Resurrection of Auburn Starliner Complete – September 19, 2018
As reported on this website on June 25, 2018, Roger Jarman of Atlantic Models teamed with Carlos Gomez to resurrect L1649A N8083H. When Carlos and his small team arrived in Auburn, Maine on Memorial Day, the aircraft was essentially a stripped hulk, which had been used as a source of spare parts for Lufthansa’s ill-fated restoration of L1649A N7316C. Three and a half months later, an amazing transformation of the aircraft’s exterior and cockpit had been completed. Painted in vintage 1950’s TWA colors, the aircraft looked like it was ready to board passengers! While Carlos concentrated on reassembling the aircraft in Auburn, replica propellers, new passenger and cockpit windows and other needed parts were fabricated by Atlantic Models in Miami. The aircraft will be used as a cocktail lounge at the hotel currently under construction adjacent to the iconic TWA passenger terminal at JFK. After inspection and acceptance by hotel developer MCR on September 12th, the aircraft was turned over to Marty Batura and his crew from Worldwide Aircraft Recovery. The Worldwide team will disassemble and transport the aircraft to JFK Airport, where it will be reassembled and fitted with a cocktail lounge interior. The aircraft is scheduled to arrive at JFK in October 2018, with reassembly completed the following month. Congrats to Carlos and Roger for an outstanding job resurrecting this iconic aircraft and to MCR for having the vision to make the aircraft part of its hotel project. I’ve included a “before” and “after” photos of the aircraft…what a stunning transformation!
SAA Museum Starliner Back on Her Feet – September 18, 2018
The South African Airways Museum successfully completed a major milestone on September 14, 2018 when landing gear were installed on Starliner ZS-DVJ at Rand Airport. A few days later on September 17th the aircraft was towed onto museum grounds at the airport, where the restoration of this magnificent aircraft will continue. Many thanks to John Austin-Williams for providing photos of the event.
For more information and photos about this exciting project, check out the museum’s website.
CNN Features Qantas Founders Museum Restoration Project – September 10, 2018
Media giant CNN featured an article in the September 3, 2018 edition of their CNN Travel website. Nice to see that occasionally CNN gets a story right
August 2018 California-Arizona Constellation Photos - September 9, 2018
During my August 2018 trip to central California and Arizona I photographed five Constellations that were on display at various museums. Unfortunately there currently are no active aircraft operating in either state but, for the time being, at least these five have been saved from the scrapman.
L049 N90831 – on display at the Pima Air & Space Museum
EC-121T 53-554 – on display at the Pima Air & Space Museum
VC-121A 48-614 – on display at the Pima Air & Space Museum
EC-121T 52-3417 – on display at the Castle Air Museum
EC-121K BuNo 141309 – on display at the Aerospace Museum of California in USAF colors as 03-0552
During the mid-1990's Arizona had a population of at least eleven Constellations and Super Constellations, with all but three now having been scrapped or moved to other locations for restoration or display. Here's a brief summary of those eight departed aircraft, all of which were former military aircraft.
VC-121B 48-608/N608AS - Scrapped at Ryan Field in January 2002.
VC-121A 48-609/N494TW - MATS Connie on airshow circuit from 1992 to 2004. Flown from Tucson to Korea in April 2005. Currently on display at Jeju Island in Air Korea colors.
VC-121A 48-610/N9463 - Acquired by Dynamic Aviation in May 2015 and flown from Tucson to Bridgewater, VA in March 2016. Currently undergoing restoration as Dwight Eisenhower’s presidential airplane Columbine II.
VC-121A 48-612/N749NL - Restored by the Dutch Aviodrome in 2001-02 and flown from Tucson to Amsterdam in September 2002. Currently on static display at the Dutch Aviodrome in 1950s era KLM colors.
VC121A 48-613/N422NA - Acquired by Lewis Air Legends in April 2015 and ferried from Valle to Chino, CA in January 2016. Currently undergoing restoration as General Douglas MacArthur’s Korean era aircraft Bataan.
