Last updated 26 February 2023


Compiled by Geoff Goodall

  Beech D17S VH-AFP at Moorabbin Vic in December 1960 while operated by Tadgell Aviation, Toowoomba Qld as an agricultural seeder,

  fitted with a hopper inside the cabin.                                                                                     Photo by Alan Fraser via Maurice Austin collection

  The Beech 17 high performance biplane series began production in 1932 by Beech Aircraft Company in premises at Wichita, Kansas rented from the Cessna Aircraft Company. The distinctive negative stagger of the wings coined the unofficial name Staggerwing, which has stayed with the type to this day.  The prototype first flew at Wichita on 4 November 1932 but early sales during the Depression were slow and Walter Beech had the design modified for lower powered engines.  A variety of models and engines were offered to customers and pre-war civil sales took off.  

  With the outbreak of WWII, US Army Air Corps and US Navy impressed 129 civil Beech 17s and placed large orders with Beech for new military models: USAAC (UC-43), US Navy (GB-) which were given the name Traveller, which was often spelt as Traveler in US. These wartime production Travellers were the military equivalent of the D17S with 450hp P&W R-985-SB engines.

  A total of 107 new production Travellers were transferred to Britain under Lend Lease for communications duties: the majority to Royal Navy, others to RAF in the Middle East. All surviving RAF and RN Travellers were declared obsolete by the Air Ministry on 5 June 1947 when they were officially returned to US under Lend Lease requirements, but promptly put up for disposal on the civil market in Britain and Europe.

  After WWII over 400 Beech 17s returned to civil flying, comprising pre-war civil survivors as well as military impressments and military ordered aircraft sold by wartime disposals.  A new enhanced post-war model designated G17S was put into production at Wichita in 1946 but was closed after 20 aircraft because of the competition from the cheap military disposals market.

  Beech devised a system to identify the Beech 17 models, which had airframe differences as well as a range of engines  The following designations were used in Australia

Model Year Introduced Engine Power
C-17B 1936 Jacobs L-5 285hp
C-17L 1936 Jacobs L-4 225hp
D-17A 1939 Wright R-760 350hp
D-17R 1937 Wright R-975-E3 420hp
D-17S 1937 P&W R-985-SB Wasp Junior 450hp
F-17D 1938 Jacobs L-6 330hp
GB-2 1941 P&W R-985-SB Wasp Junior 450hp
UC-43 1942 P&W R-985-SB Wasp Junior 450hp

  In Australia, the first Staggerwing was imported in 1936 and two more arrived before WWII.  Eddie Connellan imported another from the United States in 1941 but it was immediately taken over by RAAF who had also impressed the two surviving pre-war examples. These were returned to civil owners after the war, and three more were imported during the 1950s.  In more recent times, the booming antique and sport aircraft movement has imported two showpiece Beech 17s and given the popularity and mystique of the Staggerwing, we can expect to see more in the future.

      Wartime impressments of Australian Beech 17s

  As early as June 1940 this type was under review for possible impressment and on 21 December 1940, the Department of Defence wrote to the Director General of Civil Aviation  "The Air Board has under consideration the taking over of two Beechcraft Aircraft owned by Messrs. Russell and Loneragan respectively for intercommunication purposes. "  The letter requested details of a number of items of technical data for the type, and concluded with "Present location of these aircraft and registration numbers would also be appreciated."

The DGCA replied on 24 January 1941 “the two aircraft enquired of were respectively model F.17D VH-ACU, owned by C.W.Russell, and model C.17B VH-UXP, owned by J. Loneragan. "  Answers to the technical questions were given, and the following percipient comment (in light of later events) concluded the letter, as "It is not known what would be the reaction of the owners to the acquisition of the aircraft but this Department would not raise objections."

  In an Air Board file "Summary of Communication Aircraft" prepared on 24 February 1941, No. 1 C.F. is shown to be established with 1 example of the type, but that it has not yet been supplied and is, in fact, still under request. On 24 May 1941, a proposal was put to the Air Board that additional small Communication Flights be established and that more aircraft be acquired to equip these units.  The Beech 17s were listed for inclusion in this group.

  R.A.A.F. H.Q. Darwin sent a telegram to the Air Board on 27 March 1942, asking for the urgent impressment of the long-range DH-60M VH-UQV to meet a specific requirement.  An internal Board Minute dated 7 April 1942 responded "Give them the Beechcraft for No.2 C.F. and withdraw single seat Tiger."  It is uncertain just which Beech was being referred to in this instance.  This was followed on 8th April by a Board memo "please arrange to re-allot the Beechcraft from No. 2 C.F. to No. 34 (T/L) Squadron for use by N.W. Area as a communication aircraft.  It is considered that the aircraft should be provided with some means of defence."  On the 13 April the following hand-written note was recorded (over an illegible signature):

- I rang C.O. No. 2 C.F. regarding the condition of this aircraft. He informed me that the engine had a patched crankcase, but was good for 200 hours, tyres were in bad shape.  Tyres belonging to aircraft had been loaned to U.S.A.A.C. for a job in northern areas and tyres now on aircraft were temporary replacements and may not stand up to rough aerodromes.  No new replacement tyres are available in Australia.
- A new engine for the Beechcraft was to have been shipped ex U.S.A. two months ago.  No advice of its receipt is available
- C.O. No. 2 C.F. did not think that the aircraft was in sufficiently robust condition to work up north.

USAAF Beech UC-43 Trevellers in Australia and New Guinea

   During 1943 a number of UC-43 wartime miliitary production models were shipped to 5th Air Force in Australia from Fort Mason, San Francisco which was the US Army's principal port for the Pacific campaign. Little has been found on these aircraft to date. but thanks to Doug Jones, the following can be recorded:

- UC-43 43-10862 assigned to 5th USAAF Headquarters, Brisbane Qld crashed at Archerfield Aerodrome, Brisbane on 27 November, 1943. First Lieutenant Robert Johnston was killed.
- this photograph on an unidentified UC-43 accident, with "895" on the tailplane. It has the white tailplane required for SWPA single-engined aircraft. 

The tall palm trees indicate possibly New Guinea or Solomons. 895 does not correspond with any UC-43 USAAF serial and the "5" appears to be painted larger.


AUSTRALIAN BEECH 17s: The following listing is presented in order of appearance on the Australian Civil Aircraft Register:

  BEECH C-17B later C-17L, C-17B                                                                                                               VH-UXP, (A39-2), A39-3, VH-UXP

9.11.36 Built at Wichita Kansas as production C-17B. Jacobs L-5M.    C/n 108
.36 Allocated registration N16449
36 Testflown Wichita
14.11.36 Departed Beech factory, Wichita in a crate on a railway flatcar for transport to New York for shipping. In the same crate was c/n 107 ZK-AEU bound for New Zealand
36 US Export CofA: Thomas J. Masse, Central Storage Battery Co, Sydney
12.36 Arrived Sydney as cargo on ship City of Manchester
9.1.37 Australian Registration application:  Thomas J. Masse, Sydney NSW
Masse is Managing Director of Central Storage Battery Co, Sydney
9.1.37 Testflown Mascot after assembly. Test pilot was Beech Aircraft Corp pilot John L. Abbott who had accompanied the aircraft when shipped from USA, to supervise assembly and test flying.
2.2.37 Added Register VH-UXP.  Based at Mascot. Painted Insignia Blue & silver.
2.2.37 Australian CofA issued
2.37 Beech test pilot John Abbott remained in Australia for a period as a Beech salesman and secured the order for VH-UYI before returning to USA.
8.11.37 Change of ownership: Jas Loneragan (Mudgee) Co Pty Ltd, Mudgee NSW
Tim Loneragan flew VH-UXP Sydney-Moree in an air race
24.6.40 Internal DCA memo requesting status report for VH-UXP due to its probable impressment for RAAF: response:  "1 crew + 4 passengers.  C. of A. valid till 30th January, 1941. Owner Jas. Loneragan (Mudgee) Pty., Ltd., of Mudgee, N.S.W."
4.41 Loneragan company advised that VH-UXP was to be impressed for RAAF service. Loneragans strenuously argued against this action stressing that the aircraft was essential to maintain their wide-spread business interests which were aiding the war effort.
1.5.41 Impressed by RAAF, allocated serial A39-2
7.5.41 Struck-off Civil Register
24.6.41 The Air Board advises DCA that the impressment of VH-UXP is deferred indefinitely and they have impressed Beech 17 VH-ACU instead
9.7.41 Readded Register VH-UXP: Jas Loneragan (Mudgee) Co Pty Ltd, Mudgee NSW
2.42 E.J. Connellan of Connellan Airways writes:
"The RAAF instructed me to apply my expertise on survey, which included soil-type recognition from high altitude to assist the RAAF and USAAF to select aerodromes which were to be constructed on a very accelerated programme, preparing for a Japanese invasion. I was told to select aerodromes from Townsville through to the west coast. I said that my Percival Gull 6 was not suitable for this work, because of inadequate range and payload.
They said I could have any aeroplane I asked for. I asked for a Staggerwing Beech 17. They impressed one off the owner, Loneragan at Mudgee NSW. Loneragan was not impressed! However he had no option but to endorse me on the aircraft at Mascot and hand it over to me. That was on February 22nd 1942."
22.2.42 Loneragan endorsed Eddie Connellan on VH-UXP at Mascot
2.42 E. J. Connellan recalls:
"From then (22.2.42) until April 20th I used this aircraft extensively for aerodrome selection work. I usually carried a RAAF officer, a USAAF officer and one or two Australian government engineers. So far as I know, all the sites I selected were successful.
The Jacobs engine in this aircraft VH-UXP was very worn, and I could not obtain any spare parts for it, especially piston rings which I needed most of all.  I would carbon the cylinder heads and valves in a very short space of time and I undertook top overhauls on it at night on a number of occasions."

Connellan decribes working all night on the engine in the old wooden floor of the Qantas hangar at Longreach, during which the rats chewed the leather of his shoes. He was based at Garbutt airfield, Townsville. where on one occasion he was once shot at by American airfield gunners on arrival.
3.42 CofA renewal overhaul by Ansett Airways, Essendon. Has been painted in camouflage by DCA order
20.4.42 Connellan completed his work in VH-UXP
24.4.42 Letter from Director General of Civil Aviation to Department of Air in response to enquiry concerning availability of civil aircraft which could be impressed for RAAF use by Western Command:
"The following aircraft could reasonably be made available for use in communication flying in Western Australia:  the list includes VH-UXP owned Jas. Loneragan (Mudgee) Coy, Mudgee.
30.5.42 Charter of VH-UXP to US Army for special work has been terminated
6.42 Charter to US Army renewed. Handed over to USAAC by Loneragan.
20.7.42 Letter from Director General Civil Aviation to Department of Air responding to a proposal to use a civil aircraft for inspection of landing grounds in WA on behalf of the US authorities: "VH-UXP has been under charter to Connellan for U.S.A. Survey in Central and Northern Territory.  Probably could be obtained on similar terms as to Connellan.  Previous proposal to impress aircraft cancelled by Department of Air, Memorandum 43912 of 24/6/42 this file.  Tyres at present on this machine are property of R.A.A.F. and are to be returned to No. 2 Communication Flight, Wagga on completion charter."
7-8.42 VH-UXP is on overhaul with Ansett Airways at Essendon. It has been handed over to USAAF by Loneragan
13.8.42 Impressment Requisition No. 9032 by RAAF of aircraft with Jacobs L-5 radial as A39-3
13.8.42 A39-3 taken on RAAF Charge ex Ansett Airways
24.8.42 Serviceable at No.36 Squadron, Laverton
25.8.42 Struck-off Civil Register
7.9.42 Received at No.2 Communications Flight, Mascot
7.10.42 RAAF memo: “Jas Loneragan (Mudgee) Pty Ltd have made a gift of VH-UXP to the Commonwealth Government as a communications aircraft with RAAF, subsequently Impressment Requisition No.9032 is cancelled.”
10.5.43 Last flown at 2CF, awaiting replacement engine
7.10.43 Received at No.4 Communications Flight, Archerfield. Later renamed No.4 Communications Unit
25.4.44 Received at No.3 Central Recovery Depot, Mascot for storage, ex 4CU
10.5.44 DCA are advised that A39-3 is available for civil disposal. Currently held at 3CRD, Mascot, airframe total time 900 hrs 40 mins.
6.8.44 RAAF Survey report on aircraft’s condition sent to Mr. Loneragan.
20.10.44 Loneragan advises DCA that he intends to install an Jacobs L-6 or Cheetah radial engine. However the aircraft not issued to Loneragan and remained with RAAF
12.44 Moved to Amberley for storage
13.12.44 RAAF inspection report at Amberley. No engine.
7.11.45 Jas Loneragan Pty Ltd to transfer all rights and title of Beechcraft to RAAF
8.11.45 Approval given by RAAF HQ for issue of Vega Gull A32-2 in exchange for this aircraft.
9.8.46 Received at 3 Aircraft Depot Store, Amberley. Has been parked at Amberley since 12.44, is parked outside under canvas, no engine
1.10.46 To be stored Category D
10.2.47 Commonwealth Disposals Commission tender document for 29 Hudsons, aircraft engines, and Beech C17B airframe A39-3. Located at 3AD RAAF Amberley. Tenders close 7.3.47.
"The aircraft is normally luxuriously appointed but unfortunately this particular machine has been badly damaged and the original engine fitted is not now available. However it is considered that the aircraft can be rebuilt and modified to make a very fine machine"
2.4.47 Sold through Commonwealth Disposals Commission for £200 to: Kingsford Smith Aviation Services, Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney.
23.6.47 Issued to purchaser, struck-off RAAF charge

