’s first M-2. The first substantial restoration took place in 1946, although no attempt was made to make it flyable. For the next twenty two years, the M-2 made its home in a corner of Western’s hangar at Los Angeles International Airport. In 1974 an intensive, large-scale restoration effort commenced, under the impetus of retired Western Captain Ted Homan.

Volunteers from Western Air Lines, McDonnell-Douglas Corporation, Goodyear Tire Company, and many other organizations completely rebuilt the aircraft and its Liberty engine, returning the machine to flyable condition. The M-2 flew for the first time in thirty-six years on June 2,1976, and after a series of test flights was recertified airworthy by the Federal Aviation Administration. After a successful transcontinental journey in May 1977, the venerable M-2, resplendent in the silver and red colors in which it flew the old Mormon Trail, is displayed as a lasting tribute to the men and women who pioneered the mail-passenger service during the formative years of commercial aviation in the United States.

24 July 2023

This one is for you Barry...

On the 14th of July 2023 I flew from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to Nashville International on an American Eagle Canadair CRJ-700 Regional Jet... but the flight I was looking to more was on the return flight operated by American Eagle Embraer Embraer E175LR N435YX which would complete having flown on each of Embraer's E-jets... and here it is on the taxi for the gate at Nashville on 14 July 2023...

However, the best laid plans... FLIGHT CANCELLED 
...and I flew back to DC on an Airbus 319 the next day

21 July 2023

Daher Kodiak 100 for Glenorchy Air

Glenorchy Air is very excited to announce that we have secured a 2020 Daher Kodiak 100 Series II Turboprop as our next aircraft. This aircraft will be the first example of a Kodiak operating commercially in New Zealand. The Aircraft will be registered as ZK-KDK. Managing Director James Stokes and Safety Manager Michael Rutherford will travel to The United States to receive Daher approved pilot training at the end of July. The Daher Kodiak 100 is a modern and efficient 10 seat aircraft with an advanced wing design and a well proven 750SHP Pratt and Whitney Canada PT6A-34 engine, giving it excellent climb and cruise performance as well as exceptional short take-off and landing performance, making it an ideal platform for operations from Glenorchy and other shorter airstrips. The engine is capable of running on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) when this becomes available. This was an important factor in selecting the aircraft as we intend to be the first Queenstown based operator to use SAF in our turbine aircraft. As with all our aircraft, every passenger will have a window seat to take in the iconic scenery of Fiordland and the Southern Alps. The Kodiak will fly all of Glenorchy Airs routes, with particular focus on Milford Sound and Mt Cook, which has seen increased demand since the NZ borders reopened. The aircraft fits in well with our versatile and modern fleet of Cessna and GippsAero aircraft. The Kodiak will be ferried across the Pacific to Performance Aviation in Wānaka once delivery preparation work is complete. After additional training and regulatory approval in New Zealand, we expect it will be operational by the end of October 2023.

Source : Glenorchy Air press release

20 July 2023

Additional Kaitaia Flight


After the success of its third Auckland-Kaitaia Thursday flights Barrier Air is now offering third flights on a Monday as well. Flights depart Auckland on both Mondays and Thursdays at 8.00am, 2.30pm and 6.15pm. The flights from Kaitaia depart at 6.50am, 9.40am and 4.00pm. This expanded schedule enables same day return travel in both directions. The extended schedule starts from the 7th of August.

Barrier Air will now offer 15 flights a week between Auckland and Kaitaia in each direction.

18 July 2023

Equipment Changes


Air Chathams have announced that as from the 7th of September 2023 they will introduce their ATR72-500 aircraft to service the Auckland to Norfolk Island route replacing the Saab 340s that are currently operating the service. The airline operates a weekly Thursday service over the winter months and twice weekly summer service on Mondays and Thursdays. 

In other Air Chathams news, the airline will be using their Saab 340 aircraft on the Auckland to Whakatane route from the 14th of August.

