Despite the failure of the author's attempt to secure the preservation of the last Qantas Super Constellation which was auctioned in Kuwait in 1982, there remained considerable interest in bringing a Super Constellation to Australia. Apart from endeavouring to purchase a Connie on the open market, an approach was made to the Indian Government to donate one of their withdrawn L1049Gs as a gift in recognition of Australia's Bicentennial in 1988. It was hoped that the Indian Prime Minister, Mr Rajiv Gandhi, himself a pilot, would embrace the idea but unfortunately his tragic assassination brought an end to this proposal.

In May 1988, the author approached the Chief Executive of Qantas, Mr John Menadue, with the suggestion that Qantas contact the owners of C-121J Super Constellation N4247K, then operating freight services between Nagoya and Palau, to establish if it might be available for an appearance at the Bicentennial Air Show at RAAF Richmond in October 1988. It was proposed that the Connie would be repainted in Qantas colours for the event. As a result, the Qantas General Manager Operations, Captain Alan Terrell, a former Connie pilot and always a keen supporter of the various proposals to bring a Connie to Australia, attempted to arrange a charter. Unfortunately, the Connie in question was by then embroiled in litigation and was not able to leave its base in the Philippines.

UPDATE: N4247K was acquired by the Qantas Founders Museum in September 2014.

In July 1988, the author revived the Bicentennial charter idea with a suggestion that Qantas investigate the charter of a Super Constellation from Atkins Aviation of McAllen, Texas. This aeroplane was still in service and operating freight charters throughout North and South America. Atkins Aviation were duly approached and they agreed to undertake the charter to Australia. The aircraft in question was C-121C Super Constellation N515AC and its proud owner, Captain Earl Atkins, set about making the necessary arrangements which included the uplift of a spare engine and other flight spares. Capt Atkins was so looking forward to the trip "down under" that he had even purchased the necessary charts! Arrangements for the Australia charter were well advanced when the Qantas board rejected the proposal on 24th August 1988.

The author appealed to John Menadue to reconsider the proposal and this resulted in a reopening of negotiations. It was agreed that the charter would be reinstated on the condition that the aeroplane would be in Australia by 17th September and that Qantas staff would be encouraged to contribute to the cost of the charter. The quoted cost was US$50,000.00 for the aircraft plus US$35,000.00 for crew and miscellaneous expenses. Painting the aeroplane in Qantas colours was estimated to cost a further AU$10,000.00 and for this purpose, a slot was booked at the Avalon paint shop. To promote the fund-raising activities amongst the staff, a poster was designed by Qantas Brisbane staff member Sandy Freeleagus. Thus it was "all systems go" when the final bombshell came in the first week of September. The aeroplane was no longer available! Ironically, an aircraft which had been on the market without a buyer for more than eighteen months had been sold within the space of the few days that the charter had been suspended! The aircraft was sold to Aerochago of the Dominican Republic and Earl Atkins had personally delivered the aeroplane to Santo Domingo on 4th September. Super Constellation N515AC was subsequently transferred to the Dominican register as HI-548CT .

Although the charter would have cost US$85,000.00, Earl Atkins stated that for US$160,000.00 the Connie could have stayed in Australia permanently. Given their experience in bringing Super Constellation VH-EAG to Australia in 1996, HARS will probably confirm that this would have been an absolute bargain!

Although the Australian Bicentennial Connie project failed, history will show that it was Alan Terrell and John Menadue who had the courage and the vision to "stick their necks out" to support the project. Despite widespread support for the project within Qantas, there were those who opposed the idea and indeed one pilot proudly claimed that he had "fought it all the way".

Of course this is all academic now. As afficionados of fine Lockheed aeroplanes will know, the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) succeeded in bringing to Australia a beautifully restored C-121C Super Constellation in February 1996. For this aeroplane to have been brought to Australia in such excellent condition and most significantly under an Australian registration is a magnificent achievement which richly deserves the many accolades that have been heaped upon HARS and the aeroplane since its arrival in Australia.

