SBD-5 arriving at Ardmore aboard a truck
Our SBD arriving at Pioneer Aero Ltd. aboard a truck in late May, 2023. (photo via Pioneer Aero)

Ardmore Arrival:

In late May, the container ship Olivia Maersk finally arrived in New Zealand following a nearly month-long journey halfway across the world bearing the fuselage of our SBD-5. Following a period in customs for inspection, the Dauntless was loaded aboard a flatbed truck for the three hour journey from the Port of Tauranga to Pioneer's workshop in Ardmore.

Unwrapping the Prize:

Soon after the Dauntless arrived at Pioneer Aero's facility the restoration team got to work removing the transport cover shrouding the fuselage. The company's chief engineer and project lead, Martin Hedley, had the honors, and it was clear from the massive smile on his face just how happy he was to have the Dauntless in the house!

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Most of the Pioneer Aero staff pictured with the Dauntless after having examined the treasure for the first time. Chief Engineer Martin Hedley is in the cockpit and Director Steve Cox is sitting on the wing leading edge closest to the fuselage. (photo via Pioneer Aero)

First Air Show!

On June 4th, just a few days after the SBD arrived with Pioneer Aero, the aircraft took part in its first air show - albeit, while firmly on the ground! The New Zealand Warbirds Association hosted this event, dubbed Warbirds on Parade, at Ardmore Airport. It was an immense success, with the Dauntless garnering a lot of attention from visitors to the show. As Pioneer Aero noted: "Being able to show the starting point of the project was an eye opener for the hundreds of people who came up to look at her. Director Steve Cox, Chief Engineer Martin Hedley, and our respective wives Sharon Cox and Heather Urquhart answered hundreds of questions and handed out just as many flyers explaining the history of 36175."