Monday, 29 September 2014

Requiem for Fletcher ZK-BHG

During July Super Air Ltd of Hamilton cancelled the registrations of several of their Fletcher FU24's.
Now I know that there are much more knowledgeable Fletcher Guru's out then than I - so I offer only a brief look at these aircraft.
 
ZK-BHG
This Fletcher was c/n number 9 and was one from the first batch of thirteen airframes imported and assembled by James Aviation Ltd at Hamilton.
It became ZK-BHG on 24-03-1955 listed with Cable-Price Corporation Ltd and first flew on 15-04-1955 with the 225hp O-470E engine and gained it CofA on 22-04-1955.
It was officially listed to Robertson Air Services Ltd of Hamilton on 09-11-1955 and given the fleet number "2".
Below is a reasonably early shot from an unknown source. 
It carried the names of at least two of its early pilots.
"Max Alex Williams" and "Kevin Roberts".
Above as seen at Te Kuiti January 1968 from Allan Wooller.
 Above it is seen at Hamilton in March of 1969.
 On 21-12-1978 it was re-listed as a FU24-950M and it is seen below at Hamilton 03-09-1979 with the pilots name "Kevin Roberts" on the engine cowling.
It was withdrawn from use on 06-05-1986 and stored outside  at Hamilton. 
 Then along come the fertiliser Companies and ZK-BHG becomes part of the Custom Blend Feeds and Fertilizers Ltd on 21-09-1988.
In 1994 it went under the Super Air Ltd name and first flew with those titles on 13-05-1997.
There were several alternative fuel and engine Fletchers developed over the years:  -
ZK-BHG was fitted with a 10.5 litre Ford V8 engine which was certified in January of 2000.
In this mode it first flew on 23-01-2000 and carried out its first ag drop on 15-03-2000.
Initially engine power went through a chain drive to the reduction gearbox but this was later changed to a gear drive.
Below are two photographs from unknown sources showing it with the Ford V8 engine.
  In the above pic it has the dual main wheels - these where later changed to the standard single wheel set up.
At the end of trials it was (along with several others Fletchers) re-engined with a Walter M601-D-11NZ turbine engine and first flew as such on 28-11-2003.
 Two views at Dargaville on 09-02-2009 came from Jean210.
In 2013 it was the last of the Super Air Walter turbine conversions to be withdrawn from use. Stored at Hamilton its registration was cancelled on 15-07-2014. 

9 comments:

  1. are you gna do a post on the other recent cancellations.there has been a few

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  2. Great stuff. Thanks Bluebus

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  3. Thank YOU Lord Nelson.
    This requiem was your suggestion in the first place.

    Cheers

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  4. What a lovely tribute to a plane I spent my childhood in. Maree Roberts (daughter of Kevin Roberts)

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  5. Thanks Maree. Pleasure.
    I don't suppose you or your Dad has photographs you would like to share of the agricultural aviation scene from those good old days ?
    Cheers

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    1. I have lots of photos of this plane with my dad Kevin Roberts, unfortunately he passed away in 1994 but if you give me your email I can pass on the photos I have. Lelia Roberts

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  6. Hi there Lelia and Maree.

    Thanks for the photo offer. I will endeavour to put together a blog post with them.

    My email is paulldj@xtra.co.nz

    Cheers
    Dave Paull


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