C-121G 54-4062/N105CF - Stripped hulk acquired by Dynamic Aviation in October 2015. Disassembled in March 2016 and transported to Bridgewater, VA shortly thereafter. Currently stored in Bridgewater.
EC-121T 53-535/N51006 - Scrapped at the Pima Air & Space Museum in August 2011 after being stripped of parts by the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS). Forward fuselage section saved and later acquired by Dynamic Aviation in February 2017. Moved to Bridgewater, VA in April 2017 and currently stored there.
C-121C 54-157/VH-EAG - Restored by the HARS in 1992-95 and flown from Tucson to Australia January 24-February 3, 1996. Active on the Australian airshow circuit and currently the only airworthy Constellation.
New Constellation Book Published – September 6, 2018
I recently received a copy of Wolfgang Borgmann’s latest book Lockheed Constellation: Königin der Lüfte, which was published in April 2018 by German publisher Motorbuch Verlag. While the 176 page book is written in German, I believe it would be of interest to many of this website’s readers. The hardcover book is profusely illustrated and organized in a logical manner with chapters covering the origins of the design; early development; the various models produced; Lufthansa operations; other major operators; military service; Lufthansa’s Super Star/Starliner restoration project; surviving aircraft; and competing airliner designs. While I cannot read German, this book is a worthwhile and welcome addition my aviation library. It's currently available for about $34/€30 on various regional Amazon sites including amazon.com, amazon.fr, amazon.jp and amazon.de. The book can also be ordered directly from the publisher on their website www.motorbuch.de
Restoration of VC-121A Bataan Continues in Chino – September 4, 2018
Ron Vader visited Chino Airport on September 3rd and reports that the restoration of VC-121A 48-613 Bataan Bataan continues at the Fighter Rebuilders facility. The aircraft is owned by Rod Lewis (Lewis Air Legends) and the current plan is to have the restoration completed in a couple of years. VC-121A 48-610 Columbine II is undergoing similar restoration at Dynamic Aviation in Bridgewater, Virginia and the prospect of having two airworthy VC-121A’s is very exciting, to say the least. Many thanks to Ron for sharing his report and photos.
South African Airways Museum Marries Starliner Fuselage to Wing Assembly – August 18, 2018
The fuselage and wing assembly of Starliner ZS-DVJ were successfully joined at Rand Airport on August 8, 2018. This marks a significant milestone in the restoration of this aircraft by the South African Airways Museum and hopefully she will be back on her legs in the very near future. For more information and photos about this exciting project, check out the museum’s website.
Qantas Founders Museum Releases Video – August 7, 2018
The Qantas Founders Museum recently released a short video on Facebook showing the rescue, transport and restoration of their Super Connie. For more information about this exciting restoration, check out the QFM website.
VC-121A Columbine II Restoration Update - July 24, 2018
In light of the recent depressing news regarding Lufthansa's decision to abandon its Starliner restoration project, my July 13, 2018 visit to Dynamic Aviation in Bridgewater, Virginia restored my confidence in the likelihood of another Constellation taking to the air in the not too distant future. Dynamic Aviation founder Karl Stoltzfus is spearheading the effort to restore Dwight D. Eisenhower's first presidential aircraft, Columbine II 48-610. I have been following and writing about this historic aircraft for more than twenty years and, for the past three years, Karl has been gracious enough to allow me to make an annual July pilgrimage to Bridgewater to check on the old girl.
After signing in with the receptionist, Karl and his assistant Sarah Hedrick greeted me and we headed off to the restoration hangar with a brief stop at a hangar where C-47A Miss Virginia was in the final stages of a facelift in preparation for her upcoming visit to AirVenture 2018. Both the interior and exterior of the aircraft were receiving attention, with original wingtips being installed; a new floor being installed; the cockpit being updated and a new passenger interior being installed. The new interior is being reconfigured to include ten leather coach style seats; five VIP seats; and a four place couch.
