Those magnificent men ...

Photo supplied.
Photo supplied.

Captain John Evan, of Blenheim (left), still active, and co-pilot Allen Pruden, who died three months ago in Blenheim, are photographed beside a Douglas DC3 in the early years of Mount Cook Airline in Queenstown.

DC3 airliner ZK-BKD, commanded by Captain Geoffrey Williams and co-pilot Alistair McLeod, made the first scheduled flight into Queenstown on February 3, 1964 and departed the next day with fare-paying passengers.

Plans to commemorate the pivotal episode in Wakatipu's fortunes and 50 years of continuous ZQN service by Mount Cook Airline are set for February next year.

''These were great pioneering days and the airline was largely responsible for bringing Queenstown into the modern tourism era that we see today,'' Queenstown aviator and commemoration co-ordinator Jules Tapper said.

''The airline and their parent company, the Mount Cook Group, were the main catalyst responsible for making this town the four-season destination that it now is. I was proud to have been a part of it.''

The airline, now owned by Air New Zealand, and the Queenstown Airport Corporation are supporting a short ceremony for the unveiling of a commemorative plaque on a boulder near the entrance of the airport terminal, followed by a cocktail party for invited guests on February 14.

Mr Tapper is calling on former staff members of the airline to reunite for a private dinner at Skyline on the following evening.

Mt Cook Airline's 50th anniversary

Your article brought back many memories.  I was an office girl at the Queenstown office on the waterfront, when with the manager, Jack Anderson, we were at the airport to meet the first commercial flight from Christchurch. I now live in Dunedin, and returned to Queenstown last year.  I could not believe the difference in the airport!