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Air Chathams Douglas DC-3

Our classic aircraft, the pride and joy of our fleet.

From days flown under command of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and then as a passenger commuter for the National Airways Corporation, to fertilising crops as a top-dressing craft around New Zealand, Air Chathams' Douglas DC3 is a true Kiwi at heart.  

While in National Airways service, the Air Chathams DC3 was originally named "Pouwhaitere", the Maori name for a red-crowned parakeet found on Chatham Island and other remote pacific islands.  

Following a later conversion to a "Skyliner" with bigger windows, heating and sound proofing, ZK-AWP was rolled out again with the new name "Kaitaia". 

As the pride and joy of Air Chathams fleet, DC3 ZK-AWP, has just got a new look for the 2019 - 2020 summer season of scenic flights.  

New, but also old, as the aircraft has returned to National Airways Corporation (NAC) colours in recognition of its long and extensive history with domestic flights in New Zealand.  

The aircraft flew NAC passenger services from April 1953 until the late 1960's.  Changing from the green of Air Chathams, the DC3 is now resplendent in red and white.

Red and white were the NAC company colours at that time with the logo featuring a stylised kūaka (godwit) because of the bird's association with long distance flying.



How did Air Chathams acquire the DC3?

The DC3 was stationed in Tonga in 2004 and under Tonga ownership for the following year.  In 2006, concerned about potential damage from violent riots that had erupted, our lovely aircraft was immediately locked away in its hangar at Fua'motu.  

Protected and safe, but quietly gathering dust for the next 3 years.

Whilst establishing services for Air Chathams in the Pacific, Craig Emeny became the proud owner in 2009 when he purchased the aircraft as part of the hangar’s contents.  

Full restoration and airworthiness work was undertaken with the aircraft then re-painted in the familiar green of Chathams Pacific colours.  

For the next three years, the DC3 operated passenger services faithfully between islands groups before flying home to New Zealand in 2013, island hopping all the way.

The Air Chathams DC3 now mainly undertakes charter work and scenic flights.


"Our Douglas DC-3 holds a special place in New Zealand aviation history. We feel its real mark was made during its time with National Airways Corporation (NAC) during the development of NZ's regional passenger air connectivity,” says Duane Emeny, General Manager.

“This holds true with our airline values around connecting smaller communities and providing safe, reliable air services. So it feels right to revert her to that livery for what may be the remainder of her flying life."

Air Chathams now fly regular scenic flights from the Classic Flyers Museum at Tauranga Airport during the summer months and at selected events and air shows around New Zealand. 

You can book scenic flights in Tauranga via Classic Flyers by calling them on ph 07 572 4000

We'd love to see you on board!

The DC-3 is a dream way to travel, with wide doors and aisles, large ‘skyliner’ windows, comfortable seating, and great in-flight service options available.


Flight Specifications 
Speed240 kilometres per hour
Max Altitude10,000 feet
Pressurised CabinNo
No. of Pilots2
No. of Flight Attendants1
No. of Seats28
Inflight CateringAs required