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"Star of Switzerland" - The most unusual Club-Aircraft in the World

Veröffentlicht am 14. Januar 2016
Zugriffe: 2046

http://UL-Segelflug.de/images/stories/Buechercke/13_Super-Constellation-Backstage/TS_Super-Constellation-Backstage_aktuell_250x200px_Copyright_AS-Verlag.jpgWith a wingspan of 37,40 m, a length of 34,34 m, an empty-weight of 31.752 kg and a MTOW of 54.431 kg, in the eyes of aviation-enthusiasts, she always was and still is, the most elegant aircraft in the world - the "Queen of the Skies". Already the start-up of the four 18-cylinder Curtis-Wright radial engines is an exciting event for those spectators eyes and ears. The rich and sonorous sound of the engines, under whose each cowling 3.250 horsepower wait to unleash their powerful forces: "Music for those aviators ears". The brief clouds of smoke during combustion of residual oil and gasoline being ignited inside the first few cylinders: "Fragrant scents of the olfactory nerves of oldtimer-fans". The spectacular flames and fireworks discharged out of the exhaust manifolds of those three "external power recovery turbines", spit out in conjunction with pale-blue and black clouds of smoke: "Eye candy at its best".

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Inside the book: The start-up of the four 18-cylinder radial combustion engines is alway a spectacular highlight for classic-fans and photographers

The symbiosis of these, no longer existing in nowadays aircraft features, may have been the reason for a handful Connie-freaks in Switzerland, to found an association named Super Constellation Flyers Association, back in the year 2000. The aim of the new aviation-club was, to discover a "still airworthy and restorable Super Constellation" somewhere in the world, to bring her to Switzerland and operate her as a club-aircraft. A completely crazy, but brilliant idea at the same time! Due to the fact, that never before in Swiss aviation-history a single Super Constellation had been registered in the aircraft-registry of Swiss Civil Aviation Authority (BAZL), the small group of founders earned much scorn for their "madness idea". But the Connie-crazy people could not be putt-off the idea and certainly not diverted from their project.

They succeeded in Santo Domingo, capitol city of the Dominican Republic, where a retired, but still airworthy Lockheed Super Constellation (L-1049), was offered for sale. Once the purchase agreement was concluded and the agreed price was paid, they flew her in a first step to the United States, to make her ready for a later transfer to Switzerland.

Prior to its first take-off in Santo Domingo, as well as during multipart ferry flights to transfer the plane to the United States, engineers and pilots faced considerable technical problems. But regardless the severity of those problems, all had been solved in one or the other way. In spring 2001, the former HI-583CT of Aerochago was finally transferred to the US, meanwhile registered as N105CF. First "extended" stop was Avra Vallay International Airport, nearby the famous aircraft-cemeteries of Marana of Tucson/Arizona.

The complex and also expensive overhaul and repair-works, performed by a group of some remaining American Connie-specialists, supported by numerous Swiss fans who had sacrificed their vacation for this "unusual adventure to work at their Connie", began immediately, while the costly overhaul of the four engines and propellers were entrusted to some of the few still existing and qualified repair-shops in the region. In addition, the Board of Directors bought a "Scrap-Connie" at the nearby huge graveyard for disused old aircraft, out of which all usable parts had been removed.

In 2002, the big shock came unexpectedly out of the blue: The FAA suddenly declared themselves to be incapable, to issue a license for N105CF for the transportation of club-members, not least by the absence of suitably qualified specialists in the Authority. The whole strategy of the SCFA was put into question. Their goal, to operate the aircraft in Switzerland by transporting club-members to cover the enormous operating costs, was pushed into far distance at once. The overhaul had been stopped and the disappointment amongst those meantime nearly 700 club-members was huge. Helplessness spread around. Helping-staff, engineers and pilots - the entire team was desperate, falling into a temporary "Shock and Awe". The nearby aviation-boneyard turned out to be a bad omen for the project.

Several month later, the spirit of those in charge of the Executive Board fortunately awoke again, as a solution to their problem came into view. In Camarillo/California, another Connie had been detected in airworthy condition. And she was for sale. Soon, they took-up sales-negotiations with the owner of the so called "Camarillo-Connie N73544".

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Inside the book: The "Camarillo-Connie" in Los Angeles, taxiing-in for signatures of contract, December 17th, 2003

However, sale-negotiations turned out to be extremely difficult, as the club had spend an enormous amount of money already into the overhaul of the first craft. The present strategy was based on the consideration, to realize the new idea by a lease-contract. But the owner wanted to sell, not to lease. Since the incentive for those "Connie-crazy Swiss" had been huge, they just tried everything to reach their big goal. Contrary to the Santo Domingo Connie, this C-121 (a military version of the L-1049) had a valid license for passenger transport. In case of a takeover by the Swiss, this highly important license would be included in the purchase of the plane.

