Type: L-18-56 Lodestar
MSN: 18-2090
Previous Identities: G-AGBU
Subsequent Identities: ZK-BJM


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.
UK CofA issued. Later modified to type L18-56 with Wright R1820-87 Cyclones
Sold to Henry Warren Grindrod Penny. In Penny's words:

In England from my advertising for air crew, I had met a Captain Michelson, who wanted to go to Australia. He had a lot of experience but only on light aircraft. He agreed to invest 6,000 sterling in the outfit, due for repayment later on arrival in Australia. I consequently purchased through brokers W.S. Shackleton Ltd, an ex BOAC Lockheed Lodestar G-AGBU, which had been on the Cairo-Khartoum run and was in fact parked at Khartoum. It was fully equipped as an airliner and the total cost was 8,500 sterling. It was ferried back by a BOAC crew but whilst taxying in at London Airport in a fog, struck a building and wrote off the port propeller and engine. (Source: 3)
  Aeroplane was named Aurora Borealis.
Australia House, London requested Australian markings for G-AGBU. Subsequently registration VH-BKH was allocated but never taken up.
  Warren Penny stated during his appearance before the NSW Court of Bankruptcy on 08JUL49 that; "The letters were only in existence for two or three days at the most. We were in a hurry to get out of London ... the English lettering G-AGBU was painted out and the Australian lettering painted on; but then we were informed we could not take the aircraft to Australia under the Australian lettering; so I had to put the aircraft back to its original British registration." (Source 2)
Heathrow-Lyons. Crew: Capt Warren Penny, F/O Michelson & R/O Long. One additional crew name has been heavily crossed out, seemingly retrospectively, on two consecutive pages. (Source: 1)
Lyons-Rome. (Source: 1)
Rome-Salonica. (Source: 1)
Salonica-Athens-Nicosia-Athens. (Source: 1)
Athens-Nicosia. (Source: 1)
Nicosia-Habbaniya. (Source: 1)
Habbaniya-Bahrein-Sharjah. (Source: 1)
Sharjah-Karachi-Delhi. (Source: 1)
Delhi-Calcutta-Rangoon. (Source: 1)
Rangoon-Penang-Singapore. (Source: 1)
Singapore-Batavia-Bali. (Source: 1)
Bali-Koepang-Darwin. (Source: 1) The pilot's log book shows the aircraft overnighting Koepang but a passenger on the flight states that they continued to Darwin where they overnighted.
Darwin-Cloncurry-Charleville. (Source: 1)
Charleville-Mascot. (Source: 1)
Arrived Sydney at 1200 hours with 13 passengers ex London, 1 passenger ex Athens and 4 crew flown by Capt Warren Penny and F/O Percy Michelson. (Source: 3).
  See The Remarkable Story of Mr Rose and His Suitcase. This link will take you to the Queensland Air Museum website.
Mascot-Bankstown. (Source: 1)
Departed Sydney at 1430 hours for Rome with nil pax and nil freight. (Source: 3)
Arrived Sydney from Cyprus with 14 British and Greek migrants. Flown by Capt W. Mellor. (Source: 3)
Operated a return charter to Cyprus for Intercontinental Airlines. On its return, the aeroplane was parked at Bankstown still with its British registration.
Ownership transferred to Percy Michelson, Sydney. (Source: 3)
Bankstown-Mascot-Coffs Harbour-Mascot. Crew: Capt Warren Penny, F/O Michelson & R/O Taylor. (Source: 1)
This was a charter to search for a missing yacht off Coffs Harbour. The Lodestar was still operating as G-AGBU.
Mascot-Bankstown. (Source: 1)
Penny advised DCA that the aircraft was to be flown to Cairo for CofA renewal. In the event it never departed.
Struck off British Register.
Tail damaged in a storm at Bankstown.
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).
Board Minutes for East-West Airlines record that Percy Michelson offered to sell the Lodestar to EWA. (Source: 3)
Issued CofA and registered VH-FAD. Subsequently leased from Fawcett Aviation to South Coast Airways who operated to Sydney, Cowra, West Wyalong and Wollongong.
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.
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


Log Book of Warren Penny photographed by Greg Weir in 2021.
NAA SP414/1 Item 49/3.
Geoff Goodall, The Migrant Caper


Several Australian Lodestars were used on migrant flights from Europe in the immediate post-war years. Several entrepreneurs began operating charter flights, mainly from Rome and Athens, in what became known amongst the main players as The Migrant Caper. These operations are covered in exquisite detail in Geoff Goodall's seminal work. The following link will take you to Geoff Goodall's Aviation History Site:

The Migrant Caper

Issue Date Remarks
11 26DEC22
Added references from Source: 3.
10 11DEC22
Added references from Source: 2.
9 11APR21
Added references from Source: 1.
8 26NOV19
Added an image of ZK-BJM thanks to Ben Dannecker.
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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