Friday 13 December 2013

Avid Flyers of New Zealand (1)

The Avid Flyer was designed in the early 1980's by Dean Wilson of Boise, Idaho, and the prototype was displayed at Oshkosh in 1983.  It proved very popular and soon kits were being manufactured by Light Aero, which was the company that Dean Wilson formed in Caldwell Idaho.  The Flyer could be built with many options including 2 different wing types, folding wings, and a unique aileron system that utilised separate ailerons hinged on brackets so that they were below and behind the wing.   It has a steel tube fuselage  and the aircraft is fabric covered.  It could be built with tri-gear or tailwheel or skis or floats (which must have been way underpowered with the original 45 HP engine).  It has a steel tube fuselage  and the whole aircraft is fabric covered.  It has been developed over the years with the standard Rotax powered version being the Mark IV, and the much strengthened Magnum which can accept engines from 125 to 180HP.

Dan Denney worked for Dean Wilson in the early days, before he left to market his own Kitfox which bore many similarities to the Avid Flyer.

The specifications for the Mark IV model are:  length 17 feet 11 inches (5.46 metres), wingspan 29 feet 10 inches (9.09 metres) and MAUW of 1,150 pounds (522 Kg).  Speed depends on the type of engine fitted but cruise id around 90 to 100 mph.

We have had 22 Avid Flyers in New Zealand to date, and one Avid Amphibian.  The Avid was not exactly the next type of homebuilt aircraft in New Zealand (that was the RV4 which I will post later), but I include them after the Kitfox because of their similarities.

Our first Avid Flyer was Don Mahon's ZK-DDD (c/n 744/AACA/1098) which he built at Arrowtown and was first registered on 5/7/91.  It is photo'd above at the 1992 AACA flyin at Tauranga (where our first Kitfox also appeared).  Later it was upgraded to a Heavy Hauler U/L model on 17/3/94.  It was sold to Julie F Cook of Otatara on 30/3/95 and it is still current.

Our next Avid was Aerobat ZK-FYI (c/n 873) which was built by the Mercury bay Aero Club and was first registered on 31/7/91.  It was sold to the CN and CJ Bellingham Syndicate of Pukekohe on 27/7/92 and then to W Morton of Massey on 18/11/93.  It is photo'd above at Pikes Point in 2003  It was damaged at Whangarei on 13/9/98 but was rebuilt and then it went to the W and L Morton Trust of Moerewa on 28/8/09. 

It was then sold to PG Duenas of Auckland on 15/4/10 and he later moved to Marton.  It is photo'd above, now with minimal trim, at Parakai in 2011.  It was then sold to AG Davidson of Cromwell on 20/5/11, and it crashed again, at Manapouri, on 4/7/12.  However I understand that it is being rebuilt.

ZK-TIG (c/n 1209/MAANZ/461) is a STOL U/L version that was built by James D Law of Stratford.  it has not moved far, being sold to RI Millar of Inglewood on 26/1/08 and it is still current.  Thanks to Nick Furmage for the above photo, which was taken at Stratford.

The Avid Flyer wings could be folded for trailering, as in this photo of ZK-PCM at the 2002 AACA flyin at Matamata.

ZK-PCM (c/n AACA/1096) was our fourth Avid Flyer.  It was built by PC McKinlay of Cromwell and was first registered on 29/6/92.  It was sold to D McGregor of Whangarei on 2/11/99 and it was re-designated as an Avid Fyler High Gross U/L on 25/11/99.  It was bought by Dave Campbell-Morrison of Auckland on 27/8/01 and then to him and GL Smith on 15/8/02. It is photo'd at a flyin at Te Kowhai in December 2003.  Finally it was sold to GL Smith of Auckland on 2/8/06.  It is still current.

ZK-SPY (c/n 874) is an Avid flyer STOL U/L built by GG Linton of Cromwell, and registered to him on 13/7/92.  It is amazing how many Avids have come out of Central Otago!  It was sold to PJ Karl of Ohaupo on 12/6/00 in whose ownership the above photo was taken, at the 2005 Black Sands Flyin.  It was then sold to AJ Brizzell of Westport on 31/1/06.  It stayed the rest of its life on the West Coast being sold to Kaniere Farms of Kowhitirangi on 14/9/06, with whom it had an engine failure on take off from Hokatika on 7/4/08 with a resultant heavy landing.  It was sold to SM Marshall of Kokatahi on 1/12/08 and may have been damaged again because the remains were spotted in a Rangiora hangar in July 2010.  However it is still currently registered.


  1. ZK-DDD used to be a De Havilland Drover owned by Great Barrier Airlines, at least as recently as 1988.

  2. This is awesome, my Dad was James D Law, I remember him building his Avid. Fab to know its whereabouts as he passed away in 2011 and often I wonder what had happened to it!