Type: L-18-56 Lodestar C/N: 2090
Built in March 1941 and originally had Pratt & Whitney "Hornet" engines. It worked for BOAC in Africa and was based at Cairo. It was
registered as G-AGBU.
Later that month it received the Wright Cyclone Engines and was given a new CofA.
After the war ended, a Mr. Henry Penny bought the aircraft and it was flown back to England. It was re-registered as VH-BKH and prepared
for the long ferry flight to Sydney, Australia where Penny's Intercontinental Airways was based. It departed London on the 12th December,
arriving in Darwin 13 days later. It arrived in Sydney on Christmas Day 1947.
It did several charter flights, one to Cyprus and return among them.
After several months, the aircraft was de-registered and left at Bankstown, suffering some significant damage during a storm at Bankstown.
It was later purchased by Fawcett Aviation and sent in for a complete overhaul, emerging in December 1951 as VH-FAD. It was used as a
passenger aircraft on short haul flights around N.S.W. under the guise of South Coast Airways.
In August of 1953, the Lodestar ended up back with Fawcett Aviation and around this time, Lawson Field bought the aircraft and Fawcett was
to do the conversion to a Topdresser. Fairey Aviation was also involved in this conversion.
This was the first Lodestar to be converted and it had a hopper capable of carrying 5 and a half tons. Special hopper doors were designed
and proved very successful during the trials.
Lionel Van Praag and Titus Oates ferried the now registered ZK-BJM across the Tasman to Gisborne, N.Z. in April 1955. Van Praag stayed on
and converted several pilots on to the type including Bob Allen and Bruce Thompson. Unfortunately, he had no knowledge of the
Topdressing industry and what flying a Topdresser involved and hence the conversions were done rather quickly!!!
BJM only served 8 and a half years topdressing, withdrawn from service in October 1963 and scrapped at Gisborne the following year.
BJM seen here at Paraparaumu 5th July 1955 © Don Noble
BJM now at it's Gisborne base circa 1956 © Don Noble
BJM loading at Ardmore with pilot Bruce Thompson © Don Noble
BJM working near Gisborne © Don Noble
Bruce Thompson doing a low pass over Gisborne Aerodrome. Original photo coloured by Kelly Thompson.
Original photo © Don Noble
BJM and BMC at Gisborne 1957 © Don Noble
BJM at Napier with pilot Bob Allen and Engineer John "Darby" Dunstan 1956 © J.Dunstan
4 clips from a 1955 Gisborne Photo News
BJM at Napier August 1955 © Lawson Field Archives
A good colour shot at Gisborne 1956 © Dave Paull
Another shot taken at Ardmore © Don Noble
Thanks to Eddie Coates for this photo © Eddie Coates Collection
2 pics of BJM working off Gisborne Aerodrome
BJM working near Gisborne © Unknown Source
Another unknown photographer
Another Gisborne Photo News clip when Gisborne's runway was sealed. © Gisborne Photo News