The so-called ‘Super Connie’, a four-engine Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation, is easily recognisable by its dolphin-like curved fuselage and its triple-tail design. The Breitling Super Constellation is one of the world’s two remaining flightworthy Super Connies.
Lockheed launched the L-1049 Super Constellation in 1951. The magnificent long-haul aircraft was soon fitted with new and more powerful turbo-compound engines, enabling it to cross the Atlantic ocean in both directions without refueling, whatever the weather conditions.
As the first commercially successful pressurized cabin airliner, it revolutionized civilian transport. It served in the world’s largest airline companies and set new standards of comfort and luxury.
In 1956, Lockheed introduced an even more sophisticated version, the L-1649 Starliner, featuring redesigned wings, higher flight autonomy and a seating capacity of more than 100 passengers. But this splendid propeller plane arrived on the market too late, and the emergence of jets forced Lockheed to cease production in 1958. The Super Constellation disappeared from the skies in the early 1980s.
Of the 856 produced in the 1940s and 1950s, there are only two airworthy Super Constellation planes, including one in Australia and another in Switzerland.
In the 1990s, a group of Super Connie devotees set themselves the task of making this plane fly again in the skies above Europe. The Super Constellation Flyers Association (SCFA) finally found the rare specimen it was seeking in Camarillo, California. The plane (produced in 1955) was then entirely restored and in May 2004, the Breitling Super Constellation touched down on the tarmac of Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg airport, making its grand comeback in Europe after a 25 year absence.
Ever since, the plane is a regular fixture at various air shows. The SCFA also organises leisure flights reserved for its 3,000 members.
Airplane fans can observe the landing of the Super Connie on Friday at around 11.30am at Vienna’s Schwechat airport. The plane will then fly back to Basel on Sunday evening at around 6pm, as long as the weather conditions are suitable. Vienna airport is organising a viewing and tour of the Super Connie on Friday at 3pm.