01 July 2012

Adastra Aviation - Tauranga's Temporary Airline




Adastra was a well-established aerial topdressing operator based in Tauranga. In 1966 the company won rights to operate a non-scheduled air service from Tauranga. This was for the period when Tauranga Airport was closed to larger NAC aircraft while a sealed runway was being constructed. Adastra’s services linked Tauranga with Auckland from 1 June 1966 until Thursday 17 August 1967 using Cessna 185D ZK-CKU. A Tauranga to Rotorua link was also operated for a short time. Several return services were operated daily. Media and special guests were carried on the inaugural return service from Tauranga to Auckland. The first fare-paying passenger was Mr P. Moore who flew from Rotorua to Tauranga on Flight 106 on the first day of operations, Wednesday 1 June 1966. Over the peak period of January/February 1967, Piper PA-23 Apache ZK-BYB, was hired for extra capacity. During the winter of 1967 the Tauranga/Auckland and return timetable was flown three times a day Monday to Saturday (with an extra service on Mondays and Fridays), and twice on Sundays. Over the period of operation eight Adastra pilots flew the service on a rotational basis. After the cessation of Adastra’s service, Gary Toulson the managing director of Adastra Aviation, was instrumental in forming the third level airline Sky Travel (NZ) Ltd, which briefly operated a network of North Island commuter routes during the first part of 1968. Adastra Aviation Ltd was taken over by James Aviation Ltd in 1971.

Timetable effective 19 August 1966-18 December 1966

An undated timetable but I am guessing effective 1 February 1967

PEOPLE:
Pilots included:
R.G (Gary) Toulson- managing director of Adastra
D.J. Phillips - chief pilot
Don Cummings- pilot
S.C. Richardson- pilot
W.D. (Derek) Williams- pilot
Blair Dickie- passenger services manager

AIRCRAFT:

Two photos of Adastra Aviation's Cessna 185 ZK-CKU... Note the Rotorua Tauranga Auckland titles under the windows. Photo taken at Auckland

CKU again, this time some time after the end of the air service and without the Rotorua Tauranga Auckland titles. Photo taken at Tauranga in March 1969.

ZK-CKU Cessna 185D (c.n.185-0931)- owned by Adastra Aviation Ltd
ZK-BYB Piper PA-23 Apache (c.n.23-1828)- leased from Mt Maunganui and Tauranga Stevedores Ltd to assist with peak summer loadings

REFERENCES:
- AHSNZ Journal, October 1967, Page 227
- Bay of Plenty Times- various references
- ‘Taking Off- Pioneering Small Airlines of New Zealand 1945-1970’ By Waugh, Gavin, Layne and McConnell, 2003, Page 205.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:
Peter Layne, Jack Browne and Neville Worsley for additional information.
Compiled by F.B. Gavin March 2004

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