25 May 2017

Potential Air Route Number 4

There is not a lot happening in the regional airline scene at moment and so I have been doing a bit of day dreaming and have had a few thoughts on potential new air routes for our regional airlines...

Suggested Route : Palmerston North-New Plymouth

Suggested Operator : Sunair

Rationale :
This is not a route I would have thought of... but yesterday I was flying Hamilton-Palmerston North-Wellington and there were passengers transhipping from Palmerston North to New Plymouth... Inter-regional flying is still happening but it is all via Auckland and Wellington at present. Recently I was on a flight to Gisborne and heard a couple of passengers talking about the potential for Gisborne to get connections to Napier and other North Island centres. 

So what routes are there? New Plymouth-Hamilton and Gisborne-Napier-Palmerston North, Napier-Hamilton and maybe Palmerston North-Rotorua-Tauranga. The airline could perhaps be called Air Central! 

Previous Operators on Route :

Air Central
Air Central Mitsubishi Mu2s at Tauranga on 25 November 1982
Eagle Air  

Eagle Air Piper Chieftain ZK-EIE at Palmerston North on 18 May 1984
Tyrell Aviation
Tyrell Aviation's Beech King Air ZK-TAL at Hamilton on 27 September 1995

Negatives :
Lean routes, the danger of high fares. Air Central seemed to get okay loads. Again, maybe the PC12 maybe the machine to get a bit of passenger appeal run on the Sunair air taxi model

Check out this Youtube clip :

If you have a suggested route send me an email with your thoughts on it...


24 May 2017

Potential Air Route Number 3

There is not a lot happening in the regional airline scene at moment and so I have been doing a bit of day dreaming and have had a few thoughts on potential new air routes for our regional airlines...

Jarden has suggested the following two routes and I have added the third one.

Suggested Route : Christchurch-Wanaka, Christchurch-Te Anau, Christchurch-Alexandra

Suggested Operator : 

Rationale :

Central Otago, in particular is experiencing spectacular growth with Queenstown leading the way. However, Alexandra, Cromwell and Wanaka are all experiencing tremendous growth  and further south Te Anau is also experiencing growth. In the past Alexandra has been linked to Dunedin and to Christchurch by various operators, Wanaka has been linked to Christchurch by various operators and Te Anau was linked to Christchurch with flights operating via Queenstown and Mount Cook by Mount Cook Airlines. At present Queenstown is the regional airport but the other communities have their own aspirations. for air services. With a major airport with lots of cheap fares nearby the question is how might this work? Perhaps a Sunair air taxi model, but certainly not using Aztecs. with flights operating out of Te Anau and calling into Wanaka or Alexandra if passengers were offering. A similar model might work for flights to Dunedin and including Queenstown as a pick up/drop off point. Suggested equipment might be the Pilatus PC-12 using a Sounds Air model of fares.

Previous Operators on Route :

Goldfields Air
Goldfields Air's Piper Navajo ZK-JGA at Christchurch on 9 April 1986
Pacifica Air  
Pacifica Air's Piper Chieftain ZK-FQW departs Alexandra on 1 December 1988
Air New Zealand - operated by Eagle Air
Eagle Air's Beech 1900 ZK-EAR at Wanaka on 8 January 2013

Negatives :
Queenstown and its cheap air fares

Check out this Youtube clip :

If you have a suggested route send me an email with your thoughts on it...

23 May 2017

RAAF Caribous in Hokitika...

On the 12th of November 1983 two Royal Australian Air Force De Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribous visited Hokitika... I took a whole film of photos of them only to have the processor ruin the film and the photos didn't turn out. While scanning my negatives the computer was able to fix the ruined negatives and I was delighted to get these pics...

22 May 2017

Potential Air Route Number 2

There is not a lot happening in the regional airline scene at moment and so I have been doing a bit of day dreaming and have had a few thoughts on potential new air routes for our regional airlines...

