Friday, 18 January 2019

Float plane - 50 years in Rotorua

This month marks fifty years since the first commercial float plane service begun in Rotorua.

Float plane. Credit: Rotorua Photo News, No. 66, 15 March 1969.

In 1968, the Rotorua Aero Club made an application to the Rotorua City Council to introduce a float plane service. The Council declined the application in June stating that the service would be 'to the detriment of the public's right of enjoyment of lake and the lakefront reserve.'

In November 1968, The Daily Post run with the headline 'Floatplane on lakefront by Christmas'. The Council was considering approving the application provided consent from other affected parties was obtained. In December the application was granted.

A Cessna 180A, ZK-BVG was chosen as the aircraft for the the initial service. The Cessna has been used as a charter plane in Rotorua since 1959.


Cessna 180A, ZK-BVG, before conversion to float plane. Credit: Flying the Thermal Skies (Stafford, Don, 1983).

Captain Freddie P. Ladd piloted the first service. Ladd with 30 years flying experience had come to Rotorua from Auckland in October 1968 to organise the service.

The four-seater plane was consecrated by Reverend N. Te Hau before its first demonstration passenger flight on Friday January 10 1969. The passengers on the first flight were Mayor of Rotorua Murray Linton and his wife, and the chairman of the Rotorua County Council J.B. Thomas.

Commercial flights began the following day.

Mayor Murray Lindon, watched by Captain Ladd, cuts the ribbon to set the float plane service in action. Credit: The Daily Post, Friday 10 January, 1969, p. 1.

This article was written with information from The Daily Post, Rotorua Photo News, and Don Stafford's book Flying the Thermal Skies. Lending and reference copies of Flying the Thermal Skies are available from the library.

This post was written by Graeme.

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