History of Super Constellation CF-TGE
Serial Number 4544

Ship of Destiny

After pondering the twists and turns that brought this particular airplane to this point in time, I've begun calling her Ship of Destiny.  In the antiques world, they would call it provenance.  She has a lot.  Clearly, providence also played an unusual role.  There are airplanes that followed reasonably well defined trails to their current locations - for example, abandoned - like the Manila or Sao Tome Connies; missing - like the B-314 flying boats; crashed - like one of the Museum's Corsairs; disposed of after service - like the Museum's Boeing Model 80A - found on an Anchorage dump; retired - like a number of the Museum's airplanes (Concorde, etc.); stored - like the Dash 80.

In the factory - 1954

This airplane, after its flying days were over, went through a chain of ownership, with people who had an affection for the airplane, but an inability to fulfill their dreams for her.  People whose admiration and ambitions exceeded their  abilities or financial resources.  Stubborn people, who hung on to the airplane at all costs, for long periods of time, only to finally relinquish ownership in desperation - or death.  At many points in her history, she could have been, indeed almost assuredly,  did face the scrapping process.  By all that's logical, she should have become beer cans many times over.  But, somehow, and some way, she survived the critical forks in the road that she kept facing.

Along the way, the airplane went missing for decades, only to be joyfully rediscovered by airplane fans decades later.  It sat in pieces at a gas station lot, and became a storehouse.  It lay in farm fields that became overgrown and returned to forest.  Before one move, it was necessary to chain saw mature trees that had grown and surrounded the tail section.  Lacking permits, she made a 110 mile midnight ride across Quebec in a stealth move.  Bankruptcy courts, government agencies, uncaring new landlords, time and the elements all stood in the way of her ultimate survival.  Finally, came a woman who knew little about airplanes, but became the bulldog that ensured her final triumph.

And, it crossed paths with me personally several times and in several ways - first in Montreal, while being canibalized by Nordair, and later in rural Quebec.  And now, 40 years later, working to make her the Lovely Lady she once was, and will be again.  A genuine Super G, not a resurrected radar picket plane, freighter, or look-alike, or wannabe.  But a real Super G, with her galley and lavs, ....and window curtains.

Grounded for good August 15, 1965, only 11 years old, and with something  over 20,000 hours of flying time under her wings, CF-TGE sat for three years, being picked for parts by Nordair, a Super Connie operator, just a short ways down the Dorval hangar line in Montreal.  An early victim of the Jet Age.  A man named Ferrand purchased her, although its not clear from whom, and in December 1968 (a snowy cold December which I remember very well) moved her from Dorval to rural Quebec to put her on top of his restaurant.

When the ever-present government stood in the way of this scheme, she sat for 17 years in fields and woods, until Bertrand Camirand finally prevailed on the stubborn Ferrand, bought it and unable to get highway permits, moved her 110 miles surreptiously in the middle of the night, to another rural Quebec location.  Reassembled, sort of, she sat in a make-shift museum and roadside attraction for another 12 years.

In the summer of 1987, the English airplane fan journal based in London,  Propliner Magazine, ran a feature article describing the airplane's rediscovery, Ferrand ownership, and Camirand midnight move.  This article is a first-hand account by Bertrand Camirand and can be found here.

Enter Phillip Yull from Toronto,  another dreamer and Connie lover, who, having discovered the Connie, also was unable to convince the current owner to part with his treasure.  Bertrand Camirand died, and his widow clung tenaciously to the Connie. Eventually, Yull prevailed upon her to sell her late husband's treasure, and the airplane was moved to Toronto Airport, where it was restored as a restaurant and bar in Millardair's hangar during the summer 0f 1996.

  CF-TGE moved to Toronto Airport June 1996
Tom Grant photo

Tom Grant photo

Enter Propliner once again, to recount the move to Toronto and restoration for the hotel.

 This article can be found here.

   Link to the Hotel Restoration here

Kicked off its location in front of the Regal Constellation Hotel, the airplane wound up being moved yet one more time to a location on Dixon Road on Toronto Airport property.

   On Dixon Road

Eventually, Yull went bankrupt, may have died (conflicting reports on this) and the airplane passed to the bank, and ultimately to Catherine Scott, a creditor contractor of Yull's.  Catherine, not an airplane aficionado, took a deep liking for the old airplane, and, at great personal sacrifice, and expense, fought off challenges from many directions, and sold the airplane to the Museum of Flight in Seattle. After a lengthy battle with the Toronto Airport authorities, the Canadian government, and the Toronto Aerospace Museum, the airplane was moved yet one more time in June 2007 to Rome, New York to be repaired, repainted, and ultimately moved to the Museum's Seattle location.  
 The rest of this story here.

Throughout these stories is the continuing refrain - "moved for the last time."  Each such prognostication proved premature. The airplane's true last move still lies in her future, when she will be moved to the Museum in Seattle.  
By my reckoning, she has been trucked about 1000 miles in six moves to date.  Hopefully, Move #7 - another 3000 miles - will truly be her last. Variously  unloved, abandoned, derelict, fought over, and loved once more, the Lovely Lady is, indeed,  a Ship of Destiny.  

Somewhere, amongst the gods of airplanes, or just maybe because someone up there shared a love for these uniquely beautiful Super Connies, and against all odds, she endured.

  That's why I call her the Ship of Destiny.  

The above Propliner articles are copyright by Propliner Magazine and are provided courtesy of Editor  Tony Merton-Jones, and with the help of  my friend Connie-man Ralph Pettersen.

Propliner Magazine's website and subscriptions can be found here:  http://uk.geocities.com/tmjpropliner@btinternet.com/

Return to Connie Home Page

Copyright 2007 - 2008  by Robert A. Bogash, except as noted.  All Rights Reserved.
Propliner articles used with permission.

Revised 31 Jul 2007
Revised 16 Jul 2008
Revised 30 Aug 2008