50th Anniversary of Flight 441 Fatal Accident. Part 2: Memorial Flight

ZK-DAK readying for take-off at Matamata.
Donning our Fly DC3 uniforms, on Wednesday 3 July 2013 we took part in the memorial DC-3 flight as part of the commemoration of the 23 people who died in the fatal crash of National Airways Corporation Flight 441. The flight was included as part of the official service held at the memorial site on Old Te Aroha Rd.

DC-3 ZK-DAK took off from Ardmore at the same time that Flight 441 had departed from Whenuapai 50 years ago. From Ardmore it was south to Matamata to drop off the reporters who were attending the service at the memorial site on Old Te Aroha Rd.

We waited on the ground until receiving the call from the memorial site, then took off on runway 10 toward the south. Looping around we flew along Old Te Aroha Rd dropped flowers overhead. Or perhaps I should say "attempted to" drop flowers... two buckets of red and white flowers (NAC colours) and green foliage (for the Kaimais) were dropped, but with the vagaries of lightweight objects being dropped from a height it is not clear that any actually landed near the memorial!

Looking along the wing of ZK-DAK to Mount
Ngatamahinerua and the head of the gully
where ZK-AYZ crashed.
Having passed the memorial we did a big sweeping turn to the left. Completing a large loop we passed near the memorial again and flew towards the crash site.

We had been advised that there would be a party in the gully who would mark the site with a torch. As we approached the torch was clearly visible, and the Captain flashed the aircraft's landing lights back at the ground party.

Flowers and wreathes laid at the memorial. Fly DC3's
bouquet is the red and white flowers standing at the
left of the memorial.
A large dumb-bell turn was performed past the head of the valley and we flew back down the gully and over the memorial site for a final time before returned to the airfield.

Fly DC3 then flew three flights for members of the public that wanted to view the steep terrain and general area of the crash site from the air.

Click below to listen to the Radio New Zealand report on the memorial service. The fly past can be heard towards the end of the report (from about 3:15).