12 July 2023

Merlin's Freight Service


As reported last month, Merlin Labs air freight service operated by Merlin Labs' Cessna 208B Super Cargomaster ZK-MLO is up and running... see http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2023/06/new-freight-service-up-and-away.html

Having monitored the service on Flightradar24 and Flightaware ZK-MLO seems to operate a Kerikeri-Palmertson North service that departs Kerikeri at about 5.00pm to arrive at Palmerston North at about 7.00pm. The return service departs Palmerston North at about 8.15pm to arrive at Auckland at 9.30pm. The final sector back to Kerikeri departs at about 10.00pm to arrive about 10.45pm. 

This service operated on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights of last week and Monday and Tuesday nights of this week. I have no idea what they are carrying or any more details of what was previously posted.

09 July 2023

Have a Splash - Canterbury Planes


Canterbury Planes Limited was incorporated on the 15th of March 1988 by a Christchurch businessman, Stephen Pope. Canterbury Planes operated an ex-Sea Bee Air Grumman G21A Goose, ZK-ENY (c/n 1145) on scenic flights from Christchurch until the end of 1988.

The Christchurch Press of the 23rd of June 1988 reported Stephen Pope saying that if all his plans eventuated he would spend more than $1.5 million on a flight centre, restaurant-bar and children’s playcentre at Lyttelton. He has bought a nine-seat Grumman Goose amphibious aircraft which, with another amphibian, a four-seat Lake Buccaneer, will form the nucleus of Canterbury Planes, Ltd. The new company would begin flying on July 21 but because of delays in obtaining all the necessary approvals from the Lyttelton Harbour Board, operations would initially be based at Christchurch Airport. Mr Pope hopes to build the venture into a tourist attraction using a "1940 s aviation” theme. As well as servicing the needs of tourists the floatplanes will offer a passenger and freight service for Banks Peninsula residents. Approval had already been given for services to Akaroa. "Although we will be initially operating from Christchurch Airport we hope to base the whole operation at Lyttelton. The idea is to build a restaurant and bar and children’s play area, with a 1940 s aviation theme. "I have already purchased the proposed bar; it is the cockpit and cabin section of an old Comet airliner, which you can buy quite cheaply in America. It will be converted into a unique attraction, I believe.” Mr Pope said that as well as offering scenic flights round Banks Peninsula, the company’s intention was to run floatplane tourist services to Lake Coleridge and Lake Brunner, where visitors could indulge in a day’s fishing. “We also want to take visitors to Akaroa and at the same time give Akaroa people a chance to fly to Christchurch to do business or to carry freight for them.” Bruce Fulton, the general manager of the Canterbury Aero Club, was appointed as the chief pilot for the company. 

The Goose was refurbished at Ardmore wearing a silver, electric-blue and gold livery. The new operation required the training a few pilots with the aircraft using Lyttleton and Akaroa harbours and Lake Coleridge. 

The first flight to Akaroa was made on the 11th of July 1988 where a crowd welcomed the prospect of a 15-minute air link to central Christchurch. The flight was to test the Goose’s noise levels against the prevailing calm of Akaroa. Local opinion was that the old aircraft passed with flying colours. Even with the Grumman’s twin Pratt and Whitney 450 h.p. engines at full power, a helicopter hovering nearby was louder than the amphibian. 

Canterbury Planes' newly arrived Grumman Goose, ZK-ENY, at Christchurch on 13 July 1988

On the 16th of July the Goose sparked a full emergency alert at Christchurch airport after a problem with a faulty seal  in a fuel pump developed on take off. The Goose with nine passengers landed safely. 