9.51 Under rebuild at Bankstown by KSAS
3.10.51 Registration VH-UXP reallocated by DCA
18.3.52 Registration application: Kingsford Smith Aviation Service Pty Ltd, Bankstown NSW
3.52 NSW Region allocate new registration VH-AFT, but changed to VH-UXP
23.4.52 Testflown Bankstown after rebuild. CofA issued as type C17L, fitted Jacobs L-4MB
23.4.52 Restored to Register VH-UXP
5.5.52 Change of ownership: Hazel K. Roberts & John W. Morton, “Ennis Downs”, Richmond Qld
7.11.58 Change of ownership: Ronald G. Akers, “North Tyrone”, Charleville Qld
27.10.61 Change of ownership: Austerserve Pty Ltd, Bankstown NSW
Traded to Austerserve on the Waco YKS-6 VH-UYD

Letter from Ron Akers to the compiler 11.9.62:
"I owned the Beech C17L VH-UXP until last year. It was a good aeroplane especially for long trips, but the retractable undercarriage needed a lot of care when using dusty strips as we have here. The Waco, on the other hand, is an outstanding bush aircraft, able to handle all the hazards encountered out here and I am very pleased with it.
Both aircraft had the same Jacobs 7 cylinder radial engines which I have found very reliable.  The Waco is a 5 seater and able to handle heavy loads and cruises at about 100 knots. The Beech, a four-place, cruiised at 120 knots."
2.4.62 noted at Bankstown in a hangar, major overhaul of cabin area
10.62 noted at Bankstown, blue white & silver scheme
10.1.63 noted at Bankstown
12.1.63 noted at Bankstown
18.5.63 noted at Bankstown
20.5.63 visited Parafield SA
5.8.63 noted at Bankstown, turquoise and white, silver engine cowling
27.9.63 Change of ownership: Parkes Aviation Co,  Bankstown NSW
26.10.63 noted Bankstown in Parkes Aviation hangar
10.11.63 visited West Maitland airshow, “Parkes Aviation” titles
10.1.64 noted at Bankstown in Parkes Aviation hangar
9.2.64 noted at Bankstown
3.64 noted at Bankstown “Parkes Aviation” titles, blue white & silver
2.4.64 noted at Bankstown
18.4.64 visited Condobolin airshow, blue, white & silver, “Parkes Aviation” titles
20.6.64 noted at Bankstown
29.7.64 visited Moorabbin, light blue & white, based Bankstown
12.64 Advertised for sale for £1950 by Central Aircraft Exchange, Sydney. Total time 1550 hours
28.9.65 Change of ownership: Douglas C. Muir, Perth WA
3.1.66 arrived Jandakot on delivery flight from Bankstown flown by Doug Muir.  Based Jandakot for private flying by Muir, who operates the charter company Muir Airlines of WA
6.1.66 noted at Jandakot
2.6.66 noted at Jandakot, different blue & white scheme
20.11.66 noted Jandakot
1.12.66 Change of ownership: H. W. Braden, Sydney NSW
25.12.66 noted at Jandakot
21.1.67 arrived Bankstown from Perth
6.7.67 noted at Bankstown
6.12.68 noted at Bankstown
14.3.70 rolled-out Bankstown after major rebuild, still owned Braden
20.9.70 noted at Bankstown, parked outside with Staggerwings VH-ACU & MJE
3.10.70 minor damage at Bankstown
71 Overhauled and fitted with Jacobs L-5, changing type to C17B
3.71 noted at Albury NSW, freshly repainted all yellow with red trim
2.4.72 visited Morwell Vic fly-in
30.10.72 noted at Bankstown
27.3.74 noted at Bankstown
20.9.74 Struck-off Register due withdrawn from use
13.7.77 noted at Bankstown, parked outside, complete
20.7.77 noted at Bankstown, parked outside, yellow with red trim
28.9.77 noted at Bankstown

240HP Jacobs L5 fitted, making type C17B
12.86 Ferried Bankstown-Albury by Joe Drage for new owner Mike Priestley, Albury NSW
17.1.87 noted at Albury, having maintenance by Jim Williams
7.7.87 noted at Albury, outside, yellow with red trim
6.8.87 Restored to Register VH-UXP Mike Priestley, Albury NSW
12.87 noted at Albury, based here flying with local owner
2.4.88 visited Kyabram Vic fly-in
3.4.88 visited Mangalore Vic airshow
12.10.89 Change of ownership: J & G. L. Sharp, Sydney
21.10.89 Ferried Albury-Bankstown on delivery to new owner Gordon Sharp, Sydney.
Sharp plans to ship the aircraft to England for the England-Australia Air Race.
7.12.89 noted at Bankstown, in Classic Aviation hangar
21.5.94 noted at Luskintyre NSW in hangar, airworthy
5.10.94 Change of ownership: Warwick Woinarski, Antique Airways, Redcliffe Aerodrome Qld  
Named "Denzel" in memory of the owner's late mother
11.9.94 noted at Redcliffe Qld
11.9.94 visited fly-in Watts Bridge Qld, allover yellow with red trim, owned Warwick Woinarski.
20.8.95 visited fly-in Watts Bridge Qld
1.11.95 minor damage at Archerfield Qld
29.8.98 visited fly-in Watts Bridge Qld, allover yellow with black trim
10.98 noted at Archerfield Qld
18.7.01 visited Charters Towers Qld airshow
18.5.03 noted at Caboolture Qld
14.5.04 noted Redcliffe Qld. Yellow & black, name Denzel near cockpit
15.5.04 noted at Caboolture Qld
28.8.04 visited Watts Bridge Qld fly-in, yellow with black trim
11.7.05 Purchased by Cameron M. H. Hawley, Caboolture Qld & Hong Kong.  
07 Still advertised by Antique Airways, Redcliffe Qld.   Yellow with black trim
.07 Dismantled and packed into container at Redcliffe for shipping to NZ
5.07 Arrived Mandeville NZ for restoration by Croydon Aircraft Company, vintage aircraft specialists
08/09 Under restoration Mandeville, will be completed in the original blue & silver colour scheme when built in 1936
7.08 Cam Hawley visits Mandeville NZ to inspect the restoration, 18 months to go.
3.12 Engine runs at Mandeville of the installed 275hp Jacobs R-755-B2. The aircraft is painted dark blue and silver in its original factory scheme.
12.5.12 First test flight at Mandeville
6.12 Ferried from Mandeville to Wanaka for installation of metal fairings
VH-UXP based at Wanaka to attend NZ airshows. Owner Cam Hawley advises he is enjoying flying the aircraft in NZ and is in no hurry to return it to Australia.
VH-UXP still based Wanaka NZ, flown locally by owner Cam Hawley on visits from Australia


  Beechcraft invoice in November 1936 for VH-UXP for US$8,288.                                                        John Hopton Collection


  A crate containing two Staggerwings leaves the Beech factory by rail for shipping to Auckland and Sydney in November 1936.

  ZK-AEU was packed in the front and VH-UXP in the rear.                                                              John Hopton Collection


  VH-UXP visiting RAAF Richmond in 1937. Note the mirror finish of the paintwork on the fuselage fabric.    Photo via Cam Hawley


  VH-UXP at Mudgee NSW on 21 December 1937.                                                                       Photo Loneragan family via Cam Hawley


  A pleasing pre-war picture of VH-UXP in action.                                                                      John Hopton Collection


  Bankstown 1952 soon after completing its postwar rebuild after RAAF service.                                Ed Coates Collection


  Believed to be Mrs. Hazel Roberts refuelling UXP at a bush airfield in 1950s.                                             Photo: Vacuum Oil


  Bankstown August 1963, now repainted turquoise and white with silver cowlings.                                            Photo by Dave Eyre


  Bankstown March 1964, now with owner's name "Parkes Aviation".                                                                  Photo by Greg Banfield


  Jandakot Airport, Perth in December 1966, now owned by Doug Muir.                                                                Photo by Merv Prime  


  Bankstown in July 1977, painted in a Staggerwing factory scheme.                                                                     Photo by Dave Eyre


                                                         VH-UXP & VH-BBL in the 1990s.                                                         Photo by Craig Justo


  Watts Bridge Qld annual fly-in, August 2004.                                                                                                 Photo by Bert van Drunick



  After complete restoration in NZ, VH-UXP seen flying in New Zealand during 2013.                                            Photo by Gavin Conroy

        BEECH C-17B                                                                                                                                                                                VH-UYI

13.4.37 CAB Aircraft Import Licence ledger: Licence No.40 issued to Beech C17B for J. F. Jackson, St George Qld which was later allocated VH-UYI
20.4.37 Built Wichita, Kansas as production C-17B.  Jacobs L-5.   C/n 129
23.4.37 First flight
.37 Sold to Australia. The order was secured by Beech test pilot John Abbott, who had arrived in Sydney on board the same ship carrying the first Australian Beech 17 UXP. After conducting test flights of VH-UXP during February 1937, Abbott remained in Australia for a period as a Beech salesman.
30.4.37 Beech delivery date to J. F. Jackson, Australia
37 Shipped to Australia
15.6.37 Inspected Archerfield after assembly. Total time 6:10 hours. Painted Insignia Blue & silver.
15.6.37 Registration application: John F. Jackson, St George Qld
16.6.37 Testflown Archerfield by J. F. Jackson. CofA issued
16.6.37 Registered VH-UYI
16.6.37 CofA issued
27.12.37 Nosed over during landing on muddy airstrip Morven Qld. Pilot J. F. Jackson
8.38 DCA memo: UYI is maintained and serviced by Qantas Empire Airways at Archerfield
5.39 Inspection at Archerfield. Total time 289 hours.
15.6.40 CofA expired. At Archerfield waiting for a major engine overhaul
26.9.40 CofA renewed
7.10.40 Letter to DCA from Jackson: he has been drafted overseas in RAAF and wishes to sell UYI to John Collins of Beaudesert Qld.
7.10.40 Change of ownership: John W. F. Collins, “Nindooinbah”, via Beaudesert Qld.

