ZK-BDS  Fletcher FU24                                 (c/n   1)


                                            The Fletcher FU-24 was originally a John Thorp creation, designed for the Fletcher Aircraft
                                            Corp specifically as an agricultural aircraft.  The above machine is the prototype and first flew
                                            out of the old Rosemead Airport in the San Gabriel Valley district of Los Angeles (just off the
                                            San Bernardino Freeway, where the local US Government offices now are) in June of 1954.
                                            It carried the US registration N6505C and became ZK-BDS upon arrival in New Zealand.
                                            It is the only one which had an open cockpit.   Eleven complete aircraft were subsequently
                                            shipped to New Zealand and this was followed by some 100 kits delivered to the Cable-Price
                                            Corporation for assembly in Hamilton. This concern eventually purchased the manufacturing
                                            rights for the design and became, after several name changes, Pacific Aerospace Corporation.
                                            ZK-BDS was still flying into the new millenium although successive rebuilds had ensured that
                                            very little of the original airframe remained.  Sadly, and just short of its fiftieth birthday, (surely
                                            a record for agricultural aircraft?) the machine struck a hillside on 20 Sept 2003 whilst
                                            attempting to turn back to Whakatane after encountering low ceiling on a positioning flight
                                            for Super Air Ltd.   The two occupants, although badly injured, survived.  This aircraft is so
                                            historic that I understand attempts may be made to salvage the remains and restore it.