Constellation News

Constellation News


Recent Visit to Dynamic Aviation – July 26, 2017

I visited Dynamic Aviation in Bridgewater, Virginia on July 21, 2017 to check out progress on the restoration of VC-121A 48-610 Columbine II. Karl Stoltzfus, the founder of Dynamic Aviation, rescued the Connie from the Arizona desert in 2015 and made her airworthy for a flight back to Bridgewater in March 2016. Karl plans on restoring her back to her Air Force One glory days and the project is progressing nicely with workers removing systems that are no longer required. These include the pressurization system, auto-pilot, radar, de-icing boots and many miles of redundant wiring. The day of my visit, workers were cleaning almost 70 years of accumulated dirt, grime, paint and grease from the main wheel wells using a dry ice blasting system. The system removes dirt and paint without leaving any grit. I had a look at a finished wheel well and the final result was very impressive. Work on the interior has started but is in the very initial stages.

Karl said he had acquired another Constellation forward fuselage and, sure enough, he showed me the forward fuselage of USAF EC-121H 53-535, which he recently bought from the Australian group HARS. After being retired in 1969, the aircraft was put on display at the Pima Air and Space Museum from 1973 to 1981. Upon its return to Davis Monthan AFB, the aircraft was put on display at the front gate before finally being sold at auction. Stored for 20+ years at a nearby scrapyard, it was sold to HARS in 2007. It was towed the short distance to the Pima Air Museum in 2008 and scrapped in August 2011, with the forward fuselage being set aside in the museum’s restoration area. I was surprised when I saw the fuselage but glad that Karl had saved it.


Additional Photos of "Manila Connie" Arriving at the Qantas Founders Museum – June 24, 2017

Ron Cuskelly recently emailed me some additional photos of the arrival of C-121J N4247K at the Qantas Founders Museum on May 24, 2017. Also included were a couple of photos taken of the fuselage a few days later after its protective wrap had been removed. All of the photos was taken by Tom Harwood, who is the museum’s curator. It’s great that this long suffering aircraft has arrived at the museum undamaged and will be receiving some TLC in the not too distant future. The museum plans on restoring the aircraft to represent a Qantas Super Constellation which will involve replacing the round fuselage windows with the many more square ones that characterized civilian Super Constellation models. Kudos to the museum for undertaking this ambitious project! For more information about the project, check out the QFM website. For more information and photos of the aircraft and other Qantas Super Connies, check out Ron Cuskelly's excellent website at www.adastron.com/lockheed/constellation

Breitling Super Connie Grounded for 2017 Airshow Season – June 5, 2017

On June 1, 2017 Super Constellatino Flyers Association (SCFA) President Markus Weishaupt and Maintenance Director Arnold Freund issued a statement on the SCFA website announcing that the decision had been made to ground the organization's Super Constellation HB-RSC for the 2017 airshow season due to maintenance issues.

"The following reasons have led us to make the decision to ground our Super Constellation”
  • "The development and manufacturing of the 24 wing flap rods have proven to be a lot more challenging than originally anticipated. It remains unclear how long it will take to complete the production of the parts. Additionally, they will have to undergo a FOCA certification process prior to being installed in the aircraft."
  • "The wheels which were newly produced over the winter months were subject to functionality and vibration tests during which the brakes overheated, and the landing gear caught on fire. In spite of the Zurich airport fire brigades' quick response, damage occurred to the aircraft. All wheels, tires, and brakes will need to be replaced. Various landing gear components, such as hydraulic and electric motors need to be inspected thoroughly, and repairs and replacements will need to be made as necessary. Completing these inspections and repairs could take up to two months".
The statement goes on to say that without an additional $1.5M to $2.0M Swiss francs, the project will be unable to continue and they are launching an emergency appeal called ”Connie Fly” to raise the necessary funds. For additional information, check out the complete statement on the SCFA website. I wish them luck in raising the necessary funds to keep this gorgeous airplane where she belongs…in the air flying!

Restoration of VC-121A "Bataan" Progressing at Chino – June 4, 2017 (Updated June 9, 2017)

Restoration of VC-121A 48-613 Bataan is progressing nicely at The Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, California. The empennage was removed and work on the horizontal and vertical stabilizers is well underway. Overhaul of the first R3350 engine has been completed at Mike Nixon's shop and has been test run. When the interior lining was removed, workers found that complete scoreboards from the 1948 World Series had been penciled on the interior sheet metal walls. Hopefully this little bit of history will not be destroyed and be left for the workers to find in 50 years when the aircraft is restored once again!

