Lockheed Lodestar - N31G

On December 27, 2002 Paul F. Barnhart, Sr. donated Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar N31G to the Houston Aeronautical Heritage Society. The Lodestar is a quintessential example of business aviation history.

The Lodestar will return to flying status when funding permits.

Houston was one of the birth places of modern business aviation. In the 1920s and early 1930s, while most American companies still had policies expressly prohibiting their employees from traveling by air, the burgeoning Houston energy industry realized the value and utility of aircraft as business tools. Aircraft were uniquely capable of quickly traversing the great distances which separated oil fields, potential oil fields, and the centers of commerce and industry. By the mid-1930s, most Houston energy companies operated one or more business aircraft on important missions very similar to those assigned to business aircraft today.

Lockheed's Model 18 Lodestar was developed in the late 1930s. The first airline to operate the Model was Mid-Continent Airlines of Kansas City, Missouri, which began service in March, 1940. Other airlines operating Lodestars include: Continental Airlines, National Airlines, Pan American World Airways subsidiaries, United Airlines, Air France and British Overseas Airways Corporation. With the outbreak of World War II, the Lodestar was impressed and then ordered for military service. After the war, surplus Lodestars again saw airline service, but also became popular as business aircraft. Famous names in aviation such as Dee Howard and Bill Lear developed well-known executive conversions for Lodestars.

Our Lodestar was built as a C-60A and delivered to the USAAF on December 22, 1942. It flew for the advanced glider school in Long Beach, California. The US Reconstruction Finance Corp. sold the Lodestar to the Defense Plant Corporation which leased it to TACA Airlines. TACA operated the Lodestar under lease to several of its subsidiaries, where it saw service in Costa Rica and Columbia. TACA also leased the Lodestar to Linea Aero de Columbia S.A. In 1947, the War Asset Corporation sold the Lodestar to Grubb Oil Co., and it was converted to executive configuration. The Lodestar was also owned and operated by Dehli-Taylor Oil Corporation as N4495N. The Lodestar flew as the personal transport for Columbia Gas Transmission's president until 1968. It received many of the popular Dee Howard executive aircraft modification, including panoramic windows, new tail cone, wingtips and nose.

In 1968, Houston businessman Paul F. Barnhart purchased the Lodestar and operated it as his business aircraft until he donated it to the Houston Aeronautical Heritage Society in December 2002.

Special thanks to Paul F. Barnhart, Sr. for donating Lodestar N31G to the Houston Aeronautical Heritage Society.

Look for this photo in the movie "Up In The Air"