This summer the Chronicle is bringing you another look at some of the best content of 2019. This story originally ran on September 24, 2019.
An aircraft that has spent around 50 years taking travellers to the sky is set for a different type of retirement on the ground in Whanganui.
Air Chathams' aircraft ZK-CIF has been bought by Castlecliff resident James Barron, who plans on turning it into accommodation.
The project began to take off several months ago with Barron eyeing up different options online before landing on the Air Chathams ZK-CIF Convair 580.
"I'd gone to bid on a smaller one earlier on Trade Me and that ended up going for a pretty ridiculous price.
"A freighter that Air Chathams is disposing of came up and we entered negotiations, and that's when [Air Chathams general manager] Duane Emeny said they've also got the CIF which is fully kitted out.
"I think when they realised we were talking about doing a serious project and not just cutting the nose off and making a 10 metre square man shed, they wanted to help the old girl get a really good retirement."
The aircraft began life with Belgian airline Sabena in 1956 and spent around 12 years in Europe before being taken to the United States.
For almost the next four decades the aircraft was used for travel in the United States and was mostly based in Texas and Alaska.
In 2005 Air Chathams bought the aircraft and initially tasked it with flights in Tonga and Fiji as part of Chathams Pacific.
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The CIF was then used to take travellers between Whanganui and Auckland. It was fully repainted in Air Chathams' colours in 2016.
Barron said he is now looking at costs to get the aircraft from Auckland to Whanganui for conversion work.
"We've engaged in feasibility discussions with different levels of [Whanganui District] council, and Whanganui and Partners have been great. They see the potential for something different and striking in Whanganui as well."
When it comes to what the inside of the 52-seat aircraft may look like after conversion, Barron said he's leaving it up to the experts.
"Whether I'm commissioning art for the library or Citadel in Castlecliff, my approach is that if I'm employing a professional, I don't believe telling them what to do," he said.
"Largely we're getting a motorhome conversion crew to have a look at it and give us their advice."
Emeny said the company had to make a decision around two aircraft in its fleet.
"One required major corrosion repair that could not be justified for the amount of use we would recover from the aircraft.
"The other was cargo only and surplus to requirements, so rather than purchasing additional engines and accessories we decided to part out that aircraft to support the remainder of our Convair fleet."
It's the only occasion the company has sold any of its fleet to a private buyer in the last 10 years.
Emeny said he was excited to see an Air Chathams' aircraft given a unique second life, especially in Whanganui where the company has a great deal of civic pride.
Whanganui and Partners visitor industries strategic lead Paul Chaplow said he welcomes the project.
"What's really exciting about this is project that even though it's a completely unique idea for Whanganui, it complements our existing heritage attractions, especially our rich transportation history.
"This kind of out-of-the-box thinking and authentic commitment to enhancing the region are strengths of our community, and I hope we'll continue to see more great ideas for visitor attractions as time goes by."
The Convair 580 is to be placed near Karaka St, where it will have a connection to its former life as it sits under the Castlecliff flight path.