Bristol Freighter sold to the UK
One of the last Bristol 170 Freighters, with a special place in New Zealand aviation history, is reaching its final resting place.
The plane, which sits at Ardmore Airport, has been sold to United Kingdom industrial heritage museum Aerospace Bristol.
It is one of only 11 complete examples that remain throughout the world and will be put on public display there.
The freighter is no longer airworthy and is being stripped down to its fuselage. It will be shipped on a roll-on-roll-off Wallenius Wilhelmsen vessel.
The journey will take around 80 days from Auckland to Portsmouth, England. From there, it will be trucked to Bristol.
The wings, engines and propellers have been removed for storage to meet UK road load-size limitations.
Dwen Airmotive managing director Mark Dwen, the plane’s former owner, says it’s been a ‘‘huge logistical challenge’’.
His father Ron bought the freighter, along with seven others, from the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) in 1978 after the planes were put out of commission.
They were flown from the air force base at Whenuapai to Ardmore Airport where Ron’s business was based, supplying aviation spare parts and engines around the world.
Over the years, some of the freighters went to Canada and were used in the Arctic Circle for gold mining and oil exploration operations. Some went to the UK for transporting thoroughbreds around Europe. Other freighters were used to transport bloodstock around New Zealand.
The last remaining freighter now needs a new home as Dwen Airmotive’s lease at Ardmore is up.
‘‘The freighter was one of the last items to be sold. This is not everyone’s idea of a nice plane.
‘‘It is a functional freight air- craft which, frankly, does not have much sex appeal, unlike say a Spitfire or even the DC3.
‘‘We had several offers to take it away and a few offers to buy it, but none of these met our requirements of finding a dignified end to this piece of New Zealand aviation history.’’
Going on display in a heritage museum was an appropriate choice, Dwen says.
A Bristol Freighter is used for unloading cars and passengers from France, Channel Air Ferry at Lympne, Kent, Jan 1954.