Lufthansa Reportedly Plans on Building a Restoration Hangar at the Auburn-Lewiston Airport - December 20, 2007
walls were covered in shag carpet and a parquet dance floor was left over from its days as a cocktail lounge in Penndel, PA. I’ve included three photos that show this dramatic transformation.
According to an article published December 20th on the SunJournal.com website, Lufthansa Bertin-Stiftung, the new owners of Starliners N974R, N7316C and N8083H, have reached a tentative deal to build a 50,000 square foot hangar at the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport. The article goes on to say that the Germans plan on restoring at least one of the vintage aircraft. According to Rick Cloutier, the airport director, "On Tuesday, right after Lufthansa bought the planes, company and airport officials signed a letter of intent. A formal agreement is expected soon." Cloutier went on to say "Tentative plans call for two of the planes to be used for spare parts to get the best of the three flying."
Maurice Roundy's Starliners Sold At Auction - December 18, 2007 (Updated December 19, 2007)
Maurice Roundy's three Starliners (N7316C, N8083H, and N974R) were sold on December 18th at auction for the amazing sum of $748,000. According to an article in the December 19th edition of The Portland Press Herald, the aircraft were sold to a Berlin-based foundation within Lufthansa's aviation group. I spoke to Maurice on December 18th and he said the bidding was fast and furious and was over in less than 10 minutes. Steve Keenan, of Keenan Auction Company, gave me his perspective of the auction..."Well, we had a successful auction and it appears everyone came out a winner! I took an entirety bid for the two planes in Auburn which included the parts and manuals. That high bid was $200,000 and Lufthansa was the high bidder. I then set that bid aside and took bids for the planes individually on a high Bidders Choice format. That means that the highest bidder gets to choose which plane or planes they want. We had (3) parties qualified to purchase all the planes, and we had (3) bidders qualified to purchase individual planes and all six were competing for the right to choose which plane they wanted, neither really knowing which plane the other wanted. Lufthansa was the high bidder at $225,000 per plane and made the decision to choose all three and the planes were sold. The parts and manuals sold for $5,000. The total of the bids was $680,000 plus 10% bringing the total purchase price to $748,000."
The Press Herald article goes on to report that Jennifer Urbaniak, Lufthansa's North American spokesperson said "They essentially seek to preserve and restore and operate older aircraft from the Lufthansa fleet" Maurice confirmed that the group's goal is to restore at least one of the aircraft to flying condition. While I had hoped that Carlos Gomez would have been the successful bidder, I am greatly relieved that the aircraft are going to an organization with the means and determination to get the job done! All in all, great news to all propliner enthusiasts!
According to an article published December 20th on the SunJournal.com website, the new owners of the aircraft, Lufthansa Bertin-Stiftung, reached a tentative deal to build a 50,000 square foot hangar at the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport. The article goes on to say that the Germans plan on restoring at least one of the vintage aircraft. According to Rick Cloutier, the airport director, "On Tuesday, right after Lufthansa bought the planes, company and airport officials signed a letter of intent. A formal agreement is expected soon." Cloutier went on to say that "Tenative plans call for two of the planes to be used for spare parts to get the best of the three flying."
Interior Restoraton of AMC Museum's "C-121C" Moves Forward – December 13, 2007
While exterior restoration of the AMC Museum's Super Connie has steadily progressed during the past few years, the interior has also benefited from the efforts of the museum’s volunteers. Mike Leister, the museum’s director, sent me a photo taken today of the interior. While the restoration isn't complete, it sure is one hell of an improvement from my first visit back in January 2001 when the
NASM’s C-121C Makes Her Final Journey to Udvar-Hazy for Display – November 30, 2007
Under a cloudless blue sky and bright sunshine, the National Air and Space Museum’s C-121C Super Constellation made a 45-minute trip across Dulles Airport on Wednesday November 28, 2007 to her new home at the Udvar-Hazy Center. The aircraft, 54-0177/ N1104W, had been undergoing restoration and painting in the old Independence Air hangar by a dedicated team of United Airlines and NASM employees since August 2007. Hangar doors were opened, team photos taken and at 10:15am 54-0177 was rolled out into the morning sunshine to an enthusiastic group of United Airlines, NASM and airport employees that had gathered to witness the event.
The aircraft had been painted in USAF colors and the results were stunning. It was an absolutely superb effort by the restoration crew and quite a transformation from her forlorn appearance just a few months ago. After being photographed thoroughly by the group, it was time to start the slow trek across the airport and a convoy of vehicles, led by Dulles Airport Operations Officer Barry Smith, escorted the old girl on her final journey. Barry is a retired West Virginia Air National Guard navigator and had actually flown in 54-0177 as a navigator while she was assigned to the WVANG. Seated in the cockpit was Don Burbank, a UAL executive at
Dulles who had secured UAL sponsorship of the restoration and Gary Berrian, an aircraft maintenance tech who led the UAL restoration crew. All long the route airport workers stopped what they were doing and those with cameras photographed the old Connie
as she slowly passed by. Much too soon we arrived at the Udvar-Hazy Center and the giant door at the south end of the museum was opened to allow the Connie to take her place next to the Air France Concorde. By 2pm, after a little bit of jockeying to avoid some obstacles, she was properly situated in her new home and the door was closed. Props, rudders, elevators and markings still need to be
installed and, when this is completed, the museum plans to have a ceremony “welcoming” the new addition. The museum is exploring the possibility of restoring the interior and opening the aircraft up for tours by museum visitors! Look for an article on this website in the next few weeks with additional details and photos of the restoration effort. Many thanks to Gary Berrian of UAL, Karl Heinzel of the NASM and Barry Smith of MWAA for their hospitality and allowing me to tag along to witness this small piece of history.
Painting of Smithsonian’s C-121C Completed – November 21, 2007
The painting of C-121C N1104W/54-0177 has been completed and the aircraft is ready to be towed back to the Udvar-Hazy Center for display next to the Air France Concorde. I received an email from Gary Berrian today with photos and an update on the project. Gary is a United Airlines Lead Aviation Maintenance Technician at Dulles International Airport and has been involved in the painting project. Gary reports “We just completed painting an old Connie for the Udvar Hazy Center. It was quite a task involving 1500 man-hours and roughly forty days of work. Our five AMT's and two Smithsonian Garber staff worked many hours to complete the task. I
am enclosing some photos for your web-site. The aircraft will be towed to the Udvar-Hazy Center on Tuesday November 27th at 10am to its final place at they south end of the museum.” Kudos to the United Airlines AMT volunteers and museum staff for bringing the old girl back to her former glory. United AMT's pictured from left to right are Dave Burrell, Ed Archer, David Crosby, Jon White and Gary Berrian. Not pictured are United AMT's Sam Thomas and Terry Chura and Smithsonian Garber employees Jeff Mercer and Robert Weihrauch. Many thanks to Gary for forwarding the photos and report.