However, at the historic day of December 17th, 2003 (100 year anniversary of the first powered flight by the Wright brothers), the "Connie-crazy Swiss" succeeded to conclude a lease-purchase contract for the Camarillo-Connie, with its owner in Los Angeles. A great success and a further huge milestone on the long and rocky road, bringing a Super Constellation into Switzerland.

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Inside the book: First landing of a Super Constellation in Europa , after an absence of more then 25 years, at Prestwick/Scotland

After a prolonged time of overhaul, on April 26th 2004, the Conny-crazy Swiss took off in Camarillo in their ferry flight to Switzerland. After several stops in Omaha/Nebraska, Manchester/New Hampshire, Stephensville/Newfoundland, Prestwick/Scotland and Paris-Le Bourget, the Connie landed on May 08th, 2004, at its new home airport Basel/Switzerland. More than 3.000 Connie-fans welcomed the aircraft enthusiastically.

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Inside the book: Close-up shot outside the SWISS-Hangar in Basel, where the Connie had "accommodation as guest" for some years - here in her former paint-scheme

The Santo Domingo-Connie as well as the Scrap-Connie bought at the Boneyard-Airfield near Tucson, both had been left back in the States. Of course not without a prior cannibalization of all usable "organs and innards", which might be needed for a future "transplant for life-support" of HB-RSC, as functional Lockheed original-parts are no longer available on the market and can not easily been remade or rebuild. However, the leftovers of the Santo Domingo-Connie had luckily been sold to be used in another L-1049. Finally, she was saved  from being scraped, as besides the "Star of Switzerland", there is one other Super Constellation flying in Australia, which had been restored years ago and brought back to an airworthy condition. By production sequences, the HB-RSC with Lockheed S/N 4175 is the sister-ship of the Australian-Connie, which had been build as Lockheed S/N 4176. Owned and operated by the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) in Albion Park Rail, NSW, Australia, they also offer scenic Connie-flights at Downunder. The SFCA-Connie and the HARS-Connie are nowadays the last two Connie-specimens in airworthy conditions worldwide. However, currently there are two other L-1049 aircraft under reconstruction or restoration in the United States. One in restoration since several years in Auburn/Arkansas (owned by Lufthansa), and another one in Kansas City/Kansas, "Star of America" (owned by the National Airline History Museum), both with open end for completion of repair.

The next big shock came in January 2010, when dramatic corrosion damages inside the wings had been discovered during winter-maintenance, leading to an immediate "Grounding" of the "Star of Switzerland". But this time, the "disaster-proven Connie-madmen" could not be deterred by those "disastrous news". They started immediate actions to find a solution for those problems. As the Board decided to start a fund-raising for at least 500.000 CHF, the expensive overhaul and repair of the aircraft was continued at full power and speed.

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Inside the book: All parts of the wings not necessarily replaced, had been "clinically cleaned" by volunteers of the association in hard and backbreaking work, if necessary with tooth.brushes, before wings could be newly primed and sealed

After completion of the long lasting repair, specialists from Swiss Aviation Authorities (BAZL) issued a new Certificate of Airworthiness. In early April 2011, the "Star of Switzerland" was transferred to Zürich, where Co-Sponsor SR-Technics repainted the aircraft within 12 working-days. Meanwhile, the "Star of Switzerland" has become indispensable in Swiss aviation-scenery, as well as in neighboring countries.

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Inside the book: The "Star of Switzerland" in the new look, highlighting her elegance in a specific way (right image)

Super Constellation Backstage - The Book
Whether it comes to the development-history of the Lockheed Super Constellation, the turbulent history of the "Star of Switzerland", or the major overhaul and repair after detecting those serious corrosion-damages in the wings, Ernst Frei always describes all those processes in an understandable and at the same time interesting, yes exciting way, which draw readers into its spell. The authors passion and knowledge are a guarantee for an exciting journey into the world of the "Queen of the Skies". Between interesting texts, written in German and English, there are often double-sided and large-scale color images found, partly with some quite spectacular designs and snow-covered Swiss Mountains as an interesting backdrop of the scenery.

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Inside the book: Above the "Wallis-region", in front of breathtaking backdrop of Swiss mountain-massifs

The scanned images of some pages are just few examples to serve as "appetizers" of course. They surely can not reflect the quality of the images in the book, which are of perfect quality and highest resolution.

The team of authors
http://UL-Segelflug.de/images/stories/Buechercke/13_Super-Constellation-Backstage/TS_Super-Constellation_Autorenteam_Copyright-AS-Verlag.jpgErnst Frei
(center), author of texts, draw readers right at the beginning of the book into the spell of this incredible and successful story about "the most unconventional club-airplane in the world". Born in 1947 in Zürich/Switzerland, he flew 31 years for Swissair on DC9, DC8, MD11 and B747, including 18 years as instructor and check-pilot. Being able to fly a "Connie" today means in his own words: "The fulfillment of boy-dreams at the end of a wonderful flying career". That his pilot-heart is in flames for the "Queen of the Skies", one can feel at every page of the book. Only individuals involved with such passion, can transfer this passion into the right words and write them down.