We continued on to Hangar D, where Columbine II is being restored. The airplane shares the hangar with a number of paying customer’s aircraft and its outer wings have been removed to maximize hangar space usage. We were met by Brad Holliday, who is supervising the restoration effort and Karl gave me a 30 minute overview of the project. Karl believes the restoration is about three years from completion, but he emphasized that three years is only an estimate. Although the aircraft had been parked in the desert since 1968 and had almost no corrosion, it was in need of much work to bring it back to its former glory.
Any doubt I might have had about Karl’s commitment to restore this historic aircraft was quickly allayed as there were about a dozen employees working on the project. Most were interns that were working on the myriad of sheet metal cowlings, leading edges, panels, etc. These parts are cleaned, inspected, repaired as necessary and then polished on a makeshift assembly line that has been set up in the hangar. Fittings and fasteners on these items are also replaced and the parts look almost new when finished. The wings have been the focus of attention with employees cleaning wing interiors of accumulated baked-on grease, grime and hydraulic fluid. After a section of wing has been completely cleaned, it is painted. The Constellation utilizes “wet wing” fuel tanks and the decades-old sealant needed replacement. After the old sealant is removed, new sealant is applied thus assuring leak-free gas tanks. In addition, many of the flap and control surface bearings and fittings needed replacement and the decision was made to replace all of the hardware.
Karl is taking a novel approach to polishing the aircraft. He has decided that there will be no corroded fuselage or wing screws or bolts when the restoration is complete. Corroded hardware is removed one area at a time, the sheet metal cleaned and polished and then new hardware installed. When this process is complete, the entire fuselage and wing will be given a final polish. Lots of extra work but the final product will be stunning.
In addition to the “cosmetic” tasks, work began six months ago on what Karl calls “technical” tasks where skilled mechanics and technicians are required. While desert storage is great for the “hard” parts, it plays havoc with the “soft” parts such as hoses, seals, wiring, etc. After careful inspection of the aircraft wiring, it was found that much of it was in poor condition and the decision was made to rewire the aircraft. Karl described his "backward engineering" philosophy that has served him well over the years. Before beginning cosmetic restoration of the interior, all of the wiring and other “mechanical” tasks will be completed. This assures that the restored interior isn’t damaged during these operations. The day of my visit, a retired US Navy master chief and another tech were busy working on rewiring the flight engineer panels. Working one area at a time, they assured me they will be complete in time for the first flight!
Karl said that it was very fortunate that two VC-121A restoration projects are happening at the same time. Rod Lewis’ VC-121A 48-613 Bataan is being restored in Chino, California by Steve Hinton’s Fighter Rebuilders. The two companies have a great working relationship and have helped each other on numerous occasions. They shared serviceable engines and props for their respective flights in 2015 and, without this cooperation, neither flight would have happened. Karl’s goal is to eventually build a display hangar for the Constellation, C-47A and the rest of his collection including a PT-17, T-6G and Beech 18. The collection will also include a 1929 Travel Air that was his father's first aircraft that he bought in 1944. Karl said it would never fly again since he didn't want to risk losing it.
I’d like to thank Karl, Sarah and Brad for taking the time out of their busy schedules to make my visit worthwhile and informative. I’d also like to thank Karl for caring enough to step up and save this historic aircraft. There are very few folks with both the resources and the sense of duty and, if not for him, Columbine II could very well have been scrapped and lost forever. To this day, it amazes me that the National Museum of the USAF was not interested in acquiring the aircraft and it remains the only primary presidential aircraft not in a museum.
South African Airways Museum Starliner Reassembly Update – July 23, 2018
Nine months after arriving at Rand Airport, the two wing sections of Starliner ZS-DVJ were reunited on July 10, 2018. Reassembly of the wing proved to be a formidable and frustrating task for team lead Matt Harvey and his small team of volunteers. Working at best once a week in sometimes harsh conditions, the delicate task involved stabilizing one wing half and gradually moving the other half into position at the correct angle. Acquisition of a second-hand gantry with two 5-ton blocks and tackles in late May gave the team the tool they needed to successfully complete the task. Manny Ceh reports they were ready to mate the wing to the fuselage on July 22nd when the crane was called away for another task. If all goes to plan, the Starliner will be standing on her landing gear in the next month or two! Kudos to Matt and his dedicated band of volunteers for their perseverance and dedication in seeing this project to completion. For additional information about the project, check out the museum’s website.
