The Transavia PL-12 Airtruk is a topdressing aircraft designed by Luigi Pellagrini and built by the Transavia Corporation of Australia. Luigi Pellagrini had earlier designed a similar aircraft known as the PL-11 Airtruck utilising war-surplus North American Harvard parts, two of which were manufactured by Bennett Aviation in Te Kuiti, New Zealand.
The Airtruk is an all-metal bi-plane – technically a sesquiplane, as the lower wings are much shorter than the upper wings. The most outstanding features of the PL-12 are the twin booms, which facilitate easier loading of fertiliser, and a cockpit mounted above the engine/fertiliser hopper, so that the pilot was not trapped between these two heavy objects in the event of a crash – an all too frequent occurrence in more conventional topdressing aircraft such as the ubiquitous FU24 Fletcher.
Between 100 and 150 of these aircraft were produced between the mid-1960’s and the mid-1980’s. Around 30 of the aircraft saw use in New Zealand, with major operators being Air Contracts Ltd of Masterton, and Barr Brothers Ltd of Auckland.
ZK-DMX (constructors number G352) was imported into New Zealand in 1973 and was operated by Barr Aircraft Equipment Ltd, flown under Barr Brothers (H.B.) titles until being withdrawn from use and dismantled in 1983.
The remains of ZK-DMX, found derelict at Ardmore in 1996, as well as parts of at least two other PL-12’s donated by Barr Brothers are now held by the Society, and the aircraft has been partially restored.
ZK-DMX is currently stored in the Society’s workshop with restoration on hold for the time being. Any donations of money or parts to help complete this project would be gratefully received. Please contact the Society via the contact page if you can help.