Suggested Route : Masterton-Auckland

Suggested Operator : Air Chathams

Rationale :

Air Chathams has proved itself to be a real community airline as seen on its services from Whakatane and Whanganui to Auckland services to say nothing of the Chathams service. The Wairarapa continues to grow as indicated with more and more commuters using the train service to Wellington, Presumably many of these are business people choosing to live in the Wairarapa who would have need for flights to Auckland. Flying from Masterton would save the up to 2 hour commute to Wellington Airport and parking at Wellington Airport which costs up to $29 per day or $55 for 2 days. The other interesting feature of the Masterton route is the vast majority of people are flying on a domestic sector only to Auckland so there is no issue with transhipping to another airline. 

Previous Operators on Route :

Wairarapa Airlines

Wairarapa Airlines' Piper Chieftain ZK-WAI at Masterton on 16 January 1986
Air Wairarapa  

Air Wairarapa's Piper Chieftain ZK-KIM at Wanaka on 30 March 2002
Air New Zealand - operated by Eagle Air

Eagle Air's Beech 1900 at Masterton on 24 January 2011

Negatives :

Masterton's runway may need extending for Metroliners...

Check out this Youtube clip :

If you have a suggested route send me an email with your thoughts on it...

20 May 2017

Mildenhall to Whenuapai

RNZAF DC6 - NZ3632 (ex ZK-BGB ‘Arawhata’)- Mildenhall to Whenuapai in 21 days 1963

This wonderful account of a family’s adventure on NZ3632 when they travelled from Mildenhall, England to New Zealand in Jan-Feb 1963  was written by the late Colonel Rob Dickie (OBE RNZE) and passed on by his son, Blair Dickie of Hamilton.

The RNZAF's DC6 NZ3632 taken at Canton Island, Kiribati

“On the 22 January 1963, still in cold and icy weather, we were taken by coach to Mildenhall air base in Suffolk North East of London for the flight to NZ on one of the RNZAF Douglas DC6 aircraft still in the cabin layout as used by Tasman Empire Airways Ltd. We passed immigration and custom formalities and along with a number of recruits for RNZAF from former RAF servicemen, boarded our aircraft. The Dickie family were allocated seats in what was formerly the first class cabin of the aircraft. Mildenhall was one of the RAF air bases then under the control of the USAF and in 1962 it was being used as the MATS terminal in the United Kingdom.   We taxied out to the holding area beside the runway in light snow, but as a piston engine aircraft had a lower priority than larger jet aircraft that were both landing and taking off, and we remained on the ground for some time awaiting clearance. Eventually we departed and rose into bright sunlight on our way to our first overnight stop at Lajes, a USAF base in the Azores.   The following morning, we left for Kindley in Bermuda, another USAF base built early in WWII on the only available location at the eastern end of the Island, by infilling the sea between three islands. Although used as a MATs facility, it was also used by the US Naval Air Service flying Neptune and Orion aircraft on submarine patrols. During the night, we were awakened by the ear shattering roar of a RB36 aircraft with six pusher props and four jets taking off on a weather patrol. The flight from the Azores had been a short one and we had the opportunity to go into Hamilton and sample a touristy trip around the small town in a horse drawn carriage. Also, whilst at Kindley the aircraft had a thorough wash down and clean to rid it of the sooty residues of the smog and snow it encountered in England and after that we could see out of the windows more clearly. 

The next day was also a short flight and we were destined for a two night stopover at Charleston Airbase in South Carolina for crew rest. This was a time of great tension between the United States and Soviet Union over the placing of missiles in Cuba. The US Navy had established a sea blockade and the South Eastern United States was almost on a war footing. Whilst en route from Bermuda our aircraft captain advised that we should not be alarmed if USAF interceptor aircraft appeared close to us as a practice interception.    Sure enough shortly afterwards, two armed Voodoo F101 fighter jets were flying close beside us with the pilots peering at us through the windows.  Equally suddenly they peeled off and disappeared.   Our arrival at Charleston was fraught with concern on the aircraft. The aircraft had been on a glide path for landing for several minutes when the pilot realised that his intended landing was blocked by an armada of parked C130 Hercules and C124 Globemaster transport aircraft. We were aligned over a taxiway parallel to the runway and with a roar from the engines of our plane the pilot aborted our landing and flew off climbing quickly on a circuit of the airbase. One of the crew was injured in the sudden change and required attention from our flight crew nurse.