November 1952 Photo of Columbine II – July 22, 2018
Maria Minster recently forwarded a photo of Columbine II that she said was taken in Korea in late 1952. I checked with Peter J. Marson and sure enough, Columbine II 48-610 was used by President Dwight D. Eisenhower for a Far East trip in November 1952. It’s interesting to note that, while the aircraft name had been applied to the nose, the familiar yellow Columbine flower had not. This is probably the result of the aircraft having only been assigned to the president shortly before the Korean trip was undertaken. After being converted to a VC-121A in late 1949, the aircraft was assigned to the 1254 ATS (Special Missions) at Washington National Airport in February 1950. Prior to Eisenhower’s November trip, the aircraft had been used primarily by the Secretary of the Air Force. Many thanks to Maria for forwarding this very interesting photo.
Qantas Founders Museum Completes External Restoration of Super Connie – July 21, 2018
The Qantas Founders Museum completed the external restoration of Super Constellation C-121J N4247K in early July. The aircraft was painted to represent L1049H VH-EAM Southern Spray. VH-EAM was the first H model Super Constellation produced and Qantas operated the aircraft for only six years between 1956 to 1962. After being retired by Qantas, VH-EAM was sold in the U.S., where it was registered N7776C. It flew for a number of operators, including Alaska Airlines, before being scrapped in the early 1970’s. I photographed the former Qantas airliner at Fort Lauderdale Airport on Easter Sunday 1972, a few months before it was flown to Columbus, Ohio and scrapped.
According to the museum's website, the next phase of the project involve the restoration of the interior and creation of a display, which the museum hopes to have completed by the Qantas Centenary in 2020. For more information about the project, check out the QFM website.
Qantas Founders Museum Super Connie Gets Qantas Titles – July 3, 2018
The exterior restoration of Super Constellation C-121J N4247K is nearing completion and on July 1st QFM volunteers added Qantas titles to the aircraft. The airplane looks spectacular and a far cry from what it looked like when it arrived in Longreach a year ago on
May 24, 2017. Volunteers can now turn their attention to completing the detail markings and replacing the circular windows with rectangular ones. The aircraft is a former U.S. Navy R7V-1/C-121J aircraft and has circular windows rather than the rectangular windows found on civilian Super Constellations and U.S.A.F. C-121C's. Kudos to the museum for their amazing effort in the restoration of this once near derelict aircraft!
Recent Photos of Lufthansa’s Starliner – June 29, 2018
I recently received these photos of Starliner N7316C after the wing had been removed from the fuselage. The wing has obviously been spit in half and, while doing so doesn’t preclude the possibility of the aircraft being restored to an airworthy condition, it makes that task significantly more complicated.
SCFA Super Connie Remains Grounded for 2018 Season – June 26,2018
The Super Constellation Flyers Association recently announced on their website that repairs to their Super Connie HB-RSC would not be completed in time for the Summer 2018 airshow season. While this is no doubt disappointing to the organization and its members, completion of these much needed repairs should allow the aircraft to remain airworthy for many years to come. My hat’s off to the SCFA for their perseverance in their efforts to keep this airplane flying. If only the CEO of Lufthansa had the same spirit and insight, there would have been three flying Constellations in the not too distant future!
