Constellation News

Constellation News Archive - 2004

Constellation HI-393 Lives On at Santo Domingo - October 2004

C-121A HI-393 lives on at Santo Domingo, where she has been stored for many years. Ander Aguirre photographed the old girl on October 3, 2004 in her now familiar nose high pose. Completely restored at Santo Domingo in 1988, the aircraft never went back into service and was picked clean of useful parts and engines for use on MATS Connie in the mid-1990’s. By the late 1990’s, it had

L749A HI-393 April 13, 1994 L749A HI-393 February 24, 2004 L749A HI-393 October 3, 2004
been widely reported as scrapped in Santo Domingo but these reports proved to be premature when photos started appearing on the website a few years ago. With an airport cleanup underway at Santo Domingo, sadly its only a matter of time before this classic lady meets her end!

Photos Uncovered From the 1969 Crash Landing of L1649A N7311C - October 2004

Helge Huber has forwarded additional photos of L1649A N7311C, taken shortly after the aircraft crashed near Colchane, Chile in March 1969. Helge photographed a wall display at a Chilean police station, which accounts for the quality of these fascinating photographs. An English translation of the text from the display - "The undersigned certifies having been in the locality of Colchane, in January (should be March) 1969, a few days after this air accident. The aircraft of US registry was a Lockheed Constellation cargo version and made a forced landing in which there were no fatalities and the aircraft lost all its cargo of Scotch whiskey and American cigarettes in the accident. The insurance company is set up at the site to rescue pieces and parts that are able to be reused." For many years it was rumored that this aircraft survived intact but Helge's April 2004 photo of the remains put an end to the rumor (see May 2004 news item below). Many thanks to Helge for the photos and to Stef Bailis for providing the translation.

Good News From Polk City, Florida - October 2004

I spoke to Maurice Roundy recently and he confirmed that L1649A N974R, on display at Kermit Week's Fantasy of Flight Museum in Polk City, Florida, survived the three recent hurricanes unscathed. Helge Huber's September 20th photo shows an undamaged aircraft but this was prior to Hurricane Jeanne so I was relieved by Maurice's positive report. Maurice stripped the aircraft of all paint last fall and the old girl currently sports a partial Lufthansa color scheme in Helge's September 20th photo.

Lake Tahoe Connie Crash Site “Rediscovered” - September 2004

Forty years after crashing into a mountain on the California-Nevada border, all that is left of Paradise Airlines flight 901A is a few bits of sheet metal. L049 Constellation N86504 was on a flight from San Jose to the Lake Tahoe Airport on March 1, 1964 when it crashed into the mountainside during a snowstorm killing all 85 on board. The aircraft had attempted a visual approach into Lake Tahoe during a snowstorm and crashed while executing a missed approach. Reno enthusiast Chuck Ross has been searching for the wreckage on and off since the 1970’s and recently found it with the help of a friend who lived near the site. The crash site is about ten miles northeast of the Lake Tahoe Airport at an elevation 8,675 feet. As a result of the crash, Paradise Airlines was grounded by the FAA. Addition information about the crash can be found on the Aviation Safety Network website: ASN Website-L049 N86504

Toronto's Super Connie For Sale - July 2004

L1049G CF-RNR was advertised for sale July 21, 2004 on ebay for $200,000. The notice says that the aircraft must be moved from its current location at Toronto's Pearson International Airport by August 15, 2004. It had been moved to the airport in 1998 for use as a cocktail lounge but the food and service were never quite up to par and the venture failed. Hopefully this airplane will find a home and not be cut into scrap and hauled away.

Dutch Aviodrome Connie Makes First Test Flight - July 2004

The Dutch Aviodrome's beautiful Connie made her first flight in almost two years sporting a 1940's era KLM color scheme and four new Hamilton Standard props. The beautifully restored classic airliner made two successful test flights on Friday July 2, 2004. My first encounter with N749NL was at Avra Valley Airport near Tucson, Arizona in March 1997. At that time, she was in sad shape with a stripped out interior, missing props and a missing #3 engine. Congratulations to all of the Aviodrome volunteers for their achievement in transforming this "ugly duckling" into a beautiful swan. I've included a "before" picture for comparison!
L749A N749NL March 14, 1997 L749A N749NL July 2, 2004 L749A N749NL July 2, 2004
Read more about this exciting first flight on Ruud Leeuw's website: First Testflight by N749NL in Full KLM Livery
More pictures of N749NL on Willem Honders' website: Constellation Photo Gallery

