DC3 finds mate AMY at Ashburton

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Photo: Ashburton Aviation Museum secretary Warren Janett with ZK-AWP crew members Keith Mitchell, Violet Gordon-Glassford and Daryl Pettit.

By Mick Jensen

Ashburton Aviation Museum’s own DC3, ZK-AMY, was pulled out to greet a South Island touring DC3 at Ashburton Airport on Monday.

ZK-AWP, a Chatham Airlines-owned and Tauranga-based aircraft, stopped briefly at the airfield on a 10-day tourist tour.

The mostly Australian tour group of 11 enjoyed morning tea and a tour of the impressive aviation museum, courtesy of local members.

Visiting pilot Keith Mitchell said ZK-AWP was close to clocking up 50,000 flight hours, many more than ZK-AMY, which had around 19,000 hours.

His aircraft had been modified, had bigger windows which improved the viewing experience.

ZK-AWP had originally been used by the New Zealand Air Force and was bought by NAC in 1955 and was used for both passenger and freight work.

Like ZK-AMY, it too had been used in Tonga for a few years, before returning to New Zealand.

It was now used for tourist flights, including the current tour which had stopovers in Dunedin, Invercargill, Gore and Queenstown.

The DC3 flew well and was likely to be the only public transport plane that would continue to be in the skies some 100 years after it was first manufactured, Mr Mitchell said.

The first commercial DC3 flights were in mid 1936.

The fixed-wing propeller-driven airliner with tailwheel-type landing gear revolutionised air transport in the 1930s and 1940s.

The fun and romance of travelling in the lower altitude flying machine remains a drawcard today.