Update: January 2001

As this is being written in January 2001, a Swiss group known as the Super Constellation Flyers Association have acquired a Dominican Super Constellation for restoration and eventual operation on the European air show circuit. While it would be nice to report that this aeroplane is the former N515AC, it is unfortunately her sister ship HI-583CT. Sadly, the former N515AC was destroyed by Hurricane Georges on 22nd September 1998 when Curtiss C-46 HI-503CT was blown into the Connie at Santo Domingo. Nevertheless, there is a silver lining to this tragic tale. The remains of the former N515AC (since re-registered HI-548CT) were acquired by Super Constellation Flyers as a source of parts for their flyable aircraft. The contents of the cockpit (seats, panels etc) together with the windows and frames, was acquired by Super Constellation Flyers President, Francisco Agullo, who has it stored at his residence in Switzerland pending reassembly into a flight simulator. (See Update January 2016). Thanks to Francisco Agullo and his photo of the sad remains of the former N515AC, we are now able to close the file on what was almost an Australian Connie.

Update: January 2005

The Super Constellation Flyers Association successfully ferried N105CF (the former HI-583CT) from Santo Domingo to Opa Locka, Florida in November 2000. In January 2001, the aircraft was ferried to Avra Valley near Tucson for overhaul prior to its trans-Atlantic delivery. During this overhaul, it emerged that the aircraft could not aspire to a certificate of airworthiness which would permit the carriage of passengers, so the SCFA entered into an arrangement with the owners of C-121C N73544 to lease this aircraft. (N73544 msn 4175 is a sister ship to the HARS C-121C VH-EAG msn 4176). N73544 was delivered to the SCFA in May 2004 and now operates on the European air show circuit under the sponsorship of Breitling. The other SCFA Super Connie, N105CF, is stored at Avra Valley for a possible future ferry to a European museum. (See Update January 2016).

Update: January 2016

Super Constellation N105CF was owned briefly by HARS and accordingly now has its own page on this website.

Part of the former N515AC lives on as a flight simulator in Zurich. It will be recalled that the cockpit was removed after the aircraft was destroyed by a hurricane in the Dominican Republic in 1998. The cockpit was converted to a flight simulator which became operational at the Sim Academy in Zurich in May 2015. The simulator is used for training purposes by the Super Constellation Flyers Association but it is also available to the public for a fee. Thanks to Ralph Pettersen for this update and the following images which were taken by Christian Müller and Sim Academy.


The Super Constellation Simulator


This view of the simulator under construction in June 2006 shows how much of the airframe of HI-548CT has been incorporated into the finished product.
The completed simulator has been painted in the same colours carried by HI-548CT. It includes many of the internal controls and instruments from HI-548CT.
The cockpit of the flight simulator constructed from the remains of HI-548CT.
Read how the Connie flight simulator was built.

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Featured Connies

HI-583CT N105CF Acquired by Dynamic Aviation.
. Acquired by Qantas Founders Museum in September 2014.
VH-EAG Active - HARS.
N515AC HI-548CT Cockpit parts to SCFA for use in a Connie simulator.


The author wishes to thank:

Alan Terrell
John Menadue
Earl Atkins
Francisco Agullo
Urs Läuppi
Benno Goethals
Aad van der Voet


Added an update on the flight simulator constructed from the remains of HI-548CT. Thanks to the Sim Academy in Zurich.
N4247K has been acquired by the Qantas Founders Museum.
Added a tribute to Alan Terrell who passed away on 27 March 2014.
Added a recent photo of the abandoned N4247K at Manila.
Added a wonderful photo of Aerochago's HI-548CT landing at Miami. Also corrected the name of the hurricane to Georges. Thanks to Aad van der Voet for both of these additions.
Also added a Postscript with updates on several of the Connies involved in this story.
Clarified extent of "cockpit" saved by SCF Assn.
Amended date and circumstances relating to the destruction of HI-548CT at Santo Domingo by Hurricane Georges.


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