Museum of Flight Super Connie Restoration Moves Forward – November 9, 2007
The restoration of Museum Of Flight’s Super Constellation CF-RNR/CF-TGE recently achieved a major milestone when its wings and restored landing gear were reattached and the aircraft was moved into an Empire Aero Center (EAC) hangar for a winter of restoration. After a year long battle with Canadian authorities, the aircraft was finally moved from Toronto, Canada to EAC on June 7, 2007. After a careful assessment of the aircraft’s condition, the restoration process began with the general rework and repair of the three landing gear assemblies including all new tires and two replacement nose wheels. A detailed description and photos of the work accomplished on the landing gear can be found on Bob Bogash’s excellent website. Bob, a retired Boeing executive, is the Museum of Flight's project manager on the restoration effort.
The big day for attaching the wings to the aircraft and installing the landing gear arrived on October 26, 2007. The 16-hour day started with decent weather but by the time the old lady was finally back on her feet, it was cold and rainy. As a result of the inclement weather, EAC’s lead guy on the project Kevin Lacey, caught one heck of a cold and was out for almost a week! Bob’s website. contains additional information.
Kevin finally recovered from his cold and it was time to get the aircraft out of the elements and into a hangar so that restoration could continue. On Friday November 2, 2007, riding on her newly refurbished landing gear, the Super Connie was towed into a hangar where restoration will begin in earnest. Bob’s website again has some very nice photos and information on the occasion. I paid a visit to Empire Aero Center on Monday November 5, 2007 and a crew was already busy at work tending to the aircraft. Kevin has lots of challenges to deal with in the next six months: missing parts that will be hard to find; damage due to the many moves over the years by less than careful movers; extensive corrosion; and the obvious lack of workers with specific Constellation experience. The restoration is scheduled to be completed in spring 2008 after which she will be disassembled and moved to the Museum of Flight in Seattle. The mode of transportation has yet to be decided but I’m sure Bob will have the details worked out long before the move date.
Many thanks to the folks at the MOF and EAC for allowing me access to the aircraft and to Kevin for hosting my mini-tour. Can’t wait to see what the old girl looks like when she’s rolled back out of the hangar next spring!
Starliner Update - November 7, 2007 (Updated November 8, 2007)
I spoke to Maurice Roundy today regarding the situation with the three Starliner aircraft. Maurice confirmed that a settlement has been worked out by the bankruptcy court appointed trustee and that all parties involved in the bankruptcy have agreed on it. The interim judge approved the settlement and final judgment is expected some time in mid- to late-November. The settlement involves Maurice giving up all three aircraft, the associate technical manuals and all spare parts. The dispute over the ownership of N974R was settled when the judge nullified the sale of the aircraft to Jim Thompson. The agreement allows Maurice to keep his unique airport home and his Cessna 152. The three aircraft will be auctioned on December 18, 2007 by the Keenan Auction Company. Potential bidders will be able to view the three aircraft on November 27, 2007 and will be required to make a deposit before placing a bid. The auction will also take place online on the Proxbid.com website. Rumor has it that Carlos Gomez and his partner are interested in the aircraft. Carlos has done wonders with the restoration of DC-7B N836D and is possibly looking for another project. Kermit Weeks is possibly interested in N974R, which was flown to his Fantasy of Flight Museum in October 2001 and would make a very nice permanent addition to his collection. Apparently there is also a German group that is interested in restoring the aircraft.
Maurice is philosophical about losing the aircraft. “I have owned and cared for the airplanes for almost a quarter of a century; half of their life. I have tried to do everything I could think of to get them restored and back into the air. Now it will be someone else's job, hopefully someone with money. During my stewardship, I accomplished only in keeping them from getting scrapped. I hope the next owners will at least do that. If they take them apart to move them, rather than fixing and flying them, it will be the beginning of the end of them.” Having restored all three aircraft to airworthiness, Maurice is an encyclopedia of knowledge regarding these aircraft and said he would be willing to help the new owners with the restoration of the aircraft, if they want his help. Hopefully he can be part of any future restorations.
Maurice and his wife Jane are currently running Silver Wings Aviation at the Auburn-Lewiston Airport. Maurice is a FAA certified mechanic, IA and commercial pilot and is doing it all at the FBO. He flight instructs, flies Part 135 charters, repairs aircraft and does whatever else is needed at the FBO. All propliner enthusiasts owe a debt of gratitude to Maurice...if it were not for him, all three aircraft would have long ago been scrapped.
Maurice Roundy’s Starliners to Be Sold at Auction – October 17, 2007
I recently received very distressing news about Maurice Roundy’s three L1649A Starliners N974R, N8083H and N7316C. As a result of a settlement reached with the Southern Maine Bankruptcy Court on Tuesday October 9th, the three aircraft, spare parts and associated manuals will be sold at auction on December 18, 2007. The Keenan Auction Company of South Portland, Maine was hired under court order to liquidate the aircraft and inquiries regarding the auction may be directed to Mr. Steve Keenan at 207-885-5100. Mr. Henk La Brie, of the LaBrie Realty Group, works with the trustee and may also be contacted at 207-985-5800
for information regarding the auction. Maurice Roundy dedicated himself to preserving these gorgeous aircraft and it’s a real shame that it’s come to this. Were it not for him, these aircraft would have been reduced to scrap many years ago. Hopefully all three can be saved and end up museums or, even better, flying the airshow circuit! Thank you Maurice for your years of hard work and dedication to these wonderful aircraft! They are truly “eye candy” to the propliner aficionado.
Restoration Proposal for São Tomé Super Constellations – October 3, 2007
On September 4, 2007 the Caué Association - Friends of São Tomé & Principe submitted a proposal to the Excma. Sra. Fátima L. de S. Almeida to declare the two Super Constellations
parked at São Tomé International Airport historical monuments to the Biafran War humanitarian airlift. Mrs. Almeida is the Minister of Education and Culture of the
Democratic Republic or São Tomé & Principe and the group asked that both aircraft be restored and one be made into an exhibition and conference center dedicated to the history of humanitarian aid. In addition, the group is proposing a plaque honoring the men and women who took part in the Biafran airlift be affixed to one of the aircraft.
Mrs. Almeida was sympathetic to the proposal and promised to forward it to the Council of Ministers for consideration. Her mother took part in the relief effort as a nurse responsible for Biafran children evacuated to the island. The group also feels that many Government officials also will support the proposal to preserve these aircraft as a national heritage monument.
One of the aircraft, CF-NAL is currently home to the restaurant “As Asas do Avião” and the owners invited the delegates to lunch after the meeting with Mrs. Almeida. This gave the delegates a chance to inspect the aircraft close-up and get a better understanding of what would be involved in the project. The restaurant owner is currently renovating the other aircraft, CF-NAM, for use as a dance hall. The owner fully supports the proposal to convert this aircraft for exhibitions and conferences and is interested in integrating the aircraft with a new passenger terminal planned for the future.
While suffering from many years of neglect and vandalism, remarkably both aircraft remain structurally sound. Both still stand on their landing gear and engines, props and other components remain mostly intact. Faded remnants of Canairrelief and Joint Churches Aid markings still remain along with the basic Nordair color scheme. Both aircraft also have bullet holes, evidence of the very dangerous nature of their mission during the airlift.