Auburn-Lewiston Airport Update - June 25, 2018
I visited Auburn-Lewiston Airport (LEW) in Maine on June 21st and 22nd to check on the restoration/reassembly of L1649A N8083H and on the ill-fated restoration of Lufthansa’s L1649A N7316C. The Lufthansa Technik (LHT) hangar door was open and I can confirm that the wing has been removed from the fuselage and both were inside the hangar. I spoke to some LHT employees and was told that the fuselage and wing will be stored in the hangar and not outside until they are shipped to Germany some time in 2019. LHT and contractor employees were busy packing a multitude of parts for shipment to Germany and disposing of what is no longer required. Some of the surplus material is being used for the restoration of N8083H. Employees working on the project in Auburn, including senior LHT staff, had no idea that the program was being canceled until they were called into a meeting where the bad news was delivered by LHT managers from Germany. At that time, the front landing gear had been installed; the engine nacelles installed; leading edge plumbing installed; wiring had begun and the main landing gear were scheduled to be installed in the very near future. System testing was expected to begin in the next 12 months with first flight shortly thereafter. The employees I spoke to showed little anger towards Lufthansa but all seemed very disappointed that the project wasn’t taken to completion and had pained looks on their faces while talking about the decision.
The situation with the restoration of N8083H was much more upbeat. Atlantic Models has teamed with Propliner “guru” Carlos Gomez to reassemble and restore the aircraft, which had been parked outside the LHT hangar and used as a parts source for the restoration of N7316C. Early on, Carlos shipped a considerable number of nacelles and sheet metal components to Miami, where they were repaired prior to actual work beginning on the airplane. Carlos and three sheet metal specialists arrived in Maine shortly after Memorial Day and have made tremendous progress in reassembling the aircraft. The empennage has been almost completely reassembled; the leading edges and engine nacelles repaired and installed; landing gear doors repaired and installed; and the nose radome repaired and installed. Reassembling the airplane is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Parts had to be located, identified, conditions evaluated; and repaired as necessary. These parts had been considered surplus to LHTs restoration effort so LHT made little effort to inventory them and most were stored in unheated storage containers around the hangar. With considerable effort on the part of Carlos and his team, most of the parts necessary to reassemble N8083H were found with the plan to have Atlantic Models fabricate fiberglass replicas of the remaining parts. Atlantic Models is also fabricating replica propellers and spinners. The cockpit was almost completely stripped of instrument panels and instruments along with control yokes and crew seats. Yokes and seats have been acquired and panels will be restored and instruments installed. Once the exterior sheet metal work is complete, the aircraft’s exterior will be cleaned, primed and painted in a 1950’s era airline color scheme that I’m not at liberty to divulge, but I’m sure most readers are aware of. I’m also not at liberty to divulge what happens to the airplane next but again, I’m sure most readers are well aware of why the airplane is being reassembled and restored. The weather gods totally cooperated during my visit and I’d like to thank Carlos and his team for their hospitality.
Qantas Founders Museum Super Connie Back on Her Legs – June 19,2018
May 25, 2018 was a big day for the Qantas Founders Museum when Super Constellation N4247K was back on her legs again for the first time since being rescued from Manila Airport in 2015. Check out the museum’s website for a comprehensive project overview from inception including 300+ photos. In addition, the website also has a detailed article on recent progress. For those who prefer Facebook, check out the museum's page
Wings Installed on Qantas Founders Museum Super Connie – May 13,2018
Work continues at the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach on the reassembly and restoration of Super Constellation N4247K. The wings were attached during the week of May 7th and it won’t be too long until the old girl is back on her feet again. Pete from Picton visited the museum on May 13th and forwarded some photos, which I have included with a May 11th museum photo. Kudo’s to the museum for rescuing the aircraft from the scrapman in Manila and making her whole again. Thanks much to Pete for sharing his photos.
Lufthansa Responds to On-line Petition – May 2, 2018
As of today, the Fly-Connie-Fly on-line petition has over 7,600 signatures. Many thanks to all those who have taken the time to sign the petition. Last week Andreas Bartels, Lufthansa’s Head of Communications, sent the following email in response to the petition.
Dear Petition Organizers,
Thank you for your Email and the 7,200 signatures.
Your support and excitement for our Starliner Project is well appreciated. We will for sure not “kill it”.
