Lockheed L-1049 Constellation N6937C
Constellation Spar Inspection Complete
After many rumors, a spar inspection has been completed with no corrosion found on the Constellation. This paves the way for the museum to perform a heavy inspection to return the Constellation to service. Once the DC-3 engine installations are complete, the museum expects to begin the inspection and we are hopeful that she will return to the air.
By the spring of 1986, Save A Connie, Inc. (SAC) was ready to move forward with the project to restore N6937C (37 Charlie) to a flyable condition. After nine weeks and nearly 4,000 man-hours, SAC volunteers made this plane flyable again. On July 15, 1986, Star of America left Falcon Field, headed for Kansas City’s Downtown Airport (MKC). The flight, accompanied by an escort aircraft, was completed without incident. Crew members became convinced that the aircraft has a soul, because, in their words, “The further she got away from the junkyard, the better she flew!”
Once in Kansas City, the transformation from a drab, worn out bug sprayer to a beautiful ‘Queen of the Skies’ began. Kansas City was probably the only place in the world that this transformation could have taken place. It was a classic example of “the right time and the right place”. There was a core of then current and retired TWA employees in Kansas City. All disciplines including pilots, flight engineers, mechanics, hostesses, etc. were represented. Had the members of SAC waited, it most likely would had been too late to find this kind of aircraft in restorable condition, or to salvage the parts needed from other Connies. This talented pool of retirees, who knew these planes well, led the way.
After 18 months in the hangar at Kansas City Downtown Airport, the Connie emerged, resplendent in her new Save A Connie livery. The Lockheed Constellation had been converted from cargo to passenger configuration. In the late 90’s, employees from TWA’s Kansas City overhaul base donated a new paint job in TWA colors. She flew the Airshow circuit for nearly 20 years, where she was consistently regarded as ‘best in show’. Currently 37 Charlie is on static display while undergoing heavy maintenance with a goal of returning to the Airshow circuit.
The Star of America has been involved in television and movie releases, as well as several television commercials. It was featured in the Arts and Entertainment documentary entitled First Flights, narrated by Astronaut Neil Armstrong, and the motion picture, “Voyager” released in the U.S. in 1992. The Connie was also used for interior scenes for the movie, “Ace Ventura – When Nature Calls”, in 1995, starring actor Jim Carrey. The Connie most recently appeared in “The Aviator”, which was the 2004 Martin Scorsese movie depicting the early years of legendary director and aviator Howard Hughes’ career, from the late 1920s to the mid-1940s starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Beckinsale, and Cate Blanchett.
The History of N6937C
Current registration – N6937C
After completed as L1049H N5400V, stored at Lockheed Aircraft, Burbank, CA due to cancelled order
To Slick Airways September 17, 1959 as N6937C
To Airlift International July 1, 1966
To Bal Trade November 14, 1968
Stored at Miami, FL from 1970 and seized by airport for non-payment of parking fees June 1971
To Aircraft Airframe Inc June 18, 1971
Leased to Vortex Inc October 1971 and possibly spring 1972
Leased to Sky Trucks International September 12, 1972
To Aircraft Specialties Inc February 12, 1973
Converted to a sprayer at Mesa, AZ with fuselage tanks and full span spray booms
Stored at Mesa, AZ by 1975
Sale to Science Museum, London, England fell through October 1979
Sale to Air Trader International fell through June 1980
Sale to Paul Pristo at the Globe Air Auction at Mesa, AZ October 1985 for $4,000
Save-A-Connie (SAC) organization began restoration at Mesa in May 1986 and aircraft ferried to group’s headquarters at Downtown Kansas City Airport July 15, 1986
Paul Pristo donated aircraft to Save-A-Connie December 1986 and named “Star of America”
Major overhaul performed 1987-1988 and aircraft painted in 1950’s era TWA color scheme less TWA titles
Formally dedicated July 9, 1988
Extended radar nose installed December 1990 – January 1991 during annual inspection TWA titles replaced SAC titles
1996 SAC renamed Airline History Museum April 2000
Interior completely renovated winter 2002-2003
Aircraft is the only airworthy ex-civilian Constellation as all others are ex-military.
Aircraft grounded since July 20, 2005 when the #2 engine suffered a catastrophic failure during run-up.
Newly overhauled engine installed on aircraft and failed during a test flight on July 22, 2006.
Returned to the overhaul shop in California for repairs.
Successful engine runs were performed on July 10, 2007.
All four engines have been regularly run and AHM is adopting a new maintenance program to allow aircraft to once again be airworthy.
Articles About N6937C
Data from Lockheed Constellation:From Excalibur to Starliner.
Capacity: 47-106 Passengers
Length: 113 ft 7 in (34.52 m)
Wingspan: 123 ft (37.49 m)
Height: 24 ft 9 in (7.54 m)
Wing area: 1,650 sq ft (153.29 sq m)
Empty weight: 69,000 lb (31,297 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 120,000 lb (54,431 kg)
Powerplant: 4 × Wright R-3350 972-TC-18DA-1 radial, 3,250 bhp (2,240 kW) each
Propellers: Hamilton Standard
Maximum speed: 330 mph (531 km/h)
Cruise speed: 304 mph (489 km/h)
Range: 5,150 mi (8,288 km)
Service ceiling: 25,700 ft (7.833 km)