Constellation News

Constellation News Archive - 2005

São Tomé Super Connie Update - December 2005

António Mendes visited São Tomé this September and photographed the two decaying ex-Joint Church Aid Super Connies at the airport. The two L1049H's, CF-NAL and CF-NAM, flew relief flights during the Biafran Airlift and were abandoned in São Tomé in 1970. Still painted in basic Nordair colors, they are essentially intact with mildew and vegetation growth making steady progress. António, a Portuguese native, with good contacts in São Tomé is interested in possibly saving one or both of the aircraft for display in a museum. A commendable goal indeed and if you are interested in working with António on this project, please email him at

Starliner Update - October 2005

I received a telephone call last week from Maurice Roundy who, until recently, owned three of the four surviving L1649A Starliner aircraft. Maurice said he had sold his aircraft to a Florida land developer who plans on restoring the two Maine-based aircraft (N7316C and N8083H) and flying at least one on them on the airshow circuit. Maurice has been hired to direct the restoration of the aircraft and said that plans are currently underway to have at least two of the 3,400 hp R3350 engines sent for overhaul in California. Since all work will have to be performed outdoors, restoration will have to wait for next spring when weather conditions improve. A hangar would allow work to continue year round and this is currently being considered. Maurice estimates that restoration of the two aircraft will take about 2-3 much this will cost is anyone's guess but my money says seven figures per aircraft! This is exciting news and hopefully Maurice and the new owner can pull it off. A number of articles and photos about Maurice and the aircraft are posted in the Articles section of this website.

Museum Members Fly 1948 MATS Constellation to Korea - October 2005

Shawn Dorsch was part of the flight crew that flew the MATS Connie to South Korean in April 2005. He has posted a fascinating account of this exciting trip on the Carolinas Aviation Museum website. Many thanks to Shawn for sharing his experience.

Camarillo EC-121T Update - August 2005

The Camarillo EC-121T (N548GF/53-548) was towed from its normal parking spot to the airport's main ramp for this years annual air show. Camarillo resident Terry Wall visited the aircraft on Friday August 26th and had the opportunity to talk to Wayne Jones's widow for a few minutes along with a private tour of the aircraft. Terry reports..."It seems they have a ferry permit in hand for a one-time flight someplace and the airplane isn't in bad shape, although it's been completely idle for a couple of years. Mrs. Jones's opinion is that it should be back on the airshow circuit, at least partly because it has good engines. There are a number of interested parties, including Yanks Air Museum, but nobody has yet come up with any money. I didn't get the idea that anything is imminent, but I do feel better about the ultimate fate of the airplane. It WILL fly out to a new home sooner or later I'm sure, rather than meet the scrapman." Many thanks to Terry for this update.

JC-121C Cockpit Back on Display at Frankfurt International Airport - August 2005

The cockpit section of JC-121C 54-160 is back on display at Frankfurt International Airport's Terminal 2. Fergal Goodman and Antti Hyvärinen reported that it is located near the display cases of aircraft models. Pekka and Antti Salo photographed the cockpit during a visit on August 4th. The cockpit is erroneously identified as a L049 cockpit but other than that the USAF veteran cockpit is looking good! Still looking for any ideas how it got from a scrapyard near Davis Monthan AFB to Frankfurt International Airport.

Airline History Museum Super Connie Suffers an Engine Failure - July 2005

The Kansas City Star newspaper reported on its website that the Airline History Museum’s Super Constellation N6937C suffered a catastrophic engine failure during a routine engine run-up on July 20th. The #2 engine had been warmed up, run at 1,700 rpm for its first series of checks and then failed when it was powered up for its final series of checks. Three cylinders failed and the entire engine will have to be overhauled due to metal spreading throughout the entire oil system. There was no explosion, just an eruption of oil and flame after which observers frantically signaled the crew to shut the engine down. According to Larry Denning, director of flight operations for the museum, two engines will be shipped to an engine overhaul facility and hopefully there will be enough usable parts to build one “new” engine. With R3350 overhauls going for $120,000 these days, the group has a daunting task ahead of them. The museum has 560 worldwide members, who will hopefully open their wallets to raise the $120,000 needed to get this beauty back in the air. (Note: Please don't email me saying that the photo is of the #3 engine starting and not the was the best I could do!)