John Collins had previously owned DH.85 Leopard Moth VH-USM and Percivsl Vega Gull VH-UVG.
21.5.41 Crashed on takeoff Archerfield. Took off at 2015 local time using RAAF EFTS flare path but did not climb and struck a tree and crashed to ground, destroyed by fire. Pilot John Collins and passenger RAAF Sqn Ldr R.C.Philips both killed

Philips was Commanding Officer of 2EFTS Archerfield. In the early evening while 2EFTS was conducting night flying, he joined Flt Lt J. F. W. Collins to make a local flight in Collins' private Beechcraft which was housed in the Qantas hangar.
DCA investigation stated that the cause was selection of throttle lever instead of undercarriage retraction lever when airborne. The loss of power caused the aircraft to sink and strike tree.


  Archerfield Aerodrome, Brisbane.                                                                                           John Hopton Collection


  Essendon Aerodrome, Melbourne.                                                                                           John Hopton Collection


  Parafield Aerodrome, Adelaide.                                                                                                   Civil Aviation Historical Society

        BEECH F-17D                                     Russell F. Roberts                                                                                         VH-ACU, A39-1, VH-ACU, VH-AME

21.10.38 Built Wichita, Kansas as production F-17D.  330hp Jacobs L-6.   C/n 248
22.10.38 First fight Wichita
38 Registered NC19476 Beech Aircraft Corp, Wichita Kansas
Flown for at least a month as company demonstrator.
2.12.38 Beech delivery date to C.W. Russell, Australia
2.12.38 US Export CofA issued: export to Australia
23.12.38 Australian Import Licence issued by Civil Aviation Board
38 Shipped to Australia.

Imported by Robert Bryce & Co Pty Ltd, Merchants & Importers, Sydney
24.2.39 Received by deHavilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Mascot, ex H. M. Customs
2.39 Assembled by DH at Mascot. Total time 29:50 hours
3.3.39 Testflown Mascot by DH pilot A. Murray-Jones
7.3.39 Registration application: Charles W. Russell, Dalby Qld
7.3.39 CofA and CofR as VH-ACU
39 Flown for Russell Pastoral Co by commercial pilot Frank E. Buchanan, serviced by Qantas at Archerfield
2.6.39 Tipped on nose while taxying “Jimbour” Station near Dalby: pilot C.W. Russell under instruction
20.7.39 Tailwheel torn off while landing at No.8 Bore, Northern Highway Qld. Pilot F. E. Buchanan
3.40 CofA renewal inspection at Archerfield, total time 298 hours.
12.3.40 Testflown Archerfield, pilot C.W. Russell
25.10.40 RAAF Air Officer Commanding Southern Area (Air Commodore H.N.Wrigley) sent a memo to Dept of Air requesting impressment of Beech 17s VH-ACU & UXP for use by Communications Flights
8.4.41 Inspection Report for RAAF: total airframe time 397 hours
1.5.41 Impressment Requisition No.9005 issued to Russell by Department of Air for RAAF.
7.5.41 Struck-off Civil Register
23.5.41 Taken on RAAF charge as A39-1
24.5.41 Received No.2 Communications Flight, Richmond.  Later renamed 2 Communications Unit, remained with this unit until 1944.
29.5.41 Air Board internal minute: "propose that the Beechcraft VH-ACU, just received, be allotted to Northern Area." Response 31.5.41 "I hardly feel, however, that the allotment of the Beechcraft to Northern Area would be justified at present.  I would prefer that to go to Central Area."  
6.8.41 Damaged when taxied into boundary marker
19.1.42 A39-1 flown by S/Ldr Hillier was at Swan Hill Vic to collect S/Ldr Gordon Stirling who had ferried Catalina A24-34 to nearby RAAF Lake Boga that day and transfer him to Mascot.
13.4.42 RAAF report: Beech 17 held by 2CF in poor condition, unsuitable for allotment to Northern Area HQ because of rough strips
7.12.43 2CF request allocation to ANA, Mascot for maintenance, request priority. Not actioned because the contractors have indefinite delays due commitments to assemble training type aircraft.
4.3.44 Received No.2 Central Recovery Depot, Richmond ex 2CU
7.3.44 2CRD inspection: suitable for complete overhaul if desired.
23.3.44 Inspection report sent to DCA, as information for civil disposal
22.4.44 Under consideration for disposal to DCA
7.5.44 2CRD Inspection report forwarded by RAAF to DCA
23.5.44 A39-1 offered to DCA for civil disposal. Aircraft is at No.2 Central Recovery Depot. Richmond awaiting an overhaul after service with No.2 Communications Unit. Has flown 667 hours with RAAF
11.7.44 RAAF intend issuing aircraft to previous owner C.W. Russell.
19.8.44 Authority granted for C.W. Russell to fly in A39-1 as passenger to test its flying characteristics.
Correspondence between Russell, DCA and RAAF regarding conditions of the return of this aircraft to him.
8.44 Parked in open at Richmond, needs engine overhaul.  Total time 1141 hours.
8.44 Ferried by RAAF Richmond to Mascot.
27.10.44 Request storage pending free issue to DCA
10.44 C. W. Russell advises DCA he wishes to repurchase VH-ACU ex RAAF. He offers £500, but internal report shows that he was paid £4500 when it was impressed. Russell declines a DCA offer of £2500 “as is” needing complete airframe and engine overhaul.
4.11.44 Arrangements made for storage under cover at 2AD Richmond. To remain on 2CRD charge.
2.45 Offered for sale by tender by Commonwealth Disposals Commission
10.3.45 Tender submitted by Brown & Dureau accepted
2.5.45 Collected ex RAAF by Mr. W. G. Meehan for Brown & Dureau
8.45 A39-1 now stored at Essendon, with Waco ex VH-UVW
1.6.46 Registration application: Brown & Dureau Pty Ltd, Melbourne c/- D. J. Bourke
1.6.46 Added Register VH-ACU
7.9.46 Change of ownership: Charles W. Russell, Dalby Qld
16.10.46 CofA issued
24.12.47 Crashed on takeoff Dalby Qld, major damage. Pilot Russell, now a MLA in Queensland Parliament
2.48 Difficulty in obtaining parts from USA, aircraft will take some time to repair.
1.12.48 CofA renewed at Archerfield
23.1.49 Ran off strip in crosswind, Jimbour Qld. Damage to undercarriage and prop.
1.3.54 Change of ownership: Flying Doctor Service of Australia, Brisbane
54 Purchased by FDS as a reserve aircraft after Dragon VH-URY, operated for FDS by TAA,  crashed on takeoff from Cheviot Hills Station, 80 miles from Hughenden on 22.10.53.  TAA pilot Martin Garrett, and flying doctor Dr. T. J. O’Leary’s wife Catherine were killed, while the doctor, child patient and mother survived
54 FDS named VH-ACU Russell F. Roberts
54 Based at Cloncurry and pilots included Cliff Parsons for 3 months
Forced landing on mudflats near Burketown Qld. Pilot Cliff Parsons and Dr.E.Smith were located the following day by a searching RAAF Lincoln, which dropped water, food and supplies
6.55 Damaged in accident at Woollogorang Qld
5.56 Aircraft magazine advertisement: “Public tender: Beech aeroplane with Jacobs L6MB engine. At present dismantled and laid out for inspection and survey at Archerfield Aerodrome. Appearance Good, Airframe Sound. Tenders to be posted to RFDS of Australia, Brisbane.  Inspection can be made through Mr. G. Ditchman, Aeronautical Engineer, Archerfield.”
15.6.56 Change of ownership: Robert G. Carswell, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
Operates as Carsair Air Services (PNG) Pty Ltd, Port Moresby
2.4.57 Arrived Port Moresby in company with Carsair’s Avro 19 VH-BIX
1.58 Advertisement for Carsair: Beech 17 available for charter
14.3.59 Change of ownership: Colin A. Towers, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
25.3.61 noted Archerfield
8.4.62 Swung off runway on takeoff Port Moresby. Underside of starboard wing was damaged. Local flight with 3 passengers, no injuries.
11.62 noted at Port Moresby, cream with dayglo orange & black trim, lower right wing removed, otherwise good condition
2.63 noted Port Moresby: unchanged since 11.62
23.1.64 noted at Archerfield
29.3.64 noted at Archerfield, yellow with red trim.

Reported that Towers flew it to Archerfield for maintenance but when completed the price was beyond him.  He tried unsuccessfully to come to a compromise and the maintenance company would not hand over the plane and removed the prop
12.64 Advertised for sale by Central Aircraft Exchange, Sydney. Total time 1984 hours.
65-67 Parked in hangar Archerfield unmoved, covered with dust.
21.4.67 Change of ownership: Joe G. Drage, Wodonga Vic
Joe had inspected it when covered with dust and made arrangements for a ferry permit, Because he was not endorsed, it was delivered by Keith Hill (who had flown Beech 17 VH-AFP on agricultural ops) with Joe as passenger. Ran off runway landing at Orange NSW en route, no damage. After the aircraft had a major inspection, Drage was endorsed on the type by Cliff Parsons, St George Qld, who flew to Albury to conduct the training.
4.67 Ferried Archerfield to Albury by Joe Drage.
13.5.67 noted at Albury NSW, engine runs, Owned by Joe Drage.
29.8.67 noted at Albury
1.10.67 visited Temora NSW airshow
9.1.68 noted at Albury
8.3.69 noted at Albury
6.4.69 visited Morwell Vic fly-in
8.1.70 noted at Albury
15.2.70 visited Bendigo Vic airshow
20.9.70 noted at Bankstown, parked with Staggerwings VH-UXP & MJE
28.9.70 noted at Albury
5.2.72 visited airshow at Berwick Vic
1.4.72 visited fly-in at Morwell Vic
19.4.72 noted at Albury
19.3.74 Struck-off Register at owner’s request.  Displayed at Drage Historic Aircraft Museum, Wodonga
6.11.76 noted at Drage's Historic Aircraft Museum on farm Wodonga Vic, with VH-BBL
17.6.79 noted in hangar at Drage Aircraft Museum, Wodonga
1.85 moved from Wodonga to Wangaratta with rest of Drage collection. 8 were flown to Wangaratta on 27.1.85
1.85 Ownership transferred to Airworld, Wangaratta Vic.  Static display complete but unairworthy at Wangaratta
8.96 Auction announced for disposal of 10 aircraft of the Airworld Collection, which had been forced to rationalise to continue. Among the ten aircraft was Beech F17D VH-ACU, which requires total restoration. It is in original condition down to the original seat upholstery.
19.11.96 Sold at auction of selected aircraft from Airworld collection to Geoff Davis, Salisbury, Adelaide SA

Ten year restoration and repainted maroon with black trim.
2.11.03 VH-ACU noted in Geoff Davis’ factory at Salisbury, Adelaide, with his Avro Avian VH-UQE. The Beech was undergoing work on its electrical wiring.  His hangar at Gawler airfield housed Avro Avian VH-UVX, Curtiss Robin VH-JUV, Stearman VH-HYU and Stampe SV4B VH-LFO.
7.11.05 Registered VH-AME: Geoffrey A. Davis, Adelaide SA
06 Rebuild nearing completion at Gawler,  maroon colour scheme.
8.2.06 noted at Gawler SA, outside, complete, maroon scheme.  
16.9.07 noted Gawler SA, airworthy in Geoff Davis’ hangar, which is the original Aero Club hangar from Parafield.
31.12.08 Struck a fence landing at Burra SA damaging lower mainplanes and undercarriage.  Wings trucked to Parafield 16.1, fuselage arrived 19.1.09. Parked on wheels in hangar awaiting repair.
noted at Adelaide-Parafield SA, dismantled, damaged

Moved to Melbourne-Moorabbin for rebuild by Flight Safety.
4.12 Damaged when carrying out engine runs at end of rebuild at Moorabbin when brake problem allowed the Beech to roll forward and struck a parked Aero Commander. Minor damage to both aircraft.



