Super Constellation restoration a story of dedication
IT was a sorry sight. Once the queen of the skies, a Lockheed Super Constellation aircraft was deteriorating at an airport in Manila.
Now, after nearly four years of dedication and expertise by a committed band of volunteers and Qantas engineers, it is being returned to its former glory.
The Qantas Founders Museum at Longreach in Outback Queensland purchased the Super Constellation aircraft from the Manila International Airport Authority in September 2014.
The aircraft, N4247K, had been grounded in Manila for 25 years. It had been used by World Fish and Agriculture Inc to transport fish cargo and had been previously operated by the United States Navy.
After countless hours, the external restoration of the aircraft to the original Qantas livery is now complete.
After the airplane was discovered at Manila it was two and a half years later before it was extracted from it’s mud-encrusted position, disassembled and the components transported by ship from Manila to the North Queensland port of Townsville.
The transfer was carried out by Qantas Engineering and a devoted team of volunteer engineers.
It was then by truck from Townsville to Longreach, arriving in late May 2017.
Over the past 13 months, Qantas specialist engineers, volunteers and contractors have been working in sometimes trying conditions to prepare and restore the exterior of the aircraft.
This has included replacing corroded and missing areas, reassembling the aircraft and repainting it in the Qantas Super Constellation livery.
The livery details were provided from original Qantas 1950’s drawings, sourced and reproduced by Qantas’ curator and engineering technical staff.
The Super Constellation changed air transport. The sleek dolphin-shaped fuselage, the distinctive triple tail and features such as the pressurised cabin, overall speed and comfort made her an enduring symbol – the epitome of style in propeller-driven aircraft.
It is an iconic aircraft in the history of Qantas and Australian aviation.
The Constellation – or Connie as she became known – was the first aircraft that enabled Qantas to establish and sustain long-range overseas air service in its own right.
The Constellation operated the Qantas Kangaroo Route air services between Sydney and London from 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 first pressurised aircraft operated by the airline and it significantly increased comfort and operational reliability to long distance routes.
And she was the first Qantas aircraft to feature flight hostesses.
Qantas Founders Museum CEO Tony Martin said it was great achievement by all involved in the super constellation project to see restoration to a pristine condition completed.
“The Super Constellation project has been a long and at times trying project but the end result with a beautiful aircraft externally restored, is well worth it.”
“This project would not have been completed without the hard work and dedication of our project manager Rodney Seccombe, Qantas Engineering, our contractors and volunteers and the support of our sponsors and community, thank you to everyone who assisted us.”
“The new aircraft is an important addition to our aircraft collection and enables us to tell a significant part in the history of Qantas while featuring one of the most iconic aircraft in commercial aviation history,” Mr Martin said.
Qantas Founders Museum tells the story of Australia’s national airline, Qantas Airways, from its early beginnings in Western Queensland in 1920 to the present day almost 100 years later.
The museum, which welcomes over 40,000 visitors a year, has a variety of exhibits, interactive displays, artefacts and aircraft including a Boeing 747, Boeing 707, Consolidated Catalina and DC-3.
The next stage of the project will be the internal restoration and display creation which the Qantas Founders Museum hopes to be completed by the Qantas Centenary year of 2020.
The Super Constellation project was substantially funded jointly by the Qantas Foundation Memorial Ltd (the parent company to Qantas Founders Museum), Qantas Airways and the Australian Government with funds administered by the Queensland Government through the Tourism Demand Driver Infrastructure Fund.
Support for the project has come from the Commonwealth and Queensland governments, Qantas Airways, Lufthansa Technik, Cebu Pacific Airlines, International Container Terminal Services Ltd (Manila), Powerhouse International, Dick Smith, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls Royce, Lockheed Australia, Teledyne and Qudos Bank, either for financial or in-kind support.
The many QFM Members and the Longreach community have contributed significantly as well.
The Super Constellation will be available for display to museum visitors later in 2018 once final preparations have been made for the planned Airpark Roof Project.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE SUPER CONSTELLATION AND QANTAS
The Lockheed Constellation is an iconic aircraft in the history of Qantas and Australian aviation.
The Constellation operated the Qantas Kangaroo Route air services between Sydney and London from 1947.
The Constellation was the first aircraft that enabled Qantas to establish and sustain long-range overseas air service in its own right.
This was 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.
It was the first pressurised aircraft operated by Qantas, bringing significantly increased comfort and operational reliability to long distance routes.
Qantas Super Constellations operated the first regular round-the-world air service via both hemispheres in 1958.
For more information about the Roof Project, please follow the link: https://qfom.com.au/2017/12/18/media-release-coalition-governmentcommits-11-3-million-to-qantas-founders-museum-airpark-roof-project/