Jetrader - March/April 2010 - 33

and troop concentrations ignoring ground control flight path restrictions. On one occasion he persuaded future general Albert Kesselring to fly the Electra over his airfield, while he slid his hand furtively under the seat to operate the cameras. He offered to fly Hermann Goering to London for talks just seven days before the German invasion of Poland, which set off WWII. He was awarded the OBE for his work in organizing the Royal Air Force photo reconnaissance unit. The last of the twin-engine commercial aircraft was the L-18 Lodestar. With a crew of three, it was outfitted to carry 14-17 passengers. With its first flight in September 1939 at the outbreak of WWII in Europe, most were requisitioned for military service as troop carriers and personnel versions for high-ranking military officers and government officials. In the spring of 1939, Hal Hibbard and Kelly Johnson were hard at work designing the Model 44 Excalibur. It would carry 21 passengers, but in talks with Pan Am it was finally agreed it would carry 40 passengers and cruise at 300 mph. However, with Boeing’s pressurized B307 Stratoliner and the Douglas unpressurized DC-4 soon to be ready for production, it was clear to Lockheed that what they needed was a game-changer design that would fly faster, higher and further than the competition. The new specification for this design caught the attention of Howard Hughes, the major stockholder in Transcontinental and Western Airlines, (TWA). At a secret meeting between the Lockheed duo, Hughes and TWA’s president, Jack Frye, at Hughes’ Hancock Park home, a new specification was developed for what Hughes wanted for “his” airline. Speed, passenger comfort and economics were the fundamental requirements. Three weeks later, Johnson and Hibbard again met secretly with Hughes and TWA executives. They met this time with the drawings of the Model 049, which could carry 20 sleepers or 44 seated passengers at 20,000 feet. Hughes agreed to buy 40 Constellations at a price of $425,000 each, with the proviso that Lockheed not sell 049s to any other airline until TWA had taken delivery of its 35th aircraft. With its Wright R-3350-35 radial engines (same as the B29), the 049 “Connie” would be able to cruise at 360 mph at 20,000 feet; with a service ceiling of 35,000 feet not even America’s fastest fighter, the Curtis P-40 Tomahawk, could match it. Taking Flight The 049 first flew on January 9, 1943, with Boeing test pilot Eddie Allen on loan in the left-hand seat; Lockheed’s Chief Engineering Test Pilot, Milo Burcham, sat in the right-hand seat; Kelly Johnson, as head of design, rode along. Not a good idea. It was not until October 14, 1945, that the CAA awarded the Approved Type Certificate for 81 seated passengers. Like any new design, serious problems would crop up, sometimes with catastrophic results, including a belly landing with no fatalities. On June 18, 1946, shortly after take-off, number-four engine on a Pan Am flight to Europe caught fire and fell off. The cabin supercharger drive shaft had sheared; flailing around, it fractured fuel and oil lines, which then ignited. (I experienced the same failure on my first Model L-749A ride after getting certified—but by then Lockheed had installed a containment shield around the shaft). Three weeks after the Pan Am accident, a TWA 049 crashed over Reading, Pennsylvania, when leaking hydraulic fluid shorted out a generator and the dense smoke and fumes incapacitated the cockpit crew. There were 10,049 accidents, of which six lost the passengers and crew; only three 749 accidents are reported with the loss of passengers. Strangely, the lists do not show the fatal accident to BOAC L-749A Constellation at Singapore’s Kallang Airport on March 13, 1954. The crew had been on duty for 22 hours without rest. On the approach to short runway 06, they hit the sea wall with the right gear and broke off the wing, inverting the aircraft which caught fire. All 31 passengers and two cabin crew were trapped and perished. The cockpit crew managed to squeeze through the miniscule clear-vision sliding windows. As a result, the British followed the then-U.S. restriction requiring a third pilot for duty days exceeding 16 hours. In February 1953, the stretched Connie with the Wright Turbo-Compound R-3350 engine became available, using the exhaust to drive three turbines connected to the crankshaft by a fluid coupling. This increased the power to 3,250hp (2,427kw). But, the writing was on the wall, the De Havilland Comet jet was already in passenger service, although it was shortly to be grounded after three fatal accidents. Also, the turbo-prop Bristol Britannia would soon be crossing the North Atlantic in record time with 130 passengers. References: • Scott E Germain, Lockheed Constellation, Volume 1, Specialty Press, 1998 • Vega/Aero14 • lockheed • ElectraVariants • • aircraft • Numerous other web sites for cross checks • My log book Jetrader 33

Jetrader - March/April 2010

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Jetrader - March/April 2010

Jetrader - March/April 2010
A Message from the President
Q&A: Gil Speed
The Return to a New Normal
The Funding Gap
Reaching Out
The Gift of a Lifetime
Aircraft Appraisals
From the ISTAT Foundation
Aviation History
Advertiser Index
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - Jetrader - March/April 2010
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - Cover2
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - A Message from the President
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - 4
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - Contents
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - 6
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - Calendar/News
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - Q&A: Gil Speed
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - 9
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - 10
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - 11
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - The Return to a New Normal
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - 13
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - The Funding Gap
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - 15
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - 16
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - 17
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - 18
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - Reaching Out
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - 20
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - 21
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - 22
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - The Gift of a Lifetime
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - 24
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - 25
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - 26
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - Aircraft Appraisals
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - 28
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - 29
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - 30
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - From the ISTAT Foundation
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - Aviation History
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - 33
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - Advertiser Index
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - Cover3
Jetrader - March/April 2010 - Cover4