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  Korean Air Brings Back Constellation Aircraft

By Kim Rahn
Staff Reporter

Korean Air chairman and CEO Cho Yang-ho, third from left, shakes hands with U.S. pilot Lang Clyde in front of a Constellation aircraft at Incheon International Airport, Saturday. The airline company brought in a 57-year-old Constellation, a star plane in the 1950s-60s, for display at its flying school on Cheju Island. / Courtesy of Korean Air

Korean Air has brought a Constellation aircraft, the type that used to fly here in the 1950s-60s, from the United States to Korea.

The airplane, made by Lockheed Martin, was used as the nation's first aircraft exclusively for the president, as well as led an early development of Hanjin Group, which owns the airline.

The airplane arrived at Inchon on Saturday after flying for 37 hours and 25 minutes over nine days from Arizona via Oakland, Anchorage, Cold Bay and Hakodate in Japan.

Korean Air has been searching for a Constellation plane since 2003 to add to its collection of historical material. The airline's long-term partner Pratt & Whitney, an aircraft engine producer, donated a 57-year-old Constellation to Korean Air.

Because of the airplane's age, the pilots able to operate the plane are also older. Seven veteran pilots flew the Constellation to Korea, including 83-year-old pilot Lang Clyde.

The plane was sent to Korean Air's plant in Pusan Sunday, and will be restored to look as it did when it was used in Korea. After it is painted, it will be displayed at the airline's flying school on Cheju Island.

The Constellation is a 60-90 seat-propeller airplane with that led the world's aviation market from the late 1930s to the 1960s. Only 55 of the 856 aircrafts produced still remain, and only about five of them are still able to operate.

In Korea, Korean National Airlines, the nation's first carrier, adopted the aircraft in July 1959, and operated for several international routes such as to Seattle and Hong Kong.

In 1961, then-President Park Chung-hee took a Constellation as the code one, a plane exclusively for the president, for his visit to the U.S. It was the first time that the country introduced a presidential plane.

Hanjin Group operated two Constellations to transport manpower and war supplies to Vietnam at the end of the 1960s. The profits gained at that time led the group's development.

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