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Piper Navajo/Chieftain in Australia

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Piper Navajo/Chieftain in Australia

Old 13th Nov 2012, 06:12
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Piper Navajo/Chieftain in Australia

The trusty old workhorse of GA, been used on Reg203/RPT, charter, night freight, air ambulance, skydiving, survey and target towing.

But I am trying to find out which was the first Navajo, Chieftain and Pressurised Navajo to come to Australia.

I am lead to believe that PA-31/350 VH-TXD was imported by Ansett General Aviation in 1975 and was sold to AirTasmania and based in Hobart to replace DC-3 MMF on RPT in Tasmania.

Likewise PA-31P BSF was imported by Bib Stillwell in 1974.

But any leads on the Navajo?

Regards
S8
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Old 13th Nov 2012, 08:26
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VH-IHA is a 1968 model still going strong at Caloundra, I think it's number 138 off the production line.
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Old 13th Nov 2012, 09:23
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First PA31-350 in OZ.

I had always believed that VH-MCX operated by Country Air Services in Rockhampton was the first in OZ, it was Ansett General Aviations demo machine until purchased by Don Millroy in the mid seventies...however my brain cells are failing these days!
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Old 13th Nov 2012, 09:33
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Of the Nevergos still in circulation this would be the oldest in Oz -

VH CYV
Model: PA-31
Serial number: 31-18
Aircraft first registered in Australia: 06 July 1987
Year of manufacture: 1967

Got at least one flight with that one in the logbook.

While this one has been here the longest -

VH PDN
Model: PA-31
Serial number: 31-177
Aircraft first registered in Australia: 13 May 1968
Year of manufacture: 1968

And I did my PA31 endo in this one -

VH WNC
Model: PA-31
Serial number: 31-420
Aircraft first registered in Australia: 08 September 1998
Year of manufacture: 1969

When it was still VH-ZJZ
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Old 13th Nov 2012, 09:56
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PA 31-310 Navajo

My understanding that VH-WMC that was operated by the Victorian Division of the RFDS out of Wyndham WA was the last PA31-310 off the Piper production line. It was a nice aeroplane to fly!
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Old 13th Nov 2012, 10:05
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Air Tas had a Chieftain some time between May 75 and May 77. No idea of rego, but fortunate enough to be given a drive from the right seat, and even a landing at Launy. Trusting soul who ever he was.

Edited to add, this web site suggests VH-TAS

Air Tasmania / Airlines of Tasmania

Terry Burns (ex Ansett Viscounts I think) was chief pilot, but he only flew the DC-3 I think (memory being what it is).

Last edited by Brian Abraham; 13th Nov 2012 at 10:22.
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Old 13th Nov 2012, 11:54
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I will stand corrected if i am wrong,but i believe VH-BEB PA31- 41 was first Navajo in Australia.Was Bib Stillwell's when he owned Civil Flying Services and a great friend of mine _ the late Alex McDonald used to fly it.Alex was W.A. manager of CFS when they were Piper distributors for Australia circa late sixties,early seventies.Ansett General Aviation were appointed national distributors early seventies and Fred Blake Piper Aircraft Sales and Cliff Brown's Piper West were dealers.I worked for Cliff as his parts manager for 15 odd years and we sold heaps to RFDS and other operators from 74ish until the 1980's. VH-BEB is still operating at JT.Great aircraft when operated in their given capacity & range

Glen Beard
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Old 13th Nov 2012, 12:40
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PA31-350 VH-RUH - 21 December 1977.
PA31-350 VH-RUI was bought at the same time.
Does anyone know where RUI is now? It has changed registration since I knew it.
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Old 13th Nov 2012, 15:29
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Murchison Air Services

PA 31-310 RTO, RTN bought new can't remember the date but it was circa 1967/8, a low hour PDN was purchased used I think from Julia Creek station.

Joined C402A same time, this aircraft replaced C411 TDB on aerial photography contract with WA Lands and survey.

Operated from the first purpose built FBO in Australia.
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Old 14th Nov 2012, 08:24
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Stationair 8, Kendell operated PA31 VH-DAP from 1971, that A/C was imported into Australia in the 1960s and operated by Delhi Allied Petroleum. Stand to be corrected on prior KD history.
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Old 14th Nov 2012, 10:50
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DAP was in FNQ doing freight runs in the late 70's. It was a Navajo.

There was also an old two bladed Navajo around that time as well. Never seen a two blader before. Must have been a late 60's model, old piper paint scheme. Don't recall the rego of that one.
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Old 14th Nov 2012, 11:52
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Terry Burns (ex Ansett Viscounts I think) was chief pilot, but he only flew the DC-3

Terry flew some night freight out of Hobart in a PA-31-310 during 1979.

I was RHS when we got airborne out of Hobart on his first trip and it was a bit hairy until he pegged the dials at about 300 ft and then it was perfect after that.

