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Nationwide Air Douglas DC 4 / Aviation Traders ATL-98A Carvair


Pingu, Edge's Carvair Template

Nationwide Air Douglas DC 4 / Aviation Traders ATL-98A Carvair

They* say it was cheaper to fly cars across the Cook Strait with Nationwide Air than it was to transport them by ferry.

This was the niche of the small cargo airline Nationwide Air.

In September 1977, a cargo company called Haulaways Corporation Ltd. submitted an application to the Air Services Licensing Authority (ASLA) for an airline to be formed that would do air taxi and air charter services. They wanted this proposed airline to fly between Paraparaumu (a small coastal town an hour's drive up State Highway 3 from Wellington), Wellington, Nelson, and Christchurch using two Aviation Traders ATL98 Carvairs, a heavily modified DC-4 that is essentially like a mini 747, but is actually often older than the 747. The hearing would be heard from airlines NAC, Mount Cook Airlines, Safe Air, plus other corporations/services such as the Railways Department, and shipping company the New Zealand Shipping Corporation. After this application, Haulaways Corporation Ltd. entered negotiations with Air North of Rotorua and Akarana Air of Auckland(?). However these negotiations lead to both airlines being pretty much taken over by Haulaway Corporation Ltd. in January of 1978.

After both Air North and Akarana Air wrote to the Licensing Authority advising that they needed to replace some of their aircraft with the Carvair and Convair 340s, and the aircraft ordered, Air North changed its name to Nationwide Air. This occurred on 19 June 1978, and it still carried the same licence as Air North. In 1978, the two Carvairs were purchased for $850,000. The Carvairs were able to carry up to seven cars, compared to the much smaller number that the Bristol Freighters that Safe Air operated; two. The inaugural service occurred on 8 November 1978. Here’s some info on both the Carvairs:


This plane was a Douglas DC-4-1009 originally built in June 1946. It was built for Norwegian airline Det Norske Luftfartsselskap, but was transferred to Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) at the very beginning of August 1948. It was sold on to Japan Air Lines on 27 October 1956, who then leased it to Korean Air Lines from October 19 1962 to August 1963, where it was then sold to Ansett-A.N.A. of Australia. It bore the registration VH-INK. It was converted to a Carvair in early-mid 1964 in the United Kingdom. Its final revenue service for Ansett happened on 9 March 1973, and afterwards it was attempted to be sold to an Indonesian airline. But this airline collapsed when it's financing failed to materialise, so it wasn’t sold to them. Instead, it was stored at Singapore Seletar Airport at the start of 1976. It was sold to nationwide Air (Haulaways Corporation Ltd.) in January 1978, but due to registration complications as it was a new type of aircraft entering the New Zealand aviation register for the first time, it wasn’t until September 1978 when it finally arrived in New Zealand. It was sold on to another airline in New Zealand when Nationwide Air went bankrupt and collapsed (spoiler alert!). It went to an airline in Hawaii before heading to the Mainland USA a few years later. It went around the USA and Canada for many years before it crashed on 30 May 2007 in a landing accident at Nixon Fort Mine in McGrath, Alaska. Both pilots survived but the airframe was written off.

ZK-NWB (I’ll keep this one more brief):

It was a Douglas C-54E-10-DC built in early 1945 for the USAF before being converted to a standard DC-4 in November that same year. A month later, a day before Christmas Eve, it was sold to Pan American World Airways (PanAm), who sold it to Japan Air Lines in mid-February 1956. JAL operated it until March 1965 when it was sold to Ansett-A.N.A. of Australia. In early 1968 it was converted to a Carvair in the UK. It remained in Australia until 1976 (with similar circumstances to the other Carvair) when it was ferried to Singapore for storage. It went to New Zealand for Nationwide Air at the same time as the other Carvair. After Nationwide Air’s bankruptcy, it went to Hawaii as well, and then to the Mainland USA a few years later. It went to South Africa in 1998 and remained around South-Central Africa until the present day, where it remains derelict in Johannesburg (Rand).

The airline hauled cars across the Cook Strait (many were being ferried to New Zealand car assembly plants according to a former employee*). Unfortunately for Nationwide Air, they would suffer financial difficulties throughout the years. On 17 October 1978, one of the members of Nationwide Air’s Auckland staff informed the Licencing Authority that they were not operating any more scheduled services. The Airline would resume operations by late-November however, albeit with reduced services. The parent company, Haulaways Corporation Ltd. faced financial difficulties too. It was placed into receivership on 29 November that year, although Nationwide Air continued to fly up and down the country. Though, by this point, the passenger services appeared to have been passed down to other operators. One piece of the puzzle, Akarana Air, renamed itself as Nationwide Air Akarana in October of 1978, though they would still operate under Akarana Air. Unfortunately, however, on 13 March 1979, Akarana Air was also placed into receivership, and after some kerfuffle finally was wound up on the 9th of May that same year. Unfortunately for Nationwide Air, things were just about to get worse.

So, earlier in 1979, one of the Carvairs, ZK-NWB, lost a con rod on the number 1 engine. Nationwide Air’s company manager flew out to Papua New Guinea to acquire a replacement, however, before he could d o so, he suffered a heart attack. Therefore, the airline was only able to fly with one plane, which was not great. And so, after even more financial difficulties, on the 16th of July 1979, Nationwide Air filed for bankruptcy and ceased trading and all of their flying as well. Any and all attempts to revive the airline ended unsuccessfully, unfortunately.

These were the only two Carvairs to be registered in New Zealand (to my knowledge), which makes them pretty special.

ZK-NWA: 1946 Douglas DC-4-1009 / Aviation Traders ATL-98A Carvair | Nationwide Air | Currently: written off in landing accident in Alaska on 30 May 2007

ZK-NWB: 1945 Douglas C-54E-10-DC / Aviation Traders ATL-98A Carvair | Nationwide Air | Currently: Derelict in Johannesburg (Rand) (To my knowledge)

*According to a former employee, see; http://3rdlevelnz.bl...-car-ferry.html

Let's give the Carvair some more love!