Doubts overflying aircraft backhome

Paul Brennan
Paul Brennan
Will it fly? ... That's one of the questions hanging over the idea of bringing back to the Queenstown Lakes District one of the tourist industry's original passenger airliners.

The group called Bring Our Birds Home is negotiating to buy the derelict former Mt Cook Airlines' Hawker Siddeley from a Bangladeshi airline and spokesman Paul Brennan believes there is a chance it could be restored and flown to Queenstown.

Two of those previously associated with the airline wished Mr Brennan luck but had doubts about the chances of the plane flying again.

Former South Island regional operations manager for Mt Cook Jules Tapper described the idea as brave but advice he had received was that there would be a ''very slim'' chance of the plane flying home.

He believed corrosion would be a major problem, making it a ''marathon task'' even to take the plane to pieces for shipping to New Zealand.

He had similar doubts about other airliners the group wants to bring to Wanaka.

''The two old DC3 aircraft we currently have flying in New Zealand cost an extraordinary amount to keep flying and ... I think the bring-them-home guys are dreaming, even more so if they want to get them back into flyable condition.''

'' I personally say: 'thanks for some great memories of a super-efficient aircraft but let's just let them fade away and move on'.''

Former Mt Cook pilot Gary Hutchison also believed the Hawker Siddeley was likely to have suffered structurally in the Bangladesh climate and a ''well-heeled benefactor'' would be needed to get it flying again.

He flew the plane for about 25 years and considered it to be a ''rugged and reliable machine''.

Mr Brennan told the Otago Daily Times the group was not ''fixated'' on getting the plane back in the air, but sometimes it could work out cheaper than shipping, he said, citing examples from the United States and Australia.

mark.price@odt.co.nz

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