Qantas Founders Museum Super Constellation Progress

Work is carried on around the Super Constellation. (Qantas Founders Museum photo)
The Super Constellation in Manila , Philippines undergoing careful dismantling by a team from Qantas Airlines. (photo via Qantas Founders Museum)
The Super Constellation in Manila , Philippines undergoing careful dismantling by a team from Qantas Airlines. (photo via Qantas Founders Museum)

Back in September, 2014, WarbirdsNews reported on the Qantas Founders Museum in Queensland, Australia as having successfully acquired a Lockheed Super Constellation for its collection (read HERE). The aircraft has been quietly mouldering away for the past twenty five years in a disused part of the Manila International Airport in Manila, Philippines. Due to its somewhat dilapidated condition and remote location, the Qantas Founders Museum knew they had no hope of putting the  Super Constellation into ferriable condition and flying her to Australia, so their only resort has been to disassemble the airframe and bring her home by sea. This is no mean feat with such a massive aircraft so far away. Added to this difficulty is a time constraint as well, because the airport wants to repurpose the land where the aircraft sits alongside a number of other long-disused airliners. But Qantas Founders Museum is an enterprising organization, and they are now well underway with their recovery effort. We will let their press release (seen below) do the talking for them, and we hope you find their report encouraging. Rather than imminent the demolition which she had faced before the Museum stepped in, this Connie now looks like she will live on for many years to come under the care of a dedicated band of volunteers….

Qantas Founders Museum Media Release 7 April 2015

Stage Three of the Super Constellation Project almost complete

Progress on Stage 3 of the Qantas Founders Museum’s Super Constellation Project in Manila, Philippines continues apace with the disassembly of the aircraft completed and preparations for storage and shipment now well advanced. In Stage 1 of the project, Qantas Founders Museum was the successful bidder for the Super Constellation, N4247K, in an auction held by the Manila International Airport Authority in September 2014. The aircraft, which has 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 Air Force.

Work is carried on around the Super Constellation. (Qantas Founders Museum photo)
Work is carried on around the Super Constellation. (Qantas Founders Museum photo)

Stage 2 involved extracting the aircraft from its mud encrusted position, lifting it clear and extensive work to make the aircraft safe, secure and towable. This Stage was accomplished by the Qantas Airways Engineering Aircraft Recovery Team who visited Manila twice to prepare and accomplish that phase. Due to the condition of the aircraft Qantas Founders Museum plans to transport it by ship to Australia and by road to Longreach where it will be displayed as part of the museum’s aircraft collection. CEO of Qantas Founders Museum Tony Martin said the assistance of volunteers and various local industry organisations had ensured the rapid and successful progress of this stage. “The Project Manager Rodney Seccombe arranged the employment of Manila local engineers and volunteers including former Qantas Engineers who have worked tirelessly and efficiently on this stage of project. Within three weeks they have removed the major components of engines/propellers, tri-tail, wings and landing gears, with plans to move the fuselage and aircraft components to a storage area after Easter in preparation for transportation by ship to Australia. “We have been fortunate and are most grateful to have received assistance and advice from industry partners including Qantas Airways, the Manila International Airport Authority, Lufthansa Technik Philippines, Heli Craft Aero Industries and the Australian Government,” Mr Martin said. ”We also have a major fundraising drive underway with corporate and individual donations being received and in progress”, he said. Detailed arrangements and plans for the transportation and restoration of the aircraft are currently underway.

Qantas Founders Museum is located in Longreach, Queensland, Australia. It is a not for profit organisation which tells the story of how Australia’s national airline, Qantas Airways, began in Western Queensland in 1920. The museum has a variety of exhibits, interactive displays, artefacts and aircraft including an original Qantas Boeing 747, Boeing 707, DC3 and a Catalina flying boat.

The Constellation is an iconic aircraft in the history of Qantas and Australian Aviation for the following reasons:

i: The Constellation operated the Qantas Kangaroo Route air services between London and Sydney from 1947.

ii: The Constellation was the first aircraft that enabled Qantas to establish long-range overseas air service in its own right.

iii: This was the longest air service in the world at the time using the same aircraft all the way.

iv: A Super Constellation operated the first Qantas trans-Pacific air service in 1954.

v: The Constellation was the first Qantas aircraft to feature flight hostesses.

vi: The Constellation was the first pressurised aircraft operated by Qantas.

vii: Qantas Super Constellations operated the first ever regular round-the-world air services via both hemispheres in 1958.

Massive cranes lift the Super Constellation out of the mud, prior to the dismantling beginning in earnest. (photo from Qantas Founders Museum)
Massive cranes lift the Super Constellation out of the mud, prior to the dismantling beginning in earnest. (photo from Qantas Founders Museum)

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WarbirdsNews wishes to thank the Qantas Founders Museum for contacting us regarding this exciting project, and providing us with the latest progress report on the recovery of their Lockheed Super Constellation. We will of course endeavor to provide further details once they become available.

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