Members of the association met with the local media and briefed them on the Biafran humanitarian airlift and how the airport and aircraft played a major part in this airlift. On September 5, 2007 the African RTP channel broadcast a three-minute program about the proposed project. The Caué Association and “As Asas do Avião” agreed to join forces on the project to preserve and memorialize these two veteran aircraft. I wish them good luck in their venture and perhaps these aircraft, which many had written off, can be saved and put to good use.
Thanks very much to Xavier Muñoz, president of the Caué Association for providing information and photos on this project.
August News Round-Up – August 15, 2007
Lots of Constellation news to report this month. There’s good news from Switzerland regarding Super Connie HB-RSC (former N73544). The aircraft is back in the air again after being grounded for almost a month. On July 7th the flight crew was forced to shut down the #3 engine shortly after takeoff from Samedan, Switzerland. The aircraft made a safe landing at Basel, where mechanics found metal particles in the chip detector necessitating an engine change. Maintenance crews worked hard and the engine swap was completed in time for the aircraft to attend the important airshow at Chambéry, France on August 4th where Jean Luc Altherr photographed her. Congratulations to the Super Constellation Flyers Association for getting their gorgeous aircraft back in the air.
The news from the Airline History Museum in Kansas City isn't as good. After being grounded since July 2005 with a bad #2 engine, Super Connie N6937C now has four serviceable engines but lacks a certified crew to get back into the air. To make matters worse, Foe Geldersma recently resigned his position as AHM president and chief flight engineer. With the loss of Foe and some other key members, it appears that the AHM has a long and difficult road ahead of them to get their gorgeous aircraft back flying again. Good luck to the folks at AHM!
I visited Empire Aero Center at the Griffiss Business and Technology Park (former Griffiss AFB) in Rome, New York on Monday August 13th to check on L1049G CF-RNR, which recently arrived from Toronto via a truck convoy. I’m happy to report that the Museum of Flight has contracted EAC to restore the aircraft for static display in its former Trans Canada Airlines colors. The aircraft is in less than pristine condition and the boys at EAC have quite a job ahead of them putting her back into display condition. They estimate the restoration will take about 12 months after which the Super Connie will be disassembled and make her final road trip to Boeing Field for reassembly and display at the museum's facility.
Last but not least to report on is the National Air and Space Museum’s C-121C restoration project. As reported previously on this website, N1104W had been given up for dead by most enthusiasts until recently when the museum decided to take her out of long term storage for restoration. Work began in May when she was moved to the ramp adjacent the Udvar Hazy Center at Dulles Airport. NASM employees and volunteers removed the many coats of paint and by the end of June the old girl was ready for the paint shop. I recently received an email from the museum reporting that the aircraft is now in a hangar at Dulles for final prep and painting. The aircraft will be painted in West Virginia ANG colors and should be completed in late October when it will be put on display inside the Udvar Hazy Center at Dulles.
C-121C Cockpit Section Moved to New Home – July 20, 2007
The cockpit section from C-121C serial number 54-160 has been on display for a number of years at the Frankfurt International Airport. In February 2007 the airport authority announced that the cockpit would have to be moved and it was offered for sale
by its owner (not the airport authority). My friend and fellow Constellation enthusiast Antti Hyvärinen purchased the cockpit section and arranged to have it moved to the Finnish Aviation Museum in Helsinki, Finland where it arrived on July 17, 2007. Kudos to Antti for preserving this unique aviation artifact.
Work Continues on Two Super Connie Restorations – July 8, 2007
Two Super Connies are being restored by museums in the Washington, DC area. As reported on this website on April 26th, the National Air and Space Museum is restoring their C-121C N1104W, which had been in open storage for almost 20 years at Dulles Airport. The aircraft has been parked on the west ramp of the Udvar-Hazy Center where volunteer crews have been removing multiple layers of paint in preparation for a new paint scheme. The first photo was taken on May 9th shortly after the aircraft was towed to the ramp and the second taken on June 16th when the paint removal process was just about complete. Museum officials report that the aircraft will be towed to a hangar on the other side of the field where she will be painted in West Virginia ANG colors. The restoration is expected to be completed in September when the aircraft will be put on display in the south end of the Udvar-Hazy Center next to the Air France Concorde. Dulles Airport construction plans apparently forced the hand of the museum to begin the restoration. A planned project would have blocked access from the storage area to the museum for the Super Connie!
The transformation of ex-Capitol International Airways L1049E N1005C to represent a C-121C continues at the AMC Museum at Dover AFB, Delaware. Many coats of paint from her days as a cocktail lounge in Penndel were stripped off in May with remnants of Capitol International Airways emerging. Painting started the week of June 4th with it just about completed by July 6th. The first photo was taken on June 10th, the second on July 1st and the third on July 6th when the painting was almost complete. Note the
false registration 40315 (54-0315), which was assigned to an F-89H "Scorpion" fighter! As I stated on this website on May 17th, it is my opinion that this aircraft is in serious need of a long radar nose and plug to make it look like a “real” C-121C. If you know the whereabouts of both or either one of these items, please contact me via email.
Puerto Rico's Forgotten Super Connie – July 6, 2007
I recently received an email recently from Ricardo Abino, who was attending an airshow at the Borinquen Airport in Puerto Rico in May of this year. He saw ex-AMSA L1049H HI-542CT off in the weeds at the airport and couldn’t resist having a look. Luckily he had his camera with him and he forwarded the following pictures. I’ve included parts of Ricardo’s email which tells the story in his own words.
“I truly enjoy vintage aircraft like the Connie, but especially WWII airplanes. As I was at an airshow held on the side of the small Borinquen airport at Ramey’s, I just could not resist getting close to the Constellation that was sitting at the corner of the strip! So I took my kid, acting like I was lost and got into the restricted area of the field and managed to get several pictures of this classic aircraft. When I looked back to “check my six” there were people actually following me in to see the plane, so much for my top secret mission. Well, we had a good ten minutes before we were called to get out of there. I was wondering if there was an actual Constellation site I could upload my pictures of a derelict Constellation…..and so I found your site that’s dedicated to them! Sitting for so many years just rotting away, it’s a shame it has not been sold for parts or restored when it was worth restoring, although I’m sure there are entities that would manage to pull it off with this aircraft. I fall back just looking at the picture from 1992 on how beautiful it actually was flying. I’m including (it seems to me) the latest pictures of this surviving member of the Constellation community. Enjoy or weep. I know I am!"
It appears that plans by the Ramey AFB Historical Association to restore the aircraft are not progressing. Does anyone have any more information about the status of this aircraft and why the restoration has apparently been abandoned? Please email me with any information you might have concerning the project.
Wanna Buy a Slightly Used Super Connie? – June 25, 2007
I recently received an email from Bill Riopel regarding long time Manila Super Connie resident N4247K. This aircraft was impounded at Manila International Airport in early 1988 and has been stored unprotected (they didn't even lock the controls!) at the airport since that time. While some smaller components have been removed, the aircraft is essentially intact, if somewhat worse for wear due to the corrosive effects of the Philippine climate. The aircraft was inspected and photographed on June 7/8, 2007 by Max Motschmann, an ex-Luftwaffe pilot currently living and working in Manila. While it’s hard to know the extent of the corrosion without removing panels, there is a fair amount of external corrosion/rust apparent on the undersides of the wings. The steel screws appear to be the source of most of the corrosion. The interior is quite clean, but the co-pilot’s instrument panel has been pried open and some of the gauges have been removed.
