GAPS, Gisborne Aviation Preservation Society Gisborne

GAPS, Gisborne Aviation Preservation Society

( GAPS are the Volunteers for the: 'Tairawhiti Aviation Museum Trust' )

OPEN to the Public: 

9am - 1:30pm on Sunday and Tuesday mornings only at present.

RNZAF DC3 No. 47

RNZAF Royal New Zealand Airforce No: 47 DC3


Fieldair Gisborne New zealand

GAPS: Gisborne Aviation Preservation Society:  Aerodrome Rd, Gisborne NZ


Gisborne Aviation Timeline: 1920 - 1998

Year  Description of Significant Eevents

1920  The first appearance of an aeroplane in the Gisborne sky.

 A De Havilland DH6 owned by the New Zealand Flying School was shipped down from Auckland.

After being reassembled it made it its first Gisborne flight from the racecourse on 13th May 1920.


1921  At the end of the year an Avro 504K named "High Jinks" arrived, flown by Les Brake, for a joy riding venture over the Christmas / New Year period. 31 flights were made on Christmas Day.


1922  First flight from Gisborne to Auckland made in a DH9 with three passengers on 4th April.


1930  Gisborne's new Aerodrome, Darton Field, becomes operational.

Named after George Darton, the Borough Engineer.

Gisborne Aero Club is established.

*  Towards the end of the year Dominion Airways begin operating between Hastings and Gisborne using a Desoutter 2.


1931  Gisborne Air Transport formed to resume the Gisborne - Hastings link after the demise of Dominion Airways, using another Desoutter 2 and a Coupe Moth, .


1933  The Fokker F7b "Southern Cross" flown by Sir Charles Kingsford Smith visited Gisborne on 18th January, flying from the firm sands of Waikanae Beach, the airport runways being too short for this aircraft.


1934  The Avro Ten "Faith in Australia" flown by Charles Ulm visited Gisborne on 3rd January.

East Coast Airways starts up using two DH Dragon aircraft


1942  No. 8 GR (General Reconnaissance Squadron) based at Darton Field using Vickers Vildebeeste and Vincent aircraft


1943  No. 30 Squadron formed from the disbanded No. 8 GR Sqdn, were equipped with Grumman TBF Avenger aircraft


1949  "Gisborne Aerial Topdressing Co.Ltd." formed by Lawson Field, the first company started solely for the purpose of aerial topdressing. This was needed at that time primarily to counteract the effects of soil erosion.

 The company started off with two DH Tiger Moth aircraft.


1950  "Aerial Superspread", a partnership between Bill Cookson and Geoff Spencer, started operating using one DH Tiger Moth.


1952  "Air Super Limited" started in Wairoa with one DH Tiger Moth.

*  Lawson Fields "Gisborne Aerial Topdressing Co.Ltd" expanded and renamed "Fieldair Ltd"

ZK AZB Beaver

The first use of a DH "Beaver" (ZK-AZB) for topdressing on the East Coast, by "Fieldair Ltd."

*  "East Coast Air Services" founded by John Riddell and Tom Newlands, starting with one Tiger moth.


1953  Bill Cookson's "Aerial Superspread" expands and is renamed "Cookson Airspread", using a Cessna 180 and Piper "Supercubs".


1955  Fieldair's DHC Beaver used to to drop fence posts. Five miles of fencing dropped in two days.

1955  The first Lockheed "Lodestar" (ZK-BJM) purchased for topdressing on the East Coast, by "Fieldair Ltd."

 This was a major breakthrough for aerial top dressing in the region.

Because of the aircrafts higher payload and greater range it was bulk loaded at its Gisborne base.

This eliminated the need for airstrips, loading and storage facilities away from the base.

1955  The first use of a Fletcher FU24 (ZK-BHC) on the East Coast, by "East Coast Air Services"

   The last remaining top dressing DH Tiger Moth in Gisborne is pensioned off and sold to Darton Field Flying Club


1965  A sealed runway was officially opened, enabling the operation of Vickers Viscount and Fokker Friendship aircraft of National Airways Corporation.


1967  By this time considerable expansion had taken place, for example Fieldair were now operating :-

14 x DHC Beavers

4 x Lockheed Lodestars

3 x Douglas DC3 aircraft


1968  The arrival of turbo-prop power, Fletcher FU-1060 Turbo Fletcher (ZK-CTZ) used in Gisborne by James Aviation


1973  Lockheed Lodestar ZK-BUV installed as gate guardian at Gisborne airport.


1978  "Farmer's Air Partnership" formed using an Agwagon, later supplemented by a Fletcher.


1980  A turbo prop powered Cresco 600 obtained by Fieldair. After initial teething problems this aircraft came to represent a succesful advance on the piston engined Fletcher.


1995  Gisborne Aviation Preservation Society founded with the aim of restoring Lodestar ZK-BUV and preserving it for the people of Gisborne and the East Coast.


1996  Intensive fund raising efforts started in order to erect a brand new hangar/museum capable of accomodating the Lodestar and other aircraft and aviation items of local historical significance which might be obtained.


1997  Financial target for construction of hangar/museum building is finally achieved with the help of grants from the Lotteries Commision and several local trusts and businesses


1998  Lockheed "Lodestar" ZK-BUV removed from pylon and moved to hangar for restoration

   G.A.P.S. hangar officially opened by former Mayor of Gisborne, John Clarke.