  VH-ACU was delivered in what appears to be vermillion factory paint scheme.                                  John Hopton Collection


  A39-1 at Wagga in 1941, RAAF roundels painted over the civil scheme.                                    John Hopton Collection


  VH-ACU at Belmont Common, Geelong Vic in 1946, completing civil overhaul by Brown & Dureau Ltd following RAAF service.

  Photo by Bob Fripp



  Archerfield 1952, back with Charles Russell.                                                                                                                 Ed Coates Collection


  VH-ACU during 1955 in Queensland with "Flying Doctor Service of Australia"  on the door and name Russell F.Roberts. 

Photo: Royal Flying Doctor Service


  Albury NSW in May 1967, shortly after purchase by local pilot Joe Drage. All yellow with red trim.     Photo by Geoff Goodall

Visiting Bankstown in September 1970.                                                                                                                        Photo by Dave Eyre

         BEECH D-17A later D-17S                                                                                                                                         A39-2,  VH-AFP,  N20778

31.10.39 Built Wichita, Kansas as production D-17A. Wright R760-E Whirlwind.    C/n 357
1.11.39 Beech delivery date to Armour Institute of Technology, which was a sponsor of the next US Antartic Expedition 
Accepted by Sgt Pedras of US Marines for the Antactic expedition. Painted Galetea Orange wings and horizontal tail, Stearman Vermillion fuselage and vertical tail, with black fuselage stripe and white titles “US Antarctic Service”.
11.39 Registered NC20778  The Research Foundation of Armour Institute of Technology, Boston
11.39 Flown by Pedras from Wichita to Naval Aircraft Factory at Philadelphia for mounting of skis and other preparations for the Antarctic flying.
26.1.40 Arrived Antarctica on board the USS North Star
Used by the Admiral Byrd Antarctic Expedition, in conjunction with a 33 ton specialised large wheeled ground vehicle “Snow Cruiser”, which could carry the Beech on its flat top.  The expedition also used 2 US Navy Curtiss R4C-1 Condors and a Barkley Grow floatplane.

Rescued the crew of US Navy Curtiss R4C Condor which force landed in Antarctica
1.41 Completed flying ops in Antarctica. Flew a total of 100 hours in 60 sorties. Fitted with skis, additional fuel tanks and oil tanks installed. Flown by US Marine Corps Tech Sgt Theodore “Pete” Petras.  Aircraft carried titles “U.S. Antarctic Service”.
31.1.41 Loaded on board USS North Star for return to USA. Snow Cruiser was left at the US base.
16.8.41 Letter from Sales Manager, Beech Aircraft Corp, Wichita KS to E. J. Connellan, Alice Springs:
Connellan has expressed interest in purchasing NC20778:
Since its return to USA from Antarctic it has been stored, painted Stearman Vermillion & Galatea Orange for high visibility purposes.  Airframe and propeller are currently under overhaul and the engine is currently under overhaul at the Wright factory. It is fitted with 2 fuselage tanks and 3 wing tanks, giving a total of 147 gallons of gas compared with the standard 98 gallons. Also extra oil tanks. “Frankly, Mr Connellan, we are particularly anxious for you to get this ship, in the event that you want it, because your needs are unique and because the airplane is particularly designed and acceptable to your unusual requirements.”  Will be ready for delivery ex USA in 2 months.

E. J. Connellan says in his book "Failure of Triumph":
"In 1944 (sic) I finally managed to purchase a Beech 17 from Walter Beech. He built it especially for the Armour Research Corporation to do a flight across the North Pole (sic). He acquired it for me after the flight. It was practically brand new. I received approval to import it, but when it arrived and was assembled, the RAAF impressed it from me. Arthur Drakeford, the Minister for Air, directed that it be released and delivered to me, but instead, it was completely dismantled and had the fabric cut off it.  In May 1944 Drakeford directed that it be rebuilt and delivered to me, but by September nothing had been done to it."
Connellan sent his 3 ton truck from Alice Springs to Sydney to collect the aircraft. It arrived at Alice Springs on the truck, missing engine, propeller, fabric, some flying wires and instruments. "Drakeford instructed the RAAF to provide an engine, which they did. But many years passed before I had all the bits and pieces and had it flying."
.42 Crated and despatched on a cargo ship from US to Australia, consigned by Beechcraft to E.J.Connellan, Alice Springs NT. However in the meantime it had been impressed for the RAAF and was taken over by RAAF when on the wharf.
.42 Reportedly unloaded from US ship at Darwin
29.7.42 Brought on RAAF charge as A39-2. Fitted Jacobs L6.
29.7.42 Received at No.2 Aircraft Park, Bankstown “ex USA”
23.7.42 Allotted No. 2 Communications Flight, Richmond after erection at 2AP
3.8.42 Received 2CF
4.9.42 Received No.3 Communications Flight, Amberley ex 2CF
4.9.42 Issued to Marshall Airways, Mascot ex 3CF
4.9.42 Memo to Air Board from No.5 Maintenance Group: "consider engine maintenance more critical than airframe maintenance. Recommend A39-2 remain at No.3 Communication Flight."  
14.9.42 Serviceable at 3CF
22.12.42 Received No.5 Aircraft Depot, Tocumwal ex 3CF
27.12.42 Issued to ANA Mascot ex 5AD
4.1.43 Received 3CF ex ANA
15.10.43 Last flight with RAAF. Total time 407:15 hours. Stripped of parts and sent to No.2 Central Recovery Depot, Richmond
4.5.44 Received 2 CRD, Richmond ex 3CF
9.5.44 RAAF Survey report for Beech D17A A39-2: had been purchased by RAAF from Boston, USA for USD $17,500. Total time 415 hours. Fitted with the original Wright R760-E2 Whirlwind engine. Currently stored dismantled. Assessed value £3500 for disposal by RAAF
44 Photos show A39-2 with wings removed at Richmond, worn paintwork
12.4.44 Allotted 2CRD ex 3CU.
4.5.44 Received 2CRD
44 Eddie Connellan appealed to Minister for Air, A. S. Drakeford to have the Beech 17 handed over to him because of his crucial aircraft shortage for his NT services.
20.6.44 Stored at 2 CRD, Richmond. Currently being reassembled after overhaul, and offered to DCA for lease to E. J. Connellan.  To be ferried to No.3 Communications Flight, Mascot.
6.44 Connellan wants the Beech reassembled under the supervision of his engineer H. V. Moss. He wants the aircraft sent to Alice Springs dismantled
18.10.44 Status Card: To be issued to Department of Civil Aviation in present condition
27.11.44 Status Card: Despatched by rail to Mr. Connellan, Alice Springs
12.44 On arrival Alice Springs it was found that many parts were missing, and the next 10 years were spent searching for necessary parts
10.7.45 E. J. Connellan cabled DCA regarding Douglas Dolphin amphibian A35-3 owned by M. Whittle, Sydney and allocated registration VH-AGE :
"Are Wasp Juniors of Dolphin recently sold by Disposals Commission suitable for Beech 17 and later Beech 18s? Understand Dolphin may be resold shortly. Connellan."  
17.3.47 DCA file note: Connellan had paid £633 for the Beech 17 and spares
19.3.47 Added to Register as model D17S VH-AFP Edward J. Connellan, Alice Springs NT
1.10.47 Registration application: Edward J. Connellan, Alice Springs NT
47/56 Long-term rebuild by Connellan Airways delayed by lack of parts.
6.8.51 Struck-off Register
30.3.56 Eddie Connellan testflew AFP for the first time after the extended rebuild at Alice Springs.
E. J. Connellan recalls in his book Failure of Triumph:
"On March 30th 1956 I test flew the Beech 17, which at last was completed, following many years of delays in acquiring the parts that were found to be missing when Hugh Van Heythuysen brought back all he could find at Richmond Air Force Base. The test flight was not quite routine. The undercarriage failed to retract completely and jammed about half way, then could not be moved either up or down. That put an enormous drag on the aircraft, and this in turn caused overheating of the engine. It would have been fatal to land on the ground with the undercarriage in this half-retracted position. I decided to go to Hamilton Downs and land on water at the Amburla Gap dam, which was big enough for my purpose.
When I arrived and was in the circuit area preparing to ditch, I found a minute movement in the undercarriage emergency operating handle which I had continued to jiggle all the time. I carried on with this, backwards and forwards and gradually succeeded in locking the undercarriage in the full down position. I returned to Alice Springs and landed normally.
We discovered that some sound-proofing in the wall of the fuselage had become jammed into the sprocket chain and wheel which operated the undercarriage. The next test flight on the same day proved uneventful."
3.4.56 Registration application: Connellan Airways Ltd, Townsite Aerodrome, Alice Springs
3.4.56 Weighed for CofA at Alice Springs on completion of rebuild. Now fitted with P&W R-985 Wasp Junior (450hp) using a conversion kit supplied by Walter Beech.
3.4.56 Registered as type D17S VH-AFP
3.4.56 CofA issued

By the time it was completed, Connellan Airways no longer need the Beech 17 for its scheduled services, and used it for charter and as ambulance and medical evacuations. It was fast and had a long range because of the extra fuel tanks from the Antarctic expedition.
24.1.57 VH-AFP carried a spare propeller to Beech 18 VH-BJJ at Brunette Downs Station NT after the Beech's prop struck a 44 gallon drum while taxiing. 2 hour flight, prop replaced within an hour.
5.58 Connellan Airways fleet list compiled by E. J. Connellan states sold 5.58. Appears incorrect.
61 Connellan Airways pilot Darrel Brumby flew VH-AFP on charters to Ayers Rock during 1961. Photo shows all silver with red cowling and red interplane struts,
7.61 July-August 1961 VH-AFP flown from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock several times and to Giles weather station for Connellan Airways by their pilot Colin Pritchard.
21.10.61 Change of ownership: Tadgell Aviation Pty Ltd, Toowoomba Qld.
C.E. Ernie Tradgell established this agricultural company after he and fellow founder of Super Spread Aviation at Moorabbin, Aussie Miller, sold the company the previous year. Terms of the sale included a condition that neither could start a new ag business within Victoria.

Tadgell purchased VH-AFP for aerial seeding operations in southern Queensland, which at that time were in strong demand due extensive clearing of farming land. It was flown to Moorabbin to have an agricultural hopper installed in the cabin by Super Spread Aviation, the company founded by Tadgell and Miller in 1952.  
29.12.61 noted Moorabbin, parked on grass with Super Spread aircraft
31.12.61 noted Moorabbin, parked on grass with Super Spread aircraft
6.1.62 noted Moorabbin, all silver with red trim, no titles. Agricultural hopper in cabin, loading hole in roof. Parked among huts in agricultural aircraft parking area.
25.2.62 noted Moorabbin, parked on grass with Super Spread aircraft
c3.63 Delivered from Moorabbin to Toowoomba Qld and used for low-altitude seeding operations
22.12.63 Crashed near Dingo Qld. Collided with trees on farming property "Springton"  (100 miles west of Rockhampton) during low level seeding operations.
The aircraft struck the ground and burned. Pilot Graham Phillips was killed.  
22.12.63 Struck-off Register
14.4.07 Burnt bare fuselage frame and parts recovered from crash site by Cameron Hawley, Caboolture Qld
Trucked to his hangar at Caboolture and stored. Original plan was a rebuild for static display in Antarctic Expedition markings
Cam Hawley acquired the wreck of  D17S VH-FNS (c/n 3108 below). 
All components were sent to Wanaka, New Zealand for an airworthy rebuild. Components of VH-FNS were combined with the fuselage frame and parts of D17S VH-AFP to assemble a composite restoration project. 
Hawley planned that the aircraft would be completed as VH-AFP in its original D17A configuration,
painted in the Antarctic Expedition paintwork, with Wright R760E engine.
Registered in USA as N20778 (its original 1939 registration) :International Air Services Inc (Trustee), Carson City, Nevada USA
Type quoted as Beech D17A c/n 357.
Aircaft owner Cameron Hawley, as a non-US citizen,  used a trustee title service to register the aircraft with its original US registration. 
Restoration continues at Wanaka NZ by Twenty24 Aviation (Callum Smith): fuselage aft of main cabin almost complete, standing on its undercarriage. Wings and tailplane are completed. Period-correct instruments and gauges have been sourced. 
A Wright R760 engine has been acquired and is currently under overhaul in USA.