Max is willing to assist anyone interested in gaining possession of the aircraft. He says there are 8-9 claims/court cases against this aircraft and the previous owners. As for the airport authorities, after 19 years they would most likely sell the aircraft for a small portion of the back parking fees! With interest in restoring these fine aircraft at an all time high, perhaps some brave soul will be willing to take on the Philippine bureaucracy and attempt to save this classic beauty. If you, or someone you know, might possibly be interested in restoring N4247K, please email Max for additional details.
I’d like to thank Bill very much for emailing me the information and photos of the aircraft.
More Photos of Santo Domingo’s Connie HI-393 – June 11, 2007
Mike Mumford photographed the star of Santo Domingo’s “boneyard” on June 11th. Mike, who is an airline pilot, has provided me photos of the “boneyard” in the past and he came through again with some very interesting photos. The
airport has made a major effort to clean up this area and rumors are that HI-393 will be restored. Other than some very obvious damage to the rear fuselage and vertical stabilizers, the aircraft appears to be in remarkably good condition. Mike’s driver knew nothing about any restoration plans but its obvious something is going on. Many thanks to Mike for the great photos!
L1049G CF-RNR/CF-TGE Crosses the Border Into The US - June 7, 2007
After a long and somewhat contentious struggle, the Museum of Flight’s L1049G Super Constellation CF-TGE/CF-RNR crossed the Canadian-US border on June 7th at 2:00pm EDT. The aircraft arrived safely at a large aircraft overhaul facility that evening after many hours on the road. Over the next few months the aircraft will be reassembled and a damage/condition assessment will be conducted. Based on the assessment the aircraft will be disassembled, repairs made and then finally stripped/painted in 1954 Trans Canada Airlines colors. The aircraft will then be made ready for a cross country road trip to Seattle where she will be put on display in the Fall of 2007. The first photo shows the wing and nacelles departing Toronto and the second photo shows the fuselage arriving at the overhaul facility.
The following is the text of an email I received on June 7th from Bob Bogash, MOF’s project manager for the Super Connie project.
“The Museum's Super Constellation, Air Canada's CF-TGE, crossed the border successfully into the United States about 2 PM EDT today, Thursday, June 7,
2007. It is now sitting outside our overhaul contractor's hangar, as of about 10 PM EDT. The last month has been incredibly hectic, with one problem or roadblock after another thrown in our path. We were working against a deadline of midnight, June 15th, when our Export Permit was due to expire. The Canadian Government had already declared there would not be a one minute extension! One of these days, if I have the energy, I will write up all this saga for my website.
Meanwhile, the airplane should be safely hangared within the next 24 hours, after which, it will be re-assembled. A detailed survey will be accomplished, a repair scheme developed, after which it will be repaired, stripped and repainted in TCA colors, disassembled, and transported by road to Seattle. We hope to have it reassembled (yet one more time!) and on display at the Museum in the early Fall.
While this is not the end of an incredibly long and tangled saga, the worst part - i.e. the part out of our control involving the Canadian government and the media -
is finally in our rear view mirror. Now we can tackle the jobs in front of us, which will be challenging enough!
On my web page describing this saga, written about 15 months ago, I wrote:
This is actually the third Super Connie I've tried to save. Although this one is a fight to get in the boat, I don't intend to let it get off my hook!
I do not think, that when I penned those words, I had any idea just how big this fight was gonna be. But, --then again,--this fish-- is now in the boat!"
Congratulations to Bob and the rest of the MOF team for ensuring that this beautiful aircraft will be preserved for future generations to enjoy. You can keep up with the latest restoration developments on Bob's website.
Santo Domingo's HI-393 Back on Her Feet - June 6, 2007
As reported on this webpage on May 13, 2007, HI-393 is back on all three landing gear at Santo Domingo, DR. The report was confirmed with Juan Carlos Procella's photo on the MyAviation.net website. While this project obviously has a long way to go, it was heartening to see the aircraft out of the weeds and on a concrete apron looking to be in reasonable condition.
New Hope for São Tomé's Two Super Connies - May 29, 2007
It appears there might be some hope for the two long abandoned São Tomé Super Connies, CF-NAL and CF-NAM. They have been fixtures at São Tomé's airport since being flow there and abandoned in January 1970 after service on the Biafran airlift. While the owners initially attempted to sell the aircraft, no buyers were found and they were left to rot in place. Slowly being overgrown by dense vegetation, their future appeared dim until recently. I received the following email this afternoon from a group in São Tomé with some very interesting plans.
“May 29, 2007...Our entity, the Caué Association, Friends of São Tomé e Príncipe, a non-governmental and non-profit organization, is managing a proposal to be introduced to the Santomean Society and to its Government about to declare the remains of the two Lockheed Constellation aircraft ("Connies"), which are resting in the international airport of São Tomé (Africa), as national monuments and international inheritance for peace keeping. As you probably know, these two Constellations were used during the War of Biafra (1967-1969) within the relief air-bridge based in São Tomé Island to provide humanitarian resources to besieged Biafrans in the continent.”
Hopefully this group can succeed in their venture and the two aircraft saved from another 37 years of neglect or, even worse, the scrapman.
AMC Museum’s Super Connie Almost Ready for Prime Time – May 17, 2007
The Air Mobility Command Museum’s L1049E Super Constellation N1005C is about to be painted in military colors as a C-121C. The aircraft was retired by Capitol International Airways in 1967 and shortly thereafter sold to restaurateur Jim Flannery. Jim moved the aircraft from Wilmington Airport in Delaware to a site on Route 1 in Penndel, Pennsylvania where it sat above his restaurant for almost 30 years as a cocktail lounge. Donated to the AMC Museum by Amoco in 1997, it was trucked in pieces to Dover AFB, Delaware where it remained in pieces until reassembled during the summer of 2003. Interior and exterior restoration has continued inside the museum’s restoration hangar in an attempt to reverse some of the damage done when the aircraft was converted to a cocktail lounge. On April 28, 2007 the
aircraft was removed from the hangar and towed to Dover’s wash rack to remove the many coats of loose paint that had been applied over the years. As shown in the photos, Capitol International Airways titles reemerged on the upper part of the fuselage during the cleaning process. Painting will start shortly and be completed in the next few months after which the aircraft will be put on display at the museum. Restoration of the interior, now about 25% complete, will continue while it is on display. The museum is looking for a long radar nose to replace the short one currently installed on the aircraft. All C-121C’s had long radar noses and if you know who might have a spare one, contact me and I will pass the information on to the museum.