The aircraft is supposed to be shipped to Germany as the next step of the project will take place at Lufthansa’s home base.
With best regards,
Head of Communications
Mr. Bartels doesn’t specify whether what the “next step” of the project will be. Will the aircraft be reassembled for static display or will it be made airworthy? Also, what “home base” is he referring to…Lufthansa Technik or Lufthansa corporate? I guess only time will tell.
Restoration Continues on Qantas Founders Museum Super Connie – April 27, 2018
As reported on February 19th, work is underway on the restoration of N4247K at the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach, Australia. The museum released a couple of photos of the aircraft painted in basic Qantas colors. The first was taken on March 20th and the second on April 21st. It appears in April 21st photo that the museum might be close to reattaching the wings.
”Pirate Airplane” Soldiers on in Santa Cruz, Bolivia – April 27,2018
Sandro Rota recently visited Santa Cruz, Bolivia and photographed veteran Constellation N2520B that locals have named “Avion Pirata” which translates to “Pirate Airplane.” The aircraft was forced to land at Santa Cruz in July 1961, while reportedly on a smuggling flight from Miami to Uruguay with cigarettes and whiskey. It was stored at the airport until the early 1970s when it was moved to a children’s park at Parque Boris Banzer. By 1979 it was in use as a library and later painted in Pepsi colors. The Pepsi colors were removed by 2000, when the aircraft was painted silver with a teal accent stripe and white top. Purchased by AeroSur in early 2003, the aircraft was painted in that airline’s colors. By 2015 it had been painted overall silver. The good news is that the aircraft looks to be in relatively good condition and hasn’t been the target of vandals and graffiti artists. Many thanks to Sandro for sharing his photos.
Disassembly of Lufthansa Starliner Begins in Auburn – April 16, 2018
I received a report this morning that disassembly of N7316C has begun in Auburn. I guess the April 24th executive board meeting will just be the rubber stamping a decision already made by Lufthansa leadership. The empennage has already been removed as has the wing leading edge. The engine fairings will be next in preparation for the removal of the wing next month. Sad to say but the dream of an airworthy L1649A/Starliner is over. As of today, the Fly-Connie-Fly petition has over 7,000 signatures! Thanks to everyone who signed the petition and sent letters and emails to Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr and Supervisory Board Head Karl-Ludwig Kley.
As I’ve previously stated, separating the wing from the fuselage and then moving both to Germany without damaging either will not be an easy task. Reassembling them in Germany and then getting the aircraft certified for flight will present a unique and even more challenging technical and bureaucratic hurdle for Lufthansa. After pulling the plug on the restoration in Maine, I find it highly unlikely that the airline would be willing to undertake the substantial financial and technical challenges of making the aircraft airworthy. Above are some 1950’s era Lockheed production photos of the wing and fuselage assemblies.
Lufthansa Board Meets on April 24th to Decide Fate of Super Star/Starliner Project – April 8, 2018
As previously reported on this website in March, Lufthansa executive management has decided to shut down the Super Star restoration project in Auburn, Maine and move the aircraft to Germany. The executive board meets on April 24th to make its final decision on the project. Having come so far with this project, it makes little sense to shut it down so close to completion. As I’ve stated before, I believe that once the wing and fuselage are separated, there is little chance that the aircraft will ever fly again.
If you haven’t signed the Fly-Connie-Fly petition, please join the 6,400 who have signed to date. Also email Lufthansa’s CEO Carsten Spohr Carsten.Spohr@dlh.de and the Head of Lufthansa’s
Supervisory Board Karl-Ludwig Kley Karl-Ludwig.firstname.lastname@example.org and politely implore them to reconsider the executive board’s decision before it’s too late. If we do something now, we have a chance to change the decision….if we do nothing, the airplane will be disassembled and moved to Germany.