On the 30th of July 1988 the Christchurch Press reported that the Akaroa County Council has given approval for Canterbury Planes, Ltd, to run an air service to the township. The approval, for a trial period until April, 1990, allows Canterbury Planes to land its Grumman Goose amphibian aircraft on Akaroa Harbour, and to park on land behind the town bowling club. Many people in Akaroa were in favour of the venture, said Cr Don Wright at yesterday’s council meeting. He said that the site behind the bowling club was preferable to the alternatives suggested at Green Point and Robinsons Bay. Canterbury Planes intends running a freight and passenger service for Peninsula residents, as well as offering tourist flights to Akaroa. A couple of days later the Goose was stuck in the mud at Akaroa while testing the tenacity of taxiing ramps at low tide. Stephen Pope, the company director, said the aircraft was deliberately run up on a mudflat to check if the ground was strong enough to support the amphibian’s weight. It wasn’t. The 46-year-old aircraft remained bogged for about 20 minutes, until a rising tide saved the day.

My photos of Canterbury Planes' Grumman Goose ZK-ENY at Christchurch on 12 August 1988... engines wrapped up

While Canterbury Planes' plans were developing well for services to and from Akaroa they were having real difficulties operating from Christchurch's Lyttelton Harbour. On the 3rd of August the Press reported that the company's plans for a $1.5 million visitor reception centre and tourist amphibian base at Lyttelton were in jeopardy because of the Lyttelton Harbour Board’s attitude to the project. Stephen Pope said that although he had permission to land his amphibious aircraft on the harbour he was unable to secure the use of land on which to park the Grumman Goose... Mr Pope said his company was working from Christchurch Airport but his original intention was to base the operations at Lyttelton. “But the discussions with the Lyttelton Harbour Board have dragged on for so long - several months now - that we have been forced to begin operations from the airport. “The Harbour Board owns the sites where we want to run the plane up and base our operations, but I can’t get a decision out of the board and messages I leave for people are not returned...” A site by the Coast Guard base at Lyttelton had been chosen by Canterbury Planes as ideal for its use and Mr Pope said an aircraft taxi-ramp he would install would be available for Coast Guard work, and the Grumman Goose would also be offered for search and rescue work. “The business community of Lyttelton wants us there, the Harbourmaster has given us permission to land on the harbour, but we can’t do anything until the board lets us bring the aircraft up on to land to park it.” The Mayor of Lyttelton, Mr Mel Foster, said the Lyttelton Borough Council would welcome any new business to Lyttelton but the land integral to Canterbury Planes’ request belonged to the Harbour Board. “I have discussed the project with Mr Pope and think every assistance should be given. But there seems to be a stumbling block within the Harbour Board. The board is not being as co-operative as it could be...” The board’s marketing executive, Mr Peter Davie, said the board was short of space and was looking for a suitable area of land for the seaplane base. “One area of land suggested was not suitable and we are now looking for the best available site. “The board does wish to encourage the project and we see it as good for the Lyttelton area,” Mr Davie said.

Meanwhile the Harbour Board suggested an alternate site behind the fuel tanks on Godley Quay. Stephen Pope was reported as saying this would require an “enormous length of ramp... at a tremendous cost.” By the middle of September the impasse of finding a suitable landing area was still not solved. On the 13th of September the Press reported Stephen Pope saying he had been discouraged by a lack of co-operation shown by the harbour board... and negotiations with the harbour board were taking too long and costing too much money. With no progress after several months negotiations, he was placing the Lyttelton proposal on hold. “They have offered us areas of land that are quite unsuitable for our purposes and the whole attitude we have experienced toward the project has been quite negative.” The harbour board general manager, Mr Ian Brokenshire, denied this, saying the board was not being obstructive, but that it had to regard the seaplane proposal in the context of compatibility with existing port users. Mr Brokenshire said although he had not been dealing personally with the negotiations, the board had to consider the interests of all harbour users. The board’s latest offer was for an area of land on the seaward side of the oil wharf on Naval Point. Mr Pope said the area would demand the construction of a ramp out into the sea, at an estimated cost of $500,000. For this and other reasons he regarded the site as unsuitable. Mr Brokenshire said Canterbury Planes had selected areas which were already used for the launching and retrieving of yachts. “The problem is a question of compatibility of a seaplane in such close proximity to yachts.” 