Greenwood Lake Connie Update – July 2005

John Rosa visited Greenwood Lake Airport (4N1) in West Milford, New Jersey on July 19, 2005 and again on July 23rd to reacquaint himself with and photograph L049 Connie N9412H. John first visited the airport back in the mid-1990’s with his father and was fascinated with the airport’s most famous resident. His interest in the aircraft quickly waned and he reverted back to his first love, military aircraft and especially the Boeing B-17. It wasn’t until he saw the film “The Aviator” that his interest in Constellations was rekindled. Like many knowledgeable aviation enthusiast, he immediately realized that the 1946 scene depicting TWA Constellations was not quite “right” and determined that the scenes were computer generated using the Airline History Museum’s L1049H Super Constellation N6937C as a model. All these thoughts about Constellations rekindled his interest in the Greenwood Lake aircraft, resulting in a trip back to the airport to see how the old girl was doing. John found that, while still earning her keep as the local flight school's office, time and the elements have taken their toll on this proud old lady. John has put together a very interesting website documenting his visit and the history of the aircraft.

Super Connie Flight Simulator "Discovered" at the Deutsches Technikmuseum in Berlin - July 2005

Score another find for Antti Hyvärinen who visited the Deutsches Technikmuseum in Berlin on July 23, 2005 and forwarded some fascinating photos of a Super Constellation flight simulator once used by Lufthansa to train flight crews. According to Mr. Tomke Hahn of the museum, the simulator was produced by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation for Lufthansa in 1956/57. In August 1957 it was transported to Hamburg Fuhlsbüttel in two aircraft. Lufthansa pilots, copilots and flight engineers were trained in the simulator until

Berlin Simulator July 23, 2005 Berlin Simulator July 23, 2005 Berlin Simulator July 23, 2005
1966 when it was transferred to the Technische Universität Berlin. The simulator was moved to the Deutsches Technikmuseum in 1980 and put on display in the museum's new permanent exhibition in early 2005. Antti's photos show a very authentic looking cockpit and I would think it very possible that the simulator was manufactured using the cockpit of an actual Super Constellation. I would be very interested if anyone had additional information regarding the origin of this cockpit. Thanks to Antti for another nice piece of Connie Survivor detective work!

Forward Fuselage of NC-121K BuNo 141292 "Discovered" in North Carolina - July 2005

My ever vigilant friend Antti Hyvärinen recently emailed me with the news that a 53 foot portion of the front fuselage of NC-121K BuNo 141292 had not been scrapped and was stored in North Carolina. I had heard this rumor from time to time but Antti provided me with the email address of the supposed owner. This aircraft flew the last Lockheed Constellation flight by the U.S. military in June 1982 and was ferried to Florence, South Carolina for display at the Florence Air and Missile Museum. Subsequently it was damaged by a grass fire and essentially abandoned when the museum shut its doors in 1997. I sent an email to the address provided by Antti and, to my delight, received a reply a few days later from the owner, Brian Hicks. The fuselage is currently stored in Stanley, North Carolina, where Brian is planning on restoring it as he described in his email.

"Yes, I do still have the first 53' of NC-121K BuNo 141292 but have not been able to get much restoration work done due to work (but will soon!). My plan is to finish the wall closing off the rear fuselage, then repair the fire damage to the belly. I will then repaint the entire plane and reinstall the upper canoe radomes. The bottom ones where destroyed by the fire and airport personal dragging the remains with a bulldozer. I have been slowly gathering interior parts to restore the cockpit/cabin back to its original glory and will begin that part of the job after repainting. Eventually, I plan on building a trailer frame under/into the belly with a removable gooseneck/fifth wheel so I can move the Connie by simply hooking up a standard semi. Since the fuselage is almost 12' wide, I will have to get a wide load permit to go anywhere but she will finally be mobile allowing air show visits. I am a member of the Carolina's Aviation Museum in Charlotte, NC which is how I found out about the Connie. I never made it down to Florence before the museum closed but helped to move the aircraft we acquired (F-101, F-102, H-34 plus rockets and missiles). The first time I saw the NC-121K, she had already been stripped down and dragged several hundred feet with a bulldozer to make room for a mobile home sales lot, which went bankrupt and is now gone. (Revenge is mine!). I looked her over and thought it was a shame to see such a cool airplane get scrapped. Our museum was not interested in her since she was only a hulk at that point and we were busy getting the other planes. I mentioned all the good parts still on her to one of the mechanics on the MATS C-121A when they made a stop at our place in CLT. He gave me contact info for the CHS in Camarillo and advice on what would be useful to them. Finally the plane was officially sold for scrap but I did not bid high enough (I was also bidding on the HU-16 but lost on both). I contacted the winner, John Deluca, and made a deal to buy the front half since I did not know it was possible to move anything longer at that time. I still kick myself for not getting the whole fuselage! I ended up paying him more for my part than he paid for the whole plane but that's life. I also hooked him up with the CHS guys who came out and bought parts from him to haul back to California."

