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In Search of Constellations: Fly Guy Finds a TWA Connie

Written by A Fly Guy

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I’ve always had a love affair with Connie; her slim sexy body and sleek iconic curves make Connie one attractive… airplane. Officially known as the Lockheed Constellation, Connie isn’t just any plane, she’s one of the most iconic propeller powered jet liners of the golden age of commercial flight.  It was a plane that set records, redefined luxury above the clouds, and was flown by most major airlines of her time.

On a recent trip to Arizona I was on a mission to catch a glimpse of a surviving TWA Connie on display at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson. This particular aircraft was one of the first that Howard Hughes put into operation at Trans World Airlines.  I found this Connie had aged gracefully in her desert dwelling. Besides needing a good wash, she was still a beauty of flight even at 64.

Facts about the Lockheed Constellation

  • 856 Constellation were built from 1943 – 1959
  • The Constellation’s airline career spanned several decades from 1945 till the early 90’s
  • TWA was the first airline to use the aircraft for passenger use. As the main owner of TWA, Howard, Hughes stated that Lockheed could not sell the new aircraft to any other transcontinental airline until his airline had received 35 of them
  • Orville Wright, one of the Wright brothers, made his final flight, serving as copilot on a test run of the Lockheed Constellation
  • When the model 1049 Super Constellation was unveiled in 1951 is was at least twice as fuel efficient as the industry’s first jets and as efficient as many of today’s modern aircraft
  • The constellation was flown by most of the world’s major airlines but its primary users were Trans World Airlines, Eastern Air Lines, Pan American World Airways and Air France
  • In April 1944 the Constellation entered the record books when it broke a transcontinental speed record on a from from Burbank to Washington, D.C.. At an average speed of 331 mph, the Connie flew the route nonstop in six hours, 57 minutes, and 51 seconds
  • The Constellation model L-1649A set the record for the longest-duration, non-stop passenger flight on October 1-2, 1957 during TWA’s inaugural London-to-San Francisco. The aircraft stayed in the air for 23 hours and 19 minutes
  • A Connie served as the presidential aircraft, Air Force One, for U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower.The Pima Air & Space Museum is located in Tucson, Arizona, and is one of the world’s largest non-government funded aerospace museums. The museum showcases an impressive display of nearly 300 civilian and military aircraft spread out over 80 acres.A TWA Constellation was one of the first airplane models I owned as a child and as an adult my heart skips a beat when I catch a rare sight of one of the few Constellations that still remain intact.

A TWA Constellation was one of the first airplane models I owned as a child and as you can see, my heart skips a beat when I catch a rare sight of one of the few Constellations that still remain intact.

Pima Air and Space Museum Location

The Pima Air & Space Museum is located in Tucson, Arizona, and is one of the world’s largest non-government funded aerospace museums. The museum showcases an impressive display of nearly 300 civilian and military aircraft spread out over 80 acres.

 

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