Former hostess' birthday recalls halcyon days

Carolyn Murray (second from right) celebrated her 60th birthday yesterday with a DC3 flight with fellow NAC air hostesses Ann Hopcroft, of Riverton (left) and Raewyn Bourke, of Christchurch, pilot Keith Mitchell and family and friends. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Carolyn Murray (second from right) celebrated her 60th birthday yesterday with a DC3 flight with fellow NAC air hostesses Ann Hopcroft, of Riverton (left) and Raewyn Bourke, of Christchurch, pilot Keith Mitchell and family and friends. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
"Just like the old days," a beaming Carolyn Murray declared after stepping off a DC3 aircraft at Oamaru Airport yesterday.

The former National Airways Corporation (NAC) air hostess, who turned 60 yesterday, decided to mark the milestone in spectacular - and nostalgic - fashion.

She hired a DC3 and invited some of her fellow hostess friends, along with other friends and family members, to fly from Ashburton to North Otago for lunch at Riverstone Kitchen, before returning to Ashburton.

For Mrs Murray, who lives in Lake Tekapo, the trip brought back "wonderful memories" of her time as an air hostess in the 1970s, when the DC3, the last of which flew the service between Timaru and Oamaru until 1976, was her favourite plane.

Looking fetching in a crimplene NAC uniform and clutching NAC bags, she recalled how the young air hostesses used to hem their dresses up "another 4in".

Flying on domestic routes and based in Christchurch, she used to overnight often in Oamaru and Timaru.

Her mother would wave a tea towel as they flew over Temuka.

She described yesterday's trip south as fabulous - "that's what I call real flying" - and the DC3 was very special.

Based in Ashburton, ZK-AMY is the only DC3 still flying in the South Island.

Mrs Murray conducted the safety briefing with steward Regan Close, for the 34-strong party.

Drinks and chocolates were served during the 40-minute flight.

Flying has been a strong interest for the Murray family.

Mrs Murray's husband, Graeme, was one of the founders of alpine flight-seeing company Air Safaris.

Their daughter Jessica was a pilot for Air Nelson before having children, and sons David and James both fly.

Another daughter, Bex, would like to be a helicopter pilot, but her mother laughed and said she was trying to keep her feet on the ground.

DC3 pilot Keith Mitchell, who grew up in North Otago, said it was always special to fly back to Oamaru.

Passenger John Cowan, of Haast, said the trip was "great fun", even down to the kiss and cuddle from the "hostesses".

"You don't get that now," he quipped.