Lots of beautiful airplanes have been built over the years, but one of the
prettiest I’ve ever seen is the Super Constellation. “Connies,” as they were
affectionately known, were airplanes flown back in the day by airlines that
included Trans World Airways, Trans Canada Airlines, Qantas and the U.S.
TWA flew its “Connies” all over the world. I’ve seen publicity pictures and
movies of those TWA Connies flying over the pyramids, over the ocean, over
the Manhattan skyline, but never did I expect to see pictures of a Connie
coming through Lowville, Boonville, down the Gorge Road to Rome and along
Black River Boulevard and into the Griffiss Business and Technology Park.
But those are the pictures I saw last week. A 53-year-old Connie, once flown
by Trans Canada and later used as a diner/lounge and also as a place for
conferences, has been sold by its Canadian owner to a museum in Seattle,
Washington. The Connie will be put on display there once it has been
refurbished by the folks at Empire Aero at Griffiss.
Back in the 1940s, ‘50s and early ‘60s, Connies were the ultimate in airline
luxury. Passengers could cruise along at 350 miles an hour while eating nice
meals and enjoying adult beverages. In fact, President Eisenhower’s airplane
was a Super Constellation, and that was the first time a presidential
aircraft was referred to as Air Force One, a name that stuck.
The Connie style is unlike anything seen in an aircraft before or since. The
tail, with its three vertical fins, was unique, and the shape of its
fuselage made it look like it was meant to fly.
Now that there’s a Connie at Griffiss, we’ve got a good excuse to write
about her and to follow her refurbishing progress at Empire. In fact Pat
Malin, a writer for the Boonville Herald and The Griff, will be doing
exactly that in future issues of the newspapers.
Empire Aero got the Connie in pieces. The company’s job is to get the
aircraft looking like it did when it came off the Lockheed assembly line in
Burbank, California. About 850 Connies were built between 1943 and 1958.
This job will be different from most of Empire’s other work. They won’t have
to worry about getting her ready to fly. This airplane only has to look
When Empire Aero finishes its restoration, the Connie will again be put on
trucks and taken to Seattle. This museum there will have it as part of a
Alas, this Connie won’t ever fly again but at least it won’t end up getting
ripped apart for its metal, the fate of most other airplanes from those
Joe Kelly is the editor and publisher of The Boonville Herald & Adirondack Tourist and