The Manila International Airport Authority in Manila, Philippines recently announced an auction to forcibly sell off a dozen dormant airliners which had lain more or less abandoned at the airfield’s general aviation facility for some years now. These included five DC-9’s, an Antonov 24, Yak-40, four DC-3s and most importantly a Lockheed Super Constellation. The civilianized, former US Navy C-121J (Bu.131623) has been ground-bound at Manila for more than twenty five years now. It was last used by World Fish & Agriculture, Inc. to fly tuna from Palau to Nagoya, Japan, until being impounded at Manila in 1988. Since that time the aircraft has slowly deteriorated in the hot and humid climate. This usually spells the end for any airliner, and the scrap man is nearly always the winner at an auction such as the one held at Manila on September 12th.
However, while there is no news on the fate of the four DC-3s, WarbirdsNews learned from a post on Ralph Pettersen’s fabulous website Connie Survivors, that the Qantas Founders Museum has secured the the Super Constellation. The museum, based at Longreach in Queensland, Australia has been around since the mid 1990s and is dedicated to preserving the history of the famous airline. Qantas initiated its around-the-world service with the Constellation, and it played a major role in broadening the airline’s reach.
The chairman of the Qantas Foundation Memorial, Rodney Seccombe, recently stated that until the advent of the Lockheed Constellation, “… it took about ten days to fly to London in a flying boat, and it [the Connie] reduced that back to four days, so it made a terrific difference. The ‘Connies’ have all sorts of firsts – they were the first pressurised, they were the first ones to fly around the world, and Qantas actually had counter rotating flights going around the world…They crossed over in London and Sydney. You take ten days to London, back to four days, it is a big difference.”
Seccombe says the museum has been looking for a Constellation for years now. While they have now purchased the one in Manila, there is only a certain amount of time to remove the aircraft from the premises. Initially the airport authority said that any purchasers had just two months to get them out, but presumably they will make some allowances for the museum as the plane is unable to fly out and will need significant disassembly for transport to Australia by ship. The Qantas Founders Museum is currently in the process of raising funds to affect this move, so anyone wishing to help save this fine airliner should visit the museum website or click HERE to become a member of the Qantas Foundation Memorial.