Michael O'Leary POF on May 16, 2017 and forwarded some detailed photos of the aircraft. It's interesting to note that the entire interior of the aircraft has been removed. I don't quite understand this since an interior was installed during the last restoration in 1994 that supposedly duplicated the interior that was in place when the aircraft served General MacArthur. Check out these two photos taken in February 1999 and let me know what you think. Photo #1 and Photo #2.
Michael S. Prophet visited the museum a week later on May 23, 2017, when the weather was decidedly nicer. He was kind enough to forward some additonal photos of the aircraft.

HARS Super Connie Emerges From Paint Shop – May 26, 2017

HARS Super Connie VH-EAG emerged from the Douglas Aerospace paint shop in Wagga Wagga after a two month makeover. She looked great and "Delta Charlie” posted the following report and photos on Facebook. "So on my way home from Wagga Wagga today I swung by Wagga Airport (YSWG) and saw a familiar ol girl parked up... Good ol Connie, VH-EAG a Lockheed C-121C Constellation sporting a new coat of paint and looking a million $$ without any exhaust stains on her engines yet... (personally I think the exhaust stains give her character) Not sure when she is due home back at HARS in Albion Park... but probably won’t get as close to her again for some time."

”Manila Connie" Arrives at Qantas Founders Museum – May 26, 2017

Super Connie N4247K arrived at the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach, Australia on May 24, 2017 after a long sea and land journey from the Philippines. Dave McKenzie photographed her enroute and arriving at the museum.

Lufthansa Releases Updated Super Star Project Website – May 25, 2017

Tom Held recently sent me a link to Lufthansa’s updated Super Star restoration project website. The website includes a page detailing plans for 2017 and a summary of project events going back to the project’s 2008 inception. Included is lots of information and photos about the project and it appears that there’s finally light at the end of the tunnel on the restoration of N7316C. Kudos to the folks at Lufthansa and Lufthansa Technik for their perseverance on seeing this project thru completion!

"Manila Connie" Arrives in Australia – May 20, 2017

David Wood reported on Facebook today that Super Constellation N4247K safely arrived in Australia after an ocean journey from the Philippines. "The former USN C121G/ R7V1 c/n 4144 BuNo 131643 (N4247K) which had sat, abandoned, at Manila in the Philippines for many years before being acquired by the Qantas Founders museum, has finally reached Townsville in Queensland, Australia. It will now be transported by road to the museum's premises at Longreach in central Queensland for restoration and assembly to static display. During the restoration process the museum plan to remove the round windows common to USN R7V1 Connies and instead fit square windows as fitted to C121C and L1049 passenger Connies. It will be painted to represent a Qantas Super Constellation." The adjacent photo shows the fuselage being unloaded from the ship in the Port of Townsville this morning.

Memorabilia and Logbook From April 1944 Record Flight – March 30, 2017

Larry Marechal’s father was a supervisor at Washington National Airport (DCA) on April 17, 1944 when Howard Hughes and TWA President Jack Frye made their record breaking non-stop flight from Burbank to Washington, DC in the second production C-69 Constellation 43-10310. The aircraft was in full TWA colors with “The Transcontinental Line” and USAAF serial number markings. Larry has the navigator’s logbook and publicity material from the flight and he was kind enough to forward photos of these items. To read the logbook entries, click on the photo for a larger file.

Amicale du Super Constellation Requesting Submissions for a Media Archive – March 29, 2017

The folks at Amicale du Super Constellation are creating a media archive of their Super Constellation F-BGNJ and are searching for any (and all) media (photo, video, newspaper articles, anecdotes and any other miscellaneous information) relating to the aircraft. All items will be credited to the author and/or contributor and the organization is requesting they be submitted as donations. The goal is to create a large archive that would be available in media galleries on their website to preserve the memory of their aircraft, which carried the registrations F-BGNJ, EC-BEN and F-BRAD. They also wish to preserve the memory of crewmembers and passengers who flew in the airplane from 1953 to 1974, while it was in service with Air France and CATAIR. (While it was registered EC-BEN and painted in TAE colors, it never flew for the airline.) The organization would also very much like to capture the remembrances and photos from all those folks who have visited the aircraft since her flying days ended in 1974.

All submissions should be emailed to contact@superconstellation-nantes.fr. (Please use wetransfer or a similar vehicle for very large files)

The following information should be included in each submission.
  • Registration (F-BGNJ, EC-BEN or F-BRAD)
  • Date (for example 1953-11)
  • Location (for example Nantes airport, France - LFRS (OACI code only))
  • Name of Author/Contributor
  • Category of Author/Contributor (for example pilot, passenger, tourist, photographer, spotter...)

