Saturday, 10 May 2014

Grumman G44 Widgeon ZK-CHG

Grumman G44 Widgeon ZK-CHG began life as a Grumman J4F-2 for the US Navy having been delivered to them on 28-02-1944 with the Bu37726 serial number and had the manufacturers construction number of 1356.
(Rumour has it that it later transferred to the US Coast Guard and took up the 7726 serial number - a shortened version of its Navy serial - but I can find no evidence of this).
Post World War Two it entered the US Civil Register as N97102 around June of 1946 It then had at least seven owners before Bob Stockton of Troy, New York picked it up on 19-03-1962.
Captain Fred Ladd had visited the States in about 1961 looking for additional airframes for NZ Tourist Air Travel Ltd and purchased this aircraft (along with ZK-CFA).
N97102 was shipped to NZ aboard the MV Lotte Skou and arrived  here in May of 1964.
It was registered as ZK-CHG on 06-07-1964 to N Z Tourist Air Travel.
It still had its original Ranger L-440C 200hp engines but these were replaced in 1965 with a pair of Continental IO-470D's of 260hp apiece, making it a Super Widgeon.
The photo below shows it parked on the hard at Te Anau with its Ranger engines.
Pic from Mr Widgeon dated about late 1964.
 It had several incidents during its career.
It was damaged prior to take off doing a porpoise act at Great Barrier Island on 01-08-1966.
On the 4th March, 1967 it had an unfortunate incident at Karaka Bay, Great Barrier
'The pilot was preparing to take off when it became bogged in the sand.
He called out and signalled for the crowd to keep away, but unfortunately, Arthur Odering, a young local, evidently missed the pilot's warning and walked into a spinning propellor, presumably to lend a hand. This occurence was the only fatality Tourist Air Travel experienced in all their years of service.'
On 01-01-1968 NZ Tourist Air Travel became a part of the Mount Cook Airlines.
 It was damaged at Surfdale on 07-03-1969.
Two further incidents occurred at Mechanics Bay. On 04-09-1970 and 31-03-1972.
Above ZK-CHG is seen at Mechanics Bay on 09-02-1973.
Mount Cook Airlines changed its name to Mount Cook and Southern Lakes Tourist Co Ltd and ZK-CHG was re-listed to them on 18-07-1973.
Below at Christchurch in May of 1975 - thanks to CMM.
It was damaged at Christchurch during a storm on 01-08-1975 after which I believe it never flew again.
The flying boat operation was sold by Mount Cook and was reformed as See Bee Air Ltd with ZK-CHG, along with the other Grumman Boats ZK-BGQ, ZK-CFA and ZK-DFC, transferring over on  March the 2nd and 3rd 1977.
 These two views show ZK-CHG at Christchurch International Airport on New Years day 1978.
I lost track of it soon after - but it was registered to Owen C E Harnish of Auckland on 10-07-1990 and then went to Warren Denholm of Avspecs in 2012.
Below is a long range shot taken at Ardmore last Wednesday (07-05-2014) by Magnaman.
Its long time workmate ZK-AVM is in a nearby hangar under restoration.
Any additional info would be most welcome.


  1. I believe it is being kept as a source of parts for AVM rather than as a restoration project itself, but I guess time will tell. AVM is pretty complete so hopefully CHG might eventually end up being restored separately.

  2. Thanks Leo.
    I would be nice to see two of them back in the air.
    Dave P

  3. ZK-DFC was a Grumman Goose G21 not a Widgeon. The other widgeon at that time was ZK-AVM. ZK-BGQ was operated out of IVC after the change over by Stewart Island Air Services until Ryans Creek airfield opened and Islander ZK-IAS Took over. BGQ was flown to Auckland and operated from Mechanics Gay until it's demise in the Kaipara Harbour. BGQ had a shallow V hull and handled the water a little differently.