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


  Ordered by the Royal Air Force as FK254 but order subsequently cancelled
30JUN42 To USAAF as C-60-LO serial 42-32174
22SEP42 Arrived Brisbane
SEP42 Assigned to 21TCS as VHCEE (callsign)
OCT42 Assigned 22TCS
  Assigned 39TCS
08JUL43 Delivered to 36 Sqn RAAF as VHCEE named "Tiki"
10FEB44 Flown from Townsville to Eagle Farm (Brisbane) on return to USAAF
29FEB44 To Guinea Airways Ltd as VHCEE
01MAR44 Special CofA X15 issued
14NOV44 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)
02JUN45 WFS and parked at Parafield. Subsequently returned to USAAF
FEB46 Sold to Aircrafts Pty Ltd, Archerfield, QLD and converted at Parafield
28NOV46 Registered VH-BAG to Aircrafts Pty Ltd (CofR 1215)
16DEC46 Sold to Truth and Sportsman Ltd (a newspaper which had acquired a half share in APL) and leased back to Aircrafts Pty Ltd
18MAY47 Operated Brisbane-Maryborough-Bundaberg-Rockhampton-Bundaberg-Maryborough-Archerfield-Maryborough-Archerfield by Bronte Pannell. (Source: Log Book of Bronte Pannell via Nigel Daw)
48 Re-registered to Aircrafts Pty Ltd
JUL48 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.
18OCT48 APL changed their operating name to Queensland Airlines
NOV48 Livery changed with addition of Queensland Airlines titles in red above the cabin windows
10MAR49 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). This book, and others in the series, are highly recommended.]

Map of crash site.
01MAY67 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).

Issue Date Remarks
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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