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The hotly anticipated 2024 update

Wow, yet another years has passed, and we are now in 2024. Time to reflect on what has happened with WASSI over the last year and our plans for the coming year.

Again these notes are edited excepts from the Chairman’s report which can be read in its entirety here.

Chairmans Report—AGM_11-02-2024
Download PDF • 1.28MB

2023 was a more stable year for the organisation; five PA38 Tomahawks are now leased out to the industry, but we have still not been able to complete the restoration of our sixth aircraft, a C152A (ZK-MUM).

Two of the Tomahawks (JHF and MAJ) still have to be brought up to the standards of WASSI both on interior, and avionics fit-out. Additionally, they still need to get the distinctive WASSI livery.

A gift from JR

In addition to member contributions and aircraft lease returns during the year WASSI received a sizeable bequest from John Richards. JR was a very strong supporter of the Walsh from many years. In his will JR left a substantial amount to the Walsh, of which half was given by the Walsh management team to WASSI.

This bequest allowed WASSI to purchase a completely restored Tomahawk (ZK-ESI), with a reconditioned engine, still being run in. When ESI was being painted in the WASSI scheme, we took the opportunity to change its registration to JRS, in recognition of JR’s contribution to the Walsh and WASSI.

Aircraft Status

With a stable fleet of useable aircraft WASSI has been able to enjoy modest returns on leases of the aircraft to the industry. Here is a precis of each aircraft as we move into 2024.


Until recently FML was leased by Wellington Aeroclub (WAC). Its use there has been variable and maintenance costs are noticeably higher than for our other Tomahawks. In late 2023 the maintenance organisation used by WAC advised that FML’s airframe was developing significant corrosion as a result of the sea salt laden environment at Wellington.

After a successful period at the 57th Walsh this year FML returned to Omaha where it underwent some remedial work before moving to it’s new posting being leased to Air Hawkes Bay.


JHF is being leased by Hawkes Bay and East Coast Aeroclub and is in a sublease arrangement with Air Hawkes Bay where it is in strong demand.

In November 2022 JHF had its initial avionics upgrade of a Garmin GTX335W ADS/B Out and In Transponder and a Garmin Aero 660 VFR GPS Navigator display.

When funds are available, JHF will get the WASSI livery, and the completion of its avionics upgrade.


NJT is being leased by Air Hawkes Bay.

In September 2022 NJT completed its avionics upgrade of two Garmin G5s; a Garmin GTX335W ADS/B Out and In Transponder; a Garmin Aero 660 VFR GPS Navigator display; and a Garmin radio.


MAJ is being leased by Mid-Canterbury Aeroclub.

In October 2022 MAJ had its initial avionics upgrade of a Garmin GTX335W ADS/B Out and In Transponder and a Garmin Aero 660 VFR GPS Navigator display.

It is hoped to be able to complete MAJ’s repaint and other restoration aspects, such as the remaining avionics upgrade and internal refurbishment in 2024.


JRS is also being leased by Mid-Canterbury Aeroclub.

Running-in was completed by September 23, and then JEM Aviation applied the WASSI paint scheme, fitted two Garmin G5s and completed a few relatively small jobs. This was all completed by late November 23.

JRS was then moved to the Ashburton in early December.


The fuselage, wings and control surfaces of MUM were painted in late 2021, although it has not been reassembled, as this would increase its space requirements and thereby increase the risk of hangar rash.

Most of the rebuild has been completed but unfortunately, we ran out of time (and money) in 2022 to complete MUM in time for it to be used at the Walsh in 2023.

This carried through to late 2023, when we did finally had the financial capability, but Jay did not have the manpower to fit in the required work.

JEM Aviation has now moved MUM into their main hangar with a view to making final progress on its completion.

Finding Suitable Aircraft

The availability of suitable aircraft for WASSI to invest in is totally unpredictable. However, one thing that has become clear is that airworthy, relatively low hour aircraft are a better investment than aircraft requiring total rebuilds, no matter how little we pay for them.

In order to move toward a balance of PA38’s and C152’s, it is hoped that the next aircraft purchased will be Cessna 152s.

Priorities for 2024

The aims for WASSI for 2024 are:

• The completion and leasing of MUM;

• To build up a buffer of funds;

• To continuously improve JHF and MAJ; and,

• To allocate roles and duties to WASSI volunteers to spread and improve the completion of tasks.


The importance of the WASSI to help strengthen the future of Walsh is clear, and to ensure we achieve our goals it will take many more years of commitment. Part of this process is succession planning. I would ask that you give some thought to whether you may be able to contribute in some capacity in the future.

Thank you all, for sharing the dream.



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