No 737 for museum – yet

Plans to put a Boeing 737-200 passenger jet aircraft on display inside a new Wanaka museum development have been thwarted - for the moment.

The National Transport and Toy Museum, at Wanaka Airport, already has in its collection of 50,000 items a Fokker Friendship and a Russian Mig-21 fighter.

But curator Jason Rhodes has his heart set on adding a 737.

He told the Otago Daily Times this week Air New Zealand had recently taken out of service two 737-200s - a model that first entered service in 1968.

However, his attempt to secure one was not successful.

Mr Rhodes said one was being retained by Air New Zealand for training but would be ''cut up'' and the other would be scrapped by an overseas company.

''They just want the components out of it. The components are worth more than the aircraft.''

Mr Rhodes' hopes now hang on securing one of the 737-300s Air New Zealand is disposing of later this year. He expects most 737s taken out of service would end up being scrapped.

''I'm just trying to see what we can save, because once they're gone, we'll never see them again in this country.

''We've just got to keep trying.''

He said the biggest cost in obtaining a 737 would not be the plane itself but the cost of flying it to Wanaka.

Mr Rhodes wants to house a 737 inside a building extension at the museum due to be constructed later this year.

One of the issues he has is keeping the height of the new building within the limits set by the Queenstown Lakes District Council.

It can be only 9m above ground level - exactly the height of a 737 tail section.

So, Mr Rhodes has dug a large hole to reduce the new building's height above the ground.

He hoped to have building consent by the end of next month and to begin pouring concrete over the winter or spring.



Plenty of ex Air NZ Boeing 737-200s still around...

All very, very interesting to hear, it's definitely the right move, kudos to Mr Rhodes for trying to get one. The 737 has flown millions within New Zealand since their inception, without a single passenger ever lost. It's simply one of the most successful stories of our transport industry, yet often one of the most unsung. I guess high efficiency often goes unnoticed - until it finishes. There must be few kiwis that haven't flown on one, be it on holiday, business or loved ones. The 737 in NAC or Air New Zealand is a true icon of kiwi-ana. Indeed one features on a movie presentation about Kiwi-ana in Te-Papa.

I'm not sure where his information came from, as there are a number of series 200 models still in existence the few for Air New Zealand, and even two of the early models that worked for NAC. Air New Zealand sold off the last of their 200 models by 2002, but one remained in service with Airwork NZ, flying the New Zealand post on the main trunk until 2011. This machine, (NZ rego ZK-NQC named 'Piopio') dating from 1982 is now at work in Alaska. Surely this could be earmarked for preservation to be repatriated to NZ, as it became the longest serving 737 to ever work in New Zealand, 29 years.

Then there is one of the very first batch, ZK-NAD 'Pukeko' (yes, thats whats behind my username here!) delivered to New Zealand in September 1968, the 66th 737 out of thousands built of all variants. This one sits partly derelict (but not beyond it) out to pasture in north Carolina, USA, and would be a very significant aircraft in value in time to come if restored. Time expired parts off withdrawn 200s would easily turn it into a complete display exhibit. Of course this one will need to be shipped over as deck cargo. But that has been done before.

I think this is the best idea as opposed to getting a '300, as it was the '200 that served NZ the longest- 33 years in passenger and 43 years total counting the post carrying machine that flew our skies till 2011.