French Super Connie Makes Unofficial Debut in Air France Colors – May 17, 2007
On April 16, 2007, long time Nantes Airport resident, Super Constellation F-BRAD/F-BGNJ emerged from her hangar beautifully painted in period Air France colors. While not the official rollout of the Super Connie, it was the first chance enthusiasts, photographers and volunteers have had to see her in bright sunshine. Additional detail paint work still has to be completed and along with quite a bit of interior work before the “official” rollout can happen. The April occasion
celebrated the new Embraer 190 aircraft with Air France President Jean-Cyril Spinetta in attendance. The Connie will eventually be put on static display in the new Nantes based "Aeroscope" museum. Painting should be finished this year and hopefully she will be put on display the year after. Many thanks to Pierre Biron for providing information on this fascinating project.
Restoration of Santo Domingo's HI-393 in The Works? – May 13, 2007
Mike Mumford recently sent me an email reporting that long-time Santo Domingo (SDQ) derelict L749A Connie HI-393 was back on all three landing gear. This aircraft had been sitting on her tail since the late 1990’s when engines and other parts were removed and sent to Avra Valley as spares for the MATS Connie. The Connie and other abandoned aircraft at SDQ were slowly being overgrown by vegetation until 2006 when the dense vegetation was removed. Mike’s November 2006 photos confirmed that the vegetation had indeed been removed and it appeared that something was about to happen to these aircraft. The obvious conclusion was that they were going to be scrapped. Mike’s recent observation during a trip to SDQ seemed to indicate that something other than scrapping might be in the plan. A few weeks ago I received an email from Frank Lang saying that HI-393 was indeed going to be restored. Mike has promised to do a little exploring on his next trip to SDQ in an attempt to find out what is planned for this and the other vintage aircraft.
Long-Time Tucson Scrapyard Resident Heading To Australia - May 7, 2007
Long-time Tucson scrapyard resident, EC-121H 53-535 (N51006), was recently sold to Australia's Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS). The aircraft, once on display at the Pima Air and Space Museum, was donated to the Swiss group Super Constellation Flyers Association (SCFA) in 2001. SCFA harvested spare parts, including the nose gear and rudders, for the ill-fated restoration of C-121J N105CF at Avra Valley. More recently, in
November 2006, the upper radome and other parts were salvaged to repair hurricane damage to EC-121K BuNo 143221 at the Navy’s museum in Pensacola, Florida. HAR president Bob De La Hunty confirmed reports that the group recently purchased the aircraft from SCFA and plan to move the entire aircraft to Australia. The Connie will support the organization's airworthy C-121C VH-EAG and be part of the HARS museum. Its great news that another Connie facing an uncertain future will be saved.
Camarillo EC-121T Repairs Wrapping Up - April 27, 2007
I visited the Camarillo Airport on April 19th and 20th to see how things were progressing on getting EC-121T 53-548 (N548GF) ready for a ferry flight to Chino, California. As previously reported on this website in 2006, the Yanks Air Museum has been in a protracted struggle with the FAA over issuance of a ferry permit to make the one-time flight to the museum’s facility in Chino. During my visits, three Yanks Air Museum mechanics were working on the aircraft finishing up corrosion repairs to the outer wing panels. Access panels had been removed on the lower surface of both wings and they said they were in the final stages of the repairs, which were expected to be completed in the next few days. Apparently the repairs are in accordance with FAA requirements and should complete the FAA’s punch list of concerns. Since the engines haven’t been run for over a year, they will have to be tested along with other systems before the aircraft is ready for the ferry flight. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope this aircraft can finally be flown to Chino in the near future.
NASM Museum C-121C to Be Displayed at Udvar Hazy Center - April 26, 2007
After almost 20 years in open storage at Dulles Airport, the National Air and Space Museum’s C-121C Super Connie N1104W is finally getting some much needed attention before being put on display at the Udvar Hazy Center. Recently museum staff worked with crews from United Airlines and the airport authority to tug the aircraft about a mile or so from storage at Dulles to the Udvar Hazy Center. In a nice touch the museum invited former members of the West Virginia Air National Guard who had flown the aircraft along for the ride.
Restoration crews will attack the effects of many years of outside storage and the aircraft will be repainted, presumably in USAF MATS colors. While the exterior is rough, the inside has escaped the ravages of time and will require minimal work. The work will be done on the south apron of the Udvar-Hazy Center, which is visible from the south walkway or from the parking lot. The museum expects the work to be completed during the next three months after which the aircraft will be display inside the center.
Breitling Super Constellation To Get A Swiss Registration - April 5, 2007
Since arriving in Europe almost three years ago, Breitling Super Constellation N73544 has thrilled airshow crowds and provided memorable rides to Super Constellation Flyers Association (SCFA) members. In May 2007, almost 52 years after her maiden flight, the aircraft will receive a Swiss registration. She will be registered HB-RSC under a special class for historical airplanes. A very happy SCFA president, Urs Morgenthaler, stated "We are going to make a big leap forward". He and the SCFA committee have fought hard to keep this legendary aircraft in the air. "Apart from technical challenges, unfortunately the FAA kept raising more and more administrative issues." In addition, the FAA would no longer grant a long-term exception for the aircraft.
Ernst Frei, SCFA Chief Operation Officer and former Swissair B747 Captain stated "Our professional organization is one key driver that will allow us to operate the aircraft under the Swiss flag. Although a lot of technical and license related topics still have to be resolved with Swiss aviation authorities, we are looking forward to have the registration process complete by May 2007, just in time for the start of the airshow season."
Flying the "Star of Switzerland" will remain an SCFA member privilege, even though the aircraft will have a Swiss registration. For the upcoming season the Super Connie can be seen again at various airshows in Switzerland, France, Germany and other European countries. Roundtrips departing from various Swiss airports can be booked by members-only via the SCFA Website, e-mail or phone. These once in a lifetime rides are a great reason for joining the SCFA! Look for the flight-schedule to be published in mid-April. For additional information, see the SCFA website at www.superconstellation.org Many thanks to SCFA member Valentin Kaufmann for providing the "heads-up" on this exciting development.
Toronto Aerospace Museum Issues Statement on Export of CF-RNR - March 30, 2007
On March 30th, the Toronto Aerospace Museum issued a statement on their website conceding the loss of L1049G CF-RNR (CF-TGE) to Seattle's Museum of Flight. The statement provides a very detailed and interesting accounting of the struggle over this aircraft and a copy of the text is provided below.
Toronto Aerospace Museum Expresses Disappointment as Ottawa Grants Export Permit for Canada’s last Lockheed Super Constellation Airliner
TORONTO, March 30 – The Toronto Aerospace Museum (TAM) today expressed its disappointment at the forthcoming export to a US museum of a rare airliner that was once the flagship of the Air Canada fleet in the 1950s and early 1960s.
Ottawa’s issuance of an export permit for the 1954 Lockheed L-1049C Super Constellation airliner earlier this month effectively ends a 16-month national effort by Toronto-based TAM and a broad coalition of Canadian aviation enthusiasts, aviation heritage groups and airline retirees to keep this aircraft in Canada for future generations.
The former Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA) “Super Connie” (Registration CF-TGE, later CF-RNR) will now join the collection of the Museum of Flight of Seattle (MOF) in Washington State after 53 years in Canada. TCA was renamed Air Canada in 1964.
