Thursday 29 February 2024

Ardmore Today - I Went for the Mosquito but I Stayed for the Spitfire

I had to travel down to North Shore today so I phoned Avspecs and was told that the Mosquito would be out this morning but they couldn't advise the time.  It did not take me long to head off down the motorway, leaving Warkworth at 9.15 and arriving at Ardmore at 10.30:

Just as the crew hooked up ZK-PWL/NZ2308 to tow it back into the hangar!  I would have been gutted if I had been 10 minutes later!

The day was stunning and so was the Mosquito.

I missed hearing the sound of 3 Merlins but I did not miss the Merlin sound as Doug Brooker was doing lots of circuits in ZK-WDQ/MH367:

In the morning he was flying off Runway 21, 

And after a coffee break the wind swung around so he was flying off Runway 03.

A great day and I took a lot of photos, so I might post some more tomorrow.

Wednesday 28 February 2024

Pauanui 28 February

Amongst a gathering of 6 Yak 52s at Pauanui airfield today for aerobatics practise was one not often seen, ZK-ZAY up from New Plymouth.   This was originally imported from Lithuania in 1995 initially aspiring to become ZK-YAQ,  before settling on ZAY.

Also visiting was the 1965 model Cessna 182H ZK-DCD in a new paint scheme to that blogged previously.   This has been with an Otorohanga owner since 2021.


Tuesday 27 February 2024

FENZ training at Nelson Airport.

 This morning FENZ (Fire and Emergency New Zealand) carried out a firefighting training session by the Western grass area at Nelson Airport utilising ZK-HPE4 the Airbus Helicopters AS 350 B2 operated by Nelson Helicopters Ltd.

Four FENZ units, (including a tanker) and around 15 personnel set up a portable "pond" from which to pump into the "bucket".   
Very interesting to watch.   
I understand that most of the FENZ people were nine months through their training run by National Training Staff.  
This is the second time this month I have observed this activity taking place.

Monday 26 February 2024

Gulfstream GVII N7KS and Airbus A330 VH-EBL into Christchurch.

 Cruising into Christchurch today, February 26th, was the Gulfstream GVII G500 N7KS c/n 72014.
Another aircraft hidden in TVPX Aircraft Solutions Inc Trustee system.
I believe it was previously N5GG and N514GD.

Another drop in today was the Airbus A330-203 VH-EBL4 c/n 0976.
This first flew as F-WWKU on 14-11-2008 and became VH-EBL4 on 26-11-2008 to Qantas Airways Ltd of Sydney.
It was parked up during the covid pandemic and returned to the air wearing this 
"QANTAS Pride In The Air" scheme.

It returned to Sydney later in the day.

Homebuilt Helicopters of New Zealand - ZK-HVB

Back in September 2022 I started a series on homebuilt helicopters of New Zealand and one of my earliest posts was on early models of the Rotorway Executive.  This post is HERE  In the post I have photos of all of our early Exec helicopters except one, that being ZK-HVB.  I managed a photo of it outside its Gordonton hangar from a satellite! but that was the best I could do despite trying quite hard.

Now a nice photo of ZK-HVB has been found on the AustAirData site, taken by the late Bob Kerr:

ZK-HVB (c/n 33834) taken at Ardmore in March 1986.

Thanks for the use of the photo Tony.

Sunday 25 February 2024

Air New Zealand Airbus A 320 NEO ZK-NHE

We have covered most of Air New Zealand's recent Airbus A 320 and 321 NEO aircraft but one we have missed is ZK-NHE:

ZK-NHE (c/n 10569) was registered in October 2021.  From what I saw it mainly flies trans Tasman from Christchurch so bad form from our spotters down there!  Thanks for the photo Tim.

And there is another that we have not covered, being the Airbus A 321 NEO ZK-OYD.  I think there is a story here - can anyone in the know fill us in?

Saturday 24 February 2024

Speaking of ZK-AFO. Plus the Lockheed 10A Electra ZK-AFD.

 Peter Layne reports from Waharoa.

While at the Vintage Kiwi Glider rally recently a very welcome visitor arrived and spent a few hours at Waharoa.

I had this photo of Rob Mackley and me taken.
Our fathers flew the original ZK-AFD several times together for NAC back in 1947. 
This original Lockheed 10A Electra ZK-AFDc/n 1095 as flown by Rob and Peter's fathers came factory new to New Zealand in May 1937 and served with Union Airways of NZ Ltd which became NZNAC in April of 1947. Its cutaway fuselage is now on display at MoTaT, Auckland.

Above. Rob and Peter in front of the Electra ZK-AFD2 c/n 1145.

Above a photo favouring the Linea Aerea Nacional (LAN Chile) side.
Below is the Union Airways side.

Also at Waharoa on the 14th was Rae Kerr, a long time glider pilot, who provided the above photo of the starboard side of ZK-AFD.

During the rest of the week Tim Galpin's immaculate Tiger Moth ZK-AFO was present but not on this day - so I missed out on getting AFD and AFO together for a photo shoot.