    The submission should then have a name like this : F-BRAD_1971-07_ParisLeBourget-LFPB_©Christian Volpati_Spotter

    Video of Starliner N7316C in Action with Alaska Airlines – March 23, 2017

    Angela Schmidt, who is a film archivist at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Alaska Film Archives, sent me a link to a really interesting YouTube video of Starliner N7316C landing and taxiing in the far north back in the 1960’s, while in service with Alaska Airlines.

    Mr. Pettersen,
    The Alaska Film Archives at University of Alaska Fairbanks has just posted this video of Alaska Airlines Super Constellation N7316C landing in Kotzebue during the 1960s. I ran across your site while looking for more information on the aircraft. Are restorations efforts still underway on this Connie? Please feel free to link to this clip if it is of interest to you. Please let me know if there are any details I can add, clarify or correct in the summary of the film (see below) that will be useful to viewers. Thanks for all the useful information on your site!
    Best,
    Angie
    Description of video: Scenes of an Alaska Airlines Lockheed Super Constellation airplane (N7316C) landing and taxiing on a snowy runway at Kotzebue, in northwest Alaska, circa 1960s.


    Kotzebue is north of Nome and it sure looks desolate. I wonder if Alaska Airlines ran a scheduled service there or if this was just a charter flight. Anyhow, this short video preserves a fascinating snipit of both Alaskan and Constellation history. Thanks much to Angela for sending the video my way.

    Mystery Super Connie to be Centerpiece of Airport Hotel – March 13, 2017 (Updated March 23, 2017)

    The Port Authority of NY & NJ has struggled with how to best repurpose JFK's iconic TWA terminal since that airline ceased operations in 2001. Designed by famed architect Eero Saarinen and completed in 1962, the National Park Service listed the building on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. Having avoided the fate of the equally iconic Pan Am terminal that was torn down in 2013, the empty terminal was allowed to stand while the powers-to-be pondered their options. It is now surrounded by the Jet Blue terminal that was completed in October 2008.


    On March 7, 2017 Tyler Morse of MRC Development presented that company’s plan for the redevelopment of the building into a hotel. The plan includes a Super Constellation that will be transformed into a restaurant and bar and parked in front of the terminal. The presentation gave no hint as to the identity of the Super Connie but the list of available airframes is pretty small and I’m guessing it might be L1649A Starliner N8083H. This aircraft was one of two Starliners once owned by Maurice Roundy and parked in front of his house at Auburn-Lewiston Airport in Maine. The other (N7316C) is nearing the end of a comprehensive rebuild by Lufthansa Technik in Auburn and N8083H has been parked outside the restoration hangar since 2008. While it has been used for spares and is not complete, it could be made externally complete and would make an ideal candidate for the proposed restaurant/bar. Having missed out on Jim Flannery's Restaurant in Penndel, Pennsylvania, I definitely plan on having a drink at the bar once the project is completed. As to what Super Connie will be used for the project, only time will tell and I will report it's identity on this website as soon as I know. For additional information about the project, check out this link .

    Personal Glimpse Back in Time – March 12, 2017

    I received an email from Dan Gilbertson providing an interesting personal glimpse back to the early 1960's, when his parents purchased former KLM L749A PH-LDT. This aircraft is currently on display in TWA colors at the Science Museum in Wroughton, England

    "My parents Don and Jacquie Gilbertson purchased N7777G from KLM in 1963. It was parked in Costa Rica with a whole fleet of Connie's. My dad spent three months getting it ready to ferry north and part of the deal was newly overhauled engines and a heavy check. It had a cargo door in the front and Wien Alaska had a U.S. Navy contract for it. My dad had flown for Wien for several years and my parents leased it to Wien. He flew the Connie up to Long Beach after getting a one hour check out by a KLM pilot. He and Merrill Wien then flew it to Fairbanks. Merrill is still alive and remembers the trip well. I thought I would mention as it is a little more history on the old girl. Stan Stokes painted me a beautiful picture of it a few years ago with the Rolling Stones logo on front."
    Regards Dan Gilbertson


    For a detailed history of the aircraft, check out the The Lockheed File. Photos below include the painting by Stan Stokes; the aircraft in Wien colors in 1968; and at the museum in 2004.

    HARS Super Connie Heads to Paint Shop After Appearance at Avalon Air Show – March 8, 2017

    Hard to believe but its been over 22 years since the HARS Super Connie was painted in November 1994 by the good folks at the Lockheed Aeromod Center in Tucson. Constellation VH-EAG made her successful trans-Pacific flight to Australia 15 months later and has been entertaining airshow crowds and museum visitors ever since. The Super Connie attended the 2017 Australian International Airshow at Avalon Airport last weekend and departed soon after the show ended for the Douglas Aerospace paintshop in Wagga Wagga. It would be very nice if the lawyers allowed HARS to include Qantas titles on the aircraft but that's probably too much to expect. Many thanks to Rob Tracz and David Wood for allowing me to include their photos of VH-EAG taken at the airshow. Also, here’s a very nice video of the Super Constellation doing some fly-bys at dusk during the airshow.

