Scenic flights around Kāpiti on Air Chathams' DC-3 proved very popular during the weekend.

Flight bookings were full as people stepped back in time and enjoyed what it was like to travel in the aircraft which is the only surviving RNZAF World War II veteran aircraft still operating in a frontline service.

Looking inside the cockpit during a flight. Photo / David Haxton
Looking inside the cockpit during a flight. Photo / David Haxton

The plane, which has been redecorated in her original National Airways Corporation livery, did five flights each day from Kāpiti Coast Airport.

Capacity for each flight was 28 seats and a small number of complimentary seats were provided.

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After passengers boarded the plane, and given an introductory talk, the plane rumbled down the runway and gained height quickly because of the two powerful piston engines and strong winds.

Passengers on one of the DC-3 flights. Photo / David Haxton
Passengers on one of the DC-3 flights. Photo / David Haxton

Passengers could walk around the plane, after gaining enough altitude and look into the cockpit during their 30 minute flight.

"It was bloody awesome and a good step back in history," Tony Silke, from Paraparaumu, said.

Kāpiti mayor K Gurunathan enjoyed the flight.

"It embraced and rattled you, because of the sound of the engine, and it was also slow and low so you could see Kāpiti."

Eli Simblett, 9, from Johnsonville, said the flight was "really good".

"It was nice and smooth."

Eli Simblett checks out a DC-3 cockpit at Kāpiti Coast Airport. Photo / David Haxton
Eli Simblett checks out a DC-3 cockpit at Kāpiti Coast Airport. Photo / David Haxton

The plane has a long and varied history starting in 1945 when it was built in Oklahoma City, United States, before being flown to New Zealand and assigned to 41 Squadron RNZAF until 1952 where it was used in Asia for supply drops and post-war for getting servicemen home.

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By 1953 it was being used for passenger flights in New Zealand by the New Zealand National Airways Corporation for a number of years until being sold to service Samoa.

From 1973 it was sold again and converted into a top dresser and completed 6722 hours of strenuous flying, until the mid 1980s when it was sold again and converted to a freighter.

By 2000 it was doing charter work in New Zealand and Australia.

It was damaged in 2002 when, while attempting to take off in snow, it slid off a runway in Mt Cook.

DC-3 at Kapiti Coast Airport. Photo / David Haxton
DC-3 at Kapiti Coast Airport. Photo / David Haxton

By 2004 it was operating in Tonga but in 2006 it was locked away for three years after a riot broke out in Nukualofa.

Air Chathams bought the aircraft in 2010, gave it an overhaul, and began passenger flights serving Tonga again until 2013 before it returned home to New Zealand where it "remains in commercial service and represents a very important part of Kiwi history", the airline said.

"It remains today the last flying piston engine example of the RNZAF C-47 fleet, the last flying example of the NAC DC-3 fleet and the last flying example of the Fieldair fleet."