Restoration continues at Wanaka NZ, fuselage behind cabin covered and painted red. Wings not yet attached.

  NC20778 as a new aircraft, at the Beech factory Wichita, Kansas in October 1939.                             Frank Smith collection


  NC20778 in Antarctica 1940 with the Snow Cruiser vehicle behind.                                                     Photo via Cameron Hawley


  NC20778 was shipped to Eddie Connellan but taken over by RAAF as A39-2.                        John Hopton Collection


  RAAF Richmond 1944. A39-2 was returned to Eddie Connellan in this state.                         John Hopton Collection


  VH-AFP in 1956 with Connellan Airways, visiting "Annitowa" Station NT.                                                           Photo by Ian Leslie


  Moorabbin December 1961, fitted for aerial seeding. Silver and red.                                           John Hopton Collection


   VH-AFP's fuselage frame being collected from the crash site where it was left for 40 years                         Photo: Cam Hawley

VH-AFP and VH-FNS composite rebuild at Wanaka NZ 2017.            Photo: Cam Hawley


VH-AFP progressing well at Wanaka in 2020. The paint scheme is authentic "Stearman Vermillion" and "Galatea Orange", the
Armour Institute of Technology house colours as specified to Beech with their 1939 purchase                     Photo: Cam Hawley

         BEECH UC-43, D-17S                                                                                                                                                                            VH-MJE

43 Built Wichita, Kansas as production UC-43 to USAAF order. P&W R985 Wasp Junior.      C/n 4922
27.8.43 Received by USAAF serial 43-10874

Issued to RAF as Traveller Mk.1 FZ432.  From allocation of 12 Traveller 1s FZ428-FZ439 delivered to RAF from 10.43
30.8.43 Ferried to Newark New Jersey by air, for shipping to England
7.10.43 Shipped ex Newark on board SS Philip Schugler
1.2.44 Arrived Suez, assigned Aden Communications Flight, RAF Kohrmaksar, Aden
Logs record recce flights looking for enemy submarines on beaches of the Arabian Sea. Pilots included Wing Commander William Bennett.
2.44/6.44 FZ432 flew with Aden Communications Flight.  The following flights of FZ432 are from the pilot log book of F/Sgt John A. R. Macphail, who was stationed at Aden (Kohrmaksar) until 2.45 and flew several other RAF Travellers at Aden.
3.2.44 Local flight Aden: familiarisation flight
4.2.44 Aden-Riyan
5.2.44 Riyan-Aden
16.2.44 Aden-Riyan-Salalah-Masirah
18.2.44 Masirah-Ras el Had-Masirah
19.2.44 Masirah-Salalah-Riyan-Aden
29.2.44 Aden local, dual instruction
8.3.44 Aden-Perim-Assab
9.3.44 Assab-Aden
13.3.44 Aden-Riyan-Aden
17.3.44 Aden-Riyan, pilot Wg Cdr David Bennett
18.3.44 Riyan-Aden, pilot Wg Cdr David Bennett
20.3.44 Aden local
27.3.44 Aden-Hisona-Aden. pilot Wg Cdr David Bennett
15.4.44 Aden-Riyan-Salalah
16.4.44 Salalah-Aden
11.6.44 Aden-Riyan-Aden
12.6.44 Aden-Jibouti-Hargeisha
13.6.44 Hargeisha-Jibouti
14.6.44 Jibouti-Aden
31.1.45 FZ432 Assigned to RAF Middle East
45 Eastern Mediterranean Communications Flight
28.8.46 No.5 Maintenance Unit at Kemble
22.11.46 Disposal sale to Connor Aircraft, Elstree

27.2.47 Registered G-AJJJ Charles Spanton, Woking, Surrey
11.4.47 British CofA issued as Model D-17S
16.7.49 Change of ownership: Arthur R. Pilgrim, Elstree
30.11.50 Change of ownership: Dennis E. Fox, Elstree
2.8.51 noted at Croydon Aerodrome, London
3.52 G-AJJJ noted early March at Bembridge, Isle of Wight, painted maroon, grey & cream
7.7.52 Change of ownership: W. S. Shackleton Ltd, London
52 Overhaul by Hants & Sussex Aviation Ltd, Portsmouth prior to shipping to Australia
26.7.52 DCA reserve registration VH-MJE on request of F. H. Edwards for Beech 17, aircraft is in England
52 Change of ownership: F. H. Edwards, Melbourne
8.12.52 Struck-off British Register, sold to Australia
12.52 W. S. Shackleton send the logbooks and paperwork for G-AJJJJ to F. H. Edwards, Melbourne
13.2.53 Completed assembly at Moorabbin after arriving crated from England
13.2.53 Registration application: F. H. Edwards, Melbourne
2.53 CofA issued and added Register as VH-MJE
27.3.53 Change of ownership: Edwards Aero Services Pty Ltd, Melbourne
6.53 DCA investigating poor standard of electrics in MJE found during work by Wilmore Aviation Services at Moorabbin.  Letters to British Ministry of Civil Aviation.
15.6.54 Change of ownership: John W. Morton, “Bundoran” Station, Nonda Qld
11.6.60 Change of ownership: Joseph R. Palmer, Sydney
23.10.60 noted at Bankstown, outside, silver with red trim, immaculate condition
16.3.62 visited airshow Cootamundra NSW
30.9.62 visited airshow Mildura Vic
28.10.62 visited airshow Orange NSW
10.1.64 noted at Bankstown, in hangar, all silver with red trim
18.4.64 visited airshow Condobolin NSW, pilot Joe Palmer, silver with red trim, flew joyrides
25.1.65 noted at Bankstown, in rear of Ray & Larkin hangar
17.6.66 arrived Moorabbin on visit from Bankstown. Silver with red trim.
19.6.66 noted at Moorabbin, parked on grass
25.1.70 visited Deniliquin NSW and Jerilderie NSW fly-in
20.9.70 noted at Bankstown, parked outside with Staggerwings VH-ACU & UXP
12.7.73 Struck-off Register due withdrawn from service
21.4.77 noted at Bankstown, in RAeCNSW hangar
13.7.77 noted at Bankstown, in RAeCNSW hangar, almost completed rebuild
14.4.78 noted at Bankstown in Royal Aero Club of NSW hangar, overhaul
6.78 noted at Bankstown in Royal Aero Club of NSW hangar overhaul
16.3.79 Re-added Register VH-MJE: J. R. Palmer, “Bonnie Doon”, Dungowan via Tamworth NSW
29.8.83 Struck-off Register as withdrawn from service
86 Has been stored at Bankstown for some years. Late 86 moved into the John Cameron hangar where engine was removed for overhaul. Aircraft painted all white. Plate inspected:
“1943 Serial 1087 Built for USAAC by Beech Aircraft Corp, Wichita Kansas.”
5.87 noted Bankstown in John Cameron hangar, under extended rebuild for owner Joe Palmer, who no longer flies because of his age
12.87 Rag & Tube report: long dormant VH-MJE owned by Joe Palmer has just been overhauled by John Cameron at Bankstown and is now in pristine condition, awaiting test flight.
Early 88 Report: MJE owned by Joe Palmer, inactive at Bankstown for some time, has just completed an overhaul by John Cameron at Banks town and in sow in excellent condition
24.6.92 Restored to Register: Michael Kornfeld, Toowoomba Qld
Flown in allover red scheme with white trim, black registration.
24.10.92 visited Avalon Vic airshow
7.97 Advertised for sale by Michael Kornfield, Toowoomba: D17S number 4922 VH-MJE total time 1434 hours, P&W R985. WWII history, original logbooks as RAF recon. looking for enemy submarine landings on beaches of Arabian Sea. Flown by Wing Commander William Bennett. Modernised, full IFR. The aircraft is about to have wings, tailplane and fin rebuild and is being sold now or after the rebuild. This famous classic aircraft has won several airshow trophies in recent years.
.98 Sold to John Sayers, South Africa. Shipped ex Australia late 1998
20.11.98 Sayers requested registration ZS-KTS but not available and not taken up
7.12.98 Registered ZS-OIX John Sayers Family Trust, Lanseria, Johannesburg
99 Assembly and restoration work on arrival South Africa completed early .99, repainted all red with gold trim, flying as ZS-OIX
99/07 ZS-OIX flying in dark red pre-war Beech Staggerwing scheme, owned John Sayers

Currently registered ZS-OIX


  G-AJJJ in southern England in the early 1950s.                                                                                              Photo by Dave Freeman


  VH-MJE at Bankstown in April 1964.                                                                                                                     Photo by Dave Eyre


  VH-MJE visiting Moorabbin in June 1966.                                                                                                  Photo by Geoff Goodall


  In striking original red paint scheme, at an Avalon air show in 1990s.                                                      Photo by Barry Maclean


  After sale to South Africa as ZS-OIX, seen near Pretoria in 2005.                                                                    Photo by Paul Trevelen

   BEECH GB-2, D-17R, D-17R(M), D-17S                                                                                                                     VH-MLC, VH-BBL

.44 Built Wichita, Kansas to US Navy order as a GB-2. Assigned US Navy serial Bu32901C/n 6763
Transferred to Britain under Lend Lease as UC-43-BH. P&W R-985.
26.3.44 Beech delivery date to RNFAA, serial 44-67755

Issued to Britain under Lend/Lease as Traveller Mk. I serial FT501
12.4.44 Crated at Newark, New Jersey for shipping to UK
25.4.44 Departed Newark by ship to Scotland

Taken on charge Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm, allotted 782 Squadron at RNAS Donibristle
.45 Allocated back to US Navy as Bu32901
.45 Allocated NC172 to Civil Aeronautics Administration, Washington DC

USN & CAA allocations only, aircraft never left Britain. A number of other Royal Navy Beech Travellers were returned to US Navy and transferred
to the CAA.
30.4.46 Sold by US Foreign Liquidation Commission to Movig & Mikkelsen, Oslo, Norway
28.6.46 Change of ownership: Vingtor Luftveier, Oslo
3.7.46 Registered LN-HAH Vingtor Luftveier A.S., Oslo, Norway.  This company also operated civil freight conversions of Handley Page Halifax bombers
4.49 Accident in Norway
8.8.51 Change of ownership: R. K. Dundas Ltd, London.  
Reported that was sent to England for a rebuild following crash in Norway during 4.49.  Probably during this rebuild, the original P&W R-985 Wasp Junior (450hp) was removed and a Wright
R-975E-3 Whirlwind was installed (420hp) which changed type to D17R.
25.10.51 Struck-off Norwegian Register

29.7.53 D. F. Collins wrote to DCA requesting registration VH-MLC for “my Beech D17S” currently being assembled at Bankstown. His friend Mr. F. H. Edwards, Melbourne had previously reserved that registration on his behalf.
29.7.53 Registration application: Daniel F. Collins, Sydney.  Has been imported from Denmark.
Engine fitted is Wright Aeronautical Corp R-975-E3 Whirlwind.
10.2.54 Logbook shows first flight in Australia
6.4.54 Testflown Bankstown. CofA issued same day
6.4.54 Registered VH-MLC.
Identity quoted as "67755" as an abbreviation of its USAAF serial.