Nice all round.

Friday 23 February 2024

Mosquito ZK-PWL/NZ2308 Engine Runs at Ardmore Today

The DH 98 Mosquito T 43 ZK-PWL marked as NZ2308 was wheeled outside by the Avspecs crew this afternoon for some engine runs and Wayne Grant was there to take the photos:

(Posted between overs)

Tiger Moth ZK-AFO - Not Your Average Tiger

About a year ago a long term Tiger Moth restoration project was completed at Tauranga by Tim Galpin.  But this was not any old Tiger Moth restoration, although others might have been amazing.  This was a restoration of the first Tiger Moth to have flown in New Zealand.  ZK-AFO along with ZK-AFN were the first two Tiger Moths to arrive in New Zealand way back in December 1937 on board the MV Port Campbell.  They were transported to RNZAF Hobsonville and assembled, and ZK-AFO (c/n 3630) was registered to the Auckland Aero Club on 7 January 1938.  That was more than 86 years ago and you would have thought it would be written off somewhere along the way as most aircraft from that era were.

ZK-AFO was operated by the Auckland Aero Club for around 20 months before the clouds of war saw it impressed into the RNZAF on 1 October 1939 as NZ720.  Not much is known of its RNZAF service but it would no doubt have been used as a primary trainer along with hundreds of other Tiger Moths in Elementary Flying Training Schools around the country.  It survived the war and was struck off charge on 10 June 1948.  It was re-registered onto the New Zealand Civil Register as a Government gift aircraft to the Hawera Aero Club, being re-registered as ZK-ASA on the same day.  However the Hawera Aero Club did not use their gift Tiger Moth and it was stored until 1950.

The early 1950s saw the beginning of the fledgling aerial topdressing industry in New Zealand and Tiger Moths were cheap and available.  So on 4 March 1950 ZK-ASA’s ownership transferred to Tom Withy who was an engineer for Air Contracts, and then on 20 April 1950 it was registered to the newly formed Air Contracts Ltd of Masterton, and it became their Fleet No 1.

It is very interesting and informative to chronicle ZK-ASA’s six year history as an aerial topdresser, and it gives an insight into those days:  On 3 May 1950 it struck a fence at Awatoitoi.  It was repaired and then on 31 October it was damaged when it taxied into a fuel pump at Masterton.  On 3 October 1951 it suffered a wire strike near Martinborough and then on 23 March 1953 it had a forced landing near Masterton.  On 10 February 1955 it had another forced landing, this time a Whangaehu and on 24 April 1955 it crashed nat Te Awanga.  It was rebuilt again as on 7 September 1955 it crashed again, this time at Matahiwi.  Then on 7 April 1956 it hit a loader at Rangitahuna and finally it overturned at Eketahuna on 25 June 1956.  I reckon it was quite fortunate to survive its topdressing career!

It was leased to the Wairarapa and Ruahine Aero Club later in 1956 and was converted back to a 2 seater.  It was then sold to D B Fraser of Masterton in April 1957 and finally in March 1958 ownership changed to Aerial Advertising Ltd of Nelson, with whom its last flight took place on 13 April 1958.   However this was also not the end of the line for the indomitable Tiger Moth as it then made its way to the late John Smith’s collection at Mapua from August 1959.  John Smith sold it twenty years later, in January 1979 to P J Burns of Christchurch and then on 27 August 1981 it was acquired by aircraft restorer John Galpin of Te Puke and it has been in the Galpin family ever since. 

John Galpin re-registered the Tiger Moth as ZK-AFO in November 1981 but that lapsed until it was restored to the register by John’s son Tim Galpin at Tauranga on 12 July 2019.  Tim has now completed the restoration to an excellent standard including restoring it to its original colours, and it is now flying at Tauranga as shown in these great photos by Warwick Hamilton taken on 15 February.

Thanks to Peter Lewis and Warwick Hamilton for providing photos and to Dave Paull for the history.


Thursday 22 February 2024


 Aerospatiale - Alenia (Avions de Transport Regional) ATR72-212A  c/n 624 was listed as F-WWEW followed by F-WQKI to Aerospatiale and then registered as ZK-MCF2 to Mount Cook Airlines Ltd of Christchurch on 30-11-1999. 
It first flew on 02-12-1999 and was ferried into Christchurch via Darwin and Brisbane on 20-12-1999. 
It became part of Air New Zealand Ltd from 10-12-2019.
Its last revenue flight was from Rotorua to Christchurch on 04-02-2020.
Its registration was finally cancelled on 08-03-2023.
ZK-MCJ pictured above at Christchurch on 27-09-2005 in its Air New Zealand Link scheme.
Under the cockpit it carries "Operated by Mount Cook Airlines Ltd".

At Christchurch on 09-12-2006.

Above. On finals into Christchurch in its ANZ Link scheme on 20-07-2014.
Below. Finals into Christchurch in its Air New Zealand scheme on 15-01-2015.

