On the 1st of February 2007 ZK GFD unfortunately became another statistic in the aircraft accident files.

A Kaikohe Gliding Club pilot lost control whilst landing and the glider was written off as it pirouetted into an embankment at the Kaikohe airfield. Only the wings, tail plane and canopy survived. Ann rang me with the sad news one night and between the two of us came up with the idea of having a go at ‘saving’ her as a permanent museum display at Classic Flyers - Tauranga. After a number of phone calls over several months a plan was slowly formulated for Ann to purchase the wreck and for a ‘ none flying ‘ rebuild to be undertaken at the museum.

A Vintage Kiwi donation fund was established to finance the project. For $100.00 ‘you could be part of history’. However there was at this time no one that was locally based at Tauranga that either Ann or I were aware of that had the skills to undertake such a task. In desperation the thought was to marry another part fuselage that was made available to us to what was left of FDs and to bring in Jevon Snowden from Wellington to perform the transplant. However deep down we both knew if we did that it would have been an FD mock up. It just didn’t seem right. FD had to be rebuilt in total.  Ann was also now starting to look for a retired boat builder who might be looking for some different project to keep oneself active. The task also had to be done on an honorary basis with all the materials required being financed by the donation-fighting fund. On reflecting back I can now see how Ann successfully achieved her many record flights in FD. Determination! This aircraft was going to be put back together. There were to be no other options.

The first job was of cause to some how retrieve the wreck from Kaikohe. Ex past owners Paul Rockell volunteered to retrieve it from Kaikohe to the Whangarei Gliding Clubs site at Puipuhi using FD’s original but now very dubious trailer and Barry Hamilton was to drive up from Pukekohe and pick up the trailer and return it down to Drury. However the trailer only barely made the much shorter first part of the journey, and would never make the four plus hours journey back to Drury in South Auckland. I was told it virtually fell apart at journeys end at Puhipuhi. A quick phone call to Robin Britain and Robin Mc Rae, who did not hesitate to make available their own Piako based KA6 trailer to help with the cause. This duly arrived at Drury a few weekends later and Barry did the honours in bringing the remains of FD back to Drury. Ann along with VK member John Dolphin arrived a week later to take FD back down to Tauranga. A great team effort.

As they say up in the winterless north. ’Waste not, want not ‘. FD’s old trailer, mainly because it could not be moved any further has now become the clubs implement shed. This classic 1960’s design is now on permanent ‘display’ at the Puhipuhi airfield.

A few months later Classic Flyers decided to run a modelling contest, which was open for anyone to enter. On a day that Ann was on volunteer duty at the museum a man arrived with his young son who had made his own model aircraft and had bought it to the museum to enter and have it judged in the contest. Ann jokingly said that she had a much larger ‘model’ that she was hoping to rebuild for the museum. The person that both Ann and I were searching for had been found. Apparently Gary Hoekstra is himself a highly skilled wooden furniture restorer and aero modeller and on sighting FD volunteered his services straight away. This was a project that really excited him and was to test all of his skills. Another bit of good fortune to also come FD’s way was a set of KA6 plans that the Mc Rae syndicate had tucked away. These were given to the project and the rebuilding of FD at last got started. The end result is a real testimony to Gary’s skills.

FD in fact looks better than brand new. It looks incredible. Part of the brief was to have FD painted in her original flying colours as she was in her record making days. Gary has certainly achieved this and it was as if one was looking back in time and viewing her for the very first time. A further testimony to Gary’s commitment to accuracy was the fact that FD was just so easy to rig. It just clicked together like a well-built Swiss watch. The actual presentation day was the first time it had been rigged. There were no ‘pre rig’ accuracy checks done during the rebuild.

FD was duly presented to the Museum with an ‘Aeronautical Unveiling’ with the local press in attendance and a good number of past and present gliding identities also in attendance who were associated with or remembered FD as she once was.

It could be argued why FD was not rebuilt back to flying status. The simple answer was cost. For $800.00 we now have a great example of a KA6cr, the once backbone of the NZ single seater fleet, that also has such a great story to tell. From being won in a ‘John Roake ‘ NZGA raffle many years ago, to becoming the holder of numerous women’s records this aircraft will now, never again be lost from our gliding history

Finally Ann would like to acknowledge Peter Fiske, President of the Kaikohe Gliding Club for all of his help and support with the negotiations so Ann could reclaim her once beloved aircraft for this project.

 Roger Brown

This glider is now on display at Classic Fliers Tauranga, New Zealand.


The Vintage & Classic Glider Club of New Zealand Inc