On-line Petition to Lufthansa Executive Management – March 19, 2018
The on-line petition Fly-Connie-Fly has been created in an effort to reverse the recent decision by Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr and Chairman of Lufthansa’s Supervisory Board Karl-Ludwig Kley to shut down the Super Star restoration project in Auburn, Maine. As reported in the Auburn-Lewiston Sun Journal on March 15th, the company plans on removing the 150 foot wing and shipping the aircraft to Germany for completion of the restoration.
Separating the wing from the fuselage and shipping the project to Germany will most likely result in the aircraft never flying again. Dismantling and moving the project would also entail costs that could be better used to complete the restoration in Auburn.
Aviation enthusiasts all over the world! Please sign the Fly-Connie-Fly petition to Lufthansa management letting them know you want Lufthansa to complete this project in Auburn and make this unique flying monument available for the public to enjoy. Thanks for your help.
Lufthansa Starliner Restoration Update and Call to Action – March 18, 2018
On the morning of March 15th I reported on this website that Lufthansa was shutting down its L1649A Super Star restoration project at Auburn-Lewiston Airport in Maine. I also posted the report on a number of aviation related Facebook pages.
Later that day Lufthansa Technik announced in an article published in the Auburn-Lewiston Sun Journal newspaper that they would be “removing the wings from the historic aircraft and taking it to Germany later this year to finish the decade-long restoration.” Auburn based Lufthansa Technik project manager Oliver Sturm was quoted in the article as saying “The airplane is too complex to finish here because it’s a very old aircraft, coming from the ’50.” (Wow...did he really say that...the project is complex to be completed in the United States?)
For a number of reasons I believe that, if the aircraft is disassembled and moved to Germany, it will never fly again. This belief is based on recent confidential communications I've had with individuals involved in the project and the considerable challenge of moving the aircraft from the United States to Germany without damaging it. The wing is a 150 foot long one-piece structure that is an integral part of the fuselage structure. Once the wing has been separated from the fuselage, the fuselage will have to be supported for the long land/sea voyage to Germany. I don't believe this has ever been done before and the possibility of damaging the fuselage during the de-mating process and enroute to Germany should be a major concern.
If the airplane goes to Germany, I believe that the best case scenario would have the aircraft becoming the world’s most expensive static display airplane. The worst case scenario would have it disassembled and stored in warehouse, or even worse, stored outside and exposed to the weather.
It is imperative that we make every attempt to change Lufthansa’s decision to shut down the Maine based restoration and move the aircraft to Germany. Email Lufthansa’s CEO Carsten Spohr Carsten.Spohr@dlh.de and the Head of Lufthansa’s Supervisory Board Karl-Ludwig Kley Karl-Ludwig.email@example.com and politely implore them to reconsider the executive board’s decision before it’s too late.
An on-line petition is in the works and I will publish a link to it when I receive it.
Peter Brill Reports from Rand on Latest Status on Starliner ZS-DVJ – March 18, 2018
Peter Brill recently visited Rand Airport and reports on the latest status of the restoration of Starliner ZS-DVJ......."Here are the latest photos of the SAA Starliner ZS-DVJ reassembly at Rand, South Africa. I met the project manager Matt Harvey as guest of the SAA Museum who went out of his way to show me around. The main issue in the moment is to line up the wings which had to be split for transport. On the Starliner there are no inner or outer wing panels like on the earlier Connie models. So there was no other option than to unbolt the two wing halves. Once these are joined up again the fuselage will follow and the aim is to have the Starliner on its feet as soon as possible as it is occupying valuable space at Rand in the moment. Thanks Matt for your hospitality."......Many thanks to Peter for sharing his report and photos.
Lufthansa Shuts Down Super Star Project – March 15, 2018
I was informed this morning by a number of sources that the Lufthansa Board of Directors has decided to pull the plug on the Super Star (L1649A) project in Auburn, Maine. The restoration was begun in 2008 and, after spending a reported $200M on the project, the board has made the misguided decision to end the project, which was nearing completion. I’ve made a number of visits to Auburn over the past ten years and the aircraft (N7316C) was being restored to the highest standards and would have provided Lufthansa with a great tool for promoting the airline. It’s a bit perplexing to me to why, after spending so much money on the project, the board would shut it down when it was so close to completion. It’s obvious that the board is more worried about the airline’s bottom line than preserving its legacy. Perhaps if we create a large enough “shitstorm” about the decision, the board might be convinced to reverse it.