“We are greatly disappointed by this outcome, since the Super Constellation represents an important chapter in the development of air transportation in Canada,” said Robert Murphy, Chairman of the non-profit Toronto Aerospace Museum. “Our museum’s top priority moving forward is to secure the critically needed financial and community support to ensure that heritage setbacks such as the loss of the Super Constellation don’t happen again.”
“Aviation has been an important instrument of Canadian nation building,” said Murphy. “Preserving and celebrating Canada’s aviation heritage requires the broad-based support of individuals, corporations, institutions and governments.”
A critical review of recent events has revealed weaknesses in the structure and administration of the very government programs that are designed to level the playing field for Canadian institutions seeking to retain or re-patriate moveable cultural properties.
The Canadian campaign to retain the aircraft hinged on the provisions of the federal Cultural Property Export and Import Act, the purpose of which is to ensure the preservation in Canada of important examples of Canadian heritage.
In late 2005, the Toronto Aerospace Museum, in concert with The Air Canada Pionairs retirees’ organization, the Retired Airline Pilots Association of Canada (RAPCAN) and the Toronto Chapter of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society petitioned Ottawa to add the Super Constellation to the Canadian Cultural Property Export Control List because of its historical significance.
In September 2006, the Cultural Properties Export Review Board (Review Board) designated the aircraft of "outstanding significance and national importance" and delayed the issuance of an export permit until December 20, 2006 to create a window of opportunity during which interested Canadian institutions were invited to attempt to re-purchase the aircraft from its exporter.
The Review Board uses its control over the issuance of an export permit for “moveable cultural properties” as its primary lever to create a Canadian home for artifacts destined for export.
In October, 2006, the Chairman of the Toronto Aerospace Museum flew to Seattle to meet with Museum of Flight representatives to see if there was an opportunity to negotiate a ‘made in Canada’ solution. In response, the MOF representatives expressed their continued resolve to bring the aircraft to Seattle.
After the meeting, TAM’s made an initial purchase offer of US$100,000 for the Super Constellation. After this was rejected by the MOF, in mid-November the Canadian museum requested the Cultural Properties Export Review Board's direct assistance in determining the amount of a "fair cash offer value" for the aircraft. One of the roles and responsibilities of the Review Board is to help determine such values.
In response to TAM’s request, the Review Board requested written submissions from both museums within two weeks for an early December decision, but the MOF’s lawyers requested and were granted a three-month postponement for their submissions.
This action by the MOF delayed the determination of the amount of a "fair cash offer value" of the aircraft until the Review Board’s next-scheduled meeting in March 2007.
When the Museum of Flight originally applied for an export permit in 2006, they claimed a value of US$1.2 million for the aircraft, and later a value of US$865,000 in January 2007, both of which TAM believed were well above the MOF’s purchase price for the aircraft and the value of comparable 1950s-era airliners in non-flying condition.
The Toronto Aerospace Museum has experience restoring large four-engine aircraft in similar condition. In 1999, it began the restoration of the City of Toronto’s rare Avro
Lancaster bomber, FM104, which was on outdoor display near the Canadian National
Exhibition for 34 years. The extensive conservation work required for this aircraft includes the almost complete dismantling the airframe, panel by panel, to arrest and treat the extensive corrosion found in the fuselage and wings, and then reassembly.
After it made its original offer, Toronto Aerospace Museum conducted an in-depth review of the market for such artifacts and consulted several experts in the field. Only a few Super Constellation aircraft had changed ownership in recent years, and most of these were fully restored aircraft in certified airworthy condition with working systems and operational engines.
In February 2007, Toronto Aerospace Museum received permission to send an experienced aircraft appraiser and a retired Transport Canada airworthiness inspector familiar with airliners and vintage aircraft to inspect the dismantled Super Constellation at a locked storage yard near Lester B. Pearson Airport.
The two experts, with 110-years of combined experience in the aviation business, reported the Super Constellation to be in extremely poor physical condition after 40 years of outdoor exposure. In their report they observed extensive corrosion, cannibalization of parts, and damage caused by the aircraft’s frequent disassembly, moves and its 1990s conversion to a restaurant.
Toronto Aerospace Museum’s specialists also examined the appraisals submitted by the MOF to Ottawa in January 2007 and discovered several significant material flaws which called into question the assumptions used in their valuations.
For example, Seattle’s appraiser wrote that the logbooks of the aircraft had been inspected when they computed the value of the aircraft, but the MOF’s lawyer later confirmed that there were no surviving logbooks or technical records for the aircraft. An airframe without logbooks or technical records ceases to be an aircraft in the eyes of most regulatory authorities and no part of the aircraft can be considered ‘airworthy’, since the engineering history, utilization and provenance of the parts are unknown.
In addition, the MOF’s appraisers claimed the aircraft had flown only 5,000 hours during its lifetime, but Transport Canada records from 1967 indicate it had actually flown 19,800 hours six months before its permanent retirement --- a discrepancy of 400 percent in its operational use.
The combination of non-existent logbooks and technical records, high total flying time, extensive corrosion and structural damage (especially at the wing attachment points) as well as innumerable missing parts and engines led TAM to conclude a value closer to US$50,000, which is the figure that TAM put forward in its own valuation submission to the Review Board in February and at which it stood ready to bid for the aircraft.
The physical inspection also revealed that the time and cost of restoration would be far more than first estimated. Based on its extensive experience with the Lancaster restoration, TAM recognized that the associated Canadian fundraising efforts for both the Super Connie aircraft and its restoration would, in turn, be more protracted.
Late in the course of the proceedings, documentary evidence was revealed which confirmed that the MOF had actually agreed to pay C$329,000 for the aircraft in monthly installments over a five-year term. The sales figure ultimately formed the basis of the "fair cash offer value" selected by the Review Board on May 7, 2007.
Since the “fair market value” was only determined after the “export delay period” had already expired, due to the MOF requested extension, TAM was placed in a position where it had to bid C$329,000 immediately (even if it was willing to pay this price) after the Review Board announced the dollar amount, or see the export permit be granted to the Museum of Flight.
In the end, the US purchaser was able to delay the most critical part of the process by three months, but corresponding adjustments were not made to the Review Board’s schedule to give a Canadian institutions any time to fundraise to meet the “fair market price”, once this was determined.
TAM respects Review Board’s conclusion that the most recent price paid for the aircraft in an arm’s length transaction represents an appropriate basis for a fair valuation, but was startled by the high price actually paid by the MOF, and believes the US museum grossly overpaid.
The Toronto Aerospace Museum is appreciative of the widespread public support it received from the aviation and heritage community to try and keep this aircraft in Canada. Efforts by the Air Canada Pionairs were particularly important to build public awareness of the important role that Trans-Canada Airlines and the Super Constellation have played in Canadian nation-building.
While TAM is grateful that this aircraft is at least going to a reputable institution that is able to guarantee its preservation, there are important lessons to be learned from this heritage campaign.
If determinations of fair cash offer values by Cultural Property are to be ultimately linked to purchase price alone, then the inevitable result for Canada and its Museums is that they must be prepared to compete on an international stage.
