Wednesday 15 August 2012

Cessna 180 ZK-BEL

  Another snip from the ODT
         Cessna had four earlier crashes
                  By John Lewis on Tue, 14 Aug 2012
 The owners of the Cessna 180 which crashed at Big Bay Beach, north of Milford Sound, last week say it is not the first time the aircraft has crashed.
South Air Ltd general manager Mark Paterson said the company bought the former topdressing plane, registration number ZK-BEL, 14 years ago and restored it. The crash last week was the fifth in its history.

The New Zealand Aviation Safety Network website shows it was involved in accidents at Wairoa (September 1961), Rotorua Airport (February 1970), Taupo Airport (November 1970), and near Makarora (April 1980), but no passengers were killed as a result of the crashes.

"This will be the fourth time it's had to be repaired, so it's nothing new for this plane," Mr Paterson said.
The plane had been privately hired by a pilot to take friends to the remote area for a sightseeing trip.
He said the beach was a popular landing spot for people wanting to go whitebaiting or tramping.
On this occasion, he said, the plane landed heavily on the sand, bounced into the air, and when it landed again, the wheels dug into the sand and the plane flipped on to its roof.
None of the four people on board was injured.
Mr Paterson said the plane was badly damaged by the crash, but hopes were that it could be salvaged and eventually repaired.
"The plane's been moved to a safe area and it will be brought back to Dunedin later this week."
The Civil Aviation Authority began an investigation into the incident yesterday.

Below we offer a little of the history of this Cessna 180.

Cessna 180 ZK-BEL (c/n 30614) was a Rural Aviation Ltd, of New Plymouth import. It was registered to them on 15-01-1954 and obtained its NZ CoA on 10-03-1954.
The above pic comes from the Ed Coates collection and shows ZK-BEL in its Rural Aviation days.
The link below will take you to the ed Coates collection. (well worth a delve into)

After four years with Rural it moved to Air Super Ltd of Wairoa from 12-03-1958. It was damaged when it overturned at Wairoa on 29-09-1961.
My next reference mentions it being fleet number 7 with Manawatu Aerial Top Dressing Co of Feilding.
Pic below from unknown source - but I suspect from the RJD collection.

And then to Aerial Spaying (NZ) Ltd, followed by Aviation Distributors Ltd before joining J S Murdoch at Gore on 16-04-1968.
Above, as seen at Invercargill in December 1968 - before "official" change over to Aviation Contracts. Already titles and still as fleet number 7.
Registered to Aviation Contracts Ltd of Gore from 13-01-1969
Above. Another Invercargill shot taken on 23-01-1969. Now with the BP label.
Then followed a short spell with R M Gibbs of Mataura.

It moved back up north after listing with A C Finch and E N Bennett of Rotorua on 12-12-1969 with whom it caried the name "Wynair".
It had two accidents during this period.
On 1-02-1970 at Rotorua and at Taupo on 07-11-1970.
Above - as seen at Taupo on 05-12-1970 with tailplane and port wing missing.
It was relisted to Finch Aircraft Services on 13-01-1971.
As at Paraparaumu on 20-02-1971. Still with "Wynair" on the driver door.

I next have it with Central Helicopters of Alexandra from 06-07-1972. Here it carried the name "Derek Alexander".
 Above and below - two views of her at Alexandra on 18-04-1973
Terry Mulvena of Clyde had it from 17-12-1974.
Above - engineless at Dunedin on 14-03-1975
Below at Alexandra on 13-08-1978
It then moved up to the Matamata Skydivers Inc of Waharoa from 26-04-1983, and then to C J and D R Hickman of Mahoenui 05-10-1983.

Next move was to J G Snushall of Kaikoura from 02-11-1984.
Seen on Tony Mackles strip at Kaikoura on 20-08-1986

S D Kerr of Christchurch took it over from 01-05-1998 but it was destroyed by wind at Christchurch 18-10-1998 when it was blown over the boundary fence.
 At Christchurch on the morning of 19-10-1998. Back on its feet again but not looking too good.
Southair Ltd of Taieri removed all the wrinkles and listed it from 10-05-1999
Above as seen at Wanaka 10-12-2001
Above. Departing Rangiora on 23-09-2010 with race number 10
Below at Wanaka on 05-04-2012 still wearling its race number.
Overturned Big Bay 10-08-12 (see ODT item at head of page).


  1. Another great 'photo-essay' - many thanks.

  2. Fantastic, do you have any of sister BEZ?

  3. An outstanding photo essay, thanks!

  4. A sad and unnecessary end to a truly wonderful aircraft that had no vices & was simply a delight to fly

  5. Don't write her off yet Anon.
    If it came back from that Harewood 1998 fence jumping incident - then it may well survive its latest inversion.

  6. Chris Mulvena1 May 2013 at 11:49

    My Dad (Terry Mulvena)owned this remarkable plane for several years. I regularly flew in it from Alex to Gore to get dropped off at boarding school and Alex to Christchurch to go to Uni. Dad typically used it to chase sheep on Earnscleugh Station. The previous owner Derek Alexander was somehow related to us and I think Dad "inherited" the plane!! It does seem to suffer from a bit of bad luck. As I recall apart from the flip at Makarora it also was blown over in the wind at Alex airport and was caugt in the floods at Dunedin airport while the engine was sitting on the workshop floor. Even when Dad had it it had had new wings, new tailplane, new engine so it is pretty much a case of Grandad's axe. Good luck getting it back in the air - I'm sure we haven't seen the last of her yet.

    Chris Mulvena