Urs Mattle (right), born 1960 in Arosa/Switzerland, combines in this book his existing passions since his youth, in an ideal way: Photography and Flying.

Katsuhiko Tokunaga (left), born 1957 in Tokio/Japan, has already spend more than 1.400 flight hours inside various high performance aircraft and has flown as "Air-to-Air" photographer with any known aerobatic-team in the world.

The photographers did not only document the "re-birth" of the legendary "Star of Switzerland", when about 32.000 rivets had to be drilled out of the wings and riveted again, as at the same time, out of about 60 square meters aluminum-sheets several hundreds structural elements had to be manufactured, brought into right shape, adjusted and fastened to the innarts of the wings. They often take part at airshows and special events, where they are able to shoot brilliant photos in unique sceneries.

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Inside the book: Highlights of the Breitling Super Constellation are formation flights with the famous "Patrouille Suisse". like 2009 above the Lake Lucerne

For classic-fans, Super Constellation - Backstage is an absolute "MUST HAVE" without compromises. With the price of € 39.90, this special book is certainly not a cheep bargain, but the high quality of the materials in combinations with the content, justify its price in every respect.

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Flying as a passenger in the SCFA-Connie
Basically, a flight in the "Star of Switzerland" is possible for any interested individual. Since the approval for passenger-transport by Swiss Aviation Authorities (BAZL) is restricted to club-members only, passenger must be in possession of a valid membership of the Super Constellation Flyers Association, issued at least 30 days prior the flight. This is a "Supporting-Membership", entitling members to special-price tickets for flights in the Swiss Super Constellation HB-RSC. The membership is also the ticket for a free visit inside the "Connie" at airshows. At present, SCFA has grown-up to an association with more than 3.000 registered members.

Also within Germany, the "Star of Switzerland" is a regular and welcome guest at many airports, air-shows and festivals during the year. According to informations by SCFA, German-Airports are again part of the Connie-program in 2016. As soon as we receive the current timetable for this year, we sure will be glad to inform at our website.

At air-shows, the Connie is often "escorted" by the famous Patrouille Suisse in their bright red-white painted jets, the Breitling Jet-Team or other well known aerobatic-teams of the world. For both, spectators and photographers on the ground, as well as for passengers inside the Connie, exclusive and spectacular photo-shots are included for free.


Inside the book: "Finale Grande" above the Military Airfield Payerne, out of which the "Patrouille Suisse" operated at this day

http://UL-Segelflug.de/images/TS_Super-Constellation-Backstage_Copyright_AS-Verlag.jpg Ernst Frei - Urs Mattle - Katsuhiko Tokunaga
Super Constellation - Backstage

AS-Verlag

ISBN: 978-3-909111-91-6
Einband: Hardcover
Seitenzahl: 104
Abbildungen: 100 Farbbilder
Format: 300 x 240 mm
Erschienen: 2011

Preis: 39,90 €

Buch portofrei bestellen

Die Lockheed Super Constellation gilt weltweit als das schönste je gebaute Verkehrsflugzeug. Entwickelt durch den berühmten Konstrukteur Kelly Johnson nach den Plänen des legendären Howard Hughes, wurden zwischen 1943 und 1958 insgesamt 856 Connies gebaut. Nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg galt dieses majestätische Flugzeug mit seinen vier starken Doppelstern-Motoren als Königin der Lüfte und wurde erst durch das Zeitalter der Jets abgelöst.
Im Jahre 2004 gelang es einer Gruppe von Aviatik-Enthusiasten, eine der noch wenigen flugfähigen Super Constellations aus Kalifornien in die Schweiz zu überführen.
Der Leser erlebt in spektakulären Aufnahmen die Stationen der Breitling Super Constellation, von der Überführung aus den USA und ihren Einsätzen in der Schweiz über die Restaurierung bis zur dritten Wiedergeburt. Ein Highlight sind auch die Aufnahmen des weltbekannten Aviatik-Fotografen Katsuhiko Tokunaga, sie zeigen die Connie in ihrer ganzen Eleganz.

http://UL-Segelflug.de/images/TS_Super-Constellation_DVD_Copyright_Aerotop-Verlag.jpg Lockhead L-1049
Breitling Super Constellation

Star of Switzerland

Aerotop-Verlag

EAN: 9783923142569
ISBN: 3923142560

Typ: Film / DVD
Laufzeit: 110 Minuten (deutschsprachig)
ohne Alterseinschränkung gem. §14 JuSchG
Erscheinungsdatum: 11/2007

Preis: 14,99 €

DVD portofrei bestellen

Die Lockheed Super Constellation gilt weltweit als das schönste je gebaute Verkehrsflugzeug.

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