ZK-MCJ parked up in storage mode at Christchurch on 24-12-2020 minus some vital parts.

By 14-10-2022 it was minus its tailplane and all markings except its registration letters.

Noted on 03-03-2023 awaiting transport to its new home at Tauranga.

Aviation historian Peter Layne at Classic Flyers Aviation Museum has provided the following details. 

You may be aware that ATR72 ZK-MCJ has been undergoing maintenance at Tauranga Airport by Classic Flyers volunteer engineers, preparing it for use by JNP Aviation Training Ltd as a training aid. 

The main work undertaken by the volunteers was to the tail section which, when spread out on the hangar floor, took up an appreciable amount of room. The rudder was blended to the rest of the tail fin as one fixed unit so now it does not have a steerable rudder. 

On 8 February 2024 the wings and tail sections were reinstated, giving it back some of its dignity but not all, as it has had the letters ZF applied to the nose wheel doors, which seems a strange thing to do given Air New Zealand currently operate ZK-MZF.

Peter has provided two photographs as below, taken on 08-02-2024.
Showing the wings being reattached and the single piece fin/rudder.
Plus the "ZF" on the nosewheel door.

 JNP provides extensive training on ground based activities and it will be interesting to see how it develops when completed

More info on JNP Aviation can be found  HERE.

There is also an article by Cory Tyler of Classic Flyers covering the re-assembly of ZK-MCJ at Tauranga published by Key Aero   HERE

Safari ZK-IOU

Noted doing circuits at Ardmore today was the Canadian Home Rotors Safari ZK-IOU which was registered to its Tuakau owner in 2021.


Wednesday 21 February 2024

Pauanui 21 Feb

Visiting the Pauanui airfield today was the Kerikeri based Grumman G44A Widgeon ZK-CFA which flew directly down with a flight time of 1hr 7min.    It departed after lunch back to Kerikeri.


Monday 19 February 2024

Vans RV 3 ZK-PMH Active Again

Another of the late Michael Wilkins' aircraft collection at Matamata is now active again and is photo'd at the Vans RV flyin hosted by the Turangi Aero Club yesterday:

RV 3 ZK-PMH was our first RV 3 and was built by Phil Higgins of Rotorua back in the 1980s.  It has only been referred to once previously on the blog (see HERE ).  Ownership transferred to Michael Wilkins in July 2003 but I don't know if it ever flew with him.  After Michael Wilkins' passing ownership transferred to J R Main of Hamilton on 27/7/22.

Sunday 18 February 2024

Luscombe 8E N1529B

 This Luscombe 8E Silvaire Deluxe N1529B c/n 6156 flew from Tauranga to Whanganui, Omaka and to Ashburton on Friday. It has since carried out local flights from Ashburton around Banks Peninsula and back to Ashburton and headed into the Ashburton Lakes region today.It has been listed on the US register to Gordon Richardson and Stuart Macpherson of Polson, MT since 21-01-2020.
Built in 1948 as an upgraded version of the model 8C incorporating an 85 hp Continental and with an all metal wing and single wing struts.
It has been noted at several other airfields around the North Island recently.
It was photographed above at Ashburton by Aaron Murphy.

The Omaka Japchang

Seen at Omaka recently was the repainted (with a registered colour scheme) Nanchang CJ-6 ZK-KWI3 (c/n 2432027):

The Nanchang has been repainted in Japanese colours and is referred to as the Japchang!

Owner Roger Wadham of Blenheim has a Facebook page for the aircraft titled the Japchang Fanpage at: where you can see it in more detail including other whimsical touches.

Saturday 17 February 2024

A new Savannah

Visiting Pauanui airfield this morning was another new addition to our ever increasing Savannah fleet being  ZK-SGB which was registered to a Tauranga owner in March 2023


Friday 16 February 2024

RNZAF C 130J Super Hercules Roll Out at Lockheed Martin

Not civil but of interest to most I think was the roll out of the RNZAF's first C 130J Super Hercules at the Lockheed Martin production facility at Marietta in Georgia USA

It can be seen that the new aircraft wears the serial NZ7011.

Wednesday 14 February 2024

Heli Sika Poronui Station Base

A visit today to the Heli Sika hunting & fishing base east of Taupo found their two Hughes 500s busy with clients being the 369E ZK-HWB3 which has been with the company since importation from the US in 2001.

And 369D ZK-HZY3 which was imported from South Korea in 2019.


Over the Mahurangi Towards Sunset

With my freshly minted BFR in my logbook I went for a flight in ZK-KMM aka Honey Bebe in the late early evening yesterday.  It was magical up there - so smooth and with wonderful late light giving long shadows.  I took off at 1910 hrs and flew down to the Mahurangi rivermouth and back:

Lots of boats moored in the Mahuangi River off Scotts Landing.

Honey Bebe back on the ground at Kaipara Flats around 2000 hrs.

So nice to be back flying my Jodel with no flaps, no trim and no brakes!  Pure flying?