On the 21st of September agreement was finally reached and the Lyttelton Harbour Board made land available to Canterbury Planes. Stephen Pope told the Press that subject to final agreements with the board he proposed shifting the tourist flying business from its base at Christchurch Airport to Lyttelton. The company’s distinctive Grumman Goose amphibious aircraft has been working from Christchurch since August, flying a freight and passenger service to Akaroa and offering tourist flights round the district. The Harbour Board’s approval was subject to nine conditions, one of which, Mr Pope said, would have to be negotiated with the board. Board approval was subject to the payment of landing fees as yet unspecified. Mr Pope said it appeared the board was emulating the Airways Corporation and the Christchurch airport company, and he regarded the question of user charges as an important point to be resolved. “One of the reasons we are leaving the airport is because of high user charges, particularly those proposed by the airport company.” The Lyttelton Harbour Board had agreed to make available an area of land on the eastern side of the Canterbury Volunteer Coast Guard headquarters. All costs associated with the development would be the responsibility of Canterbury Planes and the lease would be charged at an appropriate commercial rate, the board resolved. 

"Have a Splash" - Fly the Canterbury Goose. The Press, 1 October 1989

In late November the Akaroa County Council gave Canterbury Planes permission "to land" the Goose at the area opposite the Akaroa Bakery for 12 months as opposed to the previous landing site behind the town bowling club. The company had said this site was unsuitable. However, by this stage Canterbury Planes was in its last days. 

On the 2nd of January 1989 Bruce Fulton and Stephen Pope flew the Goose from Auckland to Norfolk Island via Kaitaia. It then carried on to Sydney via Lord Howe Island on the 5th and ultimately to Hamilton, Victoria. On the 12th of January the Press reported that the Goose had flown west, lured by Queensland money and sunshine. But the Grumman Goose amphibious aircraft, operated by Canterbury Planes, will return to Christchurch — although not for at least two months. Two hotels on Queensland’s Gold Coast, which are contemplating a fulltime amphibian service, have chartered the Canterbury Planes’ Goose for eight weeks. Its departure prompted reports that the Christ-church-based operation might be closing, but a spokeswoman for Canterbury Planes said this was not correct. “It will be at least eight weeks before the aircraft returns and in the meantime we have not taken any bookings for local flights in it, which might have led some people to mistakenly think we were not coming back,” she said. “We simply did not want to take bookings for the aircraft until we knew when it would be back in Christchurch.” Unfortunately, the Gold Coast charter venture did not eventuate.

On the 9th of February 1989, an advertisement in the Press announced that on the 7th day of February 1989 B.N.Z. Finance Ltd had appointed Stephen John Tubbs of Christchurch, Chartered Accountant and Christopher Paul Worth of Dunedin, Chartered Accountant as the receiver and manager of the property of Canterbury Planes Limited under the powers contained in a debenture dated the 23rd day of June, 1988 which property consists of all the undertaking goodwill and assets relating to the operation of the business carried on by the said Canterbury Planes Limited. 

Canterbury Planes was brought out of receivership after the sale of its plane to an Australian buyer which repaid the loan from the Bank of New Zealand. By then Stephen Pope, was in New York pursuing other business interests. The chief pilot of Canterbury Planes, Bruce Fulton, returned to  Christchurch. His, Christchurch Corporate Charters, which advertised in conjunction with Canterbury Planes, was not involved in the seaplane company’s receivership proceedings and Bruce Fulton said the company was getting good support from Canterbury companies.

On the 20th of March 1989 the Grumman Goose was registered to an Australian owner, being placed on the Australian aircraft register as VH-ENY on the 22nd of November 1989. In was cancelled from the Australian register in October 1990 and sold to a Thai company, Tropical Sea Air, and placed on the Thai civil register as HS-TOM on the 14th of January 1991. In 1995 it was sold to a German owner and was noted under restoration in the early 2000s.

Despite claims the company operated a regular service between Christchurch and Akaroa it seems, at best, as if it was an air taxi operator that operated charter services to Akaroa. Nonetheless for six months in 1988 Canterbury Planes offered something exotic flying over Christchurch and the Canterbury plains.

