Surviving Connies

If there is one plane that has sleek lines, it is the Lockheed Constellation, built in various variants: L-049, L-649, L-649A, L-749, 1049 and the Super Constellations L-1049C, L-1049E, L-1049G, L-1049H & L-1649A; fortunately there are still a few Connies around, although for commercial use their days are over.

Photos © R.Leeuw

EC-121T 53-0548 (cn4363) shows the unique lines of the Connie (Camarillo,CA 1997)
The radome under the belly, hidden in the shadows of a hot Californian sun, is evidence
of its former military role (a lot of the equipment in the cabin has been taken out, to save weight).

L-1049G (ex/CF-RNR, cn4544) is awaiting its destiny as ....a bar/restaurant (Toronto, 1998)

The idea of a bar/restaurant did not really work out. Mike sent me an update in Dec.2002:
"It was operated as a bar restaurant for about a year. It's been for sale for at least 3 years and appears to be abandoned (rumor has it Boeing's "Museum of Flight" in Seattle,WA may have bought it... I'm waiting for confirmation from them on that). Anyway, if it still is for sale, the last price the real estate agent told me was "best offer around one hundred thousand Canadian dollars".
"I have pleaded with Air Canada and every major museum to consider this bird...but nobody seems interested. Now the owner seems to have abandoned it...hopefully the rumor that the boys in Seattle bought it is true!" Thanks Mike !
The Curator of the Museum of Flight confirmed to me, in early Jan.2003, that an attempt to purchase this aircraft had failed and that the owner was looking for a place to store it.
In July 2004 it was offered for sale on eBay, not so strange unless you consider the fact that Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) considered themselves the owners of the plane (and they did not put it up for sale on eBay) and GTAA had promised to donate it to the Toronto Aerospace Museum (which did not know about the eBay auction either...). So who is this mysterious owner ? Well, that was (allegedly) one Catherine Ross.
Bill Blanchard sent me a photo in June 2005: situation unchanged

The following was published on the internet in Jan.2006 on CF-RNR's move to Seattle:
Seattle is last stop for classic aircraft
Torstar Network
Jan 31, 2006
The engine cowlings are off, the props are stacked in the mud like giant jacks, and the tricky job of disassembling the wings is underway. They are dismantling the rare "Super G" Constellation airliner, known for years as the diner "Super Connie," on Derry Rd. in Mississauga.
Though this former luxury airliner hasn't flown in decades, it is the last surviving Lockheed "Super G" Constellation once owned by Trans-Canada Airlines (now Air Canada).
With its sweeping fuselage and distinctive triple tail, it carried passengers across North America and to Europe from 1954 until it was withdrawn from TCA service in 1962.
Soon, it will be making its final long haul. First, to a nearby Air Canada hangar. And then, on a flatbed, to its new home in the United States. It's been purchased by the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.
"Air Canada has promised to paint it first before it comes here," said Dennis Parks, the museum's senior curator. "We're hoping to put it back in the original TCA colours."
(Reproduced in part).
The Super Connie was scheduled to go on transport on 17Feb06 but this seems to be delayed. These photos were sent to me on the 16th and transport seems to be a long way off.
Click here | Click here | Click here
Below photos were taken by Phil Gies, he wrote:
"Here are some photos I took in 2002.
We were returning from a vacation and had to stage through Toronto, so I called some friends and we went for a drink in the Super Constellation CF-RNR, which at the time was parked just north of the airport.
The first photo was taken just outside the entrance, sort of a porch so as to not impact on the interior of the Constellation.
The 2nd picture was taken in the first class lounge. Interestingly this area was near the tail not the near cockpit as is today’s norm.
I did visit the cockpit and was amazed at the amount and size of the radio equipment it carried when flying! Good thing we did the visit then as the Connie 'disappeared' a year later..."
In dedication
The owner, Catherine Ross, claimed (during early 2006) she had been negotiating with Boeing for years and a deal had allready been done in 2002; that would make the eBay posting a little strange, but Mrs Ross did have an act that was hard to follow sometimes, I was told. During Feb.2006 the disassembly continued as can be seen on these photos by Den Pascoe: here and here.
I was told that most of the parts have been moved to a storage yard on Torbram Road, about 1 km north of its previous display location on Derry Road. By 10Mar06 hardly anything was left in that spot.
Bob Bogash is the Seattle Museum of Flight's volunteer project manager for the Toronto Super Constellation project. He has put together a very detailed and informative website relating to the facts surrounding the aircraft, as he sees them. A must-read for all those interested in this continuing saga.

On 20Sep06 the Canadian Heritage Board in Ottawa was in session; the ruling concerning CF-RNR was that Boeing's appeal against refusal of the Export permit was dismissed.
In february 2006 the Cultural Property Office of the Department of Canadian Heritage had ruled that, since CF-RNR had been classified a movable Canadian Cultural Property, such Export Permit was required if a purchase by the Boeing Museum of Flight was to take place.
The Heritage Board will establish a "fair market price" for this vintage transport and Canadian parties can make an offer according to this market price.
Boeing is the owner and they can hang on to it if they want and await the time when they are allowed to approach the Heritage Board again.
Any Canadian parties interested in the purchase will not only have to consider the cost of purchase but also the cost of restoration and display.
Meanwhile, CF-RNR lies dismantled at the Cargo Star truck parking lot in Toronto.
Source: Airnieuws Oct.2006 issue 442
The next hearing on the export permit is scheduled to take place on 20Mar07.

