In 1986 a group of dedicated Kansas City based aviation enthusiasts decided they were
going to find, acquire, and restore to like new condition a Lockheed Super G
Constellation, model L-1049G. By that time the "Connie", as
it was affectionately called, had disappeared from the
skies. After much detective work, they found a derelict Connie,
registration number N6937C, in
storage at Falcon Field in Mesa, Arizona. It was one of the last
Constellations off Lockheed's
assembly lines in 1958, and was built as a cargo plane for Slick Airways.
It passed through
many hands after being sold by Slick Airways, and had been parked at Falcon Field
earlier, much the worse for wear, after its life as a bug sprayer in Canada was over.
After an incredible
nine weeks in the desert,
an amazing, against-all-odds effort by the members of the newly formed "Save A
Connie" organization (now doing business as the Airline History Museum)
made this plane flyable again. They ferried the aircraft to
Kansas City, Missouri navigating by compass and by following roads, where it began its
transformation from a drab, worn out bug sprayer into what many consider the most
beautiful aircraft to ever have graced the skies.
Indeed, Kansas City was probably the only
place in the world where this transformation could have taken place. It was a classic case
of "the right time and the right place". There was a core of retired TWA
employees living here: pilots, flight engineers, mechanics, hostesses, etc.
in every aspect of propeller driven aircraft in general, and Constellations in
particular. Had the members of AHM waited any longer, 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
intimately 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 was converted from
cargo to passenger configuration. She promptly began flying the Airshow circuit, where she
continues to awe and inspire. In the late 90's, employees from TWA's
Kansas City overhaul base donated a completely new paint job in the
original TWA colors.
"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.