Our specific aircraft has an illustrious career. She was dubbed the "Villa" and successor to Wiley Post's "Winnie Mae" by her original owner, FC Hall. She was promptly flown by Lockheed's world-famous test pilot, Milo Burcham, to 5th place in the Bendix Trophy Air Races in 1937. Shortly thereafter, Howard Hughes' primary flight instructor, Charlie LaJotte, flew the plane for Gilmore Oil. Then she donned the Cross of Lorraine for the war effort and served the Free French Air Force flying military leadership such as Generals Charles de Gaulle (later President of France), LeClerc, and Valin, supporting the resistance to the Nazis. After WWII, she was owned for three decades by the 9th British Earl of Granard who was decorated with WWII service medals by France, Britain and the US among others. She later served as part of a three Electra Jr. air service between central France and Corsica before retiring to the back of a hangar for many years where we found her and began the process of bringing her back to her golden era glory.
The Lockheed 12A, the Electra Junior, was the premier executive transport of the late 1930's. Equipped with 8 or 9 places, a spacious cabin, an on-board lavatory and separate baggage compartment, all metal construction, and powerful Pratt & Whitney 450 HP engines driving it to a top speed of 225 MPH, it was the peak of golden era aviation and was sought after by executives. It is none other than a Lockheed 12 that serves as backdrop for Bogart to bid adieu to Bergman in that iconic goodbye in Casablanca.
The 12 was legendary aerospace designer Kelly Johnson's first Lockheed project, and he provided it with its signature twin tail. With production ending at the start of World War II, a total of only 130 planes were produced, of which ten are flying today. Kelly and the Lockheed team can stand tall on the Electra Jr. as the model hasn't had a single Airworthiness Directive in 80 years of operation!