If Canadian institutions must outbid their deep-pocketed foreign rivals in order to keep Canadian cultural heritage within our borders, then Ottawa must provide adequate export delay periods in order to permit Canadian institutions with the opportunity to fundraise.
The grants available to Canadian institutions for the purchase or re-patriation of movable cultural properties should also be reviewed, along with the tax benefits for corporations and individuals who donate towards such fundraising campaigns.
In spite of this outcome, the Toronto Aerospace Museum remains committed to securing artifacts that are important to Canada’s aviation and airline heritage and displaying them in a setting in which they can be viewed and appreciated by Canadians.
The Toronto Aerospace Museum is a non-profit charitable organization developing Toronto’s first air and space museum and educational centre. Founded in 1997, the Museum is one of the fastest growing aviation heritage organizations in Canada. Its collection includes a full scale replica of the famous Avro Arrow, Canada’s first supersonic aircraft, early de Havilland Canada-built aircraft, and a rare 1945 Malton-built Avro Lancaster Mk. X bomber, under restoration.
The museum is located in Canada’s oldest surviving aircraft factory, established by The de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd. at Downsview, a suburb of Toronto, in 1929. The museum building is the birthplace of the famous de Havilland DHC-1 Chipmunk trainer in 1946 and DHC-2 Beaver bush plane in 1947, and were Canada’s first spacecraft, the Alouette I satellite, was assembled in the early 1960s.
This aviation heritage site is now an integral part of Parc Downsview Park Inc., a Crown corporation federally-mandated to develop about 600 acres of the former Canadian Forces Base Downsview into a National Urban Park. For further information in the Park, see www.pdp.ca
The Toronto Aerospace Museum is located at, 65 Carl Hall Road, Downsview Park, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M3K 2E1. For special event information, hours and driving directions, see www.torontoaerospacemuseum.com
Contact: Paul Cabot, Curator/Manager
National Museum of Naval Aviation EC-121K – March 24, 2007
I visited the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola on Friday March 16, 2006. This museum is home to EC-121K (WV-2) BuNo 143221 and many other interesting vintage US Navy transport, patrol, fighter and attack aircraft. My main interest was the outside storage area where the Super Connie is parked along with about 50 other aircraft. Normally access to this area is limited to a 30-minute guided bus tour but I had made prior arrangements and was met by volunteer Les Schnyder, who gave me a walking tour of the ramp. With a solid cloud cover, conditions were not ideal for outside photography and Les opened up the Super Connie to let me poke around inside. From what I saw, I would guess that not much inside the aircraft has changed since she arrived at the museum more than 30 years ago.
The EC-121K was one of about 30 museum aircraft damaged by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. With the exception of the right aileron, she had been totally repaired, including a “new” upper radome salvaged from Tucson EC-121H 53-535. With so many aircraft suffering varying degrees of hurricane damage, the museum recently awarded a contract to assist in the repair of these aircraft. They estimate it will take about 18 months for the museum staff, volunteers and the contractor to complete all the required repairs. Additional information about the museum’s Super Connie can be found on this website.
Since the forecast for the afternoon was for sunny skies, I was allowed to return in the afternoon for a repeat performance under brilliant blue skies. Mike Cook, a museum employee, was most gracious in allowing me free reign of the ramp and a bonus tour of the museum’s warehouse, where a number of interesting aircraft are waiting their turn in the restoration shop. I would highly recommend a visit to this museum. The main museum has many fascinating displays, an IMAX theatre and an F-14 flight simulator for wanta-be fighter jocks. For additional information you can visit their website. Good news for visitors wishing to photograph the aircraft in the outside storage area . The museum is currently using a “trolley” bus with an exterior platform for the tours. This eliminates the problem of having to photograph through glass or plastic bus windows.
More Encouraging News from Camarillo - March 21, 2007
Terry Wall reports from Camarillo Airport that work has resumed on EC-121T N548GF. Several mechanics from Yanks were busy removing wing panels from the aircraft on March 13th and one of them said they were there to work on "structural issues". They were still working on the airplane five days later and hopefully this indicates Yanks and FAA have reached agreement on what needs done to make the aircraft airworthy. Who knows, maybe there's a ferry flight in the foreseeable future for this veteran.
Seattle's Museum of Flight Receives Export Permit for Super Constellation CF-RNR - March 12, 2007
I received the following email from Bob Bogash today regarding what appears to be final resolution of a long standing struggle over the fate of long time Toronto resident Super Connie CF-RNR. On March 8, 2007 the Canadian Heritage Board sent a letter to Canadian Customs instructing them to deliver a permit to the Museum of Flight to allow the export of CF-RNR to the United States. Its been a long and expensive struggle for both sides and hopefully this action is the final chapter in the battle over this classic aircraft. Finally, the aircraft will be properly restored and displayed so that all can enjoy her.
This airplane was one of very few, if not the only, surviving commercial (not ex-military) Lockheed Super G Constellation available in the world. It flew with (then) Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA) from 1954-1962, and had been mostly abandoned and derelict since 1965. It was last used as a restaurant and bar on Toronto airport property. The Connie is a very widely admired airplane and would make a great addition to our collection, which has slowly amassed a series of airplanes that I call "The Kelly Johnson Collection" - (one of my personal heroes.) This collection will now include these Kelly Johnson designs: a P-38, P-80C, Constellation, F-104, SR-71, and the prototype Jetstar (also Kelly's personal airplane for 25 years.)
After purchasing the airplane, we (the Seattle Museum of Flight) disassembled the airplane, moved it off Toronto Airport property, and placed it in storage at a close-by location. This was done last January - March (2006.) Pictures and details for all of this can be seen on my website here:
In the midst of the disassembly, the Toronto Aerospace Museum (TAM) appealed to the Movable Cultural Properties Board in Ottawa to protest the export of this airplane from Canada. The Cultural Board sent us a letter declaring the airplane to be covered by the Cultural and Heritage laws of Canada, requiring an approved Export Permit.
In May 2006, we (the Museum of Flight) applied to Canadian Customs in Vancouver for an Export Permit. Having been declared a Canadian Cultural Artifact (even though it was designed and built in the United States), Customs referred the application to a so-called (in this case VERY "so-called"), Expert Examiner, a man running a business of sorts out of his house in Calgary. He wrote an ill-informed letter recommending rejection of our Application, which then occurred.
The TAM, meanwhile, having watched the airplane sit and deteriorate over many years just a few miles from their facility, set-up a "Save Our Connie" website with a Petition drive, gained about 2000 signatures, and conducted at least one fund raiser to raise money to buy the airplane. There was much continuing news coverage in the Canadian media - the gist being: 'the rich, big, bad Americans' are "stealing our culture."
The Museum appealed the Customs decision to the Heritage Board in Ottawa in accordance with their rules and procedures. In September, 2006, Dr. Bonnie
Dunbar, Museum President and CEO, personally made the Museum's presentation to the Board in Ottawa. The opposing party at that hearing was the Calgary so-called "Expert." At the conclusion of the hearing, the Heritage Board decided to again deny the Museum an Export Permit.
