22 April 2015
MEMORIES: The arrival of Air Chathams’s vintage Douglas DC3 at Whakatane Airport this weekend will ignite the memories of older Eastern Bay residents.
Back in November 1968 a crowd of 2000 gathered at the airport on a Sunday afternoon to farewell the National Airways Corporation (NAC) DC3 that had been servicing the region.
The mayor of the time, Rex Morpeth, was there to see the Skyliner Blenheim off on its last scheduled flight from Auckland to Gisborne. So was captain Fred Douglas, first officer Ken Mulgrew, hostess Bronwyn Evans, the airline’s general manager DA Patterson and other dignitaries.
There was a welcome by the Tawera cultural group with music by the Whakatane Citizen’s Band, and the DC3 was led to the terminal building by the Whakatane Scottish Pipe Band and the town’s senior and junior marching teams.
After take-off it made a circuit of the town then headed for Gisborne for the last time.
Photos from the event featured in the Bay of Plenty Photo News the following week.
NAC was New Zealand’s national domestic airline from 1947 until 1978 when it amalgamated with the country’s international airline, Air New Zealand.
PLANS for the Airport Open day on Sunday are gaining momentum, with new activities being added every day.
Event organiser Jennifer Manning said there were lots of kids’ activities planned, including a bouncy castle, face painting and various fun games.
“And there’s a full day’s worth of entertainment from Eastern Bay performers, who are donating their time to help celebrate the day.”
Air Chathams has organised a visit by a Vampire fighter jet and a formation of Russian Yak aircraft will provide a static display, with flyovers planned at 11.00am and 2.00pm.
The airline’s Metroliner and Convair passenger fleet will also be on display, with tours of the 50-seat Convair available throughout the day.
Air Chatham’s manager Duane Emeny said company staff were looking forward to showcasing their fleet and meeting local aviation enthusiasts.
“We’re also offering low-cost scenic flights on our Douglas DC3, ‘Pouwhaitere’, one of the classic New Zealand passenger planes, so it’s going to be a really great day.”
Visitors will also be able to view a ground display of Whakatane operators’ aircraft, along with displays of vintage cars and retro-caravans.
Entry to the event will be via a gold coin donation, with the profits raised going to worthy local activities co-ordinated by the Whakatane Sunrise Rotary Club.
Food and refreshments will be available to raise funds for the Air Training Corps and Interact (Youth Rotary).
Those taking the midday Air New Zealand flight to Auckland on Sunday are advised to allow extra time to travel to the airport, as traffic will be heavier than normal. Parking outside the terminal building will be limited to passengers only.
Air Chathams’ Whakatane Air Services’ inaugural flight will land in Whakatane at 9.30am on Tuesday, April 28 – a special initiative by Air Chathams to ensure connections are available after Air New Zealand’s final flight, which departs from Whakatane at 6.50am that day.
From then on, daily scheduled services will operate to Auckland.
Source: Whakatane Beacon