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Connie at Duxford - pic by Damien BurkePropliner heaven!

The two days of 26/27 September saw some very unusual movements in UK skies - but very welcome ones at that! Gary Parsons reports. Pictures by the author and Damien Burke.

Connie's past
Picture by Damien Burke
N749NL was built as a C-121A (c/n 2604) and delivered to USAF on 18 January 1949 as 48-0612, later converted to VC-121A standard. Withdrawn from use in October 1967, she was stored at Davis Monthan AFB until being sold to Christler Flying Service Inc on 5 May 1970.
Picture by Damien Burke
Re-registered as N9465 by Christler Flying Service on
10 July 1970, she was sold to Beaver Air Spray Inc on 18 April 1979, being re-registered as C-GXKR. Sold
to Conifair Aviation Inc in '79. WFU in 1988, she was stored at St Jean, Quebec, Canada until sold as N749VR and ferried to Avra Valley, Arizona in 1993. Restored in 2001 as N749NL for current owners.
Picture by Damien Burke
Acknowledgements: Mil-spotters-forum

No less than three historic propliners made the journey from the States, one C-121A Constellation on Thursday 26th followed by two C-54s the following day. The 'Connie' was much delayed N749NL, recently purchased by the Dutch National Aviodome Museum, and the one intended to have made several airshow appearances this year, starting as way back as Biggin Hill. Unfortunately certification by the FAA took longer than anticipated and engine problems delayed the trip until this season's end - but at least she finally made it! After a two-hour stop for fuel at Duxford she left for a three-day stop at Manston and subsequent onward journey to Lelystad Airport in the Netherlands. During the flight from Manston to Lelystad the Connie was escorted by an Orion of the Dutch Navy Air Service and a Fokker 50 of KLM Cityhopper. Restoration of the aircraft will continue.

Meanwhile, on Friday 27 September two C-54s arrived at North Weald, in anticipation of becoming movie stars early next year. A film about the Berlin Airlift is to be shot in the UK and Aces High have enlisted C-54s N31356 ('44-42914') and N44914 ('56498').

ClickN31356 is actually a DC-4 owned by Jack Dempsay and has been in storage at Avra Valley for a number of years, being refurbished especially for the forthcoming film work.

ClickN44914 still sports its glorious 'MATS' Atlantic Division paint scheme and is operated by New Hampshire based Atlantic Warbirds. Built for the USAAF as 44-72525 it was immediately transferred to the US Navy and was used until 1972. Atlantic Warbirds have operated her since 1996, although less frequently in recent years due to lack of funding.

You can find out more about all three aircraft in Graham Robson's new book 'Propliner Renaissance'

 

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