Saturday, May 14, 2016

Historical Aviation Restoration Society (HARS) Lockheed C-121C Super Constellation "Connie" VH-EAG.

The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) based at Illawarra Regional Airport, south of Sydney, was formed in the late 1970's by a group of aviation enthusiasts interested in the preservation of Australian aviation history.

The mission at HARS is to recover, and where possible, restore to flying condition aircraft that have played a significant part in Australian aviation history.

Among the growing collection at HARS is Lockheed L-121C Super Constellation VH-EAG, and although this particular airframe (#4176) did not flying for the flying kangaroo, was however painted in a retro Qantas Empire Airways (QEA) livery after acquired by HARS.

Manufactured in 1955, VH-EAG aka "Connie" commenced it's flying career with the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) section of the United States Air Force (USAF) but transferred to the Air National Guard in the early 1960's where it served until 1977.

Upon retirement, the aircraft was mothballed at Davis Montham Air Base, or more commonly known as the "Bone Yard" in Tucson, Arizona.

Unfortunately, "Connie" was left to deteriorate in open storage until the early 1990's when HARS successfully negotiated acquisition of the aircraft from the USAF. As this point, HARS volunteers commenced restoring the aircraft at Pima Air & Space Museum adjacent to the Bone Yard.

During this time, Qantas provided assistance by offering cheap airfares for the many journeys back and forth. "Connie" was test flown for the first time in nearly 18yrs in September 1994 however was not ready for it's journey across the Pacific Ocean.

Ongoing restoration and testing continued for sometime followed by the application of a fresh coat of paint donated by Lockheed before eventually making the long flight to Sydney in February 1996.

Designed by Lockheed Aircraft in the late 1930's / early 1940's, the Constellation first flew in 1943 however World War II meant all aircraft production was used by the US for transport purposes. Production of the Constellation continued until the late 1950's in which several variants (civil and military) including the Super Constellation were developed.

Qantas Empire Airways (QEA) was a number of airlines that purchased the Super Constellation for long haul flights and operated a total of 16 examples from the late 1940's until the late 1950's when it was replaced by the Boeing 707-100.

Air Queensland.blogspot would like to sincerely thank Callum Bain Photography for allowing us to share these truly wonderful photo's of  "Connie" captured recently at "Wings Over Illawarra 2016"

Of interest, more superb photo's by Callum Bain Photography can be found on Flickr : https://www.flickr.com/photos/78427482@N03

or "liked" on Facebook at : https://www.facebook.com/CallumBainAviation