"I cut off the front section with the help of a friend and then contracted a local crane/trucking company to do the lifting/hauling. (you want to move what?) I had to actually move it twice, since I had to install a culvert to allow access to its new parking spot. As you can see in the attached pictures it's currently up on homemade jacks until the trailer frame in completed. It weights about 12,000 lbs and is actually about 48' long, minus the radome, which has to be repaired. I have been allowed access to the EC-121K at Warner-Robbins to take pictures of their cockpit and to copy their T.O.'s., so now I know what it's supposed to look like up front. I did not make a big effort to find all the stuff I'm missing until recently since I did not have the spare money to buy it all. I have collected most of the instruments I need from E-Bay etc, but really need the missing instrument panels/frames, all the trim wheels and knobs as well as a set of real Connie crew seats (Pilot, Co-pilot, Flight Engineer). I would like to find out where the instrument panels went and see about getting them back to reinstall. Even completely stripped of instruments would be a big help. I have the main center panel and the main copilot panel, but all others are completely gone including the entire framework that the FE panels attach to. I can make new parts using the one at Warner-Robbins as a guide but having the real stuff would be a lot easier."

I sure do wish Brian good luck in his venture and will be keeping a close eye on his progress. If anyone has some parts Brian might be able to use, please email me and I will forward your email to Brian.

Columbine II Advertised for Sale - May 2005

VC-121A 48-610 "Columbine II" has recently been advertised for sale on a very slick website prepared by the Millennium Northwest Marketing Group. If you've got $3.2M, or are willing bargain the price down, you can contact George Allen or Don Karstedt at (253) 405-6952. The site is very well done with lots of information about the aircraft including some information that had previously not been published such as total airframe time and engine times. The aircraft is located at Marana Northwest Regional Airport (formally Avra Valley Airport) near Tucson, AZ and was recently towed from the Constellation Group's ramp to join Bill Dempsay's stored DC-4's. $3.2M seems a bit high for this aircraft but hopefully the end result will be the sale of this piece of history to an organization or individual that will insure its preservation for future generations.

A New Home For The Camarillo EC-121 - May 2005

It has long been rumored that EC-121T N548GF (ex-53-548), which has been grounded at Camarillo, California since 2001, would make one last flight to a museum for permanent display and preservation. A very reliable source has informed me that this apparently will happen in the near future with the aircraft making the short flight to Chino, California and her new home at the Yanks Air Museum. N548GF was restored by the Wayne Jones (Global Aeronautical Foundation) and flown on a limited west coast airshow circuit from 1995 to 2000 before being grounded due to wing corrosion. Its fate had been unclear since the death of Mr. Jones in 2001, so the move to the Yanks Air Museum is good news indeed!

The MATS Connie Arrives at Her New Home on Jeju Island, South Korea - April 2005

The MATS Connie departed Marana Northwest Regional Airport (AVQ) for the last time on Friday April 1, 2005 bound for a new home in Korea. With Captain Frank Lang at the controls, she lifted off runway 30 at 10:07 MST and, after one last flyby, headed northwest to Oakland, California for the first stop on her journey to an aerospace museum on Jeju Island. Originally a southern route had been planned but this was changed when it was determined that avgas was not available at Midway Island and the US Military would not allow the aircraft to transit Wake Island. Instead, a northern route was planned with stops at Anchorage, Alaska; Cold Bay, Alaska; Hakodate, Japan; and Inchon, Korea, where the crew and passengers will clear customs. The next stop on the journey will be the Korean Airlines maintenance facility at Gimhae Airport, near Pusan, where the aircraft will be stripped of her MATS colors and repainted in early Korean Airlines colors. This is expected to take about a week after which the grand lady will make her final flight to Jeju International Airport where she will be put on static display next to next to a Korean Airlines Boeing 747 and Airbus A300. Contrary to earlier reports, the aircraft will not participate in any Korean or Japanese airshows this summer and will never fly again.

