The Goose has landed.....!

Roy  Massicks

Auckland, New Zealand

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Photo taken at Tryphena, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand in the 1980’s.
We were waiting to fly to Auckland 90k’s away. This Grumman Goose belonged to Sea Bee Air who also flew a couple of Grumman Widgens, These aircraft were made between 1941 and 1955 – when this aircraft discharged its passengers and we were waiting to board I noticed quite a lot of water leaking from under the fuselage. On mentioning this to the pilot his comment was ’ If you’d been flying around for forty years, you’d leak as well ! ’
A bit of a legend was built up around Sea Bee Air’s aircraft and their pilots. When we first went to live on Gt. Barrier Is. and these aircraft were still flying, the only traffic jam ever seen on the Island was when, at high tide at Mulberry Grove, Tryphena there was not enough beach for the plane to sit so they trundelled up the shingle onto the road. It was quite a sight to drive round the corner into Mulberry Grove and see the plane sitting there, blocking traffic. So, the only thing to do was to get out and have a chat with the other stalled motorists until the plane had departed.
On the same trip as this, from Tryphena we went to Whangaparapara halfway up the Island where there are the remains of an old whaling station.
The plane lands there on the water then runs its left hand wheel onto a small beach and swings sideways – this means the wing swings across a small grassy bank at the side of the road.
A wooden plank was then placed between the door of the aircraft and the grassy bank to board. On this occasion a rather large Great Dane dog was also a passenger. It sat in the aisle alongside my seat. A passenger in front of me ( not a local) turned and said ‘They shouldn’t allow animals on a plane. ’ Well, ten minutes into the flight I noticed the dog salivating and yawning, a sure sign of what’s to come ! The next thing, the dog was sick all down the side of the complaining passenger. I leant forward and said ’ I think that dog must have heard what you said !’ We used to fly our German Shepherd regularly on these aircraft and never a problem.
It was certainly an experience to fly this way.

The two main pilots were Freddie Ladd & Bruce Packer – Freddie flew Corsair’s for the RNZAF in the Pacific in the last war and both pilots did tremendous work during emergencies on the Islands of the Hauraki Gulf which includes Gt. Barrier Island.
They used to, at their own expense, fly newspapers to isolated farmsteads on the Barrier. This was done by just dropping the rolled up paper out the cockpit window. The story goes that they became so good at it they could get it down the farmhouse chimney!
The week that Freddie Ladd retired he flew a plane under Auckland Harbour Bridge – needless to say, he lost his licence for a while but he certainly made a statement to end his marvellous career.
This was an era of flying that I really miss. The Britten – Norman Islanders that replaced the Grummans were also fun to fly in.

Image taken with an old Pentax film camera and digitized.

Artwork Comments

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