This blog started off by focussing on NZ's smaller 3rd level airlines, past and present. It has evolved to trying to present some record of NZ's domestic airline operations and some of the larger charter operators, interesting NZ international airliner movements and photos I have taken around the country. Comments, corrections or contributions are welcome, Steve - firstname.lastname@example.org
23 December 2012
Dargaville's first air service started 55 years ago today
having the destination of New Zealand’s first email flight in 1919 it was not
until Christmas time 1957 that Dargaville received its first air service. Part
of the problem was that Dargaville lacked a suitable aerodrome. In 1955 Doug Lock
and Frank Brookes established Northern Aviation Topdressing Ltd and established
a topdressing strip on Awakino Road. The site was cleared of tea-tree and scrub
and levelled sufficiently for their purposes. Eventually, Northern Aviation
Topdressing Ltd. moved to Whangarei and when the Dargaville Aero Club was
re-incorporated in October 1956, the airfield—such as it was then became
available to it. The club set about filling a large gully and this work cost
the club some £550. Other work included the felling and topping of trees,
sowing the grass and preparing the runways.
was to be some 12 months, however, before the airfield In mid-December 1957 the
Auckland Aero Club’s Mr R. J. Selby flew their Cessna 180 to Dargaville to
promote the Club’s proposed service. Representatives from the Dargaville
Borough Council and Hobson County Council and a Northland Times reporter were
taken on promotional flights.
new service began on the 23rd of December 1957 when, at 9.00 am, the
Auckland Aero Club’s Cessna 180, ZK-BUF, touched down on the Northern Wairoa Aero
Club’s newly licenced aerodrome on Awakino Road. The first flight was flown by the
Auckland Aero Club’s Mr R. Shand, and the first flight carried Mr A. P Jones, the
secretary of the Auckland Aero Club, and the first commercial passenger, Mr W.
J. Thomasen of Auckland.
Northland Times, 28 December 1957
new service was designed to connect with the first southbound NAC flight out of
Whenuapai at 8.00 a.m. This meant the Cessna would leave its Mangere base at 6.15
a.m. daily, arriving at Dargaville by 6.50 a.m. Transport left the local agent,
McKay's Electrical, for the airfield at seven o’clock and the plane was
scheduled to depart for Auckland at 7.15 a.m. If there were passengers for
Whenuapai the plane landed there at 7.40 a.m. before continuing on to arrive at
Mangere at 7.55 a.m. enabling any passengers for Auckland to be in the city by
8.30 p.m. The afternoon schedule had a 5.55 p.m. departure from Mangere at 5.55
p.m. picking up, as necessary, any passengers for Dargaville at Whenuapai. The
plane arrived at Dargaville at 6.45 p.m. and returned for Mangere at 7.00 p.m. arriving
there at 7.40 p.m.
The Auckland Aero Club's Cessna 180, ZK-BUF. Photo : D White Collection
new service enabled Dargaville residents to fly to Invercargill in one day. With
the summer evenings shortening the timetable changed on the 20th of
February 1958. Advertising announcing this reported that “the use of the
travelling public of Dargaville has not been as great as was anticipated and
that it is hoped that the new timetable will better suit the needs of the air
traveller.” The new timetable was not, however, as well suited for Dargaville
people. The morning flight did not leave Dargaville until 9.00 a.m. and the return
flight from Mangere left at 4.00 p.m. giving Dargaville business people a much
shorter day in Auckland. This advertisement was the last mention of the air service in the Northland Times and the service appears to have petered out shortly after this.