The Remains of Two Constellations "Discovered" in Chile - May 2004

The fates of two Constellations have come to light this month. Rob Jennings traveled to Arica, Chile and tracked down the remains of L749A N6011C (c/n 2647) in a local scrap yard. You can read the fascinating account of this trip in his article Chacalutta Connie - A Good Girl Gone Bad
Starliner N7311C made an emergency landing at a small airfield near Colchane, Chile in March 1969 after a double engine failure. Reports and rumors over the years suggested that it remained essentially intact at the airfield in this very remote part of the world. While remote, Colchane is on a very popular cycling route and Helge Huber tracked down the remains of N7311C and forwarded a photograph. As can be seen from the photo, she has been picked clean and not much remains. Many thanks to Rob and Helge for closing the books on these two aircraft.

"Camarillo Connie" becomes "Breitling Super Connie" and Departs Camarillo, California for Europe - April 2004

At 9:54am on Monday April 26, 2004, the “Camarillo Connie” N73544, lifted off from Camarillo’s 6,000 foot runway for perhaps the last time. Piloted by Francisco Agullo and Pat Farrell, she was headed to a new life as a star attraction on the European airshow circuit. After making a low pass of the airport, she climbed to 10,000 feet and headed east for Omaha, Nebraska by way of Tucson and El Paso.

Owned by Benny Younesi, the aircraft has been a part of the west coast airshow circuit since June 1994 after being restored by a group calling itself the Constellation Historical Society (CHS). Formed by Benny in 1992 and consisting of volunteer workers, the CHS worked a miracle and brougt the old girl back to life. Francisco Agullo formed the Swiss based Super Constellation Flyers Association (SCFA) in June 2000. The group’s goal was to bring a Constellation back to Europe and fly it on the European airshow circuit. The wildly successful MATS Connie tour of 1998 had proven the concept and the group set out to find a suitable aircraft. After a false start with Super Connie N105CF, the SCFA reached agreement with Benny on December 17, 2003 to lease/purchase the “Camarillo Connie”. The agreement calls for joint operation by CHS and SCFA for five years after which the SCFA will purchase the aircraft.

After departing Camarillo on Monday, the aircraft briefly circled overhead Avra Valley near Tucson to allow the group to pay its respects to N105CF, which awaits an uncertain future. After a 7 hour and 45 minute flight, the contingent arrived safely at Omaha, Nebraska for an overnight stop. The plan was to depart Omaha the next morning for Manchester, New Hampshire but the flight was
C-121G N105CF April 23, 2004 C-121C N73544 April 26, 2004 C-121C N73544 April 28, 2004
delayed until Wednesday morning due to weather and a prediction of icing along the route. At 9:00am Wednesday morning, engines were started and the aircraft departed for Manchester where it safely arrived 5 hours and 40 minutes later. The route of flight included Chicago and Cleveland with a sightseeing excursion over Niagara Falls at 3,500 feet!

After a night's stay, the group departed Manchester on Thursday morning at 11:45am for the 3 hour 30 minute flight to Stephenville, Newfoundland. The Connie made another slight sightseeing diversion when it circled the Auburn-Lewiston Airport in Maine where two of Maurice Roundy’s L1649A Starliners are stored. They arrived safely in Stephenville after a very scenic tour
C-121C N73544 May 1, 2004 C-121C N73544 April 29, 2004 C-121C N73544 May 1, 2004
over the wilds of Maine and the passengers headed to the hotel. The flight crew then got back in the air to allow a Swiss film team to capture some takeoffs and landings. The crew had more excitement than they bargained for when the nosegear refused to extend properly. The problem was worked out and a safe landing was made, much to the relief of all concerned.

On Friday morning, the problem was traced to a defective hydraulic actuator seal. A fixture to jack up nose was fabricated, the seal quickly replaced and a successful test flight was performed on Saturday. Due to weather concerns, it was decided to skip the Keflavik stop and head directly for Prestwick, Scotland. Early Sunday morning, loaded to its maximum gross weight with passengers and fuel, the old girl took off and headed east, arriving at Prestwick, Scotland at 6:45pm, local time. With the dangerous North
C-121C N73544 May 2, 2004 C-121C N73544 May 2, 2004
C-121C N73544 May 2, 2004 C-121C N73544 May 2, 2004
Atlantic crossing behind them, the crew and passengers had time to relax for a day or so before continuing on to Paris-LeBourget and then on their final destination of Basel-Mulhouse Airport. Due to less than favorable weather conditions, the flight to LeBourget was delayed for a few days until Thursday May 6th. The time at Prestwick was well spent performing routine maintenance, tidying up the cabin and welcoming over 250 visitors.

