05 May 2013

Fly N Sea - Fiordland Travel




Some weeks ago Rex Dovey made contact with me and helped me sort out in my own mind something of the development of the Queenstown flight seeing operations. This is one branch of the story.


Fiordland Travel was founded in the early 1950’s by Les and Olive Hutchins. Their initial focus was on the Lake Manapouri and Doubtful Sound area. By the the mid 1960’s the company had acquired the Te Anau Glow-worm Caves and later development saw the establishment of cruises on Milford Sound and the purchase of the iconic steamship, the TSS Earnslaw which cruises Lake Wakatipu.

In 1987, Fiordland Travel took to the skies with the establishment at Queenstown of Milford Sound Fly N Sea initially using two Cessna 207A Stationair 8 II’s, ZK-FTL (c/n 20700728) and ZK-LAW (c/n 20700723). The mainstay of Fiordland Travel’s operation were the flights to Milford Sound but other scenic flights were also operated from Queenstown. These flights fed into the company’s Milford Sound cruises.
 
The two Cessna 207s at Queenstown on 24 October 1987
 
 
Later the two Cessnas were joined by GAF N22C Nomad (N22C-55) and GAF N24A Nomad ZK-FVX (N24A-46) and a new colour scheme was adopted.

The new colour scheme - the two Cessna 207s at Queenstown on 23 February 1992 
 

The GAF N22 Nomad at Queenstown on 24 July 1993.
 
The GAF N24 Nomad ZK-FVX at Queenstown on 23 February 1992.
Back in 1986 Mount Cook Airlines started to rebrand its Queenstown-based general aviation division Milford Sound Flightseeing. But after Air New Zealand's takeover of Mount Cook Airline there was less interest in its general aviation divisions. The Fiordland Travel name started to disappear in 1993 when Fiordland Travel bought a 25% stake in Mount Cook’s Milford Sound Flightseeing. Only the N24 Nomad, ZK-FVX, was to carry Mount Cook titles.

 
In 1988 Air New Zealand sold the Mount Cook Airline general aviation fleets at Mount Cook and Queenstown. The Fiordland Travel took another 25% of the Queenstown operation with The Helicopter Line taking the other 50%. At this time the name was changed to Tourism Flightseeing.
 
Dennis Duvall puts the finishing touches on the tail of Cessna 207 ZK-LAW while behind are ex Mount Cook Airline's BN Islander ZK-DBV and Fiordland Travel's Nomad ZK-FVU. This was the scheme that was adopted after Mount Cook Airlines sold out.

 
In 2002 The Helicopter Line sold its share and Fiordland Travel took over the whole company and subsequently changed its name to Real Journeys

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