Sunday, 9 September 2012

Fletcher ZK-BHC

Since the original posting I have received further details on the life of ZK-BHC.
I have include these items in blue among the original text. Thanks to RJD.
Among a small collection of colour slides that came my way recently was this shot above of the early Fletcher FU24 ZK-BHC (c/n 4). It was listed to Cable Price Corporation Ltd on 17-11-1954 and first flew on 22-03-1955. Its Cof A was issued on 25-03-1955 and it was delivered to East Coast Air Services Ltd of Gisborne. I believe at some point it carried the fleet number "5".
Pic above , also from an unknown photographer.
It off course transferred to Fieldair in April of 1961;
It was a very rare aircraft for a while. In 1965 it was painted up in Fieldair colours and I think it only did a few jobs. I found that Noel Kinvig flew it at Masterton for a short time. It was still a 240hp aircraft and was the last of it's type, a Mark 1, to fly in New Zealand.
It was withdrawn and stored from 21-06-1967 until sold to Wanganui Aero Work and delivered to Wanganui on 12-01-1970, as seen below in a photograph just after arrival - I believe from the RJD collection.
Dave MacMillan ** flew it back to Wanganui on 12 January 1970 and test flew it on 11 February, after it had been converted to "830" standard, 300HP, Mk 2, with increased AUW. Dave named it "Turakina" and it was his first aircraft and was based in Wanganui. It still remained in the Fieldair colours.
 It was given the name "Turakina" and wore the pilots name "Dave McMillan" during the early 70's.
 Above as seen at Wanganui on 31-10-1970. 
During the winter of 1970, it was cleaned up and repainted in the standard colours and it remained with Dave until he moved to Stratford to fly ZK-CZA.
Above and below at Piriaka on 14-05-1971.
I think after that, Ivon Olson flew it at Taumarunui from March 1971.
Below it is back at Wanganui on 14-07-1971.
In 1973, it got horn ballanced ailerons. It may have been in Pahiatua after that, I'm not sure.
Below, as seen on 05-1974 by CMM.
It was converted to FU24-950 status and first flew as such on 21-11-1975.
Dave MacMillan left WAW for a short time and returned to fly at Taihape. He got ZK-BHC back again in October 1975 after it had been rebuilt as an FU24-950M. He transferred to Rangitikei Air Services and ZK-BHC went down the road to Hunterville with Ash Haycock.
Above, now in FU24-950 mode in April of 1978 from the CMM collection.
In 1978 it came back to Wanganui to be flown by Don Judd.
Above. Parked at Wanganui in sprayer configuration on 31-12-1978, carrying the name "Don Judd". Photo from the Allan Wooler collection.
It was withdrawn from service on 25 November 1985 with 12,423 flying hours and placed in storage along with ZK-DJD.
Its registration was cancelled on 14-12-1990 as pending rebuild.
It came out of storage in June 1994 and the forward fuselage was grafted on to ZK-EGK which had been damaged after a wire strike on 06-12-1994.

As an interesting aside:-
Dave MacMillan was a loader driver at Taumaranui 1968-1969. He went to Mt Cook ski-planes and spent a long time on the coast at Franz. He then became chief pilot at Mt Cook before moving to Queenstown to fly BN2's and Twin Otters. Finally to Christchurch, can't remember if he did time on HS748's but finished flying as a Captain on ATR's about six or seven years ago. Last year they moved to Nelson.

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