Saturday 7 May 2016

Australian Lightwings of New Zealand

After the summer busyness, it is time to return to our history of homebuilt and sport aircraft of New Zealand, re-starting with the first new aircraft type to be registered in the 2000s.

The Australian Lightwing is an aircraft brand of Howard Hughes Engineering Pty Ltd of Ballina, NSW ( no relation to the other Howard Hughes I assume).  The first model, the GR 532, first flew in June 1986 and the type has been developed over the years to the latest model being the GR 912.  The type has a 4130 steel welded tube fuselage and aluminium framed wings, and the airframe is mostly fabric covered.

The GR 912 is powered by a Rotax 912UL of 80 HP which gives a cruise speed of 150 km/hr.  The specifications for the GR 912 are:  length 5.68 metres (18 feet 8 inches). wingspan 9.50 metres (31 feet 2 inches) and a wing area of 165 square feet.  Empty weight is around 295 Kg (650 pounds) and MAUW is 600 Kg (1,320 pounds).

We have had two Hughes Australian Lightwings in New Zealand to date:

GR 582 model (with a Rotax 582 engine) 25-694 (c/n 091) is photo'd here at the 1998 SAANZ flyin at Matamata, wearing the name "My Sister Kate".  I understand that it flew across the Tasman to New Zealand which caused some consternation

The aircraft was eventually registered in New Zealand as ZK-JLG2 on 23/2 00, to Ben Stimpson of Rotorua.  It is photo'd above at the 2000 SAANZ flyin at Matamata.  It has had many owners over the years, Geoff and Vonny Bruning Ltd of Westport from 21/12/00, AJ Brizzell, also of Westport from 21/12/07, DC Leach of Amberly from 4/3/08, NB Forrester of Alexandra from 10/10/08, D Waller and R Waddingham of Christchurch from 29/3/10 and finally NJ Swanson of Te Anau from 15/9/11 with whom it is still current.  I haven't seen it since 2000.  Can anyone supply a later photo?

A more recent arrival is Robert Newbigging's GR 912S model (c/n 143) which he owned in Australia as 19-3799 before shipping it to New Zealand in 2013.  It was registered ZK-NBG on 13/9/13 and is based at Opotiki.  It is photo'd above at a Pauanui flyin.


  1. 25-0694 / ZK-JLG was indeed flown Aust - NZ 2Dec99 by Ben Buckley.

  2. Yes indeed. I spoke with Ben Buckley ( a well known ag pilot with an amazing history ) some years ago, and he told me about the planned trip to deliver the aircraft across the Tasman. I couldn't believe some one would contemplate a trip across in a 2-stroke powered aircraft, and he showed me all the extra fuel tanks and assorted maze of plumbing. Incredible.