Auction of Chacalutta Connie

Auction of The Chacalutta Connie

January 2006

by Steven Raczynski

Fuselage of N6011C at ITACA Yard in Arica, Chile, 1999

ex-TWA L749A N6011C was one of those aircraft that, for many years, just seemed to have faded into oblivion. It landed at Chaculutta Airport in Arica, Chile on November 11, 1969 after having engine problems on a flight from Panama to Paraguay with a cargo of color TV’s and radios. Not much was written about the aircraft until Jaime P. Gomez wrote a short piece in the January/February 1997 issue of Airliners Magazine saying that the aircraft had been sold as scrap and the remains stored at a metal recycling center in Arica. Mr. Gomez also included photos of the fuselage and engines, which sparked my interest in finding out what had happened to the aircraft. I was unsuccessful in my attempts to contact Mr. Gomez and it wasn’t until Rob Jennings entered the picture in May 2004 that additional information about the fate of this aircraft became known to me. Rob traveled to Arica and tracked down what was left of the aircraft at the ITACA Metal Works Company. While the fuselage had been scrapped, many recognizable components, such as the main landing gear, lower nose section including landing gear, and radar remained. Rob documented his visit with an article that appeared on this website.

In October 2005 I received an email from Steven Raczynski who was preparing a monograph on South American Constellations and DC-6's. Steven, who lives in Argentina, sent me a copy of the monograph in November and I was immediately fascinated by the photos and detail it included. One problem was that it was written in Spanish but, with the help of the “Google” translator tool and some helpful friends, I had the article translated to English by January 2006. This monograph and two others form a trilogy of DC-6 and Constellation monographs. The following is a translation of the article included in the monograph.


Big Sale at Customs in Arica - February 1974

The auction will take place on 13 March 1974 at 0900 in the Rezagos Warehouse. The aircraft may be inspected from 4 March to 12 March from 0900 to 1200 and from 1500 to 1800, except Saturday and Sunday. Merchandise to be auctioned: A four-engine Super Constellation Model C with a weight of approximately 107,000 pounds gross and 63,000 pounds empty. The aircraft has the United States registration N6011C. It has an aluminum structure adapted for cargo.

By chance another Connie finished its days in Chile. The model L749A Constellation registered N6011C had its days of glory flying for TWA as Fleet Number 811, the "Star of Missouri" (c/n 2647) but had been converted to a freighter in its later days. During its last flight from Panama to Paraguay on 11 November 1969, with a crew of three and a cargo of televisions and radios on board, the aircraft began to have problems with an engine and the crew decided to land at Lima, Peru for repairs. The crew consisted of captain J. Conversano, first officer A. Grasso, and flight engineer J. Helan. They continued to Arica where, before crossing the mountains, they realized they had another technical problem. The engine was not running well but the crew decided to continue with the flight. After half an hour, the engine problem got worse and the crew asked for authorization to return and for an emergency landing at Chaculluta Airport in Arica where the aircraft landed without incident.

After an exhaustive investigation, they verified that a major repair was required and it was more economical to bring another aircraft in from Miami. Once this aircraft arrived, the load was transferred and the trip to Asuncion completed. In a meeting with the Aeronautica Civil (JAC), the owners promised to repair the damaged Connie. This promise was never fulfilled. During the following years the airport authority periodically worked on the engines but the abandoned aircraft slowly deteriorated and slowly equipment was removed from the aircraft. In late 1972 the DGAC along with the Customs authorities realized that the chances of recovering parking fees owed by the owners of abandoned aircraft in Chilean airports seemed hopeless. The aircraft was auctioned on May 13, 1974 for $7,500 (A bargain in those times as we remember that in those days the value of the currency was devaluated (1974). Its buyer was Antonio Dekovic, owner of the ITACA Metal Works Company, located on the Avenue Santa Maria in Arica. He bought it expressly to make a good business deal but he never had good offers for the whole airplane. Finally in 1996 the four engines were sold to a North American collector for $18,000. Today, there is nothing left of the green Connie.

Steven Raczynski
January 2006

Photo Credits: Claudio Caceres, Rob Jennings. Peter J. Marson Collection


Editor's Note: I would very much like to thank Steven for allowing me to share this article on my website. Of interest, it is reported that the engines salvages from N6011C were eventually sold to the Dutch Aviodrome Museum so in a sense, part of N6011C lives on. Anyone interested in purchasing the “trilogy” can do so via the SouthAmerican Commercial Airliner News website.
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----Created 28 January 2006----