Specialists in research and writing about early New Zealand airlines.

New Zealand's Worst Internal Air Disaster

by Richard J.Waugh

Flight 441from Auckland to Tauranga on 3 July 1963 began as a typical National Airways Corporation DC-3 flight of the era. On board was a cross section of New Zealanders; male and female, Maori and Pakeha, young and old. They were travelling on business, on holiday or to attend family events.

The tragic crash of DC-3 ZK-AYZ into the Kaimai Range and the death of all 3 crew and 20 passengers was a profound shock to the prosperity and optimism of a growing nation. The accident was front page news for days.

In response there was a huge outpouring of public sympathy with hundreds of volunteers involved in the search, many providing meals and shelter while others extended care to those who had lost loved ones. Helicopters also played a pioneering role in the search and recovery operation. A Public Inquiry later helped New Zealand draw some safety lessons from this, its worst internal air disaster.

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