DCA assign type designation D.17.R(M) because although the installed Wright Whirlwind R975E3 is standard for the D17R model, the installation is not an approved Beech modification, so considered to be non-standard.
7.54 VH-MLC noted at Alice Springs NT
30.6.56 noted Bankstown, engine runs after maintenance by Alf Ray & John "J.J." Larkin. Owner Dan Collins referred to this aircraft as My Lovely Chariot"
mid 56 Change of ownership: Barrier Air Taxi Service, Broken Hill NSW
7.58 Advertisement in Aircraft magazine:  Beech D17 450 hp Wright motor: 2 spare motors, nearly new. Enough spare parts to build another aircraft. Also Cessna 170: full instrument panel, crosswind landing gear. Apply D. L. Harrison, Langwell Station, Broken Hill NSW.
Compiler's note: almost certainly referring to VH-MLC and Barrier Air Taxis Cessna 170 VH-DFS
28.8.60 visited airshow Wentworth NSW, no titles, all over gloss white with green trim
22.10.60 noted at Moorabbin, no titles, all over gloss white with green trim
23.10.60 noted at Moorabbin
15.3.61 Change of ownership: Jas Loneragan (Mudgee) Co Pty Ltd, Gulgong NSW
Operated by Bryan Loneragan
7.61 Reregistered VH-BBL

Pioneer Australian aviator Nancy Bird wrote in her book My God It's a Woman:
"Tim Loneragan of Mudgee came from a family of flyers. All of his brothers, Bernard, Mit, Bryan and Bob, held pilot licences. Bryan bought a Beechcraft Staggerwing after the war. When he gave it a scrape down and repaint, he uncovered the Royal Standard of Norway. It had been part of the Royal Flight."
11.61 noted at Moorabbin, flying
11.3.65 noted at Bankstown, parked outside
27.3.65 noted at Bankstown, cream & yellow scheme, about to depart for Gulgong
7.7.66 noted at Bankstown
26.2.68 Change of ownership: Civil Flying Services Pty Ltd, Moorabbin Vic
2.68 Delivered to Moorabbin, planned overhaul by CFS then use at airshows for promotion of their Beechcraft agency.
27.4.68 noted at Moorabbin at CFS hangar
5.68 noted at Moorabbin, based here
8.7.68 Jumped chocks during engine run-up at Moorabbin, struck Beech Debonair VH-DYF.  The Staggerwing suffered propeller damage only.
14.3.69 Struck-off Register, owner’s request, due major overhaul by CFS at Moorabbin. The rebuild was reported at the time as a “spare time job” and would take several years
15.9.70 noted at Moorabbin
15.11.72 noted at Moorabbin, parked outside complete, white scheme
16.11.72 Readded Register: B. S. Stillwell - CFS Pty Ltd, Moorabbin Vic
26.11.72 visited Point Cook Vic airshow, white with red trim
6.4.73 Damaged at Moorabbin
8/9.12.73 visited Point Cook Vic airshow
25.4.74 noted at Narrandera NSW
22.11.74 Change of ownership:  R. Joseph D. Drage, Wodonga Vic
7/8.12.74 visited Point Cook Vic fly-in
21.3.76 visited Berwick airshow
6.11.76 ACU & BBL noted at Drage's Historic Aircraft Museum on farm Wodonga Vic, BBL flying
5.12.76 visited Point Cook Vic fly-in
20.11.77 visited Point Cook Vic fly-in
28.10.78 visited Schofields NSW airshow, pilot Joe Drage
2.12.78 visited Sunbury Vic airshow
11.2.79 visited Lilydale Vic airshow, white with red trim
17.6.79 flown at Wodonga Vic fly-in, by Joe Drage
13.2.83 visited Ballarat Vic airshow, white with red trim
27.1.85 Flown from Wodonga to Wangaratta with other vintage aircraft from the Drage Historic Aircraft Museum. Displayed in new Airworld collection hangar at Wangaratta Airport
1.85/99 Loaned for display Airworld, Wangaratta Vic. Maintained airworthy
19.6.86 Change of owner's address: R. Joseph D. Drage, Wangaratta South Vic
23.4.88 Crashed 40 miles south of Charleville Qld during forced landing caused by leaking prop seal. Struck a large anthill. Badly damaged. Joe Drage and two passengers were participating in the CSR Hinkler Bicentennial Air Race. Drage received minor facial injuries
91 Reported rebuilt with P&W R985, changing the Model to D17S
1.1.92 Flown back to Wangaratta by Joe Drage after rebuild
24.10.92 visited Avalon Vic airshow
22.1.99 Change of ownership: Daryl Beattie t/a Bowenbrae Pty Ltd, Brisbane Qld.  
Partners were Nigel Arnot & Daryl Beattie, Brisbane.  Flown from Wangaratta to Archerfield.
Arnot was well known flying instructor and aerobatics specialist. Beattie was an Australian Grand Prix motorcycle champion and flying enthusiast who owned several helicopters.
1.01 Complete rebuild and refurbishment commenced at Archerfield in Flying Fighters hangar. Wings removed and fabric stripped from fuselage airframe. Significant deterioration was found in woodwork under fabric. Owned by Beattie & Arnot partnership.
02/07 Stripped to bare fuselage frame at Archerfield in Flying Fighters hangar, alongside rebuilds of a Tiger Moth, Stearman and Fairchild Argus
11.8.06 Change of ownership: Bowenbrae Pty Ltd, Brisbane c/- Nigel Arnot

Rebuild continued at Archerfield
Change of ownership: Ultimate Aero Pty Ltd, Brisbane Qld
Change of ownership: Allan Arthur/ Arthur Pipe and Steel Australia Pty Ltd, Albury NSW
The structurally advanced restoration at Archerfield had been suspended for some time. 
Moved to Twenty24 Aviation (Callum Smith) at Wanaka NZ to complete airworthy restoration.

Restoration well advanced at Wanaka NZ, fuselage covered and painted medium blue. Owner still Allan Arthur, Australia

Note: The identities of this aircraft have been misreported in some sources.
- reported to have been assigned from RAF to Prince Bernhard of The Netherlands in 1944-1945 and flown by him in British camouflage as “PB1”: however that was D17S c/n 420.
- reported that the Danish registration was LN-HAI, but VH-MLC’s log books confirm LN-HAH.


   LN-HAH in Norway, while in service with Vingtor Luftveier.                                                      John Hopton Collection


  Bankstown circa 1956. White with green trim and metallic cowling.                                                                     Photo by Eddie Coates


  Visiting an airshow at Wentworth NSW in August 1960.                                                                           John Hopton Collection


  Bankstown March 1965, white with yellow trim.                                                                                                  Photo by Peter Limon


  Moorabbin in May 1973.                                                                                                                                                           Photo by Dave Eyre

                VH-BBL under rebuild at Archerfield, December 2005.                                                                                                   Photo by Paul Loneragan


Australian Staggerwing trio at Wanaka NZ late 2019. VH-BBL is on right, VH-AFP on left, seen through the wing wires of
Cam Hawley's
airworthy VH-UXP.                                                                         Photo: Cameron Hawley via Graham Orphan

VH-BBL's fuselage progressing well at Wanaka NZ during October 2020.                        Photo via Graham Orphan

BEECH C-17L                                                                                                                                                           VH-BOU, VH-TOT

4.11.36 Built Wichita, Kansas as production C-17L. Jacobs R-755-1.   C/n 107

Purchased by Auckland Aero Club with the financial assistance of St Johns Ambulance
14.11.36 Beech delivery date to F. B. Cadman, Auckland, painted as ZK-AEU at Beech factory
14.11.36 Departed Beech factory, Wichita in a crate on a railway flatcar for transport to New York for shipping to NZ. In the same crate was c/n 108 VH-UXP bound for Sydney
23.12.36 Arrived Auckland as cargo on City of Manchester. Damaged during shipping.
6.5.37 Registered ZK-AEU Auckland Aero Club, Mangere Airport, Auckland
5.37 First flight Auckland after assembly and repair of shipping damage. Pilot D. M. Allan, Auckland Aero Club chief instructor.

Used by Auckland Aero Club for charter, pilot and 4 passengers. Arrangement with St Johns Ambulance was that the aircraft was to be avilable to bring patients to hospital for treatment, as well as air ambulance work with a stretcher and attendant. Red fuselage and silver wings and tail
25.5.37 Charter flight from Auckland to Wellington with passengers to board a ship to England. Returned to Auckland same day, via a stop at Wanganui. Pilot D. M. Allan
6.37 Flew to New Plymouth, Gisborne, Napier, Port Jackson and Rotorua between June-August 1937. Pilots D M. Allan, G. Robinson and W. J. Sexton
8.7.37 Charter flight from Auckland to Wellington. Return flight to Auckland took only 1 hr 50 mins, pilot D. M. Allen
21.9.37 Flew Auckland to Dunedin, via Omaka, pilot G. Robinson
24.9.37 Flew Auckland to Kaikohe and Wellingon
6.10.37 Stretcher patient flown Auckland to Wigram, pilot W. J. Sexton.
8.10.37 Stretcher flight from Auckland to Nelson and return, pilot G. Robinson
28.10.37 First nonstop flight Auckland to Wigram on an ambulance flight, 3hrs 46 minutes outbound. Return fight to Auckland later that day with polio patient. Pilot W. J. Sexton
6.11.37 Flew Auckland-Hamilton, pilot H. J. D. Lambert, Auckland Aero Club's commercial pilot. He was the usual pilot for ZK-AEU for the next few months
27.11.37 Visited Te Kuiti
2.12.37 Visited Putaruru
14.12.37 Visited Napier
20.12.37 Visited Gisborne
23.12.37 Visited Gisborne
28.12.37 Visited Taupo
7.2.38 Visited Te Kuiti
10.2.38 Visited Wellington
19.2.38 Ambulance flight to Hastings
27.2.37 Visited Waipapakauri
3.3.38 Visited Waipapakauri
9.3.38 Visited Kaikohe
11.3.38 Visited Kaikohe
19.3.38 Visited Rotorua
5.38 During May flew to Wellington, Christchurch and Taupo
27.5.38 Flew Dunedin-Blenheim-Auckland, pilot D. M. Allan
6.6.38 Visited Stratford
14.6.38 Visited Dunedin
22.8.38 Charter flight Auckland-Christchurch-Dunedin, pilot H. J. D. Lambert: 9 hrs 55 mins
24.8.38 Dundein-Christchurch-Auckland
3.4.39 Charter Auckland to Wellington with passenger for a ship
21.9.39 Impressed from Auckland Aero Club for communications aircraft use by RNZAF
24.10.39 Taken on charge by RNZAF at Rongotai Airport, Wellington as NZ573

