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Post WW2: Bristol 170 freighter

Work on Bristol's Type 170 began as a private project in 1944 to design a simple, sturdy and economical working transport for civil or military use. It featured an unobstructed box fuselage with the flight deck mounted above it, and two clamshell doors in the nose for straight-in loading.

First flying in December 1945, the Freighter became Bristol's first post-war production aircraft. ZK-CPT was part of the largest civilian fleet of Bristol Freighters to be found anywhere in the world. In their heyday, 17 Freighters were owned by Safe Air at their Woodbourne base. The RNZAF operated a further 12 Bristol Freighters between 1951 and 1977.


BF 170ZK-CPT is a veteran of some 27,679 hours in the air, and 33,337 landings. Her flying time represents a continuous airborne time of three years and one month! During her working life, the aircraft carried thousands of tons of freight and mail, and many horses, sheep, pigs, cattle as well as motor cars and many passengers of a human kind.

The 'Friends Of The Bristol Society' was formed in July 1986 to coordinate the preservation, maintenance and display of ZK-CPT for the people of Marlborough and New Zealand, on behalf of it's owners, the Marlborough Aero Club.

The aim of the society is to continue an ongoing fund raising operation for the long-term preservation and maintenance of ZK-CPT. This will enable this historic, unusual and valuable old aircraft to see out it's days in a graceful and dignified retirement.


ZK-CPT was originally built for the Spanish airline Iberia and given the serial number 13126. She was included on the British aircraft register as G-AMRR prior to taking her Spanish registration of EC-WHI.

Overhead view. Photo Copyright © 2001 B. Pratt, Skyworks (Marlborough).

At a later date the aircraft was re-registered as EC-AHI, and was delivered to Iberia on the 2nd May 1953. Eventually she was sold to Aviation Traders of England and delivered to them on the 28th January 1965, as G41-3-66 and put into storage.

She was registered to Safe Air on 2nd May 1966 and left Lydd Airport on the 4th May, bound for New Zealand. The crew was Captain J. D. Howard and First Officer R.T. Alexander, and the followed the route:

Lydd - Rome - Athens - Damascus - Bahrain - New Delhi - Calcutta - Bangkok - Sandakan - Darwin - Mt Isa - Brisbane - Norfolk Is - Auckland - Woodbourne

They arrived at Woodbourne (Blenheim) on the 22nd May after a flight time of approximately 85 hours.

ZK-CPT entered Company service of the 18th July 1966, and flew on Rail Air, NZ Post Office, NAC/Air New Zealand contracts for the rest of her flying career.

Her last flight for Safe Air was on the 7th February 1986, when she was delivered to Omaka Aerodrome by Captain R.A. Guard, and First Officer R. Haxton, both ex-chief flying instructors of the Marlborough Aero Club. She was officially retired on the 15th June 1986.


The first post restoration run of the Bristol Hercules 14-cylinder sleeve vavle radial engines.



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