history of DC-3 c/n 18923, by Gil White

ZK-CAW
C/n 18923

Manufactured by Douglas Aircraft Corporation at Long Beach in California and rolled off the production line on 1/10/1943. Aircraft was designated as a C-47A-65-DL. Delivered to the U.S.A.A.F on 15/10/1943 and allocated the U.S. serial number 42-100460 seeing war service in the Pacific theatre of operations. On 17/12/1943 aircraft arrived in Australia and saw war service with 40th Troop Carrier Squadron and used the radio callsign of VHCKM. Next saw service with 54th Troop Carrier Wing and whilst in service with this unit aircraft was affectionately named 'Hooser Traveller'.

From 28/4/1944 until 27/10/1944 it was lent to No 36 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force, which was based at Townsville. Returned to the U.S.A.A.F. at Archerfield and began being used as a transport by 69th Troop Carrier Squadron flying as far north as the Philippines until 31/12/1945 when it was withdrawn from service and placed in storage at Tacoblan on Leyte Island in the Philippines.

Purchased by Australian National Airways P/L and registered to the company on 6/2/1947. Whilst in service with company aircraft was named 'Yannana' which means South. Converted to Wright Cyclone engines during July 1947. Later saw service with Queensland Airlines P/L and registered to the company on 4/2/1956. Whilst in their service aircraft was renamed 'Darling Downs' after a region in Queensland. On 7/12/1958 ownership of aircraft was transferred to Ansett-ANA until 13/2/1961 when at that stage transferred to Airlines of New South Wales P/L and registered to the company on 14/2/1961. Aircraft was later converted to 'Viewmaster' configuration during September 1961.

Prior to departing Australia for service with South Pacific Airlines of New Zealand this aircraft was refitted with Pratt and Whitney Twin Wasp engines at Essendon. These engines were compatible with other aircraft in the fleet. Departed Melbourne on 22/12/1961 and routed via Sydney and Norfolk Island to New Zealand.

This was another of the DC-3s that were leased to South Pacific Airlines of New Zealand, which was based at Auckland. Whilst in New Zealand registered ZK-CAW on 13/10/1961 and struck off the Australian civil register on 14/10/1961. Whilst in their service aircraft was renamed RMA 'George Bolt' after a famous New Zealand pioneer aviator.

On 2/4/1964 shortly after takeoff from Alexandra a light illuminated in the cockpit, which indicated that, the airstair door was not closed. When it was being checked by the Captain it suddenly fell open. Luck was on the side of the Captain that day as he was first not sucked out in the slipstream nor did the door detach itself and strike the tailplane with dire results.

Efforts were made to raise the door but 'Lady Luck' was still riding with the crew that day as they returned to land the aircraft as no damage was sustained to the door on landing. Door was closed and flight continued on to its destination. On 22/3/1965 this aircraft carried mail under a new contract to the New Zealand Post Office. On 28/6/1965 this aircraft staged through Taupo carrying Royal Mail after the airport had been recently opened with a 4,500 foot runway. When this aircraft underwent a major overhaul with New Zealand National Airways Corporation a standard DC-3 door was fitted in August 1965.

Despite the help from Ansett the company finally ceased trading in February 1966. At this time in its career aircraft had flown 44,910 hours. Immediately purchased by New Zealand National Airways Corporation which was based at Wellington and registered to the company on 28/2/1966. Whilst in their service maintained the name of 'George Bolt' after a famous early New Zealand pilot and aircraft engineer.

In May 1966 leased by Qantas for a month and then seeing service with Fiji Airways from 6/6/1966 and reregistered VQ-FAI whilst on lease from New Zealand National Airways Corporation. Returned to the lessor on 05/08/1969 and immediately leased to Mount Cook Airline which was based at Christchurch. Later withdrawn from service and placed in storage at Christchurch to await its fate.

Sold to South Seas Airways, which was a charter company and later registered to them on 7/5/1971. As they were unable to obtain an operating licence and also the aircraft requiring an overhaul before entering service it was advertised for sale.

Purchased by Fieldair P/L on 13/5/1971 and converted to a crop sprayer but did not enter service in this new role until 22/11/1972. Whilst in service with the company aircraft was renamed 'Whio' which means Blue Duck. On 12/10/1981 it became a film star in the movie 'Carry me Back' when it was flown in formation with a helicopter to film a sequence over Wellington.

Aircraft ended its flying days when withdrawn from service on 29/10/1984 and placed in storage at Palmerston North after having flown 56,282 hours since rolling off the Long Beach production line. Sold to R Harding of Wanganui Aero Work Ltd and registered to the owner on 28/5/1985. Towed to Wanganui where it was the owner's intention to restore the aircraft back to airworthy condition and fly this aircraft in the New Zealand National Airways Corporation colour scheme but this proved cost prohibitive. Sold to R Cooper who was a proprietor of a car yard in Taupo.

Photo by D.Ellis Aircraft was towed by vehicle from Wanganui to his property at Tauhara on the outskirts of Taupo during 1989. On arrival there it was refurbished and repainted. Struck off the New Zealand civil register on 10/7/1990. Aircraft was moved to its current location during 1990 and overhangs the car yard and the adjacent Macdonald's Family Restaurant. Later McDonald's took over the aircraft as an extension of their restaurant and opened for business on 6/11/1990.

Aircraft is still in existence at Taupo in 2004 and is a fitting symbol of the first airline to service this tourist destination from 1961 until 1966. It was recently repainted and also included the famous McDonalds logo.

© Gil White

back to ZK-CAW at Survivors on Off-airport locations

See my Photos by Friends & Guests #47 for a 2016 update!


Gil White 2005IN MEMORIAM.
"It has been a great pleasure to have known you all, but my days are now numbered." -24Jun06.
Gil White passed away on 27Jun06. He will be remembered by me as a enthusiastic (Ansett) historian and a courageous person; may he rest in peace.



Last updated 27.3.2016