The Toronto Aerospace Museum held an appeal to keep "the Toronto Connie" in Canada . But at the end the bid fell short and CF-RNR / CF-TGE was cleared for transport to Boeing's Museum of Flight.

Dennis Parks, Curator for the Museum of Flight, sent me this photo in June 2007 and he wrote;
"The Museum of Flight's SuperG Constellation in now in the United States. It arrived last Thursday (June 07th) at Rome, NY where it will be re-furbished and put in its original TCA Markings before coming to Seattle.
Here is a photo of its arrival in Rome,NY":
Arriving at Rome,NY

Super Constellation In Nov. 2007 I received following message concerning Lockheed L.1049G CF-TGE.
Here are some photos of the Super Connie, which is being restored by Empire Air Services at what is now officially called "Griffiss Business and Technology Park", formerly Griffiss AFB...
Two 2 cranes cradled it and as of monday 29Oct07 the cranes are gone and it is now sitting on its own gear.

More photos by Dave on my page Photos by Friends & Guests -page 11-.

Bob Bogash has built a remarkable dossier on his website about this Super Connie and its restoration for the Boeing Museum of Flight, check Bob's file on CF-TGE...

See my Oct.2014 photo

See also Ralph M. Pettersen's 'Constellation Survivors' website, for a detailed chronological history

C-121G HI-583CT (cn4137) at a time when Aerochago still made full use of its Connies (Miami, early 1990s)

This ex/US Air Force 54-4062, ex/US Navy 131636 Constellation lost its future when the FAA banned certain type of aircraft from certain countries and HI-583CT was stored at Santa Domingo around 1994.
It was bought by Super Constellation Flyers Association, a Suisse group interested in restoring a Lockheed Constellation. It was registered N105CF on 24Oct2000 and flown to Avra Valley,AZ for restoration in Jan.2001.
Things did not quite go as planned and in the end parts of N105CF were used to restore another Connie for SCFA.

I came across N105CF once more, 16May08, loosing parts in storage at Avra Valley...
You'll find an update there too, because it moved to a new owner late-2015!

Fortunately, there are people who take preservation seriously: Vern Raburn's beautiful 'MATS Connie' (N494TW, cn2601 at San Jose,CA 1997).
It's life at the air show circuit was cut short when it was sold in 2005 to Korean Airlines for static display in S.Korea.

At Camarillo,CA I found not one but two Connies: EC-121T 53-0548 as well as this C-121C (L-1049F) N73544 (c/n 4175). Crew I spoke at this site were not too pleased with the handling characteristics of N73544.
'The Constellation Historical Society' (Benny Younesi) gave up on its restoration.
N73544 became HB-RSC for the Super Constellation Flyers in Switzerland in 2004 and for many years was a welcome visitor to various air shows in Europe, though it was grounded for the 2010 season due corrosion of the wing; in April 2011 it was rolled out with new, slightly revised colourscheme.
HB-RSC was grounded 2017 again due maintenance issues (wing flap rods, damage to wheels, brakes, et cetera) and when Breitling ceased its sponsorship the budget ran out.

Click here This is Lockheed L.1049G Super Constellation with maufacturer's serial number 4671, preserved at Munich's Franz Josef Strauss IAP, Germany (MUC/EDDM). I took this photo in the summer of 2005, it had to start raining of course.
Its history, in brief:
It was delivered to Air France in February 1957 as F-BHML; it went to Tunis Air for a lease in the summer 1961, but was returned to Air France that same year.
Ownership changed to Compagnie Air Fret on 08Mar68. F-BHML was retired by Air Fret and stored at Nimes-Garons by August 1976.
It went to Air Classics during November 1977 and was ferried from Nimes to Düsseldorf, Germany on 27Jun78.
It appeared painted in Air Classics color scheme, but with a fake registration D-ADAM, by January 1979. It was moved again, from Düsseldorf to Frankfurt Rhein-Main Airport during June 1985 and this time marked (again with a fake registration): D-ALAP.
Its final move from Frankfurt to Munich's FJ Strauss International Airport took place during 1993, where it underwent extensive restoration.
It is seen here painted in 1955 Lufthansa color scheme with false registration D-ALEM to commemorate Lufthansa’s first trans-Atlantic flight on 087Jun55; in the cabin one can see a historical film, depicting Lufthansa Super Constellation flights.
Source: Connie Survivors
The cockpit
Click here
The cabin
click here

Your comments:

If you want to know more about this fascinating propliner, read this:
Background info to the "Connie", including comparisons to contemporary transports.
Read of the arrival of N749NL "Dutch Connie" at Lelystad,NL on Sept.28th 2002: Connie's Comeback !
Here is a tale about a Connie: Truth is often stranger than fiction...

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Created: 13-7-00
Last updated 18.3.2019