Saturday 6 December 2014

Stewart Island Widgeon Declared as ZK-AVM

Blog reader Paul Sheehan in Australia has emailed his thoughts on the identity of the Grumman Widgeon we have been discussing on the blog.  He has also sent a photo of ZK-AVM as operated by Stewart Island Air Services that was taken by Don Noble in 1976 (after Mount Cook Airlines ownership ceased).

Paul writes:  I've just been reading on your Blog about Peter Layne's question as to whether or not the photo of the Widgeon at Stewart Island is or isn't ZK-AVM.

My summation of it is that the photo IS of ZK-AVM and it just depends on the angle on which the photo has been taken to determine if it has the more bulbous or sleek nose.

I'm attaching one of Don Noble's photos of the aircraft in Stewart Island Air Services livery and the rego almost looks like AYN because of the angle of the rudder, and I think the photo at Stewart Island is the same! It's difficult to see the full bulbous nose due to the shadows on the photo.

I have enlarged the tail in the above photo...

So you can compare it with the original enlarged photo.

I agree with Paul.  I think the nose of the aircraft has been foreshortened by the use of a long lens to take the original black and white photo.

So I am declaring a result:  that the Widgeon in the original black and white photo in the bar of the South Sea Hotel at Oban is.......ZK-AVM.


  1. I'd have to agree. Even with the best will in the world (and the worst glasses!) I don't see how the registration could be any of the other possibilities - there are no curves in it, for one thing.
    The colour scheme fits perfectly as well - none of the photos I've seen of any of the other MCA Widgeons show exactly the same scheme as this (although that's not to say they never wore it, of course).
    Just out of interest, I came across this excellent, and superbly researched, website while looking into this. Check out if you haven't already seen it. The photos are magnificent! Perhaps the author would know more about the photo in question as well.

  2. Interesting comments have sprung from my original observation. I was agreeing (and still do) that it appears to be ZK-AVM. The only reason I queried it as being "absolute" was the shape of the nose section. I concur that the shadows give it a G-44 rather than a G-44A look. An observation I make; in the Mt Cook photos it appears to have anti-collision beacon on the tail whereas in the later Stewart Island photo it does no appear to have one. Thank you Hawkseye66 for alerting me to that other site. Appreciated.

  3. I'm going to side with Peter on the nose shape. Given the reasonably simple task of removing the Mount Cook title on the side, I would imagine all the blue paintwork would remain untouched.

    But if you look at the comparison image I have made at the below link, I really can't see how that cheat line on the nose is the same between the two. In the B&W pic it lazily arcs down to very nearly touch the keel. In the colour pic, although not at a great angle to tell, I cannot imagine it is taking the same line.

    Also, I notice an odd 'nick' out of the keel line (at least in paint if not in form) in the colour pic.

    The letter analysis is compelling, but I just cannot believe those noses are the same.

  4. Peter, your suggestion about the anti-collision beacon is interesting. Would it have been white/clear? If so, I believe it may be present in the colour photo. Although the beacon itself is not visible, there is apparently a deformation in the tip of the fin to match.

    Another minor colour scheme detail, which could be explained by maintenance, is that the 'blue tips' extend across the elevator in the B&W pic but not in the colour one.

  5. Then again...

    Also, see the 2nd image here:

    OK, it's highly likely AVM then!


    AVM Halfmoon Bay, Stewart Island

  7. I made several trips into Fiordland in December 1958 and January 1959 in ZK-AVM in her original yellow livery with Jim Monk of Amphibian Airways you are definitely looking at the right aircraft.My old 35mm slides of her on the hard at Invercargill airport can vouch for that.Wonder where the old girl is now. Ah the nostalgia