SUPER TAKE OUT — It wasn't a plane crash,
but it easily could have been if the trucker hauling a Lockheed "Super
Constellation" fuselage from Canada to Griffiss had followed the
prescribed flight plan over Floyd Avenue. After a tortured traffic
stopping turn-around at Bloomfield Street Thursday night, the convoy
reversed course on Black River Boulevard and reached Empire Aero via
Chestnut Street — under police escort. The 116-foot long dolphin
shaped-fuselage was part of a five flatbed "flight." The triple-tail
four-propeller classic could carry 62 to 92 passengers, depending on
configuration. The airliner was in service between 1943.
Earlier in the journey, it had trouble clearing the Customs booths at the border because of the size of the cargo. Buol said ultimately the trucks drove around the booths.
Such hitches seem to be par for the course for this plane. This "Connie" has been through more than a few twists and turns, reports the Toronto Star.
Sold and resold, it wound up on a Quebec farm before being rescued by a real estate developer. He brought it to Pearson Airport, oversaw a pricey refurbishment, and the once-glorious plane began a new life in 1996 as a conference facility outside the Regal Constellation Hotel in Toronto.
But the conference-in-a-plane idea didn’t really fly. And so the aircraft — with an apparently mint interior — got towed down the road to the corner of Derry and Torbram a couple of years later. There, the Super Connie was billed as "the world’s most unique cocktail lounge, restaurant, bar and meeting place."
Observes Buol: "it’s outfitted with a complete bar and tables."
WHALE OF A TAIL — The signature triple-tail of the "Super Connie" rests on its side aboard a flatbed at Empire Aero today. The non-conforming configuration avoided the requirement of a single high tailpiece that would have kept the tricycle-gear airliner out of most hangars. For movie fans, the "Connie" was the aircraft Tom Hagen rode to Hollywood in the Godfather film. (Sentinel photo by Scott A. Gwilt)
Before Scott struck an agreement with the Museum of Flight, there was plenty of back-and-forth over several years about whether the last Super Constellation in Canada should be allowed to leave the country. Some wanted it to stay on Canadian soil because the plane was of cultural and historical significance.
The airplane is a 1954 Lockheed Super Constellation and was built in Burbank, Calif. Three vertical fins at the back distinguish it from the other airliners of the era.
The Museum of Flight is a leading air and space museum, attracting more than 400,000 visitors annually.
"It’s the biggest museum in the world and the best," says Scott.
THE CREW — There were more than a few twists and turns along the way, but a convoy of trucks brought a disassembled Super Constellation airliner from Canda to Rome Thursday. From left are Watson Trucking Co. drivers Dennis Ridley, J.F. Turcotte, Norm Robert, Marc Bouchard and Sylvain Charron, and Catherine Scott, who owned the plane that is being restored at Empire Aero Center. Scott has sold "Super Connie" to the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Wash.
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Copyright 2007 Robert A. Bogash. All Rights Reserved.
Text and photos Copyright Rome Sentinel. Used with permission.