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IATA Code: - OT

ICAO Code: - PEL

Known As:  Aeropelican Air Services

Full Name:  Aeropelican Air Services Pty Ltd

Country: Australia

Call sign: Aeropelican


Brief History

From 1957, Dalkeith 'Keith' Llewellyn Hilder, the founder of what became Aeropelican, flew a D.H.90 aircraft out of Broadmeadow Aerodrome, near Newcastle, N.S.W. - the home of the Royal Newcastle Aero Club.  During that year the DCA advised the club that the aerodrome would be closed.

During August 1959, Hilder negotiated a 25-year lease of an 11-hectare property at Pelican Point, between Swansea & Belmont, some 20km south of the City of Newcastle.

Hilder had longer-term plans to provide a better scheduled air service between Newcastle & Sydney than that provided by TAA's then daily operation between Williamtown & Sydney.  So he also applied for a flying school & air charter license.  He was granted a Charter & Aerial Works license by the DCA on 25 July, 1962.  However, it took until 1967 & much persuasion of the various authorities, before he was granted a Reg. 203 Exemption, to provide a scheduled, commuter service between Pelican, Sydney & Wollongong.

AeroPelican Air Charter Service was formed in June 1964 & began flying school operations 26 June, 1967.
It commenced commuter operations 11 September 1967, in conjunction with Illawarra Flying School Pty. Ltd.  These operations were short-lived, due to a technicality over the State Transport Department licence between Illawarra Flying School & AeroPelican Air Charter Service & ceased 22 September, 1967.

On 01 June, 1971, after nearly another 4 years of wrangling, the 1st scheduled service by Aeropelican Intercity Commuter Air Services Pty. Ltd. Belmont (Pelican Point)-Sydney was operated, using 8-seat Cessna 402 VH-MWE.  Other Cessna 402s were added to the fleet, as required, but were later progressively replaced by DHC-6 Twin Otters.

By early-1975, the average load factor was 77% & the company began examining the use of larger aircraft.  GAF N22 Nomad VH-ELN was leased from distributors Nationwide Air Services & trialed by Aeropelican, on its Sydney-Belmont-Sydney services, 18-24 December, 1975.  Whilst trials proved positive, it was not purchased by Aeropelican, as a suitable financial package could not be agreed. 

The immediate capacity problem was solved when Aeropelican purchased the ex-MMA 19-seat DHC-6 Series 100 Twin Otter VH-MMY at a reasonable price on 1 April, thanks to assistance from Ansett Transport Industries.  It was introduced into service by Aeropelican on 16 April.  Unfortunately, Keith Hilder never saw the Twin Otter in operation with Aeropelican.  He was admitted to hospital 2 days after its arrival from Perth & died on 03 June, 1976.

In December, 1976, DHC-6 Series 200 Twin Otter VH-TGY was purchased.

On 22 August, 1977, Aeropelican Intercity Commuter Air Services commenced services to Singleton, which lasted until February, 1981.

In May 1978, DHC-6 Series 100 VH-TZL joined the fleet.

During 1979, DHC-6 Series 200 VH-PAQ was leased temporarily, for an unknown period.

During 1980, the Flying Training School was forced to close, due to political & environmental pressures, as a trade-off for allowing the airline to continue.

The Hilder family kept the airline business going until 1 July, 1980, when Masling Commuter Services Pty. Ltd., which also operated Newcastle (Williamtown)-Sydney, purchased 80% of the company's shares (Bill Hilder holding the other 20%).   The association between the two airlines was to be short-lived.

On 31 July, 1981, Bodas Pty. Ltd., which was jointly owned by T.N.T. & News Ltd., purchased 80% of the shares in Masling Commuter Services Pty. Ltd. & thus 80% of Aeropelican Air Services Pty. Ltd.  They divested their interest in Masling on 6 October, 1981, but retained ownership of Aeropelican.  From that time Aeropelican were strongly associated with Ansett; dovetailing schedules & using the Ansett airport facilities at Sydney, reservations & check-in systems & various other Ansett facilities.

On 24 February, 1981, Sydney-Singleton services were transferred to Singleton Air Services Pty. Ltd.  Bill Hilder acquired full ownership of Singleton Air Services on 01 July, 1981, buying all its shares from Masling.  It was placed into receivership on 18 July, 1985, after a serious dispute with his financial partner Richard Caelli.

