Thursday, February 22, 2024

Soaring on Air Chathams’ Mighty Warbird!

Owned by Craig and Marion Emeny, Air Chathams has a classic story like none other. Eastlife takes flight with the majestic warbird, a part of aviation history!

From days flown under command of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and then as a passenger commuter for the National Airways Corporation, to fertilising crops as a top-dressing craft around New Zealand, Air Chathams’ Douglas DC3 is a true Kiwi at heart! Air Chathams’ classic aircraft is the DC-3 is undoubtedly the pride and joy of the fleet.

The Douglas DC-3 is a propeller-driven airliner manufactured by Douglas Aircraft Company, which had a lasting effect on the airline industry in the 1930s to 1940s and World War II. The DC-3 had many exceptional qualities compared to previous aircraft. It was fast, had a good range, was more reliable, and carried passengers in greater comfort.

Perhaps unique among pre-war aircraft, the DC-3 continued to fly in active commercial and military service up to 2021, 86 years after the type’s first flight in 1935.

A common saying among aviation enthusiasts and pilots is: ‘The only replacement for a DC-3 is another DC-3!’

You can take an amazing step back in aviation history and soar Auckland’s skies this summer on the majestic warbird the 1945 Douglas DC-3, ‘Kaitaia’ with Air Chathams. Departing on select weekends through the summer from the domestic terminal at Auckland Airport. To find out more about 1945 Douglas DC-3 or to enquire about scenic flights go to: or phone 0800 FLY NOW

While in National Airways service, the Air Chathams DC3 was originally named Pouwhaitere, the Maori name for a red-crowned parakeet found on Chatham Island and other remote Pacific Islands.

New, but also old, the aircraft has returned to National Airways Corporation (NAC) colours in recognition of its long and extensive history with domestic flights in New Zealand.

The aircraft flew NAC passenger services from April 1953 until the late 1960’s. Changing colours from the green of Air Chathams, the DC3 is now
radiant in red and white.

Red and white were the NAC company colours at that time with the logo featuring a stylised kūaka (godwit) because of the bird’s association with long distance flying.

The DC-3 is indeed a dream way to travel, with wide doors and aisles, large ‘skyliner’ windows, comfortable seating, and great in-flight service options available.

How did Air Chathams acquire the DC3?

The DC3 was stationed in Tonga in 2004 and under Tonga ownership for the following year. In 2006, concerned about potential damage from violent riots that had erupted, the aircraft was immediately locked away in its hangar at Fua’motu.

Protected and safe, but quietly gathering dust for the next the years. Whilst establishing services for Air Chathams in the Pacific, CEO Craig Emeny became the proud owner in 2009 when he purchased the aircraft as part of the hangar’s contents.

Full restoration and airworthiness work was undertaken with the aircraft, then re-painted in the familiar green of Chathams’ Pacific colours.

Meticulous care was taken to bring the vintage aircraft back to its past glory that you can spot in the photographs.

To find out more about 1945 Douglas DC-3 or to enquire about scenic flights go to: or phone 0800 FLY NOW


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