Sunday, 18 November 2012

I remember when. My first - BRA

I would have been 1962 when Joe La Hood, a family friend of Lebanese descent, and a Sergeant in the NZ Army, took me for my first aircraft ride.
The aircraft was Auster J5F Aiglet Trainer ZK-BRA (c/n 3110)  of the Otago Aero Club.
This was the first of several rides and the start of my path into the downward spiral of aviation.

 These first four photographs show ZK-BRA on that day - as taken with my Jiffy Kodak camera.
As you can see, it still had a real engine, and a full panel - or at least it impressed me greatly at the time.
The J5F was aerobatic, with its clipped wings and heavier wing stuts. On Sunday afternoons, the then Otago Aero Club CFI - Hugh Skilling - would take the Auster up for a brief aerobatic display - the falling leaf was my favourite.
This Auster gained its UK C of A on 31-07-1953 and served as G-ANAU with Parker's Stores Ltd of Edinburgh. It was extensively damaged after being stolen from its hangar in 01-09-1953. It was sold to W S Shackleton of London in June of 1956 for export to NZ.
It was registered to the Otago Aero Club as ZK-BRA on 02-10-1956 and gained its NZ CofA on the 5th.
The Southern Districts Aero Club at Gore took control from 15-11-1962
It struck a fence and overturned on take off at Balclutha on 03-01-1965.
It was damaged at Poputuroa on 08-03-1966 with ownership changing to F H Chittock of Gore on 04-08-1966.
Next known incident was at Dunedin on 12-05-1967. Its registration being cancelled on 11-08-1972.
Above - Seen under rebuild in the Southern Aviation hangar at Gore on 06-05-1979. Now with a Lycoming O-320 engine, and looks like the horizontal tailplane is about ready to paint after being re-bagged.
After rebuild by Southern Aviation of Gore it was re-registered to Paul R Jones of Invercargill on 19-11-1979 as an Auster J5F/L (L= Lycoming).
Above and below. We see her at Gore on 04-01-1980 now branded as the "Bendon Flyer".
Bendon, for those unknowing, was a well known brand of female support (BRA).

 Above - As seen at Timaru on 10-05-1983, outside the Whirl-Wide Helicopter hangar.
Then at Oamaru on 10-12-1986, above.
Ownership officially moved to K R O'Brien of Oamaru on 18-01-1987.
 Above and below. And Christchurch on 16-09-1987, outside the Southair hangar
 By 03-10-1989 it was with D K J Edmonds of Brighton (Dunedin).
Back at Taieri on 11-12-1991 outside the Aero Club hangar (old NAC hangar). Note the suspended microlight (There also was a Slingsby Dart hanging from the rafters).
 And again at Taieri - but on 14-04-1993.
It was then stored for about ten years before being sold to David Devine from up Gisborne way on 05-12-2003.
Below my last sighting of ZK-BRA was at Ashburton on 04-02-2007.
On 19-07-2012 the engine failed to respond on a late go round and it stalled into trees at Te Karaka.
Its registration was cancelled on 11-10-2012.
I believe the mortal remains have gone south for a possible rebuild.


  1. Rebuild, yes - but the rebuild is of ZK-BBZ using parts from ZK-BRA.

  2. Yes I own the mortal remains of BRA. She is a bit of a mess with one wing a bit short now missing about 3 feet and the rest compressed a bit. The other wing is basically intact, spars are broken. The fuselage ended up in two pieces with the front end distorted. Previous owner Dave Devine was a very lucky man as it ended up vertical at the base of a pine tree! Just as well it was an Auster, they are tough! And yes some parts will fly again in BBZ :-)