During June, three 19-seat DHC-6 Series 320s Twin Otters, VH-KZO, VH-KZP & VH-KZQ joined the fleet, replacing VH-TGY & VH-TZL. The 4th & final Series 320, VH-KZN, joined the fleet in June 1987, replacing Series 100 VH-MMY.
The four Series 320s were Aeropelican’s fleet from 1987 until after its sale by the Ansett Administrators, in 2002.  The

During 1982, the airline was renamed Aeropelican Air Services Pty. Ltd.; which must have come as a blessing to those forced to use its previous title in full. By late-1982, Aeropelican was reported as carrying approximately 10,000 passengers per month.

During June, 1987, Aeropelican’s 4th & final DHC-6 Series 320, VH-KZN, purchased 2nd-hand, joined the fleet, replacing Series 100 VH-MMY.The four Series 320s remained as Aeropelican’s fleet until after September 2001. 

In the year to 30 June, 1990, Aeropelican flew some 80, 000 passengers & were operating some 81 return flights per week between Belmont & Sydney, with almost 50% of those passengers transferring to/from other airlines at Sydney.  The number of services varied slightly year-by-year, but was still 79 per week at the time of the temporary suspension of operations in September 2001.In the year ending 30 June, 2000, they carried over 90,000 passengers.

In addition to the scheduled 30-minute services between Sydney & Belmont, Aeropelican also operated many charter services, including charters for parachuting clubs; the Twin Otters being especially suited for that task, with their 2-door rear exits.  Aeropelican had found its unique niche market & had prospered over a prolonged period, during which many commuter/regional airlines had come & disappeared without trace.

On 14 September, 2001, Aeropelican, as it was a subsidiary company, also suspended operations, when the parent company Ansett Australia's operations were suspended by the administrators Pricewaterhouse-Coopers.  Its aircraft were grounded at their Belmont base.   Limited operations (initially 3 return services daily) recommenced on 21 September, 2001.

On 07 March, 2002, it was announced that Aeropelican had been sold to the I.A.P. Group, by the Ansett Administrators.  The contract was finalised on 26 April, 2002.
In 2008 International Air Parts sold the airline to Business Air Holdings.
November 2011 Aeropelican merges with Brindabella Airlines Canberra.

June 20 2013 Aeropelican operated its final flight from Sydney to Newcastle.

Information Source: Fred Niven 


Cessna 402 VH-MWF
2 Images

Cessna 402 VH-MWF S/N 402-0136 Ex USA Registered N4036Q
Postcard photo taken April 1979


VH-MWF was the third of four Cessna 402s bought by Masling Airlines to operate third-level airline services from its base at Cootamundra.

About this time East West Airlines and Airlinesof NSW were withdrawing their DC-3s leaving smaller towns without air services.
VH-MWF was delivered in November 1967 and was still in the fleet when Masling went into receivership in September 1970.
The receivers sold VH–MWF to Aviation Centre at Bankstown who on sold it to

Aeropelican Airlines in 1971 for a commuter air service linking Newcastle Belmont airport with Mascot.

Aeropelican replaced its 402s with Twin Otters starting in the late 1970s.
VH–MWF was being operated by North Australian Air Charters, of Townsville, as a freighter when, on February 26, 1986 it had an uncontrolled engine fire and made an emergency landing at Rockhampton, where the fire was extinguished.

In March 1992, the hard-working 402 was withdrawn from use.

Aircraft information:

Production Notes: Choice Aviation Fotos Tiskarna PeMa tel/fax 0042-2-7812097  334 of 500

Acquisition Date: 2012

Production Date: 4/1979

Height: 97 mm

Width: 146  mm


Inflight Magazine
Vol.1 Issue 1
2 Images

This is Volume One Issue Number One Inflight Magazine.
Contains information and articles such as:

Route map
Fleet information
Feature articles

Production Notes: Publisher Inflight Magazine
Editor Kerry Heaney

Acquisition Date: 2018

Production Date: 2005

Height: 296 mm

Width: 211  mm


Safety Card
Jetstream 32
2 Images

Shows information regarding:

Take off and Landing
Emergency Landing Position
Land Evacuation
Floor Path Marking System
Door Operation
Slide Raft Evacuation
Over Wing Exits
Oxygen Mask
Life Vest
No Smoking in Toilet

Production Notes: Cabin Safety International LTD
REF: J32-407-41-04-11

Acquisition Date: 2011

Production Date: Nil

Height: 230 mm

Width: 125  mm  (Closed)


Blank Ticket
Circa 1980's
2 Images

Blank unused ticket 1980's

Production Notes: Printed by Westlakes Printers, Boolaroo

Acquisition Date: 2014

Production Date: Nil

Height: 97 mm

Width: 150  mm (Closed


Flight Schedule
1st March 1992
2 Images

Aeropelican Belmont to Sydney Return Timetable.

Production Notes: Nil

Acquisition Date: 2014

Production Date: Nil

Height: 90 mm

Width: 55  mm (Closed)


Flight Schedule
2nd August 1976
3 Images

Aeropelican Sydney to Newcastle Flight Schedule 1976.
Single Fare $17.70

Production Notes: Nil

Acquisition Date: 2016

Production Date: 1976

Height: 153 mm

Width: 87  mm (Closed)


Postcard DHC 6-320 VH-KZO Original Livery
2 Images

Aeropelican DHC6-320 VH-KZO CN 753 MFD 1981.
Photo taken at Sydney Mascot Airport.

This aircraft was ordered new by Aeropelican 1981.
First flown as C-CFBS at Toronto May 01, 1981.
Powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-27 engines.

Accepted by Aeropelican May 29, 1981.
Arrived Belmont, N.S.W. on completion of the delivery flight June 19, 1981.
Entered onto the Australian Aircraft Register as VH-KZO June 25, 1981.
Registered to Aeropelican Commuter Air Services Pty Ltd.
Aircraft was configured to seat 19 passengers.
Registered to Aeropelican Air Services Pty Ltd May 08, 1984.


Operated final revenue service Sydney (Kingsford Smith) - Belmont as AN6655 September 13, 2001.


All Ansett operations were suspended due to bankruptcy September 13, 2001.
Returned to service under administration Belmont - Sydney (Kingsford Smith) as AN5648 September 24, 2001.


Aeropelican Air Services was sold to IAP Group Australia Pty Ltd March 07, 2002.
Leased to Macair to replace the leased DHC-6 VH-KZP May 2002.
Returned to the Ansett administrators on termination of the Macair lease February 21, 2003.
Operated final Aeropelican service from Belmont Airport April 01, 2005.


Sold to Nordic Aviation Contractor, Billund, Denmark May 2005.
The intended sale to GT Air, Indonesia did not eventuate.
Cancelled from the Australian Aircraft Register May 23, 2005.


Entered onto the United States Aircraft Register as N162AY June 03, 2005.
Registered to Aircraft Guaranty Holdings Trust, Huston, Texas.
Aircraft remained stored at Belmont until ferried Belmont -Sydney (Bankstown) as N162AY October 12, 2005.
Sold to Trans Maldivian Airways Pty Ltd December 2005.
Cancelled from the United States Aircraft Register December 27, 2005.


Entered onto the Maldivian Aircraft Register as 8Q-TMQ December 28, 2005.
Issued with temporary ferry permit it departed Sydney (Bankstown) on the ferry flight December 29, 2005.
Arrived Male on completion of the ferry flight December 31, 2005.
Ferry route: Sydney - Alice Springs - Port Headland - Cocos Island - Male
During maintenance this aircraft was fitted with floats


Entered service with Trans Maldivian Airways January 17, 2006.

Last known with Trans Maldivian Airways

Aircraft information:

Production Notes: Editions J.P. PO BOX CH8152 Glattbrugg Switzerland
BUCHairCARD 8434 Photo taken by James L. Bell

Acquisition Date: 2012

Production Date: 7/1983

Height: 110 mm

Width: 115  mm


Postcard DHC 6-320 VH-KZO Ansett Livery
2 Images

Aeropelican DHC6-320 VH-KZO CN 753 MFD 1981.
Photo taken at Belmont Airport.

Production Notes: Simera Views Australia 0596231.1
201 of 444 part of a set of 32 postcards

Acquisition Date: 2011

Production Date: 27/03/1996

Height: 110 mm

Width: 115  mm


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