Communications Flight, Rongotai
4.40 Crashed Opotiki. Repairs took almost a year
1.2.43 Crashed at Taupo.  Sent to De Havilland Aircraft at Rongotai for repair
15.8.45 Testflown after repair by DeHavilland. A Continental W-760-6A (220hp) was installed to replace the original Jacobs L-4
13.3.46 Registered ZK-AJS Auckland Aero Club  
24.5.46 Delivered to former owner ex 42 Squadron, delivered all silver.
46 Painted in prewar scheme of red fuselage and silver wings and tail
3.47 Press report of a charter Auckland-Great Garrier Island-Auckland, pilot  K.W.Paterson
24.4.47 Damaged in gear-up landing at Rongotai Airport, Wellington. Pilot and 3 passengers unhurt. Only damage was the propeller and a spare was flown from Auckland.
29.8.53 noted Auckland-Mangere, all red. Parked outside the aero club hangar
6.4.54 NZ Civil Aviation Branch wrote to DCA: ZK-AJS of Auckland Aero Club has been sold to J. M. Bonney, Cobar NSW
30.6.54 Registration application: John M. Bonney, “Manara” Station, Cobar NSW
10.3.55 Testflown Bankstown after assembly. Fitted Jacobs R755/9 L4/MB. Now owned by C. Kelman.
10.3.55 CofA & CofR issued as VH-BOU
11.3.55 New Registration application: Colin D. Kelman. “Glenbervie” Station, Julia Creek Qld
22.1.58 VH-BOU noted Bankstown, in hangar complete
3.8.62 Change of ownership: Mrs. M. M. Kelman, “Bonnie Doon”, Yamalda Qld
12.11.62 Son John Kelman’s last flight in BOU. Was based “Bonnie Doon” near Emerald.
10.1.63 noted Bankstown as VH-BOU, all white, under maintenance
29.3.63 Change of registration VH-PMG: J. W. Whelan, Sydney
7.63 VH-PMG noted Bankstown, white with teal blue trim
15.9.63 VH-PMG noted Bankstown in hangar
26.10.63 VH-PMG noted Bankstown in hangar
10.1.64 VH-PMG noted Bankstown in hangar
17.3.64 Change of ownership: Columbia Trading Corp, Sydney
18.4.64 Change of registration VH-TOT: H.C. Rain c/- Australian Aircraft Sales, Mascot NSW
6.11.65 noted Wagga on delivery flight to Len Day
6.11.65 Delivered to Moorabbin to Len Day. Painted white with teal blue trim, aircraft very dirty, hand painted registration on tail.
Commenced an extended overhaul at Moorabbin by Civil Flying Services, during which it was released back to its owner for periods.
20.1.66 Civil Register Change of ownership: Len A. Day, Geelong Vic
Based at Belmont Common airfield, Geelong, housed in the sole remaining hangar at this once thriving airfield whch was soon to close.
26.1.66 noted Moorabbin, overhaul almost complete at CFS, being prepared for a repaint.
8.2.66 Parked outside CFS hangar on completion of overhaul, now repainted all white with red trim
21.2.66 Testflown by Roy Goon after overhaul at CFS.
6.3.66 noted at Moorabbin
17.6.66 noted at Moorabbin, reported as visitor
1.9.66 Gear-up landing at Moorabbin after dusk. Minimal damage repaired by CFS.
Len Day had been unable to extend the undercarriage for a landing at Bannockburn Vic late that afternoon, so diverted to Moorabbin where DCA fire service was resident as well as his maintenance company Civil Flying Services.  DCA accident report:
"A wheels-up landing was carried out when the pilot was unable to extend the aircraft's landing gear because of malfunction of both the normal electrical system and the emergency mechanical system."
13.10.66 noted at Moorabbin, parked at pine trees outside CFS hangar
17.12.66 visited Adelaide-Parafield
Departed Geelong for Brisbane. Len Day and his wife planned to enter the Warana Air Race at Brisbane, then continue on to Thursday Island and Paua New Guinea
30.8.67 Crashed on takeoff, Cooktown Qld.
Swung off runway during takeoff roll in gusty winds. Len Day aborted the takeoff but the aircraft left the runway at 90 degrees to takeoff direction before striking a low earth bank on the edge of the flight strip which tore away the undercarriage. Pilot Len Day and his wife were uninjured.
30.8.67 Struck-off Register
11.67 Returned to Geelong by road, dismantled on a trailer towed by a car
70 Now owned by Captain Albert J. Smithwell, Sydney as a rebuild project
88/18 Classic Wings reports: under restoration in Sydney by Bert Smithwell. Photo late 90s shows bare metal fuselage frame standing on its undercarriage

Bert Smithwell died January 2019
Restoration project acquired from Smithwell's family by Don Grant, Motueka New Zealand.
Shipped to Wanaka NZ to have the airworthy restoration completed by Twenty24 Aviation Ltd  (Callum Smith)

Restoration of fuselage at Wanaka is well advanced, while wings have been rebuilt by Rob McNair in Auckland
ZK-AEU registration reserved by Don Grant


  ZK-AEU from a 1937 Beechcraft sales brochure.                                                                                                               Ed Coates collection


   After RNZAF wartime service and now ZK-AJS, back with Auckland Aero Club.                                                  Ed Coates collection


  ZK-AJS at Auckland in 1954 shortly before it was sold to Australia.                                                                          Photo by Jim Dyson


  VH-BOU at Bankstown 1956, yellow with red trim.                                                                         Photo: Ed Coates Collection


  Bankstown July 1963, repainted and with new registration VH-PMG.                                                                Photo by Greg Banfield


  VH-PMG at Bankstown September 1963, white with teal blue trim                                               Bob Neate collection


   VH-TOT, with rough temporary registration lettering change from VH-PMG, being refuelled at Wagga NSW on 6 November 1965
delivery flight from Bankstown to new owner Len Day at Geelong Vic.                 Photo by Bob Neate


  Now VH-TOT, parked at the Moorabbin pine trees in February 1966, freshly repainted.                                                       Photo by Dave Eyre


   VH-TOT being prepared in Sydney for shipping to NZ in 2019 to continue airworthy restoration with a new NZ owner Don Grant.                

    Photo: Don Grant, via Graham Orphan

       BEECH GB-2, D-17S                                                                                                                                                       VH-UUV, N1532M, VH-FNS

Built Wichita, Kansas to US Navy order as a GB-2.    C/n 3108
12.9.42 Received by US Navy as serial Bu12342

Served at NAS Pensacola, later NAS Glenview, NAS Pensacola, NAS Ellyson Field
30.6.46 Struck-off US Navy strength
.48 Sold by US Navy disposals for $2060 to owner in North Carolina

Registered NC397

Registered N1532M

20 civil owners followed over next 40 years
.59 Last flew, placed in storage pending restoration. Total time 1643 hours.
59/66 Registered to Goetz Oil, Sherman Texas
68/91 K. R. Mullins, Belleville Michigan: restoration by Custom Aircraft, Ocala Florida
90 New owner commenced restoration in Florida
17.7.91 Change of ownership: T. W. Smith, Neal Shaeffer and Bob Strunk, Cincinatti Ohio.  Total time 1700 hours. 10 year rebuild project at Cincincatti-Lunken Airport
29.11.91 Change of ownership name: Triple S Aviation, Lunkin Airport, Cincinatti  Ohio
3.7.01 First flown after rebuild. Ownership unchanged until sold to Tony Raftis.
.05 Purchased by Tony Raftis. Melbourne Vic.  
7.05 Handed over to Raftis at Oshkosh.  Polished crimson colour scheme.
05 Shipped to Australia, assembled at Tyabb 12.05
9.2.06 Registered VH-UUV: Tony Raftis/Sportiva Macchina International Pty Ltd, Melbourne
19.2.06 displayed at Tyabb airshow, maroon scheme
31.8.06 flown Moorabbin to Wangaratta for dismantling and packing for shipping
10.06 Shipped from Melbourne to USA due no potential customer in Australia
24.11.06 Struck-off Register
4.12.06 Registered N1532M: Tony Raftis/Provenance Fighter Sales Inc, Las Vegas, Nevada
14.7.07 Flew from Provence Fighter Sales’ base at French Valley CA to Salinas CA, for dismantling and packed into a container.
17.7.07 Struck-off USCR as sold to Australia
6.8.07 departed Oakland CA as cargo on board Kookaburra I
29.8.07 Ship arrived Melbourne, trucked to Wangaratta Vic for assembly by Precision Aerospace
7.9.07 Added Register VH-FNS: Mark Fitzgerald, Sydney NSW
To be operated by Airborne Aviation Pty Ltd, Camden NSW.

Fitzgerald owns Chipmunk MCC in partnership with Grant Coles & Troy Bates.
Airborne Aviation plan to use it for vintage joyrides, have a fleet of 3 Tigers and a Chipmunk.
15.10.07 noted at Wangaratta, unidentified all red Staggerwing being assembled out of a shipping container
08-10 based at Camden Airport NSW
18.3.10 Change of ownership: Christopher Shine, Dardanup WA
9.7.10 departed Camden for Mildura on delivery flight to WA
29.3.11 VH-FNS departed Temora NSW on RAAF 90th Anniversary Pilgrimage to Tocumwal, Ballarat and Point Cook.
Allover red, operator quoted as Shine Air
visited a Fly-In at Echuca Vic. Allover red.
Badly damaged in forced landing near Dardanup WA.  
Gear-up forced landing in a grassy field but slid on belly and struck a tree stump.
Change of ownership: Cameron Hawley, Brisbane Qld.
Hawley also owns airworthy Beech 17 VH-UXP
Cam Hawley combined components of VH-FNS wreck with the frame and parts of D17S VH-AFP which he salvaged from its crash site in Queenslnnd. The composite restoration project was sent to Wanaka, New Zealand for airworthy rebuild.
The aircraft will be restored as VH-AFP in its original D17A configuration with a Wright R760E-2 engine. It will be completed in  Antarctic Expedition paintwork and fittings.
VH-FNS stored at Wanaka NZ: fuselage frame with some woodwork fairings, standing on its own undercarriage.
Held in the hangar of Twenty24 Aviation whose Callum Smith is restoring Cam Hawley's D17S VH-AFP to airworthy and maintaining Hawley's flying C17B VH-UXP.


  VH-UUV at an airshow at Tyabb, February 2006, with tiny registration under the tail.                                              Photo by Phil Vabre


   VH-FNS flares for landing at a Fly-In held at Echuca Vic during April 2011.                                                              Photo by Phil Vabre

        BEECH D-17S                                                                                                                                                                 ZK-AMU, VH-WEE

.38 Built at Wichita Kansas as production D-17S to order of Controller of Civil Aviation, Winnipeg.
Completed with attachments for floats or skis, and an additional cabin door on right side.  c/n 203
9.4.38 CF-CCA delivered from Wichita to Canada
14.4.38 Registered CF-CCA Controller of Civil Aviation, Department of Transport, Winnipeg Manitoba
22.2.55 Change of ownership: Bradley Air Services Ltd, Carp, Ontario
22.2.56 Change of ownership: Spartan Air Service, Ottawa, Ontario
12.12.57 Change of ownership: Irving Sanders, Ottawa, Ontario
17.12.58 CofA expired, stored
57/71 Canadian Register: Irving Sanders, Ottawa, Ontario
72 Purchased by Dr.W. Boyd. Timmins, Ontario: rebuild project

Purchased by Captain Morley Servos, Burlington, Ontario: rebuild
28.4.85 First flight after long rebuild
85/94 Reregistered C-FCAA Morley Servos, Muskoka, Ontario
8.91 C-FCCA photo flying
.94 Sold to Robin M. & E. M. Campbell, Auckland
.94 Purchased in USA, shipped to NZ
.95 Arrived NZ from Canada
20.11.95 Struck-off Canadian Register
29.11.95 Registered ZK-AMU Robin M. & Elaine M. Campbell, Auckland NZ
95 Purchased in Florida USA by Robin and Elaine Campbell who had been looking at available Staggerwings to purchase for some time. All over red with black trim.
4.01 Flew at airshow Omaka NZ, owned Robin Campbell, all over red with black trim
.04 Participated in NZ Cape to Bluff Air Rally, all over red with black trim "AMU" on tail
10.04 Advertised for sale: 1938 model D17S, photo of ZK-AMU, apply Robin Campbell, Auckland
.07 Sold to Douglas Drummond, Wentworth Falls NSW.  To be based Bathurst NSW
.07 Shipped from NZ to Australia
16.1.09 Struck-off NZ Register as sold to Australia
2.2.09 Registered VH-WEE Douglas R. Drummond, Bathurst NSW
Ferried from NZ to Brisbane by pilot Nigel Arnot (owner of Beech 17 VH-BBL). Ferry continued to Bathurst, where the aircraft has been housed in Doug Drummond’s hangar during extended inspection for issue of Australian certification.
12.13 Doug Drummond advises he hopes VH-WEE will be flying shortly. Allover red paint scheme.
noted at Bathurst in hangar, complete but without registration markings.
Advertised for sale by Doug Drummond, Drummond Aviation, Bathurst NSW: 1938 model D17S, airframe time 3,655 hours.
Sold to Robert Borius-Broek/ Jet Flight Wanaka Ltd,  Wanaka NZ                  
Registered ZK-AMU Robert Borius-Broek,  Wanaka NZ

