Note: Although known by various names, this aeroplane is correctly an Aermacchi AL60-B2 Santa Maria. The following explanation of the various designations is courtesy of John Davis:

  • L402 - built by Lockheed at Marietta, GA, USA.

  • LASA 60 - built by Lockheed-Azcarate S.A. (LASA) in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The "60" is derived from the year in which the aircraft was certified.

  • AL60-B2 Santa Maria - built under licence by Aeronautica Macchi S.p.A. of Varese, Italy. Only Italian built aircraft used the name Santa Maria.


VH-ELI


Type: AL60-B2 Santa Maria
MSN: 11/6156
Previous Identities: Nil *
Owner: Paul Eddowes, Portee Station, SA


* N1705L has been attributed to this aircraft but this registration applies to
MSN 12/6157 which crashed on its delivery flight to the U.S.A.

History:

OCT61 Arrived at Melbourne by sea from Italy.
02NOV61 Assembled by Executive Air Services at Essendon. Colour scheme was yellow with blue trim. Marketed by agents E.L. Heymanson as a "Lockheed 60 Bush Transport". It was later reported that the agents intended to import further aircraft from Mexico.
18NOV61 Made its debut at the Australian Agricultural Aviation Association air display at Ballarat.
JAN62 It was announced that Ansett-MAL intended to replace its Cessna fleet with LASA-60s.
12JAN62 Registered VH-ELI (as an Aermacchi AL60-B2) to E.L. Heymanson, Melbourne, VIC. (the Australian agents for the type).
FEB62 Arrived in PNG in Ansett-MAL livery. The following account comes from "Balus" (Volume II p.39) by James Sinclair:

"Unfortunately the Lockheed 60 was not the answer. The chief training pilot for light aircraft, Captain Gerry Flude, and Frank Newell, engineer in charge of Ansett-MAL light aircraft, were sent to Australia to become familiarised on the Lockheed, and in February they returned to PNG in a Lasa 60, piloted by Lockheed pilot, Keith Busby. Demonstration and test flights were made in a number of territory centres, but the aeroplane ultimately proved unsuitable for local conditions. In May 1962, Stedman announced that two Cessna 185s had been purchased."
FEB63 Western Air Courier Pty Ltd opened an office in the main street of Hillston, NSW. Managing Director was Charles Ring with Jim Reid as a director. John Conley of Australian Aircraft Sales (AAS) was an aviation adviser as was Warren Penny who was also the pilot. Aircraft at the time was Bonanza VH-BBQ which belonged to AAS. The company intended to operate between Wilcannia, Ivanhoe, Hillston and Griffith to connect with airline services to Sydney. Local graziers were encouraged to build air strips on their properties and to invest in the company. With revenue coming in, John Conley purchased VH-ELI and sold it to Western Air Courier. Warren Penny found the aeroplane to be down on performance and during later maintenance it was discovered that the wing was incorrectly rigged with insufficient incidence. Also one of the diaphragms in the engine boost system was found to have a hole which adversely affected engine performance. After rectification of these defects the aeroplane performed well. Western Air Courier ceased trading when one of the investors instigated legal action over perceived financial irregularities. Penny was hopeful of acquiring VH-ELI in lieu of unpaid wages at the ensuing Sheriff's auction but a court order from the shareholders intervened and ownership of VH-ELI passed to the liquidator (see FEB64).
(Sourced from an unpublished manuscript by Warren Penny referenced by Geoff Goodall.)


