history of DC-3 c/n 9286, by Gil White

ZK-AMS
C/n 9286

Manufactured by Douglas Aircraft Corporation at Santa Monica in California and rolled off the production line on 25/3/1943. Aircraft was designated as a C-47A-20-DL. During the war years allocated the U.S. serial number 42-23424. Acquired by the Royal Australian Air Force in May 1943 under the terms of the Lend-Lease agreement and given the Australian serial number A65-9 and operated under the radio callsign of VHCTI seeing service with No 34 Squadron. Later saw service with No 36 Squadron before returning to No 34 Squadron. From 27/8/1945 until 16/9/1945 aircraft attached to the British Service Mission in Japan.

On 6/12/1946 purchased by Qantas Empire Airways for 6,250 and originally allocated the registration of VH-BAL which was not taken up but registered VH-EAM instead on 12/12/1946. On 19/9/1948 crashed on takeoff from Archerfield Airport. Cause of accident attributed to the aileron wires being crossed. Repaired to reenter service.

Sold to East-West Airlines Ltd and registered to the company on 21/7/1953. Ferried to their base at Tamworth on 22/7/1953 by Captains R Walesby and T McKenzie. Prior to sale to East-West Airlines aircraft had undergone routine maintenance and repainted in East-West colour scheme. Approval had been granted by Qantas to retain the Australian flag on the tailplane along with the red cheatline and white top with East-West titling above the cabin windows. On 1/9/1953 aircraft reregistered VH-EWA in line with other aircraft in their fleet.

Whilst in service with East-West Airlines aircraft was named 'Peel City'. On 15/1/1954 this aircraft had the distinction of flying the shortest flight involving two Aerodromes when it flew from the old Tamworth Aerodrome to the new Aerodrome. Crew involved in this significant flight were Captain R Walesby, First Officer E McKillop and Hostess V Scott. Total time of flight from take-off to touchdown was two minutes. Aircraft reregistered VH-EWF on 1/5/1959.

Whilst in service as VH-EWF it maintained the name of 'Peel City' and was later renamed 'Oxley City'. On 2/6/1965 leased to Airlines of South Australia until at least December 1965. On 27/11/1967 the registration was changed to VH-PWN prior to the ban being imposed by the Department of Civil Aviation on further registration changes to the same aircraft.

During September 1972 sold to Bush Pilots Airways (PNG) P/L and registered to the company on 19/6/1973. Ownership of aircraft transferred to Bush Pilots Airways P/L and registered to the company on 27/1/1977. This aircraft was immortalised in a popular folk song Papa Whisky November by John Williamson, which described its days with the airline operating between Cairns and Weipa.

Ownership of aircraft transferred to Air Queensland Ltd when Bush Pilots Airways changed the name of the company and was registered to the company on 8/1/1982. Air Queensland ceased operations in April 1988 and this aircraft initially placed in storage at Cairns Airport before being ferried down to Brisbane and placed in storage outside the Trans Australia Airlines Maintenance Base.

Purchased by Air Rambler (Australia) P/L and registered to the company on 7/4/1988 for operation by DC-3 Queensland which was a subsidiary of Rambler Coaches in Victoria. The company obtained their charter licence on 3/6/1988.

Whilst in service with the company operated tours out of Cairns to a variety of destinations ranging from short scenic flights to week long tours. Destinations include such locations as Cooktown, Lizard Island, Thursday Island, Weipa and Edward River. When withdrawn from service with DC-3 Queensland aircraft had flown 57019 hours.

Sold to R P Lang of Highbury trading as Desert Air Safaris and registered to the owner on 6/8/1992. Sold to Pionair Adventures Ltd and departed Adelaide on 1/5/1993 and arrived at Queenstown New Zealand on the same day. The ferry flight to New Zealand was flown under the Australian registration.

Phot by Peter Layne After arrival in New Zealand aircraft underwent restoration at Auckland's Ardmore Airport and at the Fieldair facility at Palmerston North. Struck off the Australian civil register on 16/6/1993 and reregistered ZK-AMS in New Zealand on 15/7/1993. Whilst in service with Pionair aircraft was renamed 'Spirit of Queenstown' and these words were in red writing on the nose of the aircraft but is more commonly known as 'Dulcie'. The aircraft still flies charter flights and is also used in the making of television commercials.

On the 50th Anniversary of the Warbirds Association in November 1994 this aircraft flew in formation with other DC-3's in New Zealand. Around this time aircraft was also being used for an 'Orient Express of the Skies' taking twenty passengers on a ten-day tour around New Zealand.

Recently this veteran aircraft was entered in the March 2001 London to Sydney Air Race. The race will start at Biggin Hill in the United Kingdom on 11/3/2001 and ends with a flypast over the Sydney Harbour Bridge on 7/4/2001. This race was part of the Centenary of Federation celebrations but the aircraft was later withdrawn from the event.

Aircraft returned to Australia via Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island and arrived in Brisbane on 25/7/2001. On 31/7/2001 aircraft departed Cairns on an Aussie Outback Tour, which will terminate in Sydney on 12/8/2001. Leased to Pionair Australia and delivered to the company on 2/5/2004.

Still in service with company as a passenger aircraft in December 2005 operating charter flights.

© Gil White

Pionair sold ZK-AMS and c/n 9286 was registered to Classic Wings Pty Ltd on 14Mar06. It was seen at SYD-Bankstown 28Mar06 with Pionair titles removed and the new registration being applied: VH-CWS. Cairns is expected to be its new homebase. Thanks to Michael Clayton for the update. See also VH-CWS on my page Photos by Friends & Guests, Page 7.

back to ZK-AMS at Photos by Others


Gil White 2005IN MEMORIAM.
"It has been a great pleasure to have known you all, but my days are now numbered." -24Jun06.
Gil White passed away on 27Jun06. He will be remembered by me as a enthusiastic (Ansett) historian and a courageous person; may he rest in peace.



Last updated 28.3.2006