It started as a day out, in lieu of to birthday present, for my Dad but had a surprise ending even I didn’t anticipate. The Whitianga (Mercury Bay Aero Club) Warbirds and Wheels Air show was the drawcard but our mode of transport was an attraction itself, even made the local paper.
We flew from a rather gloomy damp Ardmore to sunny Whitianga in the Fly DC3 Dakota. The last time I flew in a propeller piston Douglas Commercial was a QANTAS DC4 Skymaster which operated into the mid ‘70’s servicing Norfolk Island. TEAL/Air New Zealand chartered these aircraft for the Auckland–Norfolk Island route from 1955 to June 1975. I think the Island was too small for large jets and the rules didn’t allow twin engine aircraft to fly that far over water. My grandparents lived at Norfolk and I still remember the, seemingly endless, flight I did at about age 6 or 7.
Fly DC3’s aircraft looks almost new with smart RNZAF colours. After the usual pre-flight formalities we were off to Whitianga. The crew are all current/former commercial airline staff dedicated to sharing their love of flying in this beautiful old aircraft. Although it was only a short 20 minute flight scooting over the Coromandel hills made for a fun flight.
The air show had a great mix of aircraft from WW2 era fighters, lovely Spitfire included, to modern super aerobatic aircraft.
The DC3 did several joyride flights during the day including taking up bunch of parachutists (more on that later) who did a brilliant display. Although it looks like a Mustang the 3/4 size Titan T-51 (bottom right) was interesting to see. I know someone who is building one and hope to get a ride when it is ready for passengers!
It wasn’t all overhead action with the local stock-cars racing on the Speedway Track beside the airfield.
Although we arrived pretty early, so the DC3 pilots could attend the air show briefing, the day literally flew by! There was a mix of formation and solo displays, aerobatics and even a gyrocopter to keep people gazing skyward.
Some modern hardware on display included jet trainer and winch patient recovery by the Westpac Helicopter.
We were supposed to fly home on the DC3 but arrived to find it wasn’t looking quite as smart as earlier in the day. A propeller seal had leaked spraying the engine & cowling with oil. I suspect old aircraft use a bit of oil but it appears this was a little bit too much!
Unfortunately the repair required removing the propeller, and a lot of cleaning I bet, so we weren’t able to fly home. The Fly DC3 folks were great; arranging a bus and DC3 wing shade bus stop to await its arrival!
Although it didn’t quite end as expected it was still a great day & I’m planning to Fly DC3 again!
Have your own DC3 experience here:
Enjoy the thrill of yesteryear with a flight in a fully restored dc3...
See more photos in my set on Flickr