Note: Although some sources show the company name as Western Air Couriers, court documents relating to the liquidation state "Western Air Courier Pty Limited".
14MAR63 Change of ownership to Consolidated Aviation Finance Pty Ltd, Sydney, NSW.
25MAR63 Change of ownership via Australian Aircraft Sales to Western Air Courier Pty Ltd, Hillston, NSW.
27OCT63 The aircraft was photographed at Bankstown, NSW in the colour scheme it wore previously during its brief service with Ansett-MAL but with no company titles. At this time the aircraft was being operated by Western Air Courier.
FEB64 Change of ownership to W.J. Hamilton of Sydney (official liquidator of Western Air Courier Pty Ltd).
14JUL64 Change of ownership to Mount Foster Pty Ltd, Mount Foster, Warren, NSW.
JUL73 Photographed at Port Macquarie wearing titles Woodside Merino Stud, Warren NSW.
08AUG73 Registered to E.P.J. Aubort, Lismore, NSW.
JUL75 Advertised for sale by Eric Aubort and Dave Adams of Lismore for $15,000.00. Total time 1,300 hours.
22MAR76 Registered to P.D. Johnstone, Cronulla, NSW.
02DEC77 Change of designation to AL60-B2/A1.
15APR78 Noted at Moorabbin having been traded-in/sold to Civil Flying Services. Aircraft carried the name Airmove Air Taxi.
14AUG78 Registered to E.H. Mills, Gladstone, TAS.
31JUL93 Noted at Moorabbin for sale by Ian Baillie Aircraft Sales. Aircraft carried the name SIMMENT on the fin.
MAY94 To E. Simkin, Merino, VIC. Airworthy and for sale. Reported asking price AU$30,000.00
09MAR98 Noted at Moorabbin, VIC.
07JUL98 Registered to Middlebrook Air Services, Gunnedah, NSW.
06SEP01 Change of ownership to Aero Enterprise Pty Ltd, Lismore, NSW. Subsequently registered to Aero Enterprise, Cairns, QLD.
11FEB04 Aero Enterprise in Cairns advise that VH-ELI is still stored in Lismore.
APR05 Aircraft noted in Cairns, evidently overhauled and repainted.
24NOV05 Change of ownership to Jeli Jump Bus, Oyster Cove, Tasmania.
30SEP06 Damaged in a heavy landing at Cambridge Aerodrome, Hobart, Tasmania:
"The pilot reported that at about 100 ft AGL on final approach to runway 09, the aircraft encountered undershoot windshear resulting in a rapid increase in the rate of descent. The pilot applied full power but was unable to fully arrest the descent. The aircraft clipped the boundary fence which pulled the aircraft into a nose-down attitude and separated the nose wheel leg from the aircraft. The aircraft landed heavily and came to rest on the runway."
(Source: ATSB Aviation Safety Database. Extracted 24OCT06)
22APR10
Sold to Paul Eddowes.
20MAY10
Official change of ownership to Paul Eddowes, Blanchetown, SA.
01JUL10
Ferried from Devonport to Portee. Paul Eddowes advises: "The aircraft has been fitted with a 300hp Continental IO520 with a turbo and a three blade constant speed prop. The conversion was done by Peter Young of Sureflight, Devonport, Tasmania. The aircraft now resides at the Portee Station Homestead on the Murray in South Australia. The family loves her and we will be refurbishing the interior lining in the near future. Externally and mechanically she’s in excellent condition. Peter Young has done a top job of the maintenance and mods."
06NOV11
Noted at the Barossa Airshow. (Source: South Australian Air Journal Nol 40 No 3 p.9)


Issue Date Remarks
25 07MAY21
Added a 1963 colour image from the Hopton Collection thanks to Geoff Goodall.
Added an image of the aircraft in ANSETT-MAL livery thanks to Graham Bennett and Fred Niven.
24 06MAY21
Added five images. Thanks to Ken Watson and David C. Eyre.
23 30APR21
Added an image of the aircraft wearing Woodside Merino Stud titles. Thanks to David C. Eyre.
22 27APR21
Added information on Western Air Courier at FEB63. Thanks to Geoff Goodall and Roger McDonald.
21 10APR16
Refreshed page layout with no change to data.
20 14JAN12
Added a recent sighting.
19 03AUG10
Recorded a change of ownership to Paul Eddowes who has kindly supplied details of his acquisition of the aircraft.
18 24OCT06
Added details of an incident on 30SEP06.
17 07MAY06
Added a change of ownership on 24NOV05.
16 30APR05
Added a recent photo from Paul Howard in Cairns.
15 12FEB04
Added a report from Paul Howard in Cairns that the aircraft is still stored in Lismore.
14 07FEB04
Added three new images thanks to Hew Mills, a former owner of the aeroplane.
13 16JUN03
Added change of ownership to Aero Enterprise of Lismore.



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