Monday, 11 September 2017

 The Nolans of Westland

Last Sunday evening, the Country Calendar program on TV1 featured coverage of the annual muster carried out by the South Westland based Nolan family.
Although the program, which you can watch 'on demand at
did feature a brief heli-flight in an R22, it made no mention of the Nolan's long involvement with aviation.

As well as utilizing the services of Air Travel prewar and Southern Scenic postwar, the Nolans owned and operated three light aircraft in the 1940s to the mid-1960s.

First up was Tiger Moth ZK-ANE. This Tiger had been converted to single-seater with cargo hopper by John Neave at Wellington in 1947, and went across to Des Nolan in October 1948. By mid-1951 it had been passed on to the Farmers Aerial Topdressing Company at Invercargill.

 Its replacement was Miles Messenger ZK-AUM, which was imported from the UK where it had flown as G-AKCN. This served the Nolans well, until finally withdrawn from use in 1967 and went as a parts source for another Messenger, ZK-AWE.

In the mid-1950s the Nolans also operated an Auster J-5, ZK-BGT. As NZ1706 it had been  badly damaged when struck a hedge while landing at Papakura Military Camp 5Dec53. Sold 'as is' to Aircraft Supplies Ltd.,. Palmerston North, and rebuilt with major parts from a J1B Aiglet that had been damaged while onboard a ship from England. Acquired from Southern Scenic Air Services in 1957, this aircraft was written off when it crashed at Cascade Point, Westland, 27Feb1961.


  1. Here's a pic of BGT with Ted Buchannan, Geoff Houston and Des Nolan in the Arawhata. I believe Geoff was responsible for the loss of BGT at Cascade, I have a pic of some bits of the plane on the back of a truck somewhere.