Rare old bird snared to bring home

The Southland Times - - NEWS - JACK BAR­LOW

Deep in the Ama­zo­nian jun­gle, an am­bi­tious Kiwi air­line re­cov­ery pro­gramme looks set to score a ma­jor coup.

Bring Our Birds Home (BOBH), which was formed to re­cover sev­eral rare ex-New Zealand air­lin­ers, is on the verge of se­cur­ing a derelict Dou­glas DC-8 from Manaus, Brazil.

Paul Bren­nan, of Welling­ton, said the group had been in ex­ten­sive dis­cus­sions with the plane’s owner, and was about to make an of­fer on the ex-Air New Zealand and Tas­man Em­pire Air­lines Ltd (TEAL) air­liner.

‘‘We don’t quite have enough to buy it out­right, but we do have enough pledged sup­port to put money down on it.

‘‘The first pri­or­ity is to own the air­plane, be­cause if you don’t own that you don’t own any­thing,’’ Bren­nan said.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion is try­ing to raise $50,000 in four weeks, which will se­cure the plane and pay for its in­spec­tion.

An as­so­ci­ate of the or­gan­i­sa­tion has al­ready been to Manaus to see the plane and or­gan­ise meet­ings with its own­ers.

Bren­nan knew the fi­nan­cial tar­get was am­bi­tious, but said it was within the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s grasp. It had made a strong start, rais­ing $1000 a day over four work­ing days.

‘‘We’re do­ing bites,’’ he said.

‘‘The money won’t all come from crowd­fund­ing, al­though that will be a key part of it. If our fol­low­ers all gave $20 or $30 . . . that would take care of it pretty eas­ily.’’

There will still be hur­dles to face if the plane is se­cured, not least of which is trans­port­ing it out of the Ama­zon, but there are plans in place for ev­ery stage of the plane’s jour­ney.

BOBH has been in touch with an Amer­i­can air­craft dis­man­tling com­pany that has ex­ten­sive the fund­ing in ex­pe­ri­ence tak­ing air­lin­ers apart, in­clud­ing a DC-8.

Be­yond that, the prob­lem of where to store the planes – which ini­tially, for want of a bet­ter op­tion, was set to be the Ari­zona desert – has also been solved, with Wanaka’s National Trans­port and Toy Mu­seum agree­ing to house them.

‘‘It’s a great lo­ca­tion ... there’s no need for the desert now,’’ Bren­nan said.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion is also look­ing into se­cur­ing the other planes on its list, which in­clude a Boe­ing 737 and Boe­ing 747, Dou­glas DC-10 and a Lock­heed Elec­tra.

‘‘With the DC-8, if we don’t buy it it’ll be scrapped,’’ he said.

‘‘We re­ally want to res­cue these planes. They’re the only ones left, and we want to see them come home.’’

A for­mer Air New Zealand DC-8 which has been found in the Ama­zon. It will be brought back to New Zealand if suf­fi­cient funds can be found.

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