Friday 17 August 2012

Turbo Porter ZK-MCK

Pilatus PC-6 B2-H4 ZK-MCK (c/n 809) was one of four used by The Mount Cook Group.
It was created at Stans in Switzerland and registered as HB-FHO to Pilatus Flugzeugwerk A.B on 19-08-1980 and used as a demonstrator [I am sure you will all remember seeing it at the 1980 Farnborough Air Show with its red underwing fuel tanks] until it was cancelled on 22-01-1982. This was the day it arrived at Christchurch from Lord Howe Island. It entered the NZ register on 26-01-1982

 Below are three photographs taken at Mount Cook in December of 1982.

 Note the "Swiss Cross" still faintly visible on the tail, partly covered by the smallish Mt Cook Lilly.
(It is off course not a lilly but the Ranunculus lyalli - the worlds largest buttercup).
On 04-04-1982 its starboard leg collapsed whilst working on the Tasman Glacier.
Some four years later it was upgraded to PC-6 B2-H4 standard - first flying as such on 29-11-1986.

Below is a shot taken on 14-09-1989 showing the vertical tail now all red with a larger "Lilly", and with white wing tips, plus fleet number 34, and red end plates on the horizontal tailplane.

 Below are three views of ZK-MCK on the Tasman Glacier on 13-12-1996.
 Above - capturing the tourists "Wow" on first stepping onto the Glacier.
Company changes saw it re-listed to Tourism Holdings Ltd on 01-07-1998 and when this Company was "streamlined" it become a member of the Aoraki Mount Cook Ski Plane Ltd from 20-12-2002
It has been "tagged" at least twice - I think some time in the mid 1980's. It still carries these tags today. ie the Pilatus PC7 Turbo Trainer and the New Zealand Wings Magazines logos.
I know you are probably tired to death about seeing photos of the tailwheel ski set up - but here it is again.
Above we see her in its Aoraki Mount Cook Ski Plane guise - with no lilly or fleet number and just the "Mount Cook" script on the side doors.
With the downturn in tourist numbers this aircraft went over the hill in about early 2011 and was used for a while from the late Alex Miller's Waiho airstrip at Franz Josef in the parachute dropping role. It was sold to Skydive Franz Josef Ltd on 30-04-2012 and now operates out of the Franz Josef airfield.
These two photographs have been kindly delivered to me by Bob Newland and show ZK-MCK on the NZFJ airfield on 15-08-2012.
It has lost all of its THL/Aoraki Mount Cook markings - except for the red band around the outer wings and the white wing tips. Is it my imagination - or is the nose section and tailplane now more orange than red ?

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