07 July 2023




The third of Air Chathams' latest Saab SF340As which arrived into Auckland from Wagga Wagga and Sydney on 4 July 2023, VH-EKD, has been placed on the New Zealand civil aircraft register as ZK-CIT.

Air Chathams' third "new" Saab VH-EKD at Auckland on 5 July 2023

Sunair in the news - Have you flown in an Aztec?


Sunair has been on the TV news this week with a piece about their East Coast services... The airline is offering twice daily Gisborne-(Wairoa)-Napier weekday return services with flights landing at Wairoa on demand. According to the Wairoa Star flights are now also available between Gisborne and Wairoa but these can't be booked on reservation system yet. 

See : https://www.1news.co.nz/2023/07/05/new-daily-return-flight-service-for-cyclone-impacted-east-coast/

The Hawkes Bay Airport also had an earlier video clip which features Sunair's Dan Power. It can be found on their Facebook page here... 


The air service also offers a good opportunity for those plane enthusiasts who have never flown in a Piper Aztec to try one out and check out the stunning East Coast scenery.

Sunair Aztec ZK-EVP at Wairoa on 28 June 2023. Photo, Sunair Facebook page

Wairoa Star, 4 July 2023

05 July 2023

VH-EKD in Auckland and a couple of others

A quick trip out to Auckland International today to record Air Chathams' third "new" Saab VH-EKD at Auckland on 5 July 2023

The three "new" Saabs, from left ZK-CIW and ZK-CIX behind and VH-EKD. Also in the photo withdrawn Metroliner ZK-CIC and Metro 23 ZK-POE which never entered service and Aero Commander 690 ZK-PVB. Photo taken at Auckland on 5 July 2023

As I walking to photograph the Saab Air Archipels' Beech Super King Air F-OIQM landed from Tahiti and Rarotonga so I was delighted to capture that on the taxi to Air Centre One at Auckland on 5 July 2023. The aircraft has now flown on to Hamilton

Airwork's Boeing 737-300 ZK-FXK was also at Auckland on 5 July 2023


Bell Air and Motiti Island


Someone last night posted a comment on the Bell Air profile that I "missed saying that Bell Air flew to Motiti Island in their 206."

I don't know anything about this so if the person who posted the comment or anyone else who knows anything about this please flick me an email to westland831@gmail.com

My profiles on the airlines are only as good as the info I've managed to glean from what sources I can find. Corrections and additions are always welcome.

My Bell Air profile can be found here : http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/02/bell-air-remembered.html

04 July 2023

3rd Saab on the Way


The third of Air Chathams' "new" Saab 340s, VH-EKD, has started its ferry flight to Auckland. The Saab has left Wagga Wagga for Syndey. It will arrive in Auckland later this evening.

I caught Saab 340A VH-EKD devoid of titles at Adelaide on 3 March 2023 

03 July 2023

Remembering NATIONAL 441 - 60 years ago

It was a privilege to be part of this significant day...


Rev Dr Richard Waugh at the service adjacent to the accident site this morning. Richard has been instrumental in ensuring these sites are remembered. Today was a great tribute to his work, clearly appreciated by family and the local community

Unfortunately you can't see it... but trampers were shining a light from accident site that appeared as the service drew to its conclusion... a great effort appreciated by those present

Cold and bleak but for family of the deceased, locals and representatives of the airline industry a privilege to be there

The second flypast... Douglas DC-3 ZK-DAK flying past... as the roll call of the deceased was read a piwakawaka (fantail) flew right in front of the fire

Acolades to Classic Flyers Museum Tauranga... they have done an amazing job of providing a sacred space with a tangible reminder of loved ones lost

The 23 who perished on NATIONAL 441 

And now a part of that DC-3 ZK-AYZ has arrived... something to touch, something to remember. A reminder as we get on "The Repair Shop" of how things can connect us to those we loved. Classic Flyers have created a beautiful space where people can sit and remember. A model for museums across the country