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by Bruce Gavin


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The Adastra name also featured in New Zealand aviation although the company was not related to the Australian Adastra.

Adastra Aviation Limited was a well-established aerial topdressing operator based in Tauranga. The company was formed as Adastra Ltd. in 1953 with a base at Mount Maunganui. In September 1961, the company name was changed to Adastra Aviation Ltd. In 1966 the company won rights to operate a non-scheduled air service from Tauranga. This was for the period when Tauranga Airport was closed to larger NAC aircraft while a sealed runway was being constructed. Adastra’s services linked Tauranga with Auckland from Wednesday 1 June 1966 until Thursday 17 August 1967. A Tauranga to Rotorua link was also operated for a short time. Several return services were operated daily. Media and special guests were carried on the inaugural return service from Tauranga to Auckland. The first fare-paying passenger was Mr P. Moore who flew from Rotorua to Tauranga on Flight 106 later on the same day, Wednesday 1 June 1966. Over the peak period of January/February 1967, Piper Apache ZK-BYB, was hired for extra capacity. During the winter of 1967 the Tauranga/Auckland and return timetable was flown three times a day Monday to Saturday (with an extra service on Mondays and Fridays), and twice on Sundays. Over the period of operation, eight Adastra pilots flew the service on a rotational basis. After the cessation of Adastra’s service, Gary Toulson was then to be instrumental in forming third level airline Sky Travel (NZ) Ltd, which operated during the first part of 1968. Adastra Aviation Ltd. was sold to James Aviation in September 1971.

Pilots included:
R.G. (Gary) Toulson - managing director of Adastra
D.J. Phillips - chief pilot
Don Cummings - pilot
S.C. Richardson - pilot
W.D. (Derek) Williams - pilot
Blair Dickie - passenger services manager

ZK-CKU Cessna 185D (c/n 185-0931) - owned by Adastra Aviation Ltd
ZK-BYB Piper PA.23 Apache (c/n 23-1828) - hired from Mt Maunganui and Tauranga Stevedores Ltd to assist with peak summer loadings

AHSNZ Journal, October 1967, page 227
Bay of Plenty Times - various references
"Taking Off - Pioneering Small Airlines of New Zealand 1945-1970" by Waugh, Gavin, Layne and McConnell, 2003, page 205.

(This account was compiled by F.B. Gavin on 3 March 2004 and kindly made available to the Adastra Aerial Surveys website. Thanks also to Peter Layne, Jack Browne and Neville Worsley. It should be noted that the main area of operations of Adastra [NZ] was aerial topdressing and that this account covers only their brief airline operation.)

Issue Date Remarks
2 28APR04
Added further details of the company history thanks to Neville Worsley, Jack Browne and Peter Layne.
1 25APR04
Original issue