Friday 11 July 2014


This aircraft rolled off the Long Beach production line with manufacturers c/n 9286 on 27-03-1943 as part of a batch of 125 C-47A-20CL Skytrains for the USAAF and was allocated the serial of 41-23424. It was powered by two Pratt and Whitney twin row Wasps and also had the 24 volt electrical system.
It departed the US on 22-04-1943, and along with four other from this block, was delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force. On 30-04-1943 it was allocated the RAAF serial A65-9 and the radio call sign of VHCTI and also given the fuselage code of FD-D for delivery to 36 squadron at Milne Bay.
Above is a pic of A65-9 which was the first C-47 to land at the Dagua strip.
Via the Commonwealth Department of Information.

 Post World War Two QANTAS Empire Airways purchased the aircraft on 10-12-1946. It was originally allocated VH-BAL on 06-12-1946 but this was not taken up and it instead became VH-EAM on 12-12-1946. Conversion to civilian DC3C-S1C3G standard was completed at Brisbane - Archerfield on 07-07-1948.
Below is a photograph from Jean210 showing the manufacturers plate indicating that production was under contract number W535AC-20669, and the QANTAS Empire Airways conversion plate dated 07-07-1948.
On a post maintenance flight from Archerfield on 19-09-1948 it survived a take-off accident caused by crossed aileron control cables.
On 01-09-1953 VH-EAM passed to East-West Airlines of Tamworth, NSW and was re-registered as VH-EWA. It was their first DC3 in an expansion project to replace the elderly Hudsons.
 It carried the name "Peel City" which was later changed to "Oxley City".
On 01-05-1959 it became VH-EWF2 - freeing up the VH-EWA letters for use on their first Fokker F27 Friendship.
VH-EWF photo from Greg Banfield. Shot at Mascot in June 1963.
It was then leased to Airlines of South Australia from 02-06-1965. 
Another registration change occurred on 27-11-1967, this time to VH-PWN for Pacific and Western of Tamworth and was leased to Queensland and Pacific Airways.
Pic below shows VH-PWN at Cairns in July 1970. Thanks to Roger McDonald.
Next was a brief lease to Adastra Aerial Surveys and then Bush Pilots Airways at Cairns from 22-9-1972. Bush Pilots (PNG) Pty Ltd featured from 19-06-1973.
This "Dak" became the subject of John Williamson's popular folk song Papa Whisky November.
 After a spell with the Cairns Airport Crash Fire Service it went back to work for Air Queensland from January 4th 1982. 
It was withdrawn from use in September 1987 (Air Queensland having ceased operations) and stored at Brisbane until February 1988 with ownership passing to Air Rambler (Australia) which operated as DC-3 Queensland Pty Ltd of Cairns on 07-04-1988. A subtle change to Air Rambler Pty Ltd of Condell Park, NSW, took effect during 1990
Dick Lang of Desert Air Safaris of Highbury South Australia took it on from 10-06-1991.
Sold to Pionair Adventures NZ Ltd on 03-05-1993, and still as VH-PWN, it departed Adelaide on 01-05-1993 and arrived in Auckland via Lord Howe Island the same day.
Above is ZK-AMS as seen at Ardmore in July 1993. From Peter Lewis.
It then moved down to Palmerston North the next day to gain its NZ certification with Feildair Engineering.
It was registered as ZK-AMS on 15-07-1993 to Pionair Adventures Ltd of Queenstown with a shift later on to Wigram (Christchurch).
As seen at Christchurch on 16-11-1993. Dave Paull pic.
Initially named "Spirit of Queenstown" it later became known as "Dulcie".
 Two views of ZK-AMS as "Spirit of Queenstown" at Mesopotamia Station on 07-06-1994.
Pics from Dave Paull.
Below we see her taking off uphill towards the West.
 And commencing an early turn.
Dulcie spent a lot of time at its Wigram base.
During March 1999 she was painted up in an advertising scheme for Lion Red Beer.
Pic below was shot at Ardmore Auckland International in March 1999 by Peter Lewis Mark Cranston.
And then three pics below show her in the remnants of this temporary colour scheme on 09-05-1999 at Wigram.
 Pics from Dave Paull.