So as to his endorsement I have no idea. He did a few trips for us and certainly knew his way around Tasmania.
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Old 14th Nov 2012, 11:53
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Navajo PA31-310 first year of manufacture 1967. Short coupled pitch stability problem solved by springs and bob weight to elevator. A very nice and docile machine, but no room left or expansion of the design.

The later versions Cheiftain, Mojave and Cheyennes just got worse. Up to the point that the British CAA refused to accept the certification data for the early Cheyennes and insisted on SAS as a no go item.

The then Pres ex FAA and some others were implicated in missing certification data and allegations it was fudged.

By then it was basically all over for the original Piper company.
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Old 14th Nov 2012, 13:55
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A bit of technical info - a lot of operators were or may not be aware of regarding original PA31's - to my knowledge, it was illegal to operate Navajo's with wing lockers unless they had 3 bladed props and a change of elevator mass balance weights.i believe this was an asymetric issue because unless this configuration was fitted it created a serious control problem from the early models which did have 2 blades until the later ones which came out with standard 3 blades, if an engine out situation occurred.

Glen Beard
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Old 14th Nov 2012, 20:09
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My records indicate:- PA31-310, VH-PDM, 31-13, registered 30.06.1967, PA31-350, VH-RDA, 31-7305032, registered 26.07.1973, PA31P, VH-BSF, 31P-58, registered 28.02.1972.
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Old 14th Nov 2012, 20:13
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601...VH-RUI went to VH-SVN, then to VH-TWR, still on the register.
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Old 14th Nov 2012, 20:42
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Kendell operated PA31 VH-DAP
Kendell also operated VH-CLU at the same time. I have no other details about it. The register shows it as a amateur built.
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Old 15th Nov 2012, 00:32
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PA-31

The first PA-31 Navajo to be imported was VH-PDM c/n 31-13 imported by Ansett General Aviation and registered on 30/6/67. It later became VH-RTN and was later withdrawn from use. The wrecked fuselage was later used in a TV series marked as VH-PDN as the real VH-PDN was used in the flying shots.

The oldest PA-31 Navajo still registered is VH-CYV c/n 31-18 which was registered as VH-DZZ on 6/7/87 before becoming VH-CYV.

The first PA-31P Pressurised Navajo imported was VH-BSF imported by Bib Stillwell and registered on 28/2/72. It was revoked on 18/7/06.

The oldest PA-31P still registered is VH-SGA c/n 31P-7300166.

The first PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain registered in Australia was VH-WGF 31-7305010. It was imported by Ansett General Aviation for Williams Refridgeration and it was registered on 31/10/73. It is also the oldest Chieftain still registered.
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Old 15th Nov 2012, 04:44
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Aussie02

VH-RUI went to VH-SVN, then to VH-TWR, still on the register
Thanks

This is spooky
A Piper Chieftain was undertaking a regular public transport (RPT) flight from Lord Howe Island to Norfolk Island. Landed in fog.

Investigation: 199900604 - Piper Aircraft Corp PA-31 , VH-TWR

Last edited by 601; 15th Nov 2012 at 04:48.
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Old 15th Nov 2012, 07:38
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Good Gen

The following is a précis of information provided by Ken McBroom Chief pilot of Ansett GeneralAviation (AGA) from late 1966.

The first PA31-310 carried US registration. N9008Y and was ferry flown to Australia byCaptain Walter Moody of Globe Aero, Lock Haven PA, arriving in early 1967.
Naturally, Ansett General Aviation (AGA) as the Piper Distributor, wanted to get the first Navajo certified and flying on demonstration tours ASAP. Ferry tanks were removed, radio and navigation systems to suit Australia installed and inside 4 weeks, we had Australian certification. All our flyingwas done on “trade plates” without actually obtaining an actual VH number.

The first Navajohad 2 bladed props and engine handling was not easy. Vibration was noticeable,synchronisation was difficult, acceleration on take-off unimpressive and,because of the reduced ground clearance with the two long props, stone damage was a problem.


Our second Navajo was on the Lock Haven production line and it was reconfigured with 3 bladed Hartzell props and uprated Lycoming engines with slightly larger turbochargers. What a difference this made!

Piper shipped out the new 3 blade props and uprated engines for N9008Y.

Conversion was done at the Ansett engineering facility at Archerfield. When completed she was registered as VH-PDM, but much later than the first PA31-310 (VH-PNL) registered and delivered to Papuan Air Transport (PAT-Air) in Port Moresby.(VH-PNL was followed by VH-PNK for the same company.)

Allan Bligh, another former AGA stalwart, advises that;
“I think that the Prune correspondent ZLIN77 is correct and that VH-MCX, for Countryair (Don Milroy) in Rockhampton, was the first Navajo Chieftain (PA31-350) to enter service in OZ, it was quickly followed by two for the Coffs Harbour airline (Ross Davies) which, were registered VH-RDA and I thought VH-RDL. By the way the price of those Chieftains including delivery and certification was around $100,000 AUD.

Last edited by Seagull V; 15th Nov 2012 at 07:45. Reason: Formatting
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