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 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.)
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.
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.