HISTORY OF A GREAT AIRCRAFT
Rescueing a piece of aviation history
Our Lockheed 18 Lodestar was one of those slated to join the Dutch East Indies Air Force in Java in 1940 where it was to have been given the serial number LT-926. However, when the Japanese overran Java, the Lodestar was diverted (seized, might be a better term) by the U.S. Government to the Army Air Corps as a C-60-LO and given the serial number 42-108787. The Army Air Corps never used the plane and released it to Canadian Pacific Air Lines in the early 1940s.
Canadian Pacific Railways purchased ten bush airlines in a short period of time, finishing with the purchase of Western Canadian Airlines in 1942, to form Canadian Pacific Airlines. In 1943, the first Lodestar was delivered to CPA and was named CF-CPA. In 1943 seven Lodestars were allocated to CPA by the USAAF especially for use on the WSR, Alaskan Highway & Canol Pipeline.
The Lockheed 18 Lodestar was the last twin-engine transport designed by Lockheed. The prototype, a Lockheed 14 Super Electra, lengthened by five feet, flew on September 21, 1939. Designed for the commercial market, Lockheed found domestic sales slow due to previous commitments by airlines to buy the Douglas DC-3. A total of 96 Lodestars were ordered by foreign airlines in Canada, Africa, Brazil, France, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, the UK and Venezuela.
In addition to commercial markets, the Lodestar also flew in the military. The first military orders for the Lodestar came from the US Navy. In 1940, the Navy ordered three variations, an executive transport carrying seven (R50-1), a personnel transport carrying 14, and a paratroop transport carrying 18. In 1941, the US Army Air Corps had 13 Lodestars built and designated them C-57. In addition, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a number of civilian Lodestars were requisitioned and designated C-56. Between 1942 and 1943, the USAAC acquired 324 C-60As, 18-seat paratroop transports. Some of these aircraft were passed on to the UK (RAF versions were known as the Lodestar I (C-56), Lodestar IA (C-59), and Lodestar II (C-60), and most were operated as medium-range transports). After the war, some Lodestars were converted into executive aircraft while others went to work for small freight operators. Less than 20 Lodestars are still airworthy in the USA today.
The Lockheed Lodestar transport design drew heavily from the company's Hudson bomber and earlier transport designs. Lockheed's Model 18 initially combined a newly lengthened fuselage with the Model 14 wings, tail unit and engines. This was also flown by the US Army Air Corps and US Navy.
The RCAF acquired a small number of Lodestar aircraft for transport duties. Starting in 1943, No.164 Squadron flew Lodestar aircraft on a run from Moncton, NB to Goose Bay, Labrador transporting essential freight, equipment and personnel during the construction of RCAF Station Goose Bay.
E.D. Bourque Aerial Photography of Ottawa quickly bought the Lodestar and placed it into service on photo contracts in Canada's north. It was performing this duty when it came to rest in Schefferville, Québec in 1960.
Here the aircraft sat, registered CF-CPA, watching an endless parade of seasons go by for 45 years until it was happened upon by one of our members, Patrick Cloutier. History had not been kind and only minimal information about the aircraft and those that served on it all those years ago could be found. If you have any information about this particular aircraft, CF-CPA, please contact us.
On September 20, 2006, the Lodestar was bought registered as CF-CPA. The plane had been sitting in a swamp, where it belly-landed, since 1960. The plan is to lift the aircraft in summer 2007 to allow for meticulous inspection of the entire aircraft by our team of specialists. Once the inspection is completed, a careful review of our options will be considered. [See Project for list of options]
Thus began the formation of the CF-CPA Project, a group dedicated to the preservation of the aircraft and its history. The first order of business is to recover CF-CPA and it will be no small task.
During winter and summer 2007, the work will commence. Equipment will be purchased for the camp to be set up next to the plane in August 2007, 100 miles north of Schefferville, Quebec, in the tundra, a very inhospitable region where the mosquitoes have to kneel to bite you on the head. The camp will house 10 volunteers who will begin lifting and inspecting the plane.
This website will track the progress of the Lodestar Restoration Project as it continues to our ultimate goal of getting CF-CPA into the air again. The aircraft CF-CPA is a timely project to begin in the year 2007.
Many members with a wealth of expertise and aviation enthusiasm are readily available. The project is being carried out through the generous donations of time and skills from our many volunteers.
Generous donations from our sponsors make this project possible.