VH-FAC Wewak Star
|Built as a C-60A-5-LO for the USAAC as 42-56060|
|Transferred under lend lease to Netherlands East Indies Air Force as LT-932|
|NOTE: This aircraft is also reported as LT-931 but LT-932 is believed to be correct. Because of this uncertainty and because the RAAF status cards are indexed under LT numbers, the RAAF usage of this aeroplane is not shown|
to 37 Sqn RAAF on loan from the NEIAF. (This applies equally to LT-931
The aircraft retained its Dutch LT serial while on loan to the RAAF although it is believed that it was allocated the radio call-sign VHRDT.
|18MAY44||Test flown as LT-932 by Bronte Pannell with F/O Heath. He was then with No. 34 Sqn RAAF at Parafield. (Source: Log Book of Bronte Pannell via Nigel Daw)|
|02SEP50||Registration application from Air Cargo Pty. Ltd., Bankstown signed by Doug Fawcett. Previous identity quoted as C-60A c/n 2553. No mention of earlier history. (NAA)|
|SEP50||DCA allocate registration VH-AKY. (NAA)|
|03OCT50||DCA memo allocated VH-FAC in lieu of VH-AKY on request of Mr Fawcett. (NAA)|
|09DEC50||Test flown at Bankstown after CofA overhaul. Aircraft configured as a freighter with two crew. (NAA)|
|50||Leased to Gibbes Sepik Airways, PNG as VH-FAC. The aircraft was named Wewak Star.|
at Bankstown to carry forty (40) passengers. (NAA)|
Aircraft returned to service with Gibbes Sepik Airways.
|07MAY51||DCA Port Moresby requests DCA Head Office to send a copy of the Load Chart for VH-FAC and asks if the aircraft has been approved to carry 40 passengers. (NAA)|
in a forced landing at Jacquinot Bay due to fuel exhaustion and navigational
difficulties. There were no injuries to the two crew, Wiza and Flanagan.
The aircraft incurred only minor damage and was subsequently flown to Lae for repairs.
|08AUG51||DCA report that aircraft is under repair. (NAA)|
|31AUG51||DCA report that permanent repairs have been completed and that the CofA suspension has been lifted. (NAA)|
|21NOV51||CofA renewed at Wewak. (NAA)|
|28FEB52||CofA renewed at Bankstown. (NAA)|
|MAY52||Miss Patricia Graham joined Gibbes Sepik Airways as the first female commercial pilot in PNG. Initially flew as First Officer on Lodestar and later Captain on Norseman.|
|13NOV52||Memo from DCA Port Moresby to DCA Head Office advising that as a result of an inspection by a Departmental surveyor the CofA has been suspended and that the aircraft is not to be flown commercially pending a complete overhaul. (NAA)|
Sepik Airways originally leased VH-FAC in anticipation of gaining
an airline licence between Port Moresby and Sydney. GSA applied for
such a licence in April 1951 but DCA refused the application on the
grounds that the route was already served by Qantas and Trans Oceanic
"The leased Lodestar which remained in the Gibbes Sepik Airways fleet until 1953 was a financial and operational embarrassment right from the start. It was expensive to operate, unserviceable for long periods, and unsuited to the type of internal operations the company conducted. The company had attempted unsuccessfully to have the lease with Fawcett Aviation terminated soon after the aircraft's arrival."
("Sepik Pilot" by James Sinclair)
|04JUN53||Departed Port Moresby for Cairns on return to Fawcett Aviation. (NAA)|
|09JUN53||Memo from DCA Port Moresby to Head Office: "VH-FAC owned by Fawcett Aviation and operated by Gibbes Sepik Airways has been unservicable at Port Moresby for approximately 10 months. Captain Wiza, the normal pilot of this aircraft, requested to ferry it to Sydney with Engineer Clayton as second pilot." Memo goes on to say Clayton has a Private Licence only. Approval refused due to the poor condition of the aircraft and the fact that Wiza did not have an instructor rating. Fawcett was phoned and told that he would have to provide a suitable commercial pilot as second pilot. Later Mr. Blair arrived in Port Moresby and DCA approved the ferry flight. VH-FAC was satisfactorally test flown at Port Moresby. (NAA)|
|27AUG54||Struck off the register as withdrawn from service.|
|JUL56||Sold to Fieldair Ltd of NZ.|
|SEP56||Fairey Aviation at Bankstown began converting the aircraft to an aerial topdresser with a 4 ton capacity rubber hopper.|
|20OCT56||Made many flights between Bankstown and Camden in the period 20OCT56 - 10NOV56 testing the hopper and radios. (Source: 1)|
|01NOV56||Five flights between Bankstown and Camden to test the hopper. (Source: 1)|
|02NOV56||Four flights between Bankstown and Camden to test the hopper. (Source: 1)|
|06NOV56||Test flight. (Source: 1)|
|10NOV56||Test flight - radio equipment. (Source: 1)|
|10NOV56||Registered ZK-BMC and named "Makutonga".|
Bankstown crewed by Bob Allen, Chief Twin Engine Pilot for Fieldair.
He was accompanied by Engineer Charles Brodie who navigated. Also
on board was a Capt. Eidy. The aircraft landed at Coffs Harbour two
hours later. (Source: 1)|
(Previous reports that the aircraft was crewed by Lionel Van Praag and Titus Oates are evidently incorrect)
|17NOV56||Departed Coffs Harbour for Norfolk Island (5 hours) where they refuelled. (Source: 1)|
|17NOV56||Departed Norfolk Island for Whenuapai, NZ (4 hours 15 minutes). (Source: 1)|
|19NOV56||Departed Whenuapai for Gisborne (1 hour and 15 minutes). (Source: 1)|
|20OCT57||Crashed near Upper Bideford, NZ. Aircraft struck high ground in deteriorating weather. Both occupants were killed and the aircraft destroyed by impact and fire.|
|Graeme Mills who knows Bob Allen personally and has inspected his log book.|
Added an image from the State Library of NSW.
Refreshed page layout with no change to data.
Added more information and a correction to the details of the ferry flight to NZ in NOV56. Thanks to Graeme Mills.
Added details of a test flight on 18MAY44 thanks to Nigel Daw.
Major update drawn from the aircraft file in the National Archives of Australia. Thanks to Geoff Goodall.
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