A TRIP BACK in time

Go Travel New Zealand - - Auckland -

She was reg­is­tered as ZK-DAK and un­der­went an ex­ten­sive re­build, with the in­ten­tion of cre­at­ing a liv­ing legacy in ex­cel­lent fly­ing con­di­tion, mo­ti­vated by con­cern that the air­craft which had been the back­bone of mil­i­tary and com­mer­cial avi­a­tion was be­com­ing ex­tinct from the world’s skies. A new liv­ery re­vealed in 2007 now rep­re­sents NZ3546 from No.42 Squadron at the time of its re­tire­ment from RNZAF ser­vice in 1977. “These are the air­craft that won the war,” says Jes­sica Cooper, ad­min­is­tra­tor and one of the cabin crew of Fly DC3 New Zealand. “They were used to tow glid­ers, they trans­ported troops and nurses and dropped parachutists into oc­cu­pied Europe.” In peace­time, as com­mer­cial pas­sen­ger air­lines de­vel­oped, the DC-3 was again the main­stay. The tech­nol­ogy of the DC-3 com­pletely rev­o­lu­tionised com­mer­cial travel world­wide. NAC (Na­tional Air­ways Cor­po­ra­tion in NZ) had 29 DC-3s in its fleet. She is still pri­vately owned by a syn­di­cate in­clud­ing all the pi­lots, and a cou­ple of the cabin crew. This Clas­sic DC-3 air­liner is used for scenic and char­ter flights around Auck­land or to any­where in New Zealand, at air­shows, for para­chute jumps and even aerial buri­als. The most pop­u­lar char­ter is ‘Lunch at Whi­tianga.’ All the cap­tains are cur­rent or for­mer air­line pi­lots. An­nual crew train­ing and checks en­sure on-go­ing pro­fes­sional CAA op­er­at­ing stan­dards. “Our DC-3 is one of the very few world­wide that is main­tained and op­er­ated with an AOC (Air­line Op­er­at­ing Cer­tifi­cate). We do this for love,” Cap­tain Geoff Cooper says. “Ev­ery cent is put back into the op­er­a­tion and main­te­nance of the air­craft. Fly DC3 is a fully li­censed air­line and has to meet Civil Avi­a­tion Author­ity stan­dards. There’s a big ad­van­tage in be­ing a reg­is­tered air­line be­cause we get treated ac­cord­ingly but at the same time we get charged ac­cord­ingly,” Geoff says. “Our cabin is kept ‘retro’ in style. How­ever, the seats are all Boe­ing 767 to main­tain CAA stan­dards.” All crew are un­paid. Crew work on their days off for scenic flights, or take time off from their paid jobs to op­er­ate the char­ter flights and air­shows. One thing is guar­an­teed, though: When the Pratt and Whit­ney en­gines roar to life with that un­mis­tak­able sound, ev­ery­one on board knows that they are ‘fly­ing back in time’.

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