July 17, 2019

Old DC3 aircraft comes to the rescue for stranded ash cloud passengers

The DC3 - one of the finest planes ever built is still able to come to the rescue after 67 years.

It first flew 67 years ago but a veteran DC3 aircraft is coming to the rescue for some New Zealand passengers left stranded by the volcanic ash cloud from the Chile Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano.

Even Air New Zealand was forced to cancel flights today to and from Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill as the ash cloud moved to a lower altitude than before. Jetstar of course is not flying but then they must be the only airline in the world that operates without planes leaving the ground.

The historic Southern DC3 aircraft owned by the Ashburton Aviation Museum has come to the rescue for some passengers wanting to fly between Wellington and Christchurch.

It will make a special trip to Christchurch Airport this morning to take a small number of displaced passengers to Wellington.

Chief flight attendant, purser Geoff Cambridge said the plane, which took its first flight in 1944, was still able to fly because it flew below 10,000 feet and had a conventional propeller engine, rather than a jet engine like a commercial aircraft.

He called the plane a “museum piece” but added it was “wonderful she’s still flying.”

The one-way flight costs $380 per person. Passengers can book a flight by calling 021 724 769 or visiting Gate 50 at Christchurch Airport.

The plane will also fly stranded passengers back from Wellington, and will make a second trip from Christchurch later today if there is enough demand.

Tomorrow the Southern DC3 is scheduled to fly the Canterbury Crusaders rugby team to Wellington for their match against the Hurricanes on Saturday night.

Well done to the Ashburton Aviation Museum for stepping in and proving that sometimes ‘old’ technology works better than the whiz-bang gadgets we have today.