No. 7468. Lockheed 1049E Constellation (c/n 1049-4557)
Photographed at the Air Mobility Command Museum, Dover AFB, Dover, Delaware, USA, December 20, 2007, by Jack McKillop

Lockheed 1049E Constellation

02/28/2008. Remarks by Jack McKillop: "Although shown in USAF markings, this Connie never served in the US military. It was originally ordered by the Norwegian airline Braathen's S.A.F.E. (South American and Far East Air Transport A/S) but the order was cancelled and it was built as a Model 1049E-55-115 for the Cuban airline Cubana.

The 1049E-55-115 translates to an 1049E with Wright 972TC-18-DA1 engines (number 55) and configured as an over water passenger aircraft accommodating 74-passengers (number 115). The aircraft was owned by a holding company but leased to Cubana and registered CU-P573 for their flights from Mexico City, Mexico, to Madrid Spain, via Havana, Cuba; it was delivered to Cubana on November 8, 1954.

In March 1956, it was sold to the US cargo airline Seaboard & Western Airlines of New York, New York, registered N1005C and named Geneva Airtrader. It was leased to the British airline British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) for the month of April 1956 and upon return, was converted to a Model 1049E/01-82. The conversion consisted of equipping it with a stronger main landing gear, reinforced inner wing beams, new propellers, etc. and Wright 972TC18-DA3 engines. Back in service by July 1956, the aircraft was leased to the US airline Eastern Airlines between January and June 1957.

By May 1958, the aircraft had been converted to a 95-seat economy (coach) class aircraft and leased to the Irish airline Aerlinte Eireann Teoranta of Dublin. This company was a subsidiary of Aer Rianta which owned 70 percent of Aer Lingus Teoranta. Aer Lingus provided flights domestically and to European cities while Aerlinte Eireann provided transatlantic service. Aerlinte Eireann had attempted to start transatlantic service in 1947 but government financial difficulties caused them to sell their aircraft. (See photo No. 6083.)

Aerlinte Eireann leased a total of four Connies to fly between Idlewild Airport, New York City, and Shannon and Dublin Airports, Ireland, between April 1958 and December 1960, this 1049E, a 1049G and two 1048Hs. All Aer Lingus and Aerlinte Eireann aircraft were named after Irish saints and this was named St. Brighid in Irish or St. Brigid in English. The airline began receiving their Boeing 720-048s in late 1960 and this aircraft was the last Connie returned to Seaboard & Western on December 22, 1960.

In 1961, Seaboard & Western Airlines was renamed Seaboard World Airlines and in the following year, this aircraft was traded to Canadair for a CL-44D4-1 and was immediately leased back to Seaboard. In May 1962, it was subleased to the US charter airline Intercontinental U.S., Incorporated of New York City, Returned to Seaboard in January 1964, it was leased to the US charter company Capitol Airways of Nashville, Tennessee, on June 1, 1965 and sold to them on March 1, 1966. It was withdrawn from service in mid 1967 and stored at New Castle County Airport, New Castle, Delaware.

On August 20, 1967, it was sold to Jim Flannery, a restaurateur, who owned Flannery's Restaurant located on US Highway 1 in Penndel, Pennsylvania, just northeast of Philadelphia. By August 1968, the aircraft has been dismantled, transported and mounted on poles above the restaurant and you could have your meal in the Connie.

I had two personal experiences with this aircraft. The first occurred on one dark night when my wife and I were driving north on US Highway 1. As I went around a curve, I saw a Connie coming right at me and it took a few seconds for me to realize that it was not moving. (I did not know the airplane was there!) The second time, my wife and I were in the area and had lunch aboard the aircraft. The windows had been covered with pictures of clouds and the only thing that was missing was the sound of the four engines.

By 1997, the restaurant had closed and an oil company wanted to build on the property. The aircraft was offered to the Air Mobility Command Museum and the workers at the museum have restored it as a C-121C-LO (Model
1049F-55-96) that served with the 1608th Air Transport Wing, Atlantic Division, Military Air Transport Service (MATS) based at Charleston AFB, Charleston, South Carolina, between June 1955 and July 1958. The aircraft has been assigned the fictitious serial number 54-0315. The museum is still looking for the correct radome to be installed on the nose of the aircraft."

Created February 28, 2008