"This is your Captain speaking.

"Welcome aboard the flagship of Trans-Canada Air Lines, the Lockheed `Super G' Constellation. If you look out your starboard window, you'll notice the wing is being removed ..."

Its flying days are long over. But as an historic airliner on Derry Rd. in Mississauga gets dismantled and prepped for shipment to the United States, there's a growing chorus of those who want to see it remain in this country.

The former Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA) luxury plane has been sold to Seattle's Museum of Flight, which has one of the best collections of notable airliners in the world. It paid an undisclosed amount for the aircraft, a former bar/restaurant called "Super Connie" that's been sitting abandoned for years.

Now the Air Canada Pionairs an organization of more than 12,000 retired Air Canada employees has started an online petition to try to keep it here (http://www.canadiansuperconnie.org/). The group has also written the federal Canadian Heritage department, urging it to deny an export permit for the plane.

"We believe the aviation history of Canada would be significantly diminished if an export permit was issued allowing this rare aircraft to be moved to Seattle," says a letter sent to the department's Moveable Cultural Property office. "(We) support efforts by the Toronto Aerospace Museum to keep this aircraft in Canada ... for the benefit of all Canadians."

In its day, the Super Constellation was a magnificent bird. With its efficiency and fuel capacity, it could whisk passengers non-stop from Toronto and Montreal to Europe in posh and pampered style and in then-record time. Tens of thousands of immigrants came to Canada on these aircraft. Advertisements that appeared half a century ago in the Toronto Daily Star described it as the "World's Finest Airliner!"

"You can't fly finer! You can't fly faster to Europe! Than on one of the big SUPER Constellations just put in service by Trans-Canada Air Lines," reads a 1954 TCA/Lockheed advertisement. "Take a look at one of these sleek beauties the roomiest, the most comfortable modern airliner in service anywhere ..."

Aviation enthusiasts say it's Canada's only surviving passenger craft from that era. Ken Swartz says he's checked out the fate of every trans-oceanic propeller-driven airliner flown by Canadian operators of the day.

"All the original passenger-carrying piston-engine (aircraft) that Canadian airlines flew across the Atlantic and the Pacific between 1947 and the mid-1960s have disappeared from Canada, except Super Constellation CF-TGE, Fleet No. 405," says Swartz, vice-chairman of the Toronto Aerospace Museum. "It really is the last of its kind (in the country)."

But keeping "Super Connie" on Canadian soil may be easier said than done.

From the perspective of the Seattle Museum of Flight, this is a done deal. An undisclosed amount of cash has already been paid, and Air Canada will soon paint the craft in its original TCA colours before it heads south. Air Canada points out that it has donated several aircraft to Canadian museums, but that this one isn't its to donate.

"It's a private transaction," says spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick.

But, according to some, Canada didn't get a clear shot at keeping the airliner.

"The Toronto Aerospace Museum has been trying to acquire this aircraft for several years," says manager/curator Paul Cabot. "We've been rebuffed at every turn."

The person who's been overseeing the sale and dismantling is Catherine Scott, a colourful character with language to match. Last week, she initially told the Star she was the owner. During a later conversation, she said, "I don't own the damn thing." She also says that "Canadian museums had many years to buy this aircraft, and they did not."

The Toronto Aerospace Museum says it tried dealing with Scott repeatedly, but that she seemed adamant the Super Connie head south. The museum says it was also in occasional talks with the Greater Toronto Airport Authority over the years operating under the belief the GTAA was taking ownership of the craft because no one had been paying rent on the GTAA land where it's been sitting empty since 2002.

"So we were quite certain it would be made available to Canadian museums," says Cabot. Certain enough that Cabot lobbied for, and received, federal permission to park the plane outside the museum's home in Downsview Park. The GTAA, meanwhile, expressed relief the aircraft is finally leaving its property and heading to Seattle.

But where it will ultimately wind up may still be in the air. Canadian Heritage has the power to delay the export of the craft, offering a grace period to see if Canadian museums can match the U.S. bid.

"It would be nice to have something from the prop age and all the glamour associated with that," says Howard Malone, president of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, Toronto Chapter. "The Constellation marked a pretty important milestone in terms of the destinations it could reach."

As for the destination this Connie will reach, the flight plan still calls for Seattle. But there may well be some turbulence along the way.