VH-FAD


Type: L-18-56 Lodestar
MSN: 2090
Previous Identities: G-AGBU
VH-BKH (NTU)
Subsequent Identities: ZK-BJM


History:

06MAR41 To BOAC as G-AGBU "Lowestoft". Delivered as type L18-07 with Pratt & Whitney Hornets. To be based at Cairo. Operated BOAC's African routes in camouflage.
21MAR41 UK CofA issued. Later modified to type L18-56 with Wright R1820-87 Cyclones
NOV47 Sold to Henry Warren Grindrod Penny through W.S. Shackleton Ltd (brokers) for UKú8,500. Aircraft was ferried from Cairo by BOAC and delivered to Penny in England. On arrival London the aircraft struck a building while taxying. Penny traded as Intercontinental Airlines Pty Ltd of Sydney and Intercontinental Air Tours of Kings Cross. Aeroplane was named "Aurora Borealis".
22NOV47 Australia House, London requested Australian markings for G-AGBU. Subsequently registration VH-BKH was allocated.
12DEC47 Departed London for Lyons under the command of Warren Penny.
23DEC47 Arrived Darwin.
25DEC47 Arrived Sydney. See The Remarkable Story of Mr Rose and His Suitcase. This link will take you to the Queensland Air Museum website.
JAN48 Operated a return charter to Cyprus for Intercontinental Airlines. On its return the aeroplane was parked at Bankstown still with its British registration.
09APR48 Chartered to search for a missing yacht off Coffs Harbour. Still operating as G-AGBU.
12APR48 Penny advised DCA that the aircraft was to be flown to Cairo for CofA renewal. In the event it never departed.
SEP48 Struck off British Register.
OCT48 Tail damaged in a storm at Bankstown.
JUN49 After Penny was declared bankrupt, the aircraft was purchased by Percy Michelson from the receivers. Percy Michelson had been the copilot on the Lodestar's delivery flight from the U.K. and he was also a partner in South Coast Airways which was owned by Fawcett Aviation at Bankstown. Fawcett Aviation began an overhaul of the Lodestar to prepare it for service with South Coast Airways. (Doug Fawcett states in his autobiography that he acquired the Lodestar from a Laurie Middlemiss).
10DEC51 Issued CofA and registered VH-FAD. Subsequently leased from Fawcett Aviation to South Coast Airways who operated to Sydney, Cowra, West Wyalong and Wollongong.
AUG53 South Coast Airways were taken over by East-West Airlines but Lodestar VH-FAD was not included in the deal and reverted to ownership by Fawcett Aviation.
APR55 Converted to an aerial topdresser by Fawcett Aviation at Bankstown for Fieldair Ltd of New Zealand. The modification was designed and stressed by Fairey Aviation at Bankstown.

"Aircraft" magazine of May 1955 describes the modification thus: "The hopper has a capacity of 5.5 tons but, pending an increase in the all-up weight which is at present restricted to 21,500 pounds, it will only be loaded to 3.5 tons. The hopper has been built into the aircraft immediately fore and aft of the main spar. It is constructed in sections which are easily removable for maintenance and inspection for corrosion. There are two outlets, the forward one measuring 34 inches by 17 inches and having four shutters and the rear one 57 inches by 17 inches with six shutters. The shutters are operated manually, controlled by a lever in the cockpit and may be set at various angles up to 90 degress. To jettison the load in an emergency with the shutters opened to 90 degrees the whole load may be dumped in six seconds, giving a very high safety factor. The modifications have had very little detrimental effect on the Lodestar's performance. The cruising speed is still within five knots of the original figure. The dusting operation is carried out at a height of 200 feet and at a speed of 135 knots. Tests conducted at Bankstown prior to the aircraft's departure for New Zealand indicated that, at this height and speed, a swathe of 88 yards wide could be sown."
APR55 Delivered to Fieldair as ZK-BJM "Whetumarama" and ferried across the Tasman by Lionel Van Praag and Titus Oates. ZK-BJM was the first Lodestar to enter service as a topdresser in NZ. It was intended that Lionel Van Praag would remain in NZ for several weeks of test flying and training.
60 To Airland (NZ) Ltd as ZK-BJM
OCT63 Retired
64 Scrapped Gisborne NZ


Issue Date Remarks
7 03APR16
Refreshed page layout with no change to data.
6 06MAY12
Added a link to the story of the delivery flight. See 25DEC47.
5 07AUG11
Added an image of the dump chute on ZK-BJM thanks to Barry Colledge.
4 17MAY09
Added an image of VH-FAD thanks to David Vincent.
3 05MAR06
Added details of the topdressing conversion.
2 02NOV01
Added an image of G-AGBU thanks to Geoff Goodall.





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