L-18-56 Lodestar Model C-60A-5-LO     C/n: 2553   

Ordered by the USAF and registered as 42-56060, date unknown. May have been leased to Netherlands Air Force.

Loaned to the RAAF (Australia) and was used by 37 Squadron as VH-RDT. Test flown May 1944, possibly at Parafield, S.A.
Registered as VH-AKY 2nd September 1950 to Doug Fawcett at Bankstown, N.S.W. whose Company was Air Cargo Ltd.
Seems Mr.Fawcett re-registered the aircraft as VH-FAC a short time later. The Lodestar was converted to Freighter status during a
complete overhaul. It later went to PNG late 1950.

In April 1951, it was converted to a passenger aircraft at Bankstown and sent back to PNG, leased by Gibbes-Sepik Airways.
Ran out of fuel and forced landed with minor damage 26th June 1951. Aircraft repaired and flew again 21st November 1951.

After 2 years of operations in PNG, the Lodestar was destined for Cairns and Fawcett Aviation. It seems that Gibbes-Sepik were losing money
and wanted out of their lease agreement with Fawcett. It eventually was flown to Bankstown and left idle. It was de-registered and after 2 years,
was purchased by Lawson Field. It was to undergo conversion to a Topdresser there at Fairey Aviation.

Fieldair's Chief "Heavy" Pilot Bob Allen conducted hopper tests at Bankstown and Camden from 22nd October 1956, continuing until November
10. Many flights were conducted during these tests. This Lodestar had a specially designed rubber hopper which spread the load more evenly
over the main spar. After the testing was finished, it was registered as ZK-BMC and prepared for the ferry flight to New Zealand.

The Bankstown to Coffs Harbour leg occurred on the 14th November 1956 with  Bob Allen PIC, Charles Brodie (Navigator) & a Capt. Eidy.
The Coffs Harbour to Norfolk Island leg took place on the 17th November and after refuelling there, continued onto Whenuapai, N.Z. a total
of 9 hours 15 mins.
Then the Whenuapai to Gisborne leg was flown on the 19th November with a total flight time from Bankstown to Gisborne of 12 hours 30 minutes.
The aircraft was based at Masterton. On the 20th October 1957, pilot James Austin-Greene and passenger F. Goggin departed Masterton
on another Topdressing run. It is reported that the weather in the sowing area was deteriorating with low cloud and rain. Later that day,
the wreckage was found on a steep slope near Upper Bideford, the aircraft destroyed by the impact into rising ground and a partial fire.
Both men died at the scene.

BMC seen here at Mangere        © Don Noble

BMC after arriving in Gisborne 19th November 1956        © via Gisborne Photo News

BMC now in Fieldair colours with Lawson Field centre        © Don Noble

BMC loading, presumably at Masterton        © Don Noble

BMC with BJM at Gisborne 1957        © Don Noble

BMC at Gisborne 1957 with Young Nick's Head in the background        © Gil Bull