Super Connie Restoration Underway at Qantas Founders Museum – February 19, 2018
Since arriving at the museum on May 24, 2017, volunteers and staff have wasted no time in moving forward with the restoration of C-121J N4247K. The aircraft had been parked in the weeds at Manila International Airport since 1988 and was in desperate need of attention when the museum acquired it at auction in September 2014. On February 13th a makeshift paint booth was lowered over the fuselage and by the 19th it had been sandblasted and painted. It’s great news that this long neglected aircraft is finally receiving the TLC it deserves and I will provide future project updates as I receive them.
For additional information and photos, check out the museum’s website and Facebook page. The museum's facebook page also includes a short video of the aircraft being lowered into position for painting. Many thanks to Nicole Kuttner at the museum for providing recent photos.
Turkish Navy Discovers Air France Constellation – February 17, 2018
The Turkish Navy recently located Air France L749A Constellation F-BAZS 1½ miles off the coast of Turkey in 842 feet of water. The aircraft made a successful emergency night landing in the Mediterranean on August 3, 1953 after the #3 engine separated from the aircraft while on a flight from Paris to Tehran. With 34 passengers and a crew of 8, the airplane stayed afloat for an hour allowing the rescue of all but 4 elderly passengers, who drowned. The aircraft was delivered to Air France in 1950 and is remarkable intact after being submerged for almost 65 years.
For additional information about the accident, check out the ASN and Wikipedia accident reports.
LSSG Publishes Super Star Chronicle – Issue #1 – February 16, 2018
In mid-December 2017 Lufthansa Super Star gGmbH (LSSG) published Super Star Chronicle Issue #1, which provides a very nice overview of progress on the restoration of L1649A N7316C. Included are an overview of 2017 accomplishments; challenges faced by the team in overhauling the myriad of components needed to complete the restoration; the incorporation of modern escape slides; and the role of reverse engineering in the project.
Former TWA Starliner to be Centerpiece of JFK Airport Hotel – January 28, 2018
On March 13, 2017 I reported that L1649A N8083H was the most likely candidate to become the centerpiece of a 500 room hotel being constructed adjacent to the old TWA terminal at JFK Airport. I recently confirmed that the aircraft will indeed be used for the project and ownership is scheduled to be transferred on March 1, 2018. The aircraft will be set up as a high end cocktail lounge seating about 40 guests with the interior fitted out to replicate a 1950’s era airliner. No fuselage cuts will be required as the aircraft passenger doors will be used to access the cocktail lounge. The cockpit has been stripped of many parts and components but, since N7316C will have a glass cockpit, most of the parts to restore the cockpit should be available. The current plan is to have the fully restored cockpit on display for cocktail lounge customers.
Work will begin once aircraft ownership has been transferred and will be performed on the ramp adjacent to the Lufthansa hangar at Auburn-Lewiston Airport, where N7316C is nearing the end of its epic restoration. The aircraft will be made externally complete with sheet metal repaired as necessary, the rudders metalized and all other components such engine cowlings, propellers, gear doors, radome, etc. installed. Since engines will probably not be installed, 4,000 lbs of ballast will have to be placed in the forward fuselage or a tail stand incorporated. Finally, the exterior will be given a good cleaning and then painted in 1950’s era TWA colors before being disassembled by Worldwide Aircraft Recovery for the planned November 2018 350 mile road trip to JFK Airport. On its way to JFK Airport, the aircraft will travel through four boroughs of New York City, including a swing through Times Square in Manhattan!
It sounds like a very exciting project and I wish the restoration crew luck in this very ambitious endeavor. I will be posting updates as the project progresses.
See Constellation News Archive - 2017 For Additional News
----Created 31 January 2004------Updated 19 September 2018----