 ZK-AMU at Omaka NZ, April 2003.                                                                                                                                              Photo by Dave Eyre

VH-WEE hangared at Bathurst NSW in September 2019, without registration markings,                      Photo by Dave Eyre

    Beech F17D                                                                                                                                                                  N290Y
.38 Built at Wichita Kansas as production F17D. C/n 258
1.39 Registered NC290Y Bowers Battery Co, Reading Pennsylvania
Beech delivery date to Bowers
Impressed by US Government from Bowers Battery for USAAF
Taken on USAAF charge as UC-43C 42-22246 at Pope Field, North Carolina
Issued to Reconstruction Finance Corporation for disposal
Sold by RFC to Central Aircraft Corp, Omaha Nebraska
Registered NC50256 H.B.Conant, Lincoln, Nebraska
Reregistered N50256 due change in US civil registration system
US Civil Aircraft Register: W.R.Rogers, Rolling Fork, Mississippi
US Civil Aircraft Register: W.R.Nankey, New York Mills, New York NY
US Civil Aircraft Register: M. Meltzer, University Heights, Ohio
US Civil Aircraft Register: Hayes, Meltzer & Fuller, University Heights, Ohio
US Civil Aircraft Register: R.R.Hayes, Cleveland, Ohio
US Civil Aircraft Register: J. Fuller,  University Heights, Ohio
Change of ownership: E. Perry Miller, Brighton Colorado
Advertised for sale by Perry Miller, currently flying
Change of ownership: Robert W. Buck, Lovettsville, Virginia
Reregistered N290Y Lon C. Dienst, Dekalb, Illinois
Struck-off  US Register as sold to Australia. Final US owner Lon C. Dienst

Shipped to new owner in Western Australia
Stripped restoration project acquired from WA by Glenn Wattie, Melbourne Vic
Stripped airframe arrived at Tyabb Vic for airworthy restoration by Glenn Wattie

N290Y restoration project at Tyabb 2021.                                                                                  Photo: The Tyabb Flier newsletter

 BEECH B-17L                                                                                                                                          ZS-BBC

.34 Built at Wichita Kansas as a production B-17L. C/n 18
Delivered to Captain Otto Thaning, Danish Vice-Consul, Johannesberg, South Africa
Registered ZS-BBC

Requested registration letters for Thaning's business Brown Boveri & Co

Reported that Thaning made two speed attempts Capetown to London during 1935 and 1936
Crashed on takeoff Luanda, Portuguese West Africa
A new C-17L was ordered from Beechcraft at Wichita as a replacement. The engine, propeller and instruments from the wrecked aircraft were shipped to Beechcraft for installation in the new replacement. (C-17L c/n 124 also registered ZS-BBC

Substantial wreck components stored in South Africa for next 80 years
Surving airframe parts collection has been acquired by Cameron Hawley, Caboolture Qld  
Cam and Tracey Hawley base their flying VH-UXP at Wanaka NZ, and their VH-AFP is under rebuild also in NZ.

A visiting Staggerwing during 2009:

  BEECH D-17S                                      Red Rockette                                                                                                                                   N16S

44 Built Wichita, Kansas to USAAC order as UC-43-BH 44-67710.   C/n 6687
44 Transferred to US Navy as GB-2 Bu23675
2.2.44 Delivered to US Navy
8.2.44 Assigned Fort Dix, Trenton NJ.  Lend-Lease to Great Britain
17.4.44 Departed by ship to Britain
.44 Taken on charge Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm as FT466
.44 Assembled at Renfrew Aerodrome, Scotland by Lockheed Aircraft Services

Assigned A&AEE Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment, Boscombe Down

Assigned RNAS Abbotsinch, Scotland (HMS Sanderling)

Returned to US Navy. Assigned new US Navy serial Bu32870
31.7.46 Stricken from US Navy

Registered N9455H
64 USCAR: Robert L. Younkin, Fayetteville AR (last FAA inspection report 3.57)
66 USCAR: Allen C. Gunn, St Louis MO
69 USCAR: Loren M. Edwards, Mooresville NC
71/72 USCAR: William N. Schulz/ Schulz Oil Co, Madison NC
73 Completed rebuild
76/77 Rereg N16S William N. Schulz, Madison NC
1.83 USCAR: T. Gibson Ltd, Rockford  IL
87/89 USCAR: T. Gibson & F.Cannaud, Rockford  IL

90 USCAR: Frank Cannavo, Lester  PA
31.1.91 USCAR: T. Gibson, Rockford  IL
27.2.92 Reg pending, Tucson AZ
14.2.94 Change of ownership: William W. Charney, Reno NV
c98 Bill Chaney was a United Airlines captain who retired to NZ.
c98 Shipped to NZ from Nevada by Charney. He engaged Croydon Aircraft Co at Mandeville to begin a restoration which was completed in 2006
02/06 Restoration at Mandeville well under way: restored to factory specification and most woodwork replaced and metal reskinned
8.3.09 NC16S noted Gisborne NZ, all over red with black & yellow trim. Owned Bill Charney
4.09 Charney departed NZ for leisurely holiday flight around the world
3.4.09 NC16S arrived at Auckland-Ardmore
5.09 Auckland-Norfolk Island (2 nights) - Lord Howe Island (overnight)-Australia
N16S noted at Toowoomba Qld, all red with black trim, yellow registration
28.5.09 NC16S arrived Scone NSW, pilot/owner Bill Charney who was visiting friends at Pays Air Service
11 NC16S stored for European winter at Francesco Baracca airfield, near Venice, Italy
6.9.12 NC16S arrived Lee-on-Solent UK, flown by Bill Charney on his world tour. Named Red Rockette
14.9.12 NC16S attended airshow at Goodwood UK, winning Concours de’Elegance
Based at Lee-on-Solent, England
Repainted at Audley End, England into wartime Royal Navy camouflage as “FT466”.
Owner Bill Charney wanted the authentic original markings while he flew the aircraft to a number of D-Day Anniversary celebrations in England and France
N16S visited fly-in at North Weald, camouflaged “Royal Navy FT466”
Based at Lee-on-Solent, England
Repainted at Audley End, England in wartime Royal Navy camouflage as “FT466”.   Charney wanted authentic WWII markings while he flew the aircraft to a number of D-Day Anniversary celebrations in England and France.
N16S visited fly-in at North Weald, camouflaged “Royal Navy FT466”, pilot Bill Charney


  Bill Charney with N16S at Scone NSW May 2009


  N16S seen visiting Towooomba, Queensland in May 2009.                                                               Photo by Norm Weeding



 N16S repainted as wartime Royal Navy Traveller FT466, at North Weald, England in June 2014.          Photo by Terry Fletcher

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Another Beech Staggerwing is due in Australia in 2023:

Paul McConnell who has based his Beech D17S NC18028 in England for the past 20 years has advised tin June 2002 that he plams to move to Australia,  taking the Syaggerwing with him.

  BEECH D-17S                                                                                                                                                                   NC18028

23.6.37 Built at Wichita Kansas as a production D-17S. C/n 147
Registered NC18028  J. L. Vette, Philadelphia PA
Owned by Aero Service Corp, Philadelphia PA.
Aero Service Corp was a large aerial survey business which grew after WWII to conduct extensive  surveys around the world with Boeing B-17s, Lockhed P-38s and Lodestars. Douglas DC-3s and A-26 Invaders .

Fitted with a crew oxygen system and mapping cameras for high altitude aerial mapping in USA and Caribbean
Reregistered N18028 due changes to US Registration system
Badly damaged overturned during landing ina farm field in Ohio during a snow storm. Wreck transported to Aero Service HQ at Philadelphia
Wreck acquired as a parts source by a rebuilder in Indiana.
Owner C. C. Fisher, Roanoke Indiana. Purchased dismantled, incomplete
Purchased by Doctor Bernard Yocke, Sandwich, Illinois trading as Doc's Aero Service:   rebuild project
16.5.86 Rebuild completed, CofA renewed. Painted allover yellow with green trim "NC18028"
87 Owner Doc's Aero Service, Prestbury, Illinois
Owner Leyvan Inc, West Chicago Illinois
Registered to Paul H. McConnell, London, England
Delivered by air from USA to England.  Same  scheme yellow with green trim "NC18028".
Undercarriage collapsed landing Exeter
Repair completed. Based White Waltham airfield, later Popham.
Flown to numerous British and European flying events by McConnell.  Flew at Belgian airshows 6.95, 8.95  6.11,

visited a fly-in at White Waltham, pilot Paul McConnell said he intending taking NC18028 to Australia later that year

       Beech D17S NC18028 at Sywell, England in August 2914.                                                                   Photo by Terry Fletcher 

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A pleasing photo sequence of VH-MLC taken by John Hopton at Moorabbin in October 1960:



Special thanks to John Hopton, whose research explained the complexities of Australian Staggerwings

- Australian Civil Aircraft Register, Department of Civil Aviation and its successors

- US Civil Aircraft Register, FAA, printed editions 1963-1972 held by compiler

- British Civil Register, G-INFO website

- DCA aircraft files, National Archives of Australia, Melbourne

- RAAF Status Cards, Department of Defence Air Historical Section, Canberra

- Aviation Historical Society of Australia Journal, monthly, various issues 1960-1970

- Beech 17s in NZ: Aviation Historical Society of New Zealand Journal September 1969

- NZ Civil Aircraft Beech C-17L, Aviation Historical Society of NZ Journal, June 1969

- Australian Air Log, monthly journal 1965-1968

- British Civil Aircraft Since 1919, A. J. Jackson, Putnam, London 1973

- British Military Aircraft Serials 1911-1979, Bruce Robertson, Patrick Stephens, Cambridge 1979

- The Beech 17, Peter Berry, Air Britain Archive Special No.4, 1992

- Beech 17 Production, Air Britain Archive, quarterly journal, 1994 onwards

- Beech Traveller Survivors 2004, Peter Berry, Air Britain Archive, quarterly journal, Summer 2004

- US Civil Aircraft News, Midland Counties Publications, 1976-1979: Beech 17 listings & updates

- Classic Wings Downunder magazine, renamed Classic Wings: editor Graham Orphan: numerous references

- Flight Path magazine, editor Rob Fox, numerous references

- Yesteryear's Stunning Staggerwing, Rob Fox, Flightpath magazine, November 2006

- My God! It's a Woman, The Autobiography of Nancy Bird, Angus & Robinson, Sydney 1990

- Rag & Tube, monthly journal of Antique Aeroplane Association of Australia, 1977 onwards

- Log book extracts F/Sgt John A. R. Macphail, courtesy Derek A. Macphail

- Aircraft in Australia series, Beech 17, John Hopton: incomplete draft, last amended 23 March 1999

- Staggerwing No longer On Ice, Flightpath magazine, May 2017

- correspondence with Dré Peijmen, Netherlands:

- Anzac Beech Boom, Graham Orphan, Classic Wings magazine, February 2022   

- website: NC18028


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