After stops at Oakland, California and Anchorage, Alaska the MATS Connie arrived at Cold Bay, Alaska on Monday April 4th where she spent three days waiting for favorable weather conditions to make the 12-14 flight to Hakodate, Japan. She finally departed on Thursday morning April 7th and, after crossing the International Date Line, arrived safely at Hakodate, Japan on Friday evening April 8th. The most dangerous part of the flight was now behind them and I'm sure Captain Lang and the contingent breathed a collective sigh of relief! At 9am Saturday morning, the MATS Connie headed out over the Sea Of Japan for the 800 mile flight to Inchon where the crew and aircraft were greeted by Cho Yang-ho, the chairman and CEO of Korean Airlines. The airplane departed Sunday April 10th for Korean Air's maintenance facility in Gimhae (near Busan), where it will be painted in 1950's Korean Airlines colors. For more details about the arrival in Inchon see the article in The Korea Times. After a week in the paint shop at Gimhae, the aircraft made her final flight to Jeju Island on Monday April 18th. The crew for the 45 minute flight included Frank Lang, Shawn Dorsch and Carlos Gomez. After one final low pass at the airport on Jeju Island, the mighty MATS Connie made her final landing and took her place next to a B747 and A300.
L749A N749TW April 4, 2005 L749A N494TW April 7, 2005 L749A N749TW April 18, 2005
The longtime home of the MATS Connie at Marana Northwest Regional Airport will be shut down and turned over to a new tenant. Immediately after the departure, JR Kern, Bill Dempsay and a small crew towed the two other resident Constellations (ex-SCAF L1049 N105CF and Columbine II N9463) across the road to join Bill’s stored DC-4’s. The MATS Connie, active on the US airshow circuit since 1992 will be missed by all aviation enthusiasts.

Cockpit Display at Frankfurt's Terminal 1 "Disappears" - March 2005

Marc Lehmann reports that the cockpit of C-121C 54-160 that had been on display at Frankfurt Airport's Terminal 1 has disappeared as the result of ongoing construction efforts at the terminal. Marc searched the terminal but the cockpit display is no where to be found. Let's hope this is a temporary situation and the cockpit will return once the construction is completed. This aircraft has a unique history. Delivered as a C-121C transport aircraft in 1955, it was converted to an EC-121C in 1965 with the addition of dorsal and ventral radomes. Retired in 1971 and reportedly scrapped ~1981, how this cockpit got from the scrapyards of Davis Monthan to Frankfurt is a mystery. Does anyone have any knowledge of how this came about???

Remains of Super Constellation N11SR "Discovered" in Kuwait - February 2005

Mark A. Pinneo reports from Kuwait that the remains of ex-Lanzair L1049H N11SR (c/n 4581) still exist at the end of a runway at the Ahmad Al Jaber Airbase. The aircraft, delivered to Qantas Airways as VH-EAB in March 1955, was sold by Qantas in 1963 and operated by a number of small airlines until being impounded at Kuwait City International Airport in June 1976. Stephen Piercey photographed the aircraft in May 1982 at Kuwait City International Airport where he reported it complete but in poor condition. Shortly after Stephen's visit, the aircraft was sold (or transferred) to the Kuwait Ministry of Defense who dismantled
L1049H N442LM Early 1969 L1049H N11SR July 23, 1974 L1049H N11SR May 2, 1982
and moved it 45 kilometers to the Ahmad Al Jaber Airbase for use as a fire and rescue trainer. The aircraft survived essentially intact until the 1991 Gulf War when it was severely damaged during bombing attacks. Mark reports that the engines are in good condition but the tail section is only 3/4 complete and only parts of the fuselage are still intact. The detailed history of this aircraft is provided in this website. Many thanks to Mark A. Pinneo for his report and Ron Cuskelly for providing many of the historical details of this aircraft on his fine website: The Lockheed File

See Constellation News Archive - 2004 For Additional News

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