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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

Travel By Air

Travel By Air

Early in 1931 Dominion Air Lines Ltd. operated a de Souter 3-seat cabin monoplane between Gisborne and Hastings. G. Bolt was the chief pilot. On 8 February, 1931, Ivan Kite was flying the machine when it crashed near the railway station at Wairoa whilst he was circling to drop a parcel. He and his two passengers—Mr. W. C. Strand (Lower Hutt) and Mr. Walter Findlay (Gisborne)—were killed and the machine was wrecked. Gisborne Air Transport Ltd. (formed with local capital) bought the de Souter which Mr. G. A. Nicholls had acquired in 1930 for his private use and a D.H. Moth with an enclosed cabin. With H. Lett as pilot, trips were made between Gisborne and Hastings and Napier, but, in 1932, traffic fell off and the planes were sold.

Most of the shareholders in Gisborne Air Transport Ltd. became the original shareholders in East Coast Airways Ltd. (formed in 1934). It bought two twin-engined Dragon 10-seaters, and engaged Captain T. W. (Tiny) White as chief pilot. On 16 April, 1935, a daily service between Gisborne and Napier was begun. The company was absorbed in 1936 by Union Airways, which placed larger machines on the run and extended it to Palmerston North. During the Second World War the machines were taken over by the R.N.Z.A.F. In March, 1945, the Gisborne-Palmerston North service was resuscitated and a Gisborne-Auckland service established, four-engined De Havilland 86's (12 passenger) being employed. Lockhead Electras (10 passengers) were brought into use in 1946, and Wellington became the terminal for some of the southern trips. In 1948 Lockhead Lodestar 15-seaters were added to the fleet, and, in 1949, it was possible to reach any other important centre in New Zealand from Gisborne on the same day.