If an aircraft could be a beauty queen, the Lockheed Constellation ruled the world.
One of the most elegant aircraft ever built, the dolphin-bodied, triple-tailed “Connie” graced the skies for Qantas and others until the dawn of the jet age, notching up various firsts along the way.
Now fans of the aircraft are a step closer to seeing a Connie again at the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach, which is restoring one of the classic planes to its original glory.
The museum bought the Super Constellation, which had been grounded for 25 years – it had last been used to transport fish – from the Manila International Airport Authority in 2014.
Over 2½ years it was extracted from its muddy location, taken apart and its components shipped to Queensland, where it was reassembled by a team of Qantas and volunteer engineers.
Restoration of its exterior was competed in July, with the plane repainted in 1950s Qantas livery. The Connie will be available for display to visitors later in this year.
The next stage will be the internal restoration and display creation, which the museum hopes to be completed by the Qantas centenary year of 2020.
The museum has a variety of exhibits, interactive displays, artefacts and aircraft including an original Qantas DC3, a Catalina flying boat, the airline’s first Boeing 707 and an original Qantas Boeing 747, together with replicas of early-era aircraft.
(07) 4658-3737, qfom.com.au
A PLANE OF FIRSTS
- The Constellation flew the Qantas Kangaroo route between Sydney and London via Darwin, Singapore, Calcutta, Karachi, Cairo and Tripoli from December 1, 1947 – the longest air service in the world using the same aircraft all the way.
- A Super Constellation operated the first Qantas trans-Pacific air service in 1954.
- The Constellation was the first Qantas aircraft to feature flight hostesses.
- The Constellation was the first pressurised aircraft operated by Qantas, increasing comfort and reliability on long-distance routes.
- Qantas Super Constellations operated the first ever regular round-the-world air service via both hemispheres in 1958.