The Basel based Super Constellation Flyers Association (SCFA) was established to ensure the operation and maintenance of a Lockheed Super Constellation. The club had two types of members: Association Members and Supporter Members. Association Members provided a one-time contribution to fund the club's activities and were entitled to vote. They also elected the president and key personnel responsible for flight operations, maintenance, finance, and marketing. As a supporter of the club, you could participate in flights on aircraft operated by the club and receive discounts on purchasing souvenir items. To take part in sightseeing flights within and from Switzerland to other European countries, club membership and a contribution towards expenses are necessary due to licensing reasons. However, exceptions can be made for sightseeing flights at air shows outside of Switzerland depending on local regulations for operating historic aircraft. Despite the association's best efforts, it was decided in February 2019 to dissolve the association if the sum of 20 million francs for the renovation of the HB-RSC aircraft could not be guaranteed by the deadline of 20 April 2019. Unfortunately, this sum was not achieved, which led to the association's dissolution. The SCFA is now in dissolution under Swiss law.

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At the beginning of 2000, the association's founding members set themselves the goal of purchasing a Lockheed Super Constellation and operating it in Europe. A suitable candidate for restoration was found in the Dominican Republic. Although c/n 4137 HI-583CT, a former Aerochago ex-military C-121 Super Constellation, had only been flown once since 1993, it appeared to be in good condition.


c/n 4137 HI-483CT C-121G Super Constellation of Aerochago taxiing at Miami, 1990. Zoggavia Collection

In June 2000, the SCFA purchased the aircraft at an excellent price. They planned to ferry the airplane to The Constellation Group's maintenance facility at Avra Valley Airport near Tucson, Arizona, where the restoration would occur. The C-121 was made ready for a ferry flight, re-registered N105CF, and, on 7 November 2000, was successfully flown to Opa Locka, Florida, by a crew consisting of Frank Lang, Francisco Agullo, and Carlos Gomez. After additional work on the #2 engine, the same flight crew set off for Avra Valleyon on 4 January 2001. Due to further problems with the #2 engine and hydraulic system, the Super Connie stopped unscheduled in Conroe, Texas, to conduct additional repairs. She flew the final leg from Conroe to Avra Valley on 7 January 2001, where she joined the MATS Connie C-121A N494TW, and C-121A N749NL, which the Dutch Aviodome Museum was restoring.


c/n4137 N105CF C-1212G Super Constellation still in ex Aerochago colors soon after arrival from Santo Domingo at Opa Locka, FL, in November 2000. Zoggavia Collection via Eddy Gual

The group acquired 53-535 EC-121T for spares, and volunteers quickly began the restoration. By June 2002, four layers of paint had been removed, the #2 and #4 engines overhauled, fuel tanks cleaned and sealed, rudders from 53-535 removed and recovered, wing attachments inspected, flight and engine gages overhauled, master control units overhauled, interior and cargo holds cleaned, and AD work completed on the #2 and #4 propellers. Parked adjacent to the