Lockheed’s seminal Constellation first flew in 1943 and became, as the L-1049 Super Constellation that first flew in 1950, arguably the most iconic piston airliner of the period. According to the National Air and Space Museum, “The Super Constellation and its derivatives represent, along with the Douglas DC-7, the ultimate step in the development of longer range, more capacity and more powerful piston-engined aircraft to meet the needs of both commercial and military aviation.” Through the Super Constellation’s production run, some 579 were produced, the last of which were hanging on in U.S. domestic service through 1980. The Connie celebrating this milestone, an F model, first flew on Oct. 13, 1950.
According to the NASM, this Constellation, a “C-121C (1049F-55-96), with former Air Force serial number 54-177, and now registered N1104W, is one of the 33 C-l2lCs delivered to the USAF and the Atlantic Division of the Military Air Transport Service at Charleston AFB, South Carolina. This airplane arrived there in March 1956 and was assigned to the 1608th Air Transport Wing. Its original configuration was that of an over-water cargo/passenger transport, having eight crew members and accommodations for up to 80 passengers.”
It was retired from military service near the end of 1977 and stored until 1981. It was to be part of a small fleet of passenger Connies flying between Los Angeles and Reno, Nevada, under the Classic Air brand. But Classic Air was unable to get FAA approval and, according to NASM, ”the airplanes remained dormant. At this time the National Air and Space Museum was seeking a Super Constellation. Mr. Darryl Greenameyer soon became a party to this transaction as he had acquired two of the Constellations from Air Classics. He negotiated a trade with NASM a C-121C, NllO4W in exchange for two Grumman HU-16 Albatrosses …” You can see this Constellation at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center adjacent to the Dulles airport—this museum has reopened with COVID-19 protocols.