SUPER LOCKHEED CONSTELLATION LIVES ON by Bill Dixon There is good reason to visit the "Save A Connie, Inc " exhibit based at the old Kansas City, MKC Airport. It is now known as the Airline History Museum. They have masterfully restored a piston four-engine 1049G Constellation, a Martin twin-engine 404, and are working on a DC-3. I have been fortunate in my time to have flown thousands of hours on a number of different air transports, from the Army Air Corp Douglas C47 and Curtis C46, to the giant Boeing jet 747 on TWA. Of them all, I enjoyed the most piloting the Lockheed Constellation, known as the "Connie", above even the jets. The long range version 1049G boasted streamlined tip fuel tanks attached to each wing tip, which added to its majestic look and were reinstalled by the Museum. This restored Super G is occasionally flown at air shows through out the country. The Constellation came on the commercial scene on TWA and Eastern Airlines immediately after the end of WW II. It was developed prior to the war to the specifications of TWA president Jack Frye and TWA's majority stockholder, Howard Hughes. The few models that had been manufactured, called C-69s, were drafted by the Army Air Corps and turned back to TWA at war's end, when production resumed.
Already nicknamed the Connie, the first commercial TWA model was a sleek, triple-tailed beauty with 51 seats, tastefully furnished inside and out. It was the original model 049, pressurized but not air-conditioned. It climbed and descended fast to use the cold upper air for cooling. All later models were air-conditioned. The 1649A, the biggest and longest range of the Connies, had a wingspan of 150 feet and a maximum gross take-off weight of 16o,000 pounds. The model 749A and 1049G probably were the most numerous, and carried 64 to 92 passengers, depending on seating arrangements. The seats all were comfortably spaced. The Airline History Museum and Save-A-Connie, Inc. are carrying on its legacy. Founded in 1986, Save-A-Connie christened its Connie the "Star of America". It had earlier been owned by the late Jim Wheeler, a retired TWA captain, who used it to carry cattle for a short period. It then stood unused in Mesa, Arizona for approximately eleven years, after that, it was virtually given to the "Save a Connie" group. It was put in shape in two months to ferry to Kansas City, where full restoration began immediately, with active and retired TWA employees. It has become a fascinating display of historic memorabilia. Donations are welcome. This Connie ' s vital statistics are: Fuselage length, 116 ' , 2 " ; wing span with tip tanks, 123 ' , 6 "; weight (empty), 76,67o lbs; usable fuel capacity, 7,020 gallons; cruise speed, up to 328 mph; flight range, 5,400 miles.
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Magazine of TWA Active Retired Pilots Assn.