Swire Group

Old bird back in limelight

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 September, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 September, 2006, 12:00am

Aviation engineers have restored an old DC3 plane to look like the second ever Cathay Pacific aircraft - Niki - which flew in the 1940s.

The DC3 has been painted in the classic Cathay Pacific livery colours from the late 1940s and now stands outside the company's headquarters at Chek Lap Kok.

The airline decided to produce the replica for its 60th anniversary celebrations this year. Niki became the sister to the airline's famous first aircraft, Betsy, soon after the airline started in 1946.

The original Betsy has pride of place at the Hong Kong Science Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui East.

'We wanted to do something special to mark our 60th anniversary, and the replica of Niki certainly helps to bring the past alive,' Cathay engineering director Derek Cridland said.

'Having the aircraft standing outside our headquarters will remind people about the airline's modest beginnings and how it has grown over 60 years to become a highly regarded international carrier. My sincere thanks go to the staff who worked hard to make this project happen.'

An old DC3 was purchased in the Philippines and teams from Cathay's engineering department and maintenance provider HAECO restored it in Cathay Pacific colours.

At a ceremony to unveil the 'new Niki' last week were members of the Cathay Pacific 'I Can Fly' programme that fosters an aviation interest among young Hong Kong people.

Also present was Captain Charles 'Chic' Eather, 86, who piloted the original Niki soon after the airline was founded.