The Lockheed Constellation, affectionately referred to as “Connie”, first flew on 9 January 1943. The aircraft initially entered service with the military, before starting regular passenger service on 6 February 1946 with TWA.
Seating between 62 and 95 passengers, the sleek Constellation was the first pressurised aircraft in regular service. A total of 856 were produced, with the last one rolling off the production line in 1958.
Lockheed Constellation Video
Following on from last weeks video about the Boeing 707, this week it’s off to Lockheed to see a promotional film from 1955 about building the aircraft. This runs for around 16 minutes.
With its distinctive triple tail and curved fuselage, the Lockheed Constellation opened up the world for many airlines. In Qantas service, it opened up the route from Sydney to London, the longest single aircraft service in the world.
Lockheed’s film shows the production line, the tooling and many things that needed to be done to manufacture the aircraft. It is an interesting look into how things were done back in the 1950s.
Virtually all major airlines in the west operated the Connie. The film shows some happy passengers wiling away their flight playing cards, which is what you’d do back then, before the advent of video entertainment.
The HARS Connie Today
The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society in Australia operates a Lockheed Constellation in flyable condition today. This is one of just two in the entire world that still takes flight. Below is a video from a night flight at a show in 2017.
Flames coming from the engines operating at high power was a thing with piston engines at take-off thrust. The short video runs about four minutes, showing take-off, a couple of flybys and landing. Extremely cool to see!
Famous in the aviation industry, the Lockheed Constellation is a truly beautiful machine to behold. This was the way that you flew long distances, regularly operating translatlantic routes as easily as domestic sectors in the United States.
The fact there are two still flying is pretty amazing when you consider how old the aircraft is. Did you ever fly in a Connie? What was it like? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
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Featured image by Qantas via The Lockheed Files.
I worked for a connie operator in UK sky tours / Euravia who became Britannia Airways, I joined in 1969 the Connies replaced by Bristol Britannia, I flew for a time as FE on B 707 what a fantastic era!
Oh excellent, I’d say it was a fantastic era indeed. Some great aircraft types there, that’s for sure. Thanks for sharing that!
In 1958, I was part of a company of Royal Army Service Corps amphibious DUKW drivers who were on our way to the South Pacific, to take part in the British nuclear tests at Christmas Island. We went out in small groups of four of five and my group flew from London Heathrow Airport in a QANTAS Super Constellation as far as San Fransisco; where we changed to another aircraft which took us to Honolulu. From there, The RAF flew us to the island.
Nice that you got to experience the Qantas service so far, especially on that direction, which you can no longer do, alas! Sounds like an interesting trip all round. Not many would have been to Christmas Island either, and less so for the nuclear tests. Thanks for the comment!
My very first flight was in 1952. My mother and I flew from Los Angeles to New York (La Guardia) on a TWA Constellation. It stopped in Chicago, at Midway, on the eastbound flight and stopped in St. Louis on the westbound flight. It was the most exciting thing I had done since taking the Santa Fe Super Chief to New York with my mother in 1949. I loved flying and this was a wonderful first round trip flight for me. I guess this was an 049 constellation. All one class of service and all the windows were round on… Read more »
That is some first flight you have there, it sure beats mine! Wow, that sounds like some experience and I imagine it wouldn’t have been cheap at that time either. Having stops en route would have made it all the more fun! What an excellent memory. You went on the Santa Fe Super Chief in 1949? That’s just as exciting – wow! That is one famous train. How was that??? Thanks for the comment!
I was a pilot/Flt/engineer on the TWA Connie’s in 1965, the last flights were in April of 67. They were a lot of fun to operate and I enjoyed every minute of that time. Capt JPMooney TWA Retired
That’s excellent! That would have been some experience. What did you go on to fly after the Connie? Thanks for the comment – from what I hear, TWA were a much loved airline!
The last constellation I flew on was the SUPER G constellation on TWA. They had relegated that fabulous plane to a milk run flight from LAX to MKC but I flew it from LAX to PHX where I connected to a Frontier DC-3 from PHX to TUS. This was in 1962.
The Super G was the fastest and ultimate version of the Constellation. Jet powered airliners really sent all the old piston aircraft out of service pretty fast. Nice you got on one, I don’t think that many Super G Constellations were produced. Thanks for the comment!
I flew with my brother and Mom to Hawaii from California in 1946 aboard a Connie; We were joining my Father who was stationed there in the Navy. The thing that sticks in my mind is hitting an air pocket while eating !! OOOPS, I’ve had enough. !!
Nice, you really got to try the aircraft out when it was brand new! How cool is that! Hahaha – I can imagine you’d really feel the air pockets much more back then than with today’s aircraft. I’d probably have had the same reaction. Thanks for the comment!
Gorgeous aircraft! I was born to late to get to fly one in the US, they were already pretty much phased out of mainline service by 1965 I think. I did get to tour the TWA one in Kansas City a few years ago. Would have loved to fly on one, makes me laugh now when I read all the trip reports online and posters on certain Av-geek sites whining about narrow body long hauls, lack of IFE etc… “8 hours without Wifi?! I would DIE!” Some of us would give up certain body parts for the experience of flying… Read more »
Yes, they did phase them out really very quickly once the jets came along. Worldwide, piston aircraft were relegated to freight status, to other countries, or scrapped pretty quickly. I haven’t been inside a Connie before, but there are quite a few in museums, so I should make the point of it. I think they’re putting one at the front of the TWA Hotel at JFK which will be high on the list to visit (and I want to stay in that hotel so I can go inside the Eero Saarinen terminal!). I agree with you 100% regarding online trip… Read more »