Last Lockheed JetStar Retires

In December 2019 the last flying Lockheed L-1329 JetStar retired to the Marietta Aviation History and Technology Center near Atlanta. The story recently was told by Marc Cook on the web at “Aviation News” (google “Last JetStar Retires”). The JetStar would have a prominent history in Canada as the country’s first corporate jet, and the first civil jet operated by the federal government. At a peak in the mid-1980s there were eight Canadian JetStars: C-FDTF, C-FDTX, C-FETN (Transport Canada), C-FRBC (Royal Bank of Canada), C- GATU (Cathton Holdings), C-GAZU (Allarco Group) and C- GTCP (Trans Canada Pipelines)

First flown on September 4, 1957, the legendary JetStar was designed for a USAF requirement for a small jet transport. When the USAF abandoned these specs, Lockheed pushed ahead to develop what became the first large jet for the corporate market. Lockheed was out on a limb with this exotic and expensive pioneer project, but pushed on to manufacture some 204 aircraft.

Flight and chase crew for the Jetstar’s first flight (s/n 1001 N329J). Note that the prototype had two engines vs four for production aircraft: Robert Schumacher co-pilot, Ernest L. Joiner flight test engineer, Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson head of design team, Jim Wood USAF test pilot, Ray Jewett Goudey pilot, Tony LeVier, Lockheed chase plane pilot. (Lockheed Martin archives)

The JetStar prototype flew first with a pair of British-made Orpheus engines, but Lockheed quickly shifted to using four smaller Pratt & Whitney JT12s, the design of which Canadian Pratt & Whitney had the lead role (see Power: The Pratt & Whitney Canada Story). All the details of the Jetstar are available at Wiki and innumerable other internet sources, and in many valuable books, including Walter J. Boyne’s seminal Beyond the Horizons: The Lockheed Story. Boyne concludes that Howard Hughes likely was the only one to make a profit from the project. Hughes had bought several production line slots when the plane was low-priced. Then, one by one he re-sold his JetStars at higher prices.

Canada’s first privately-owned JetStar was purchased by Toronto’s Eaton family of department store fame. Registered CF-ETN, it replaced the family’s renowned “Super DC-3” CF-ETE (search here to see the CF-ETE story in an earlier blog item). Seeing “ETN” at Malton airport in such early times was exciting for we local spotters. This was at a time when the speediest prop-driven corporate planes at Malton were J.F. Crother’s Gulfstream CF-JFC, Massey Ferguson’s Howard Super Ventura CF-MFL and Canadian Comstock’s OnMark Marksman A-26, CF-CCR. I first listed “ETN” in my spotter’s notebook at Malton on May 13, 1962, only noting that its paint job was similar to that on “ETE”.

The late, great Toronto aviation photographer, Al Martin, captured this fine view of “ETN” soon after its delivery to Malton. You can see that Lockheed built a glorious-looking airplane. I later used this excellent photo on p.480 of Air Transport in Canada.

DOT JetStar CF-DTX in a shot I took at Ottawa Uplands in the 1960s. Then, two snapshots of it by Al Martin at Windsor, Ontario in 1967. This classy DOT colour scheme of the 1950s-60s was fleet-wide from Apache to Beech 18, DC-3 and JetStar. Today, “DTX” belongs to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa. There’s an ezToys 1:200 diecast model of “DTX” in its later red-and-white colour scheme.

Meanwhile, Canada’s Department of Transport was modernizing. With the growing amount of jet traffic in and over Canada (707, DC-8, etc.) the DOT was planning for a new world of air traffic control. Its aged Beech 18s and DC-3s could not serve indefinitely, as ATC technology evolved. Faster aircraft were needed to perform airport equipment (ILS, radio, etc.) calibration. Heading DOT flight operations in Ottawa was the great John D. “Jack” Hunter. He knew about the JetStar, was dreaming about one, but there was no budget. This obliged Jack (so he told me in a long ago interview) to get creative. The DOT just then was building a large hangar in Ottawa to house its fleet, including a new Viscount VIP plane. As the story went, Jack used some aspect from his hangar budget to pay for a JetStar – in the official paperwork, the JetStar appeared as something like an extra hangar door. Whatever happened, one day not long afterwards in 1962 JetStar CF-DTX landed in Ottawa wearing its handsome DOT colours. “DTX” was JetStar s/n 5018, “ETN” was s/n 5021, but I don’t know which was delivered first.

The DOT’s Jack Hunter accepts “the keys” to his shiny new JetStar CF-DTX at the Lockheed factory near Atlanta. If anyone can help with names for the other DOT men in this photo, please get in touch at larry@canavbooks.com. Then, a PR photo showing Canada’s Prime Minister, Lester B. Pearson, with US President, Lyndon B. Johnson, aboard “DTX” on a VIP trip (see caption at bottom). VIP duties seem to have been the raison d’être for “DTX”, although airways inspection and instrumentation calibration missions also were flown. (CANAV Books Collection)

 

Over the decades I photographed several JetStars. These below give you a sampling. Fishing around on the web, I have found little individual history for these aircraft.

After CF-ETN and CF-DTX, the next JetStar I photographed was N1 (s/n 1) of the Federal Aviation Administration. On this occasion, I was on a driving tour with fellow hobbyist, Nick Wolochatiuk. On July 3, 1966 we found N1 in the FAA hangar at Washington National Airport. Another classy paint scheme from a bygone era, right. “N1” appeared on a long series of FAA aircraft starting on a D.H.4 c1927; but it flew the longest on this JetStar (1963-86). N1 had been Lockheed’s No.1 production JetStar, the first with JT12s. With the FAA it mainly was in the transportation role. As late as 1978 it still was busy, logging 457 flying hours that year. In its March 1979 edition, “Flying Magazine” describes the FAA fleet in Washington, “Of the eight aircraft that currently call Hangar Six home, an ancient JetStar presides as queen bee over an orange and white hive housing a Gulfstream 1, Citation II, King Air 200, two Cessna 421s, Baron B55 and a Bell 206L helicopter.” Having by then been re-registered N7145V, JetStar No.1 left the FAA in 1990. Apparently, c.2006 it was purchased by White Industries Inc., a Bates City, Missouri company parting out and scrapping old airplanes.

Corporate JetStar N12R (s/n 5053) at Toronto Island Airport on June 4, 1966. The runway length at TIA in 1966 was 4000 feet, maybe a bit tight for a hefty JetStar. Eventually, due to noise restrictions, most jets were banished from the island. Today, the rule seems to be that only air ambulance jets can operate here.

One of the highlights for us during a trip to Buffalo, NY on May 20, 1967 was this gorgeous JetStar — N500Z s/n 5008. I found one historic reference to it in FAA document “FAA Aviation News” of May 1966: “The beginning of the switch to turbine aircraft for corporate business is generally logged as September 27, 1961, when Superior Oil of Houston put its brand on Lockheed Jetstar N500Z, which is still flying for the company.”

Amway Corporation JetStar N523AC (s/n 5013) on the Field Aviation ramp at Toronto YYZ on April 8, 1971. Built in 1961, N523AC is said to have ended as scrap at White Industries.

On the same ramp on March 24, 1972 I came across CF-DTF of Transport Canada (formerly known as the Department of Transport). On September 16 I spotted “DTF” at Halifax, by which time it belonged to the Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum. How great that a few JetStars have found museum homes!

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