Lockheed Super Constellation one step closer to Australia

Qantas Founders Museum one step closer to bringing iconic plane to Australia

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The "Connie" fuselage enroute to Manila's seaport. Photo by Rodney Seccombe.

The "Connie" fuselage enroute to Manila's seaport. Photo by Rodney Seccombe.

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The Qantas Founders Museum completed a major milestone in mid-December when the next exciting part of the museum’s historic display, a Lockheed Super Constellation aircraft, was moved from Manila’s international airport to the city’s seaport in a delicate operation.

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The Qantas Founders Museum completed a major milestone in mid-December when the next exciting part of the museum’s historic display, a Lockheed Super Constellation aircraft, was moved from Manila’s international airport to the city’s seaport in a delicate operation.

In the early hours of December 12, seven trailers were used to lift the disassembled Super Constellation from its airport storage site to the Manila seaport.

The whole operation took about four-and-a-half hours to make the 15 kilometre move, which included the partial closing one of Manila’s main highways, so that the trailers could travel on the incorrect side of the highway, and lifting some low power lines.

Close cooperation with and support from MIAA, the police, city governments and road authorities ensured that the tricky operation of moving the very-much oversized fuselage, wings, tri-tail and four engines/propellers was accomplished smoothly.

Qantas Founders Museum Chairman John Vincent said they were very excited to see the project complete this stage safely and efficiently.

“Moving a 60-plus-year-old disassembled, very large aircraft is no easy feat so we are delighted that this stage of the project has been completed and the aircraft is one step closer to its final home of Longreach.

“The Qantas Founders Museum has spent over two years fundraising and working on this project and we look forward to having this iconic aircraft in our museum collection soon.

“I want to sincerely thank and to acknowledge all the support, assistance and advice we have received from Qantas Airways and Qantas Engineering, retired aviation engineers, Lufthansa Technik Philippines, MIAA, Cebu Pacific Air, our contractors and advisers in Manila and Australia and now ICTSI.”

He particularly acknowledged the work of project manager Rodney Seccombe to get the project to this stage.

The next stage of the project will be the transportation of the aircraft by sea to Australia, which is expected to begin in mid-2017.

About the museum and the Super Constellation

The Super Constellation fuselage was quite a talking point when it arrived at Manila's seaport after a 15km trek from the city's international airport. Photo by Jennifer Dainer.

The Super Constellation fuselage was quite a talking point when it arrived at Manila's seaport after a 15km trek from the city's international airport. Photo by Jennifer Dainer.

The Qantas Founders Museum is a not for profit organisation which tells the story of Australia’s national airline, Qantas Airways, and how it began in western Queensland in 1920. The museum, which has an annual visitation of 40,000 people a year, has a variety of exhibits, interactive displays, artefacts and aircraft, including an original Qantas Boeing 747, Qantas’ first Boeing 707, a DC3 and a Catalina flying boat, together with replicas of early-era aircraft.

In September 2014, the museum was the successful bidder for Lockheed Super Constellation N4247K, in an auction held by the Manila International Airport Authority. The aircraft, which had been grounded in Manila for 25 years, had been used by World Fish and Agriculture Inc to transport fish cargo and had been previously operated by the United States Navy.

The Super Constellation Project goal is to transport the aircraft to Longreach where it will be restored to appear as a late 1950s Qantas Super Constellation and be included in the museum’s aircraft collection, with innovative interior displays, which will form the basis of another aircraft tour experience for visitors. Due to the condition of the aircraft, it will be transported by ship to Australia and then be transported by road to Longreach.

The museum was initiated by the people of western Queensland and is independent of Qantas Airways, although Qantas provides significant support in various forms, focused on the museum’s artefacts.

To donate to the museum and its projects, go to the Qantas Founders Museum website donation page at: https://qfom.com.au/donate-to-our-museum/ and follow the links or contact the museum by phone on: 07 4658 3737 or email: info@qfom.com.au.

The Super Constellation in Qantas history

The Lockheed Constellation is an iconic aircraft in the history of Qantas and Australian aviation for many reasons:

  • 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.
  • The Constellation 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 ever regular round-the-world air service via both hemispheres in 1958.
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