Restored Super Constellation finishes journey at Qantas museum

Historic aircraft on display in outback Queensland.

The Qantas Founders Museum’s Super Constellation aircraft has moved into its new home.

The historic aircraft was shifted from where it was restored behind the museum’s Airpark enclosure to underneath the new Airpark roof where it will be displayed between a Boeing 747 and 707.

The move was carried out in early March with the combined efforts of museum staff, volunteers, contractors Watpac Constructions and the Qantas Engineering Aircraft Recovery Team.

Qantas Founders Museum Board member and Project Manager of the restoration project Rodney Seccombe (pictured below) said moving the plane into its final display position was a special occasion.

“Over five years ago, after keeping a watching brief for many years, we successfully bid for and saved this Super Constellation from being scrapped in Manila, so it is wonderful to see this beautifully restored aircraft positioned with our other museum aircraft and under the protection of our Airpark roof,” Mr Seccombe said.

Volunteer Rodney Seccombe

Volunteer and retired aircraft engineer Greg Boyce hads been involved with the project from the earliest stages at Manila Airport.

“Moving an aircraft of the Super Constellation’s size and age is always tricky but with thorough planning it went off without a hitch,” Mr Boyce said.

“I am only one of very many dedicated volunteers who have worked closely and collaboratively with museum staff, contractors and with support from Qantas over the last five years and like all the recovery, external, cockpit and interior restoration activities the commitment and expertise of all involved has brought about this great result.”

MUSEUM CELEBRATES 100 YEARS OF QANTAS

The museum bought the Super Constellation in September 2014 from the Manila International Airport Authority where it had been abandoned for 26 years. 

Super Constellation at Longreach museum

It took two and a half years for the aircraft to be extracted from its mud-encrusted position by the Qantas Engineering Aircraft Recovery Team.

Volunteers, led by Mr Seccombe, then disassembled the plane and prepared it to be transported by ship from Manila to Townsville and then by truck from Townsville to Longreach, arriving in the outback town in late May 2017. 

A group of volunteers, staff and contractors, supported by Qantas sheetmetal engineers from Brisbane, then worked tirelessly to restore the exterior of the aircraft, including replacing rusted areas, reassembling the aircraft and repainting it in the Qantas Super Constellation livery, which was completed in July 2018. 

In 2019, restoration of the cockpit and instruments was undertaken by a volunteer team and the interior display fitted out by museum staff and contractors. 

Super Constellation at Longreach museum

This particular aircraft was flown by the US Navy and not operated by Qantas but it has been restored to replicate Qantas Super Constellation Southern Spray VH-EAM.

Constellations played an important role for Qantas, making international travel more accessible to Australians from the late 1940s and '50s. 

Qantas Super Constellation facts:

  • The Constellation operated the Qantas Kangaroo Route air services between London and Sydney from 1947.
  • The Constellation was the first aircraft that enabled Qantas to establish long-range overseas air service. 
  • It was the first pressurised aircraft operated by Qantas. 
  • The Kangaroo Route was the longest air service in the world using the same aircraft.
  • A Super Constellation operated the first Qantas trans-Pacific air service in 1954. 
  • Qantas Super Constellations operated the first ever regular round-the-world air services via both hemispheres in 1958. 
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