Type: L-18-56 Lodestar C-60-LO
MSN: 18-2194
Previous Identities: FK254
VHCEE (callsign)
Subsequent Identities: VH-BYG (NTU)


  Intended for the RAF as Lodestar II FK254 but not taken up.
To USAAF as C-60-LO serial 42-32174. (Source: 2)
Delivered Long Beach to Dallas. (Source: 2)
To Ontario Municipal Airport and Sacramento Air Depot. (Source: 2)
To Hamilton. (Source: 2)
To 5th Air Force S.W. Pacific. (Source: 2)
Arrived Brisbane.
Assigned to 21TCS as VHCEE (callsign).
Assigned 22TCS.
  Assigned 39TCS.
Received 36SQN ex USAAC as VHCEE. (Source: 1)
  Named Tiki.
Skin and formers of the rear fuselage damaged at Ward's Strip, Port Moresby. (Source: 1)
Issued No 15 Aircraft Repair Depot, Port Moresby for repairs ex 36SQN. (Source: 1)
Received 15ARD. (Source: 1)
Issued 36SQN ex 15ARD. (Source: 1)
Received 36SQN ex 15ARD. (Source: 1)
Flown from Townsville to Eagle Farm (Brisbane) on return to USAAF. (Source: 1)
To Guinea Airways Ltd as VHCEE.
Special CofA X15 issued.
This aircraft was one of 12 listed in a memorandum from the U.S. Government offering an assortment of Douglas and Lockheed types to the highest bidder for cash. VHCEE was said to require only a preflight inspection to place in fly-away condition. The aircraft was located with Guinea Airways in Adelaide with total time unknown. (Source: John Hopton)
WFS and parked at Parafield. Subsequently returned to USAAF.
Sold to Aircrafts Pty Ltd, Archerfield, QLD and converted at Parafield.
Registered VH-BAG to Aircrafts Pty Ltd (CofR 1215).
Sold to Truth and Sportsman Ltd (a newspaper which had acquired a half share in APL) and leased back to Aircrafts Pty Ltd.
Operated Brisbane-Maryborough-Bundaberg-Rockhampton-Bundaberg-Maryborough-Archerfield-Maryborough-Archerfield by Bronte Pannell. (Source: Log Book of Bronte Pannell via Nigel Daw, SAAM)
Re-registered to Aircrafts Pty Ltd.
Leased to Guinea Air Traders, Lae for one month during the overhaul of DC-3 VH-GAT. The Lodestar was to be re-registered VH-BYG as BAG had become a prohibited registration. In the event this did not proceed.
APL changed their operating name to Queensland Airlines.
Livery changed with addition of Queensland Airlines titles in red above the cabin windows.
The aircraft departed Coolangatta (now Gold Coast Airport) at approximately 1115 hours bound for Brisbane. As the undercarriage was retracting, the aircraft assumed an abnormally nose high attitude until, at a height of approximately 200-300 feet, the starboard wing dropped and the aircraft began to lose altitude. The aircraft was recovered briefly until the port wing dropped and it entered a curving descent to the left. Although a level attitude was regained, the aircraft was seen to drop almost vertically into a swampy area at Bilinga, between the airstrip and the beach. The Lodestar struck the ground heavily and immediately exploded in flames. The aircraft was fully booked with 18 passengers (including 2 nursed children) plus 3 crew, all of whom were killed instantly. The crew comprised Captain R.C. Cook, First Officer J.D. Murtha and Hostess Nerida Ferguson, all of Brisbane. APL's Chief Pilot, Captain H.E. Keegan, his wife and two infant children were amongst the passengers. A subsequent investigation determined that the aeroplane had been loaded outside the aft trim limit and thus was tail heavy to the point of being uncontrollable.

[This account is drawn from Air Crash Vol 2, pp.99-105 by Macarthur Job published in 1992 by Aerospace Publications, ISBN 1 875671 01 3]

Map of crash site.
The burned and corroded remains of one of the engines from VH-BAG was noted next to a flying school building at Coolangatta Airport. The engine had been uncovered earlier during earthworks at the airport. Although there was a suggestion that the engine might be incorporated into a memorial, nothing eventuated and the ultimate fate of the engine is unknown. (See photo above).


RAAF Form E/E.88.
Marson, Peter J., The Lockheed Twins, Air-Britain, 2001

Issue Date Remarks
14 28APR23
Added an image of the aircraft at Coffs Harbour on 07MAR49, just three days before the crash. Thanks to David Carter.
13 28JUN22
Updated from Sources 1 & 2.
12 02APR16
Refreshed page layout with no change to data.
11 28SEP15
Added a map of the approximate crash location thanks to Peter Cokley.
10 18SEP15
Added an image by Gus Grulke. Thanks to Graham Martin.
9 12SEP15
Added a reference at 14NOV44 thanks to John Hopton and Geoff Goodall.
8 17JUL13
Added two photos of the aircraft at Casino in 1948 thanks to Alan Sheppard.
7 04MAY12
Added details of a flight on 18MAY47 thanks to Nigel Daw.
6 05NOV04
Added more details of the crash drawn from Mac Job's excellent book "Air Crash" Vol. 2.
5 07OCT04
It is now believed that the inaugural Brisbane to Melbourne service on 09SEP46 was operated by VH-ARY and not VH-ARZ as stated in Issue #4.
4 29AUG04
Deleted reference to the commencement of Brisbane to Melbourne service on 09SEP48 as the commencement date is now known to have been 09SEP46. This means that the service could not have been inaugurated with VH-BAG as this aeroplane was still undergoing overhaul at this time. Therefore the Melbourne service must have been inaugurated with VH-ARZ (which see). Thanks to Roger McDonald for this correction.
3 02JAN00
Corrected Guinea Air Transport to Guinea Air Traders.

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