Pacific Trailways – New Zealand Scenic Air Tours Aboard a C-47

Aircorps Art Dec 2019

We would like to welcome aboard Pacific Trailways as a new sponsor. As you will see from their article below, the company is heavily invested in the promotion and safe operation of a vintage warbird, a prime directive for all of us here at Warbird Digest. It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful way of touring the magnificent island nation of New Zealand than aboard a vintage 1944 Douglas C-47B Skytrain!

Pacific Trailways is a New Zealand tour operator with a passion to create unique, exclusive, adventurous vacation experiences. Late in 2014, the company teamed up with ‘Fly DC3 NZ’ to plan and operate exceptional, all-inclusive DC-3 (C-47 Skytrain) Air Tours of New Zealand. The tours are now into their fourth successful year and tour guests so far have included New Zealanders, Australians, North Americans, Brits and Europeans.

A view of the magnificent New Zealand landscape as seen from the cabin of the C-47 you will fly with Pacific Trailways. (photo via Pacific Trailways)

The collaboration between Pacific Trailways and Fly DC3 NZ is a winner. Pacific Trailways’ Air Tour partner Fly DC3 NZ is a ‘living heritage’ organisation that flies and maintains a classic C-47 Skytrain – refitted to a DC-3 airliner configuration and painted in a legacy RNZAF colour scheme. Their DC-3 was manufactured as C-47B-10-DK 43-49219 at the Douglas Aircraft plant in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The US Army Air Force accepted her at Tinker Field in Oklahoma City on October 30, 1944. She served predominantly in the USA during the remainder of WWII. Following her military service, the C-47 was operated by a number of airlines in the South Pacific before moving to Australia in 1974. She has been based in New Zealand since 1987.

The Skytrain you will fly aboard with Pacific Trailways is C-47B 43-49219. She is painted to represent a former Royal New Zealand Air Force example, NZ3546, one of the last two examples to serve New Zealand’s military. (photo via Pacific Trailways)

The Fly DC3 NZ organisation grew from an association with a New Zealand Warbirds group back in the 1980‘s. Today, members of the organisation are professionals from all avenues of the aviation world. Fly DC3 NZ is a well-respected, fully licensed New Zealand airline certified by New Zealand Civil Aviation to meet the highest standards of aviation regulations in every aspect of the operation. The crew undertake regular service checks and training to meet and comply with all New Zealand Civil Aviation standards.

Pacific Trailways’ role is to plan each itinerary route then book and organise all of the Air Tour hotel accommodation, meals, ground transport, sightseeing services, cruises and everything else not related to the operation of the DC-3.

Meanwhile the Fly DC3 NZ crew arrange all of the aviation related necessities for the tours including flight sector route planning, security, flight crew and cabin crew roster, en route airport liaison, refuelling and servicing and all the other important details required to keep the DC-3 flying safely.

A lovely shot of two Douglas C-47s in New Zealand. The aircraft in the foreground is C-47A 42-93579, now part of the Ashburton Aviation Museum on New Zealand’s south island, whereas the one to the rear is C-47B 43-49219, the example you will fly in with Pacific Trailways. (photo via Pacific Trailways)

The DC-3 crew are thorough aviation professionals who volunteer their services to Fly DC3 NZ, simply because they enjoy flying the DC-3 and love being part of a significant aviation heritage initiative. Many are current or recent Air New Zealand crew or service personnel from the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). Chief Pilot and Training Officer Captain Geoff Cooper has a 37 year career history with Air New Zealand – most recently flying B777-300’s across the Pacific. He was with the RNZAF before that and has been flying DC-3’s for decades. He has a well-established love of ‘round engines and proper flying’ in preference to the jets!

Pacific Trailways generally runs up to four DC-3 New Zealand Air Tours a year – over the Southern Hemisphere late spring-summer-autumn period of November through to April. Three tours still have some seats available for this season – the flagship 12-Day DC-3 New Zealand Air Tour, the 5-Day Classic Eastland DC-3 Air Tour and the 4-Day Northland DC-3 Air Tour.

We are really pleased to have Pacific Trailways as a sponsor, and hope that some of our readers will be fortunate enough to travel aboard their DC-3 tours of New Zealand  –  this will doubtless be a grand adventure!



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