The next stage in this soap opera was the setting of a Fair Market Value and notification to approved Canadian institutions, to find if one wanted to submit a bid for the airplane. (The Museum was not forced to accept any bid, since it was our property - only thing is - we could not export it from Canada -- Just a little detail!) Both the Museum, and the TAM (the only interested party in Canada) had appraisals done and submitted them to the Board.
The Museum spent $300-400K for the airplane and has invested an equal amount in disassembly, relocation, and legal fees. Our appraisals came in for about $800-900K. The TAM, in their PR blitz and letter writing campaign, had declared this airplane priceless, precious, and irreplaceable,
"We believe the Super Constellation would be a magnificent addition to our collection," said Paul Cabot, Curator of the Toronto Aerospace Museum. "Canadians are passionate about preserving their aircraft," said Cabot. "My phone has been ringing every day."
Here's what they told the Heritage Board:
"Junk, junk and more junk!"
"The only monetary value is the going rate of 20,000 lbs of clean scrap aluminum at between 50 and 75 cents per pound Canadian, without the costs of scrapping and metal segregation...."
Accordingly, they valued the aircraft at $25,000, but 'generously' bumped that figure to $50,000 to cover our expenses to date! As they say down at the horse auction, I guess it depends on whether you're buying or selling.
With those two widely divergent valuations in hand, the Heritage Board set the Fair Market Value at a little under $400,000. The Toronto Aerospace Museum, as suspected, had no money. (Only, perhaps, in Canada, can you sit down at the poker table and draw cards from the dealer with no chips on the table.) Their 'fooling around' - for that's what it was - cost the Museum - a reputable, sister institution - many hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional costs -- money which the Museum, like any non-profit organization, is not awash with..
On Thursday, March 8, 2007, the Heritage Board sent a letter to Canada Customs instructing them to deliver an Export Permit for the airplane to the Museum of Flight.
After an expensive mid-winter disassembly, and a costly year in storage, we have begun detailed arrangements with Air Canada to move the airplane to one of their Toronto Airport hangars, where repairs and re-painting will occur, followed by road transport to Seattle. The airplane, which we had hoped to be on display the first week in October 2005, will finally take its place next to the Concorde, Air Force One, and the other historic airplanes in the Museum's Air Park, perhaps by early summer.
Let's hope the B.S. part of this endeavor is behind us, and the hardware and logistical issues are the only ones in our future. The repair, re-paint, transport, and especially the reassembly will be challenges a plenty. But as Yogi said: "It ain't over, till it's over."
For a chronological account of this epic saga, scroll down the page to the following dates: December 29, 2006; September 24, 2006; June 3, 2006; April 2006; March 2006; and February 2006.
Encouraging News from Camarillo - February 23, 2007
An encouraging rumor out of Camarillo, CA says that work will resume soon on making EC-121T N548GF ready for a ferry flight to Chino. Apparently the FAA and Yanks Air Museum have finally agreed on what needs to be done to bring the old girl back to what the FAA considers "airworthy". Let’s keep our fingers crossed that there’s some truth to the rumor and the orphan of Camarillo finds a permanent home with the Yanks Air Museum. As usual, many thanks to Terry Wall for sending updated photos of the old girl taken on January 23, 2007.
Starliner Update – February 19, 2007
Due to non-payment, Maurice Roundy has taken back the two Maine based Starliners (N7316C and N8083H) that were sold to Florida land developer Jim Thompson in the fall of 2005. The third Starliner, N974R, is currently on display at the Fantasy of Flight facility in Polk City, FL. It was donated to the US Airline Industry Museum by Jim Thompson
in 2005 and Maurice is also attempting to have this aircraft returned to him due to non-payment. See the October 2005 news article for additional information regarding the sale of these aircraft. The above photos of Maurice, N8083H and N7316C were taken in August 2006. Good luck to Maurice and hopefully we will see one of these gorgeous aircraft back in the air one day!
LeBourget Connie Gets A Paintjob (Sort Of) – February 5, 2007
L749A F-ZVMV, a long time resident of LeBourget Airport, has a new look. The left side of the aircraft was recently painted in “quasi” Air France colors for a movie about the famous French cabaret singer Edith Piaf. The aircraft was delivered to Air France second hand as F-BAZR in January 1949 after service with Pan American and Aerovias Guest SA. After being retired by Air France in October 1960, it was fitted out with an engine test bed and flown in this configuration until December 1974. The Musee de l’Air obtained the aircraft in July 1975 and the aircraft has been display, more or less, since that time. In 2002 the engine test bed was removed and word from the museum was that the aircraft was being restored back to airliner configuration. Peter Unmuth photographed the aircraft at Le Bourget on December 15, 2006 in “quasi” Air France colors giving hope that perhaps some sort of restoration is underway. Many thanks to Peter for allowing the use of his photo.
Manila Super Connie Update – January 27, 2007
Impounded since early 1988 at Manila International Airport, C-121J (R7V-1) N4247K has been slowly rotting away in the hot and humid climate. Martin Fenner visited Manila in August 2006 and forwarded some fascinating photos of the old girl. While ragged around the edges, the aircraft is almost totally intact and in somewhat reasonable shape. The Super Connie was delivered to the US Navy in December 1953 as R7V-1 BuNo 131643. After being retired in May 1974 it was stored at Davis Monthan AFB until May 1981 when William “Winky” Crawford bought her at auction. Registered N4247K, she was restored and ferried to Arlington, Washington in June 1981. Restoration was completed in November 1987 and the aircraft was registered to Winky’s “World Fish and Agriculture” company. The aircraft was flown across
the Pacific Ocean to Palau Island during the second week of November 1987 for the purpose of flying fresh tuna from the island to Nagoya, Japan. A few flights were made hauling fish before the aircraft was impounded at Manila in early 1988. Winky was reportedly the victim of unscrupulous Filipino businessmen who wanted to gain control of the aircraft and what they thought was a lucrative fish hauling business. The aircraft still has its “World Fish and Agriculture Corp” and “Winky’s Fish” titles visible along with the remnants of “United States Navy” and “Pacific Missile Range” titles clearly visible. This unfortunate tale has one happy outcome, albeit unintentional…an intact Super Constellation has avoided the unhappy fate of so many of her sisters…the scrapman! For additional information on this aircraft, see my May 2004 article on Benny Younesi. Many thanks to Martin for sharing the photos.
Korean Air L749A Connie on Display – January 10, 2007
I received an email from Martin Fenner with some much welcomed photos of the ex-MATS Connie, which is now on display at the Korean Air flight training facility on Jeju Island, South Korea. Martin photographed the aircraft in Air Korea colors on January 10, 2007 with the false registration HL4003. Air Korea, in fact, operated an L1649A registered HL4003 (c/n 1037) from March 1967 to August 1968 when it ceased operations. The question that
begs to be asked is why this aircraft wasn’t painted in Koreanair colors as HL102, which was an L749A operated in the early 1960’s by the predecessor to the present day Korean Air. As far as I know, Air Korea was a non-scheduled airline that had no affiliation the present day Korean Air. Many thanks to Martin for sharing the photos.
See Constellation News Archive - 2006 For Additional News
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