Two nights in Charleston allowed us to take a tourist agency tour of the city and become aware of its history and places associated with the slave trade and the American Civil War. Fort Sumter was a significant battle site. Our family also independently hired a taxi to take us on a tour including crossing the long Cooper River Bridge (since replaced). We were awoken early for the flight across USA to Travis Air base located about 50 miles north of San Francisco in California. We took off shortly after dawn for Tinker Air base near Oklahoma City where the aircraft was refueled and we noted the myriads of oil pumps as we descended for the landing. On the flight westward the head wind increased considerably and after flying above the main road into and out of Albuquerque where Blair and Ian were entranced watching vehicles like dinky toys on the main highway, we were told that the aircraft was going to land at Nellis Air base in Las Vegas for an unscheduled refueling. Nellis is very much within the city and I believe there was some reluctance to a New Zealand aircraft with a load of passengers dropping in at dinner time on a Friday evening. Did they think we had come to enjoy the night spots for the week end?  Having refueled the aircraft, and most of the personnel with a pie to eat and coffee to drink - we left Nellis after dark, rising off the runway and looking down at the glittering array of neon signs in a major city street parallel with the runway. It had been a long day by the time we touched down at Travis, and at or close to midnight we were shown to the apartment allocated to us for two nights.

There were major storms in the Pacific and the crew advised us after landing  that we would have to remain at Travis  longer than the two nights on our flight schedule. In fact it was not until 13 days later that the adverse westerly wind had dropped sufficiently that it was considered safe for our DC6 aircraft to depart for Hawaii. As a family we had our meals in the very large and well appointed officers club, and also had access to the many other recreation and eating facilities on the base. Travis was not only the largest Military Air Transport Base in the United States and the main departure port for military aircraft to Pacific destinations, but it was also home to a heavy bomber wing of B52 Strato Fortress bombers and KC135 refueling tankers of Strategic Air Command patrolling far to the north with nuclear weapons and a fighter interceptor sqn equipped with the incredibly noisy F102 Delta Dagger aircraft. There was a large military hospital on base and a number of C54 Skymaster, DC7 and C131 Samaritan aircraft specifically designated for casualty evacuation. The aircraft ramp and dispersal areas were very extensive and filled with more than a hundred parked aircraft ready to fly.  They including B52 bombers, KC135 tankers, F102 air defence fighters, C124 Globemasters, C133 Cargomasters, KC135 (Boeing 707) jets, the medical casualty transfer aircraft and visitors like the RNZAF DC6 held up by the weather. Blair and l sat on a low hill near the runway watching aircraft movements on several occasions.

Whilst there was much of interest for us on base, our crew and passengers also had lots of opportunity to make day visits from Travis as tourists, providing all were back on base at 9pm each day to receive instructions from the RNZAF aircraft captain Sqn Leader Trolove. There were three other passengers on our aircraft who joined Dale and I on several occasions to hire an eight seater Chevrolet V8 from a base rental car firm with myself the designated driver. On three occasions we had expeditions to San Francisco, to the Muir Woods and Napa Valley and to Sacramento in a rental car but did not have the time available to visit Reno or Lake Tahoe.

Such excursions cost money, and we were able to make them because whilst marooned at Travis we were paid a subsistence allowance by the New Zealand Government. By judiciously spending a day or two with low costs on base pursuits and careful food budgeting we saved money to pool resources, meet transport costs, and enjoy off base tourist forays.   The junior of the five RNZAF pilots on our aircraft was Pilot Officer Rogers who was also the imprestee on our flight and it fell upon him to request, and receive funds from the NZ Consul in San Francisco and to dispense the allowances to crew and passengers about every three days.  I recall that one evening after the usual captain’s meeting I was invited to join and accompanied the RNZAF crew to a celebration party at the home of one of the crew of a B52 at the beginning of their stand down period after a series of Arctic patrols. Needless to say I received a frosty reception from Dale when I returned to our apartment as dawn was about to break the next morning.