On Thursday morning, the contingent departed Prestwick for Paris-LeBourget. Weather conditions were not ideal and the departure was made 90 minutes early, at 9:30am, to avoid afternoon thunderstorms forecast for Paris. After a 2 hour 45 minute flight, the aircraft landed safely at LeBourget and was greeted by hundreds of well wishers and a water cannon salute by the airport fire
C-121C N73544 May 2, 2004 C-121C N73544 May 2, 2004 C-121C N73544 May 2, 2004
brigade before receiving an official welcome at the Musee de l'Air. After almost two days of showing off the airplane to special guests and sponsors, it was time to make the final leg of the journey. Saturday morning's weather was not the best with a cold rain but at 10:00am the old girl lifted off the runway and quickly disappeared quickly into the low clouds.

On Saturday May 8, 2004 at 11:30am local time, N73544 landed safely at Basel-Mulhouse Airport in Switzerland where she and her crew were welcomed by a very enthusiastic group of over 1,000 well wishers and enthusiasts. As with LeBourget, a water cannon salute was performed by the airport fire brigade. After the aircraft came to a stop, the doors opened and the flight crew emerged
C-121C N73544 May 2, 2004 C-121C N73544 May 2, 2004 C-121C N73544 May 2, 2004
C-121C N73544 May 2, 2004 C-121C N73544 May 2, 2004 C-121C N73544 May 2, 2004
and a few short speeches were made prior to the aircraft being opened for tours. The journey was over and, after almost four years, Francisco and the SCFA had accomplished their goal of bringing a flying Super Constellation to Europe. My congratulations to all those involved in this project for a job well done! For additional details about this flight, log on to the SCFA website at:

Mystery Connies Sighted in Montana - March 2004

I'm looking for some help on this one! My friend Jim was on a fishing trip in Montana in July 2002 when he saw a freight train with two Constellation fuselages loaded on flatbed cars. Normally I don't give such sightings much credence, but Jim is an airplane aficionado so I consider him a credible source. The sighting was made on July 17, 2002 at St. Regis, Montana with the fuselages loaded on a Montana Rail Link freight train heading west. Anyone have an idea on this one? If so, please email me with your theory.

Facelift for Starliner N974R - February 2004

The frigid New England weather makes it impossible for Maurice Roundy to work on his two Auburn, Maine based Starliners in the winter so Maurice migrated south this year. His third Starliner, N974R is currently on display at Kermit Week's Fantasy of Flight Museum in Polk, Florida where it arrived on October 19, 2001 after a half-hour ferry flight from nearby Sanford, Florida. The
L1649A N974R February2004 L1649A N974R April 2004 L1649A N974R May 7, 2004
paint job that Maurice had applied prior to the ferry flight was looking a little worn so he decided to give the old girl a facelift. Using a high pressure washer, he removed many old layers of paint, revealing a number of paint schemes the aircraft had worn during the past forty-five years. A local paint distributor donated the needed paint and Maurice plans on painting the aircraft in the very attractive Lufthansa colors it has worn since 2001.

A New Home for South Africa's Starliner - February 2004

The South African Airways Museum Society's Starliner ZS-DVJ was repainted in basic Trek Airways colors by South African Airways in February of this year. A longtime resident of Jan Smuts International Airport, Johannesburg, South Africa, the aircraft will be moved, by road, to the museum's new facility at Rand Airport, Germiston, South Africa. There she will be displayed alongside B747-244, ZS-SAN, which was recently donated to the museum by South African Airways. While no longer airworthy, this aircraft has been beautifully restored, both inside and out, and will surely be admired by propliner enthusiasts for many years to come.

AMC Museum's Super Connie Moves Indoors - January 2004

The AMC Museum’s Super Connie N1005C was recently moved into a hangar for the first time in almost forty years. Reassembled by Worldwide Aircraft Recovery in July 2003, the next step was to get the airplane out of the weather so museum volunteers could begin working their magic. Work has already begun in the cabin and cockpit and the volunteers plan on turning their attention next to the rear of the fuselage where the door was crudely enlarged during conversion to a cocktail lounge in 1967. A rear cargo door, salvaged from NC-121K BuN 141292, will replace the current gapping hole. Mike Leister, the museum’s director, estimates the restoration will take about three years to complete.

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----Created 4 April 2007----