Thursday 3 July 2008

The first Fletcher ZK-BDS

The prototype Fletcher Fu24, c/n 1, registered as N6505C to the Fletcher Aviation Corporation flew for the first time from Pasadena, California on 14-06-1954.
It joined the NZ civil register as ZK-BDS on 09-09-1954 for Robertson Air Services Ltd at Hamilton and first flew here on 24-09-1954.
At this stage it had an open cockpit and was powered with a 225hp Continental O-470E.
By September 1956 it had an enclosed cockpit.
It had several engine upgrades over the years. In December 1960 it had a 240hp O-470N; In May 1967 a 260hp IO-470D was tested and in December 1975 it was up to a 300hp IO-520F

The above picture shows ZK-BDS in Robertson Air Services colour scheme at Hamilton on 03-09-1979 carrying the number "1" on its rudder and "Prototype" on its engine cowling.

It first flew with the 400hp Lycoming IO-720 on 21-12-1981 to become a FU24-950M.The final engine fitted was the turbine Walter 601D and it flew with this on 08-06-1999.

Here it is at Whakatane with its Walter engine on 16-03-2000.

On 20-09-2003 it was munted when it struck a hill in adverse weather at Matawai and was finally deregistered on 30-06-2008.

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