    Drone Photos of Nantes Super Constellation – February 20, 2017

    Pierre Planel sent me some interesting photos of Super Constellation F-BGNJ taken from a drone. I normally only post photos on my Photos Page but these are the first drone photos I've received and I consider them indeed newsworthy. The aircraft is owned by Amicale du Super Constellation and is on display at Nantes Airport in France. Over the years the group has spent a lot of effort restoring the aircraft and proudly displays her to the general public during regular open houses.

    Museum Plans to Resume Disassembly of South African Starliner – February 19, 2017

    Work it set to resume on the disassembly of L1649A ZS-DVJ at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. The aircraft is owned by the South African Airways Museum Society (SAAMS) and disassembly began in mid-2011 with the intent of moving the aircraft by road to the museum’s home base at nearby Rand Airport. Unable to continue the disassembly at the SAA facility, the aircraft was towed across the airport to Denel Aviation on May 12, 2012. Disassembly continued in 2013 and into 2014 with the engines, empennage and other components being removed and transported to Rand. The story continues on the museum’s website…

    On 13 August 2013 work began on the removal of the Starliner engines. The four engines were sent to Anderson Aeromotive based in Grangeville, Idaho, USA, for potential overhaul and/or the recovery of components suitable for overhaul for the Deutsche Lufthansa Berlin-Stiftung (DLBS) Starliner N7316C which was being restored to flying condition in Maine USA. The SAA Museum society received dummy engines in return to install on ZS-DVJ once she is at Rand Airport.

    On 18 February 2014 the go-ahead was given by the Museum for Airside Enterprises (Pty) Ltd to manufacture fuselage shoring, consisting of rigging equipment, wing cradles and belly cradle. The items were duly manufactured in 2014 and stored. No further progress was made with the Starliner during the rest of 2014 as well as 2015 and 2016 as it was decided to work on relocating the museum's Vickers Viking, ZS-DKH, from OR Tambo to Rand Airport. The Viking was relocated on 22 January 2017.

    And so it was that on 17 February 2017, the man who had successfully headed up the Viking move, Matt Harvey, found himself at Denel Aviation listening to Richard Hunt explaining how to "take apart" the Connie and move it to Rand Airport. The task ahead was major; the Viking move had acted as a rehearsal and Matt and his team had some insight as to what lay ahead - albeit on a much larger scale.


    In addition to Mat and Richard, other team members present on 17 February included Ray Hudson, Ken Wadmore, James Engels, Kyle Baytopp, Keith Lennard, Mike Paterson, Digby Sherwood, Ian Cruickshank, and John Austin-Williams. This will be the second road trip for the aircraft…its first was from Warmbaths to Johannesburg in May 1979. I wish the folks at the SAA Museum luck in their ambitious endeavor and will be posting updates on the project.

    Yankee Air Museum Raising Funds to Save EC-121K – February 17, 2017

    As reported on this website on October 25, 2016, the Yankee Air Museum in Ypsilanti, MI has acquired EC-121K BuNo 141311 that had been on display at the defunct Octave Chanute Museum in Rantoul, IL. There had been quite a bit of concern that this aircraft would be scrapped but the folks at YAM stepped up and made a commitment to save the aircraft and move it to their facility in Michigan. This of course is going to take money and the museum recently added a page to their website soliciting donations for this very worthwhile project. I wish them all the luck with the move and look forward to seeing the aircraft on display in their new facility.

    NC-121K Sighting in North Carolina – February 16, 2017

    Rob Stanton recently sent me a short email and photo of the forward fuselage section of NC-121K BuNo 141292. This aircraft made the last U.S. military Constellation flight on June 11, 1982 and was donated to the Florence Air and Missile Museum in Florence, S.C. for static display a few weeks later. The museum closed in September 1997 and the aircraft was disassembled with the forward fuselage going to Brian Hicks and the engines, propellers, landing gear, rear cargo door and other parts going to the AMC Museum for the restoration of L1049E N1005C. Rob stated in the email that the aircraft is located on Alexis High Shoals Road in Dallas, N.C. and the photo was taken on February 11, 2017. Previous reports have the aircraft in nearby Stanley, N.C. and I’m curious to know if the airplane has been moved. Can anyone confirm?

  • See Constellation News Archive - 2016 For Additional News

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    ----Created 31 January 2004------Updated 26 July 2017----