Monday 21 February 2022


 The eighteenth Cessna 180 to hit our register was allocated the US registration of N3163C and the Cessna test registration of N11B before becoming ZK-BFT, with the constructor number of 30961, to the NZ Cessna agents Rural Aviation Ltd at New Plymouth on 05-07-1954. 
With the hopper fitted its first flight in NZ was on 01-09-1954 and it went out on agricultural duties. 

The first three photos are by Neville Drake and were taken at Paraparaumu on 08-09-1954, a week after its first flight.

The photo below was taken at Taieri on 30-10-1954 - also by Neville Drake.
Note the under wing attachment points now fitted for supply dropping.
Is it just my imagination or is the hopper outlet box deeper than in the above pics ?
It was damaged by a runaway loader at Te Kupi sometime in 1955 I believe.

Ownership passed to Southern Scenic Air Services Ltd at Queenstown Ltd on 02-09-1957.
We have an undated photo below of it with Southern Scenic from Dennis Kelly.
It was damaged in an incident in Harrison Cove, Milford Sound on 13-02-1963 during the search for the missing De Havilland DH90 ZK-AFB. Its registration was cancelled soon after. 

The damaged aircraft ended up with Rex Aviation Ltd at Momona who rebuild it and had it flying again on 09-07-1969 and re-registered as ZK-CZW with the amended c/n of 30961R.
The following day it was listed to Aviation Contracts Ltd of Invercargill and then to Skeggs Fisheries Ltd of Dunedin on 04-09-1969.
It is seen above at Invercargill on 26-07-1969.
Unfortunately it had a short life because on 22-12-1969 it was damaged on Ruggedy Beach, Stewart Island when it was struck by a wave
It registration was cancelled on 23-01-1970.

The remains went into storage and were noted in the hands of J M and B N Coulter of Auckland in November 1982.


Now we need to look at the Cessna 182 ZK-BRI.

This airframe was c/n 33690 and was listed to the Cessna Aircraft Company as N5690B and was imported via Rural Aviation Ltd and registered here on 27-09-1956 with its CofA being issued on 01-11-1956.It was registered to Tauranga Air Service Ltd from 28-03-1957 and joined Bay of Plenty Airways Ltd on 10-03-1959.
 Photo above at Tauranga by Des White.
And below in Bay Of Plenty Airways colour scheme from Don Noble.
Following BoP Airways collapse it went to James Aviation (Rotorua) Ltd at Rotorua from 26-10-1962 and then transferred to the Rotorua Aero Club on 30-08-1965 but was quickly sold on to the Tawanui Estate Ltd of Cambridge in November 1965 and transferred to Brian Oliver of Cambridge from 10-11-1971.

From 22 March 1977 it went on the 'for sale' line with Dennis Thompson International Ltd at Ardmore.Above ZK-BRI at Paraparaumu in June of 1977.

 Evidently it was sold to David Culham (Culham Engineering) of Whangarei.  
Alas before registration transfer the aircraft was badly damaged during a hand start on a strip at Waipaipai, north east of Whangarei on 12-02-1979.  

The aircraft was then sold 'as is' to L W Sutherland of Pukekohe, later of Levin. 
Its registration being cancelled on 12-02-1991 as pending rebuild.


Now back to ZK-CZW.  

As mentioned above - Bruce Coulter of Auckland was listed with the remains in November 1982.

If I recall correctly Bruce was a founding shareholder in Gulf Aeronautics and that after the completion of the Hawker Sea Fury ZK-SFR certification they took on the rebuild of ZK-BFT/ZK-CZW as started by Bruce Coulter.

This was rebuilt from the Manufacturers Plate up using parts of the original ZK-CZW/ZK-BFT and also major parts from the damaged Cessna 182 ZK-BRI 

About this time Jim Pavitt took ownership of Gulf Aeronautics with Bruce going to Airwork and the Cessna 180 rebuild was dusted off and the wings rebuilt using a lot of new material from a huge stack of Cessna 180, 185 and 188 stock acquired from Motor Holdings (I think). 
Many of the part numbers being the same across all three models.

Also having a significant input on the rebuild was Wal Denholm and James Ross with Bruce Cooke working on painting preparation and final assembly.  .  

The rebuild was returned to the register on 10-06-1991 - listed with Academy Aviation Ltd (Another of Jim Pavitt's Companies) of Auckland as ZK-CZW. 
A float kit was also installed during the rebuild.

About this time the CAA were tidying up their paperwork on the rebuilt aircraft c/n plates with the  "R" prefix or suffix indicating rebuilds - many of which had been given a new registration after their rebuild.  Many of these aircraft were reverted back to the original allocated registration.

Because it was rebuilt around the original manufacturers plate of ZK-BFT this rebuild was re registered as such on 13-11-1991 with Academy Aviation.

Below a rather poor copy of ZK-BFT taken by Bruce Cooke outside the Gulf Aeronautics hangar at Ardmore.
 Date unknown, but early 1990's.
In August of 2000 ownership passed to Meringa Farms Ltd out of Taumarunui whom re registered it as ZK-FDP2 (the initials of its new owner) the same day.
Noted at Taupo 13-04-2002 wearing "Precious" on it fin.

It was damaged on a farm strip near Taumarunui on 24-01-2016 and its registration was cancelled on 28-04-2016.

Following repairs at New Plymouth (or was it at Norfolk Road ?) it was again re registered back to its original ZK-BFT with a change of paint scheme dated 14-06-2016 back to its 1954 colours with small registration letters across its fin and rudder.
It also has the small 'Capt Frank' on the pilots door. (presumably for Frank Pullen of Meringa Farms)

It is seen below at Norfolk Road on in February 2017

Above as seen at Rangiora on 19-12-2021.


  1. Well done that man! You surely put a lot of work into this post.

  2. Thanks Sir Minty.
    There are a few gaps that it would be nice to get filled in.
    Maybe we will get some constructive comments.