Lockheed 10A Electra Flies in New Zealand

After more than two decades of restoration an example of the rare Lockheed twin takes to the Kiwi skies

The culmination of nearly 27 years work as Electra ZK-AFD reaches takeoff speed for the first post-restoration flight. [Photo by Ruth Christie]
The culmination of nearly 27 years work as Electra ZK-AFD reaches takeoff speed for the first post-restoration flight. [Photo by Ruth Christie]
Aircorps Art Dec 2019


By Zac Yates

After more than two decades of meticulous restoration, an example of Lockheed’s rare 1930s airliner has taken to Kiwi skies. Owner Rob Mackley accompanied test pilot Ryan Southam and engineer Huib Volker of restorers Hawk Aero on the test flight of his Lockheed 10A Electra ZK-AFD (c/n 1145) from Ardmore Airport near Auckland, the flight marking the culmination of nearly 27 years of work.

The type played a key role in developing New Zealand’s “main trunk” airline routes with seven examples serving initially with Union Airways from 1937 and then the New Zealand National Airways Corporation (NZNAC) from 1947, until the five surviving airframes were replaced by the Douglas DC-3 in 1950. It’s believed only one other example of the Lockheed 10 is currently flying worldwide, this being Točná Airport’s L10A OK-CTB (s/n 1091).

The Electra's Pratt & Whitney R-985s come to life. The aircraft is named Kuaka in tribute to an aircraft flown by Bill Mackley, owner Rob Mackley's father. [Photo by Ruth Christie]
The Electra’s twin Pratt & Whitney R-985s come to life. The aircraft is named Kuaka in tribute to an aircraft flown by Bill Mackley, owner Rob Mackley’s father. [Photo by Ruth Christie]
The Electra wears the colors of Union Airways of New Zealand on the port side of the fuselage and is named Kuaka (the Māori name for the bar-tailed godwit), replicating c/n 1045, the fuselage of which is stored at the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) in Auckland (incidentally another Electra – c/n 1138 ZK-BUT – is also painted as ZK-AFD and on public display at MOTAT.)
Rob Mackley's Electra wears its original Linea Aerea Nacional de Chile markings on one side as seen in this photo taken at Ardmore Airport on December 6th, 2022. [Photo by Richard Currie]
Rob Mackley’s Electra wears its original Linea Aerea Nacional de Chile markings on one side as seen in this photo taken at Ardmore Airport on December 6th, 2022. [Photo by Richard Currie]
As a nod to the history of Mackley’s airframe, the starboard side of the fuselage is painted in the markings of Linea Aerea Nacional de Chile. Built in 1941 for LAN, the aircraft flew more than 11000hr for the Chilean carrier and during its time in South America the aircraft wore several different registrations including CC-226 with the name Diego de Almagro, CC-LCN and CC-CLEA. The aircraft was sold to U.S. interests in 1959, receiving the registration N10310 and flying to Oregon before eventually ending up in Alaska. The Electra was later impounded for unpaid parking fees and was a museum display before being acquired by Mackley in 1997, when it was shipped to New Zealand for airworthy restoration.
Electra ZK-AFD taxis back in from Ardmore's runway after the successful first post-restoration flight on January 31st, 2024. [Photo by Ruth Christie]
Electra ZK-AFD taxis back in from Ardmore’s runway after the successful first post-restoration flight on January 31st, 2024. [Photo by Ruth Christie]
The half-and-half colour scheme on the now-completed aircraft was done as a tribute to Mackley’s father Bill who flew Electras for NZNAC after WW2. The restoration had involved several companies and individuals over the years, Mackley told Vintage Aviation News. “Restoration was started in Rotorua when Wal Delholm and his dad Colin of Avspecs, who worked on the NZNAC Lockheed 10A ZK-AFD after it slid up Flagstaff Hill [in 1943],” Mackley said. “They did the centre section during the early 2000s. Pioneer Aero Ltd re-skinned the outer wings and that is where Huib Volker used to work. Huib did 90% of the restoration with the help of the late Keith Williamson. The Electra will eventually join Mackley’s other aircraft, including a Boeing-Stearman A75N1 and a Cessna O-1G Bird Dog, at Omaka Aerodrome near Blenheim in NZ’s South Island.

1 Comment

  1. That’s wonderful! Another BEAUTIFUL Lockheed 10A Electra took to the air again after its restoration. January 31, 2024. I had been following the restoration in the occasional articles that came my way.
    In 1967, with a wonderfully talented crew, I flew Lockheed 10A Electra N79237 around the world on the Earhart Trail. On July 2, 1967, I dropped a wreath on Howland Island, which was Earhart’s flight-planned destination on July 2 1937. Then we returned to Oakland, California, on July 7, 1967, thus completing Earhart’s flight for her. Two days later Amelia’s sister Muriel thanked me for so doing.
    Lockheed CF-TCA (N79237) was the first of three Lockheed 10As purchased by Trans Canada Airlines in 1937-38. CF-TCB and CF-TCC followed. The latter, a beautiful restoration, was flown in the USA and Canada. In September 2023 it was flown from Montreal to Winnipeg and put in the Aviation Museum there. It will
    never be flown again.
    I loved flying Lee’s Koepke’s Lockheed. He obtained Lockheed (N79237) in 1961 after it had been put down on a runway gear down at Willow Run Airport, near Detroit. It was to be used for fire fighting practice after all the valuable items had been stripped. By the summer of 1966, Lee had it flying again. In January 1967 he and I agreed to get that aircraft around the world on the Earhart Trail. He wanted to prove Amelia’s disappearance had not been caused by the airplane. Lee’s Lockheed, equipped for a global flight, performed perfectly. Not ONE thing went wrong. The engines never missed a beat.
    After the flight, Lee let me take the plane to fly-ins. There was always a multi-rated pilot in the right seat in case something happened to me. There was NO autopilot.
    Lee sold his Lockheed in the spring of 1968. It was flown to Montreal and displayed in the terminal in its original configuration and livery. On two plaques, one in English and one in French, is the story of this grand old Lockheed and its global flight. When the new museum at Rockliffe was opened, the plane was moved over there. I have never been to see it, preferring to remember it as it had been during the Earhart Commemorative Flight. (In my book, World Flight, the Earhart Trail, I take readers around the world with me on the 1967 Earhart Commemorative Flight. Published in 1971 by Iowa State University Press, people are still buying it on Amazon.com)

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