ZK-AWO / NZ3548
Part Two - The Recovery
Following its life with
Fieldair, ZK-AWO was
reduced to spares outside Fieldair's hangar at Milson aerodrome,
North. Stripped of outer wings and tail surfaces, the fuselage
next to another derelict DC3 (ZK-CQA, which in 1987 was
also just a fuselage). One story I've heard (a bit of a tall one)
is that the two
caused a few eyebrows to be raised by those checking satellite
photographs of New Zealand as they looked for all the part like
inter-continental ballistic missiles!
photo was probably taken in the late 1980s. In the 1987 edition
New Zealand Air Directory, the
aircraft was listed as being owned by the Awapuni Motor Lodge in
Palmerston North but whether it was ever transported to the hotel is
not known. Can anyone else out there fill in the details?
the fuselage was bought by a
in Apiti, north-east of Feilding, and taken to his property. Due
difficulties, as well as pressure from the local council to remove an
the fuselage was broken up for scrap. At this point, Paul Svendsen,
from Feilding, on
hearing of the aircraft's final plight, managed to obtain the fuselage
section forward of the wings. This was placed on a tandem trailer
to a farm property near Feilding where it remained under a macrocarpa
from about 1993. This photograph shows the fuselage section
after recovery from Apiti.
photo, taken during the Apiti recovery, shows the aircraft stripped of
also useful fittings. Gone are overhead panels, windows,
instrument panel, throttle quadrant knobs, some floor panels and seats
(the seat shown here was out of an old car). Even so, at this
point the nose section was in a relatively clean condition.
a VW - open up the bonnet and there ain't no engine! This is the
view looking aft with the nose bonnet lifted up. This would give
access to the back of the instrument panel and hydraulic lines.
The two control wheels and throttle quadrant can be seen further back.
remains of ZK-AWO heads off to a farm near Feilding. For the next
seven years it sat outside in the weather and became home to sheep and
birds which left their usual
calling cards in the bottom of the fuselage. The only
"restoration" done during this period was the riveting of a panel into
the escape hatch hole to keep some of the rain out.
On 11 May
2000 I bought what remained - sight unseen. Paul had done a good job to
have rescued it from the scrapman but realised that it needed someone
preserve it before its condition got worse. This photograph shows
the nose section as found on the farm west of the Pohangina Valley,
near Feilding, on Saturday 10 June 2000. By this stage, it looked
as though it had been pulled out of a swamp! There were numerous
dents and holes in the underside skin due to it resting on logs, the
fuselage skin had rotted through, there was corrosion around the
windows and it had a good growth of flora. Helping with the
recovery were my nephew, Tom Rudge, and good friend Duncan Woolley
help of Paul's brother-in-law, we load the nose section onto a boat
trailer and tow it out of the saturated paddock with a tractor.
Do I detect a slight smile from the "face" of AWO?
recovering the nose section, I had a tough decision to make. Due
to the width of the fuselage, it posed a number of problems. For a
start, it would be wider than the trailer, which was a road safety and
issue. Also, the large size created a greater surface area for
the wind to catch - it may tip over in a gale. I also needed to
enclose the back end to make it weather tight. The logical
solution was to cut off a portion of the nose section. On viewing
the rotting lower fuselage skin that had been in contact with the
ground, the decision was a bit easier to make and, after visiting the
scrapman (not a pleasant experience!), the trimmed down nose section
was ready to be towed to the South Island.
the South Island again but without its wings! The sight of a DC3
heading down State Highway One certainly turned a few heads.
Here, the nose section is towed off the inter-island ferry Arahura in Picton.
cockpit before restoration began. A variety of interior paint
schemes were evident, with paint applied by brush. The throttle
quadrant was painted in a green rust primer, the walls were brushed on
yelllow, the forward section was white over original primer and the
behind the cockpit was a combination of white, various greens and matt