$2.5 Million Needed To Save Air New Zealand’s Lord Of The Rings 747

An iconic Boeing 747, once operated by Air New Zealand, is set to be broken up in Roswell, New Mexico, in just a few weeks. But a group of enthusiastic kiwis wants to stop that from happening. Bring Our Birds Home has secured a price for the 747, and needs to raise NZD$2.5 million ($1.74 million) to recover the plane and bring it home for display in Wanaka, New Zealand.

Air New Zealand Frodo Plane
Bring Our Birds Home has just days left to raise most of the NZD$2.5 million required to save the plane. Photo: Getty Images

Save The Plane

A group of enthusiastic Kiwis have set about crowdfunding to save a special Air New Zealand Boeing 747 from being scrapped. The 747, formerly registered ZK-NBV when it flew for Air New Zealand, is currently stored in Roswell in the United States, and is just days away from being scrapped.

Via the crowdfunding site givealittle, the group, calling itself ‘Bring Our Birds Home,’ wants to raise NZD$2.5 million ($1.74 million) to prevent NBV from being broken up. They state they have already negotiated the price with AerSale for the plane, but they have until just July 9th to raise the funds.

Originally christened ‘City of Christchurch,’ the 747-400 became widely known as ‘the Frodo Plane,’ owing to its eye-catching livery unveiled in 2002. Bring Our Birds Home says that, during its lifetime, the plane carried over two million Kiwis during its 15 years in service with Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand Frodo Plane
The stunning livery earned the aircraft the nickname the ‘Frodo Plane.’ Photo: Getty Images

NBV is one of a kind, not because of the livery, which was lost some years ago, but because of its type. It is the last remaining passenger 747-419 in the world, a special designator for aircraft ordered by Air New Zealand. Just four passenger -419s were built, three of which are either derelict or scrapped. She was also the final 747 in Air New Zealand’s fleet, making her special on many levels.

Bring Our Birds Home is seeking to rescue five key aircraft from the scrap heap. Founded by Paul Brennan, the group wants to recover a Lockheed Electra turboprop that once carried the Beatles, an Air New Zealand DC-10 that is rusting in Cuba, as well as a DC-8 and a 737-200. The planes will be displayed at the National Transport and Toy Museum, next to Wanaka Airport.

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A brief history of the Frodo Plane

ZK-NBV arrived with Air New Zealand in October 1998, delivered from Boeing fresh and new. She was the seventh of eight 747-400s to be delivered to the airline, and was the very last to leave the fleet. Air New Zealand began retiring its 747-400s in 2002, with seven leaving by 2011. But NBV, with its special Lord of the Rings livery, stayed with the airline until October 2014.

During her in-service lifetime, the group says that ZK-NBV operated 67,552 flight hours – almost eight years in the sky – and touched down 7,284 times.

AIr New Zealand LOTR 747
The 747-419 carried more than two million passengers in her lifetime. Photo: Getty Images

Since leaving Air New Zealand, the aircraft was taken up by Spanish leisure and wet lease specialist Wamos Air. Flying as EC-MDS, it was leased from Wamos by a number of airlines, including Saudia, Air France, El Al and Garuda Indonesia. Its last revenue flight was in December 2020, when it flew a rotation to Pointe-a-Pitre from Paris for Air Caraibes.

On January 31st this year, it flew from Madrid to Roswell via Bangor, landing at the desert storage location at 15:43 local time. Since then, it has been resting its wings in the desert sun, awaiting its final fate.

$2.5 Million Needed To Save Air New Zealand’s Lord Of The Rings 747
She hasn’t flown now since January. Flight Data: FlightRadar24.com

That fate is set to take place on July 9th, when the Frodo Plane is due to begin being dismantled. Unless, that is, Bring Our Birds Home can raise the massive amount of money required to buy the aircraft from AerSale.

Did you ever see the Frodo Plane in its happier days? Let us know in the comments.