The reason for our enforced stay at Travis was the adverse westerly wind situation and the inability of the DC6 to meet alternative landing field requirements.  The aircraft could not carry sufficient fuel required for the head winds involved.  The possibility of transiting through Baja California in Mexico was checked but had to be discounted for technical reasons. Whilst all west bound aircraft at Travis were grounded initially, jets and larger piston engine aircraft were progressively released to fly the route westwards.  We were almost the last aircraft cleared to leave.  On the thirteenth day after arrival at Travis we took off for Hickham Field in Honolulu, a USAF base which shares the same runways as Honolulu International Airport and is connected to it by taxi ways over 3 miles long.  Hickham is also contiguous with the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbour.

It was another long day to be followed by a two night stop over in Hawaii.   We visited Pearl Harbour, went to the Services Club at Fort DeRussy on Waikiki Beach including a swim and then visited Schofield Army Barracks in central Oahu as guests of Major McConkie, who two years previously had attended the same course as I attended at Waiouru.   We dined in the officers club at Schofield and after a late evening were driven back across the island to our accommodation at Hickham where we had a short sleep before being awakened at 3am for the flight to Fiji.

Unlike the earlier refueling stops on our journey from England, our Pacific stop was on the near deserted Canton Island just south of the Equator in the Phoenix Group of Islands. (Picture) The day was fine, the sky was blue and almost cloudless and to say it was hot would be an understatement.   There was blinding white coral everywhere and of course coconut palms as well.  From memory the only people we encountered were those who arrived in a vehicle to operate the refueling equipment adjacent to the single runway on this low and very flat atoll.  We did not tarry longer than necessary before re-boarding the aircraft for the next leg to Nadi and an overnight stop at the Mocambo Hotel.  We remember our stopover in Nadi because when Ian was walking alongside the swimming pool where many of the crew and passengers were enjoying a swim he suddenly decided to jump into the pool and was promptly rescued by one of the aircrew.

Next day the aircraft completed the journey on landing at RNZAF Whenuapai having taken 21 days for the journey from Mildenhall, but without having any aircraft unserviceability delays.  I then went on a short leave before taking up my new appointment in Papakura Military Camp.”

From unpublished journal of Robert McLeod Dickie (1930 – 2013)

18 May 2017

Potential Air Route Number 1

There is not a lot happening in the regional airline scene at moment and so I have been doing a bit of day dreaming and have had a few thoughts on potential new air routes for our regional airlines...

Suggested Route : Motueka-Wellington

Suggested Operator : Sounds Air

Rationale :

Sounds Air's fare are generally pretty reasonable so that makes flights from Motueka a viable option. To drive from Motueka to Nelson Airport takes 40 minutes and then you have to pay for your parking at Nelson (which at $8 a day is not unreasonable unlike some NZ airports). The route could be operated by a Caravan or PC12... the latter would have much more appeal. Since the arrival of Jetstar Sounds Air are operating less flights into Nelson so Motueka could be a nice market.

Previous Operators on Route :

Motueka Air Services

Air Nelson 

Air Nelson Piper Aztec ZK-PIX at Motueka on 15 August 1990

Air Nelson Piper Navajo ZK-JGA at Motueka on 22 May 1994

Associated Airlines

Takaka Valley Air Services

Negatives :

No GPS approach to Motueka

Check out this Youtube clip :

If you have a suggested route send me an email with your thoughts on it...

17 May 2017

CV704 back to Whanganui

Thanks to CED again for these pics of Convair 580 ZK-CIE operating Air Chathams flight 704 from Auckland to Whanganui today, 17 May 2017...

CED writes, "Great flite. Felt like a retro experience. Lovely friendly staff"

I wouldn't expect anything less from Air Chats!

Now boarding at Auckland for Whanganui

Coming up on the coast for the turn on to finals

Disembarking at Whanganui

16 May 2017

CV707 to Auckland

Thanks to CED who sent through these pics of Metroliner ZK-CIC which was doing Air Chathams flight 707 from Whanganui to Auckland today

Fairchild Metroliner III ZK-CIC was on the Whanganui-Auckland run this morning...

15 May 2017

Taumarunui this morning...

I was at Taumarunui for the weekend but the airstrip was empty of aircraft until this morning, 15 May 2017, as I headed home...

On its last day at Taumarunui Jodel D9 UL ZK-KMM... 
Taking delivery was its constructor and new owner, Sir Minty, one of the posters from the NZ Civil Aircraft blog... nice to meet you in the flesh at last... 

My only other photo of ZK-KMM was taken at the Nelson Air Show on the 15 April 1984
Also at Taumarunui this morning was the local Cessna 172 ZK-EJS...
visiting Flight Design CTLS ZK-FDB...
and local Gardan GY-20 Minicab U/L ZK-LDL

13 May 2017

Six from Ashburton and Timaru

Beech V35 Bonanza ZK-DDG at Ashburton on 6 May 2017
Piper PA28 Cherokee ZK-DEL at Ashburton on 6 May 2017
The  Mid Canterbury Aero Club's Piper PA28 Archer ZK-EBZ at Ashburton on 6 May 2017
Pacific Aerospace 750XL ZK-KDO at Ashburton on 6 May 2017

The South Canterbury Aero Club's Piper PA38 Tomahawk ZK-PAD at Timaru on 6 May 2017

12 May 2017

Whanganui Plane a Possibility

A chance to promote Whanganui as a tourist and business destination by turning an Air Chathams plane into a flying billboard is an opportunity too good to miss. That's the view of Annette Main, former district mayor, and several others who have discussed the idea on social media. "I floated it before I stepped down as mayor and there was a lot of enthusiasm," Ms Main told the Chronicle. But the project did not get off the ground. Ms Main says she is not sure what happened, but hopes somebody - "perhaps a councillor" - may pick up and champion the idea. That somebody might be district councillor Josh Chandulal-Mackay who noticed an Air Chathams Metroliner at Whanganui Airport this week promoting Whakatane. "I noticed that this Air Chathams ZK-CIC features promotional branding from the Whakatane district. From a promotional perspective, it would make sense for Whanganui to push for similar branding. What do you think?" he wrote. He added that he would investigate options with Whanganui and Partners - council's economic development arm - and other appropriate avenues. "I'll also contact the Whakatane District Council to request info regarding their decision to utilise promotional branding on the metroliner. "It might also be worth suggesting that a report be tabled at the next property and community services meeting at council." Another keen to see the idea take off is MP Chester Borrows who told the Chronicle it would be a good use of local money. "I'd love to see it," Mr Borrows said. "It's certainly something that should happen and I believe will happen. I think it's a very good use of our money. "When you're in Auckland and you see the Whakatane plane sitting out there in its livery it really turns heads because it looks so different. "I think a plane sheathed in Whanganui native forest and river scenes would be really beautiful." Air Chathams chief executive Duane Emeny said the company was keen to play ball. He estimated that it would cost between $40,000 and $50,000 to wrap the company's Saab in promotional livery. "When you're taxiing around in Auckland you can see the heads turn when people see this bright orange aeroplane with the White Island volcano sitting on the side of it - it's quite effective," Mr Emeny said. "We would need to take it out of operation for a week but that can be done. We are open to fresh discussions." Mr Emeny said Air Chathams split the cost with Whakatane to wrap its Metroliner. "They were looking at spending 25k on a billboard for one month at Auckland airport." In contrast the Metroliner cost $20,000 to wrap and the livery would last five years. "A flying billboard is a much better option." Mayor Hamish McDouall said council was open to looking at the idea again. "I understand it doesn't cost too much to dress a plane and it is nice to think of an iconic Whanganui image sitting on the Auckland tarmac, and being the first thing inbound tourists see," Mr McDouall said. "Having said that it's all about finding budget, and making sure that we are getting the best marketing bang for our buck." Whanganui and Partners was not immediately available for comment.