Spar Inspection Complete
After many rumors, a spar inspection has been completed with no corrosion found. This paves the way for the museum to perform a heavy inspection to return the aircraft to service. Once the DC-3 engine installations are complete, the museum expects to begin the inspection and we are hopeful that she will return to the air in the Spring of 2013.
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After an incredible nine weeks in the desert, an amazing, against-all-odds effort by the members of the newly formed "Save A Connie" organization (now doing business as the Airline History Museum) made this plane flyable again. They ferried the aircraft to Kansas City, Missouri navigating by compass and by following roads, where it began its transformation from a drab, worn out bug sprayer into what many consider the most beautiful aircraft to ever have graced the skies.
Indeed, Kansas City was probably the only place in the world where this transformation could have taken place. It was a classic case of "the right time and the right place". There was a core of retired TWA employees living here: pilots, flight engineers, mechanics, hostesses, etc. All specialists in every aspect of propeller driven aircraft in general, and Constellations in particular. Had the members of AHM waited any longer, it most likely would had been too late to find this kind of aircraft in restorable condition, or to salvage the parts needed from other Connies. This talented pool of retirees, who knew these planes well, intimately led the way.
After 18 months in the hangar at Kansas City Downtown Airport, the "Connie" emerged, resplendent in her new "Save A Connie" livery. The Lockheed Constellation was converted from cargo to passenger configuration. She promptly began flying the Airshow circuit, where she continues to awe and inspire. In the late 90's, employees from TWA's Kansas City overhaul base donated a completely new paint job in the original TWA colors.
The "Star of America" has been involved in television and movie releases, as well as several television commercials. It was featured in the Arts and Entertainment documentary entitled First Flights, narrated by Astronaut Neil Armstrong, and the motion picture, "Voyager" released in the U.S. in 1992. The Connie was also used for interior scenes for the movie, "Ace Ventura - When Nature Calls", in 1995, starring actor Jim Carrey. The Connie most recently appeared in "The Aviator", which was the 2004 Martin Scorsese movie depicting the early years of legendary director and aviator Howard Hughes' career, from the late 1920s to the mid-1940s starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Beckinsale, and Cate Blanchett.
The History of N6937C
Current registration - N6937C
After completed as L1049H N5400V, stored at Lockheed Aircraft, Burbank, CA due to cancelled order
To Slick Airways September 17, 1959 as N6937C
To Airlift International July 1, 1966
To Bal Trade November 14, 1968
Stored at Miami, FL from 1970 and seized by airport for non-payment of parking fees June 1971
To Aircraft Airframe Inc June 18, 1971
Leased to Vortex Inc October 1971 and possibly spring 1972
Leased to Sky Trucks International September 12, 1972
To Aircraft Specialties Inc February 12, 1973
Converted to a sprayer at Mesa, AZ with fuselage tanks and full span spray booms
Stored at Mesa, AZ by 1975
Sale to Science Museum, London, England fell through October 1979
Sale to Air Trader International fell through June 1980
Sale to Paul Pristo at the Globe Air Auction at Mesa, AZ October 1985 for $4,000
Save-A-Connie (SAC) organization began restoration at Mesa in May 1986 and aircraft ferried to group's headquarters at Downtown Kansas City Airport July 15, 1986
Paul Pristo donated aircraft to Save-A-Connie December 1986 and named "Star of America"
Major overhaul performed 1987-1988 and aircraft painted in 1950's era TWA color scheme less TWA titles
Formally dedicated July 9, 1988
Extended radar nose installed December 1990 - January 1991 during annual inspection TWA titles replaced SAC titles
1996 SAC renamed Airline History Museum April 2000
Interior completely renovated winter 2002-2003
Aircraft is the only airworthy ex-civilian Constellation as all others are ex-military
Aircraft grounded since July 20, 2005 when the #2 engine suffered a catastrophic failure during run-up
Newly overhauled engine installed on aircraft and failed during a test flight on July 22, 2006.
Returned to the overhaul shop in California for repairs
Successful engine runs were performed on July 10, 2007.
All four engines have been regularly run in 2010 and aircraft is adopting new maintenance program to allow aircraft to once again be airworthy.
Data from Lockheed Constellation:From Excalibur to Starliner.
Capacity: 47-106 Passengers
Length: 113 ft 7 in (34.52 m)
Wingspan: 123 ft (37.49 m)
Height: 24 ft 9 in (7.54 m)
Wing area: 1,650 sq ft (153.29 sq m)
Empty weight: 69,000 lb (31,297 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 120,000 lb (54,431 kg)
Powerplant: 4 × Wright R-3350 972-TC-18DA-1 radial, 3,250 bhp (2,240 kW) each
Propellers: 3 propeller, 4 per engine
Maximum speed: 330 mph (531 km/h)
Cruise speed: 304 mph (489 km/h)
Range: 5,150 mi (8,288 km)
Service ceiling: 25,700 ft (7.833 km)