After an epic flight from South Africa, a Convair 440 is due at the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society base at the Albion Park airport near Wollongong south of Sydney tomorrow Sunday.
It was a revolution in passenger comfort for smaller capacity domestic routes in this country when Trans-Australia Airlines or TAA introduced an earlier version the Convair 240 in 1948, because it was the first cabin pressurized twin engined airliner and could fly higher in occasionally smoother skies than the similar capacity Douglas DC4 Skymaster and the smaller and much slower Douglas DC3s.
But more about that tomorrow, when HARS president Bob De La Hunty and his amazing flight, maintenance and restoration crew welcome it to its place beside the restored ‘Connie’ or four engined Lockheed Super Constellation and the monumental landmark that is the first Qantas 747-400, which landed, almost certainly forever, on Albion Park’s spectacularly short and terrain enclosed runway on March 8, 2015.
As a page turner to another chapter in the story of HARS, the Super 100MHP team who have created some astonishing aviation videos, have posted this YouTube of the flying display given by ‘Connie’ at the Wings over Illawarra airshow in May this year.
In case WordPress has another contretemp with YouTube you find it by simply searching YouTube for Super 100MHP. A screen grab is at the top of this post.
Context. The Q.A.N.T.A.S. Super Constellation was the most beautiful and noisy piston engined airliner ever. It took, if all the engines worked as intended, 63 hours and 45 minutes to get from Sydney to the semi rural tranquillity of London Heathrow and The Queen’s terminal area and ladies and gentlemen boarded their flight wearing full suits, ties and hats, or hats and suitably elegant dresses.
If they arrived at the other end without spending the odd night here or there on the way to recover then they probably just wanted to burn their clothes on the spot. The alternative was a scheduled passenger ship, like the Oriana, which could do the same journey, in first class, and usually for considerably less than the airfare, in an awesomely brief 28 days from Sydney Harbour to Southampton.
Lots of people took slightly more leisurely voyages to the old dart on other ocean liners. The Super Constellations, and other propeller driven airliners of the times, did not have any impact on the popularity of taking a month on the ocean waves to get to or from Europe.
But the successor to ‘Connie’, the Boeing 707, and in some airlines, the Douglas DC-8, killed the scheduled ocean liner trade stone dead within a few years. The Super Constellation was an awesome air transport apparatus, but probably most attractive for those small number of Australians who had a reason to fly to Singapore, or Kuala Lumpur, or Hong Kong, for which a sea voyage didn’t really cut it, even though sailing to Europe or America took much longer.
This is a wonderful video from Super 100MHP. Keep you eyes peeled for the moment ‘Connie’ appears in the background at an apparently acute angle of bank, against a backdrop of cliffs and forests where no modern commercial airliner of any size of more than say 50 seats would ever be willingly flown into such a position which was of course 100 percent safe for the straight winged low speed friendly piston engined designs known to your grandparents.
Below is the TAA liveried Convair 440, which has a longer nose than the 240, on its arrrival at Dubbo this afternoon. Due at Albion Park and HARS tomorrow.