AMS had a bubble side window towards the rear on its starboard side.
A special occasion in the life of ZK-AMS took place in 2000 based on the commencement of operations by South Pacific Airlines of New Zealand (SPANZ) in NZ during 1960: 
 To mark the 40th anniversary of the SPAANZ operation Richard Waugh and Peter Layne wrote their book South Pacific Airlines of New Zealand and their DC-3 Viewmasters in 2000.
During the writing the idea evolved to stage a book launching tour along much of the SPANZ network.
Being a DC-3 only airline it made sense to use DC-3 aircraft on the tour. 
Considerable publicity took place during 2000 including in Airways magazine edited by John Wegg. So successful was John’s advertising he filled an entire aircraft with readers from around the world and came along too with his wife. 
 Eventually SPANZ’s three DC-3s were matched by three “stand in” DC-3s being Aerial Mappings ZK-AWP, Warbirds ZK-DAK and Pionair’s ZK-AMS. 
At that time they represented all of New Zealand’s airworthy DC-3s.  
Also on the tour were the airline’s two founders Rex Daniell and Bob Anderson along with their wives Betty Daniell and Betty Anderson.
 Other passengers included former SPANZ staff along with an appreciable number of NAC staff of the Government controlled airline.  
The tour took place in excellent weather and started from Mangere on 8 December 2000.
Throughout New Zealand the entourage drew large crowds on the nostalgic journey – many of them former SPANZ shareholders. Others were folk who remembered DC-3s but hadn’t seen one in years (let alone three together) and then there were those who had never seen a DC-3 in the air.
At Wigram there was 4 and 1/4 DC-3s with NZ3551 in the museum and the cockpit section of ZK-AWO lined up next to the active ones.
Regardless of their category, many of the onlookers were overcome by nostalgia and queued up to buy a book.
Meanwhile the tour party was having a wonderful time exploring New Zealand at low level and apart from a climb over the Southern Alps from Wanaka to Hokitika most of the flying was done at about 1500 feet. What a wonderful way to show case our country.
Each evening it was party time – wonderful meals at high quality hotels and the chance for former staff to mingle with us and buy a book.
Next morning out at the ‘drome it was time to absorb the sight and sound of three DC-3s perform their engine run ups. Wonderful stuff! Each aircraft performed perfectly throughout the tour. The only hiccup being Mandeville Aerodrome (our lunch stop that Day) being closed by fog so buses were chartered for the trip there and back to Alexandra.
The itinerary  was :-
Day 1 Mangere – Hamilton – Taupo – Napier (we had lunch on board former Viewmaster ZK-CAW and Bob and Rex visited the cockpit for the first time together in 35 years.)
Day 2 Napier  - Masterton (Visited a vine yard for lunch and had dinner at Tom Williams estate out of Masterton.
Day 3 Masterton – (over flew Rongotai) – Wigram, Timaru (for a special airshow) – Oamaru. (Watched the penguins come in at 9pm after a day out fishing).
Day 4 Oamaru – Alexandra – Mandeville (by bus) – Alexandra – Queenstown
Day 5 Queenstown day off
Day 6 Queenstown – Wanaka – Hokitika
Day 7 Hokitika – Nelson
Day 8  Nelson – New Plymouth – Mangere    
Pionair’s business grew substantially in 2001 and by May 2002 both ZK-AWP and re-activated ZK-AMY had joined the fleet and all three DC-3s had turns doing trips in outback Australia in addition to their New Zealand work.
Operations expanded to Tonga and this led to all three aircraft leaving New Zealand.
 Since then ZK-AMY and ZK-AWP have returned.
Will we see the day when ZK-AMS calls up Auckland Airport enroute from Norfolk Island?
Copies of the book are still available through Craigs website
Below ZK-AMS - with additional markings for the SPANZ2000 commemorative flight - overflies the Queenstown waterfront on 13-12-2000. 
and climbs out over Lake Wakatipu on its was to Wanaka.
The camera platform for these three aerials above was the Cessna A185F ZK-ENW of Air Milford, flown by owner Hank Sproull. Many thanks to camera person Jean210.
She flew from Auckland to Norfolk on 24-07-2001; on to Brisbane reaching Cairns on the 27th for an Australian Outback Tour from 02-08-2001. This tour visited Karumba, Jabiru, Bullo River, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs, Ayers Rock, Coober Peddy, Broken Hill, Griffith and into Sydney on 12-08-2001. This was the first of several such tours.

ZK-AMS at Mesopotamia Station on 29-03-2002. Pic from Jean210.
Following the success of these Australian Outback and Wine Trail Tours, ZK-AMS was transferred on lease to Pionair Australia Pty Ltd and was ferried from Christchurch to Bankstown on 2nd and 3rd of May 2004 via Kaitaia and Lord Howe Island to enter services on the 5th.
Facing replacement by the Convair 580 ZK-AMS was cancelled from the NZ register on 03-03-2006 upon sale to Classic Wings Pty Ltd of midland, West Australia and became VH-CWS on the 14-03-2006
VH-CWS arrived at Perth-Jandakot on 28-08-2006 but the new operator experienced licencing issues and commercial operations were suspended on 21-02-2007 - not to be resumed until an Air Operators Certificate was issued on 08-09-2008. This delay resulted in the collapse of the enterprise with the last commercial flight taking place on 10-01-2009.
Two days later (12-01-2009) VH-CWS was registered to the Westpac Banking Corporation at Concord West NSW.
VH-CWS was ferried to Maitland, NSW in June of 2009 for auction although it was not until 17-05-2010 that ownership changed to Slattery Auctions Australia .
On 24-06-2010 it ownership was transferred to Peter Christoudias/JNP Enterprises trading under the Broome Air Services name.
It has been parked at Bankstown since June 2010 with a total time airframe of 59,824 hours.
Thanks to Jean210 for the photographs that lead to this post and to Peter Layne for the SPANZ tour details.


  1. Splendid post, thank you. Great memories!

    Re the SPANZ itinerary, on Day 4 I believe the original plan was to fly to Gore (thence bus to Mandeville, too small for 3 Daks). As noted fog forced the diversion to Alexandra.

    A small group hitched a ride from Mandeville back to Alexandra in Cessna U206G Stationair ZK-NOK, courtesy of David Howe.


  2. Excellent post Sir! I know how much work went into it.

  3. Photo in full Lion Red scheme is taken by Mark Cranston at Auckland International

  4. Sorry about that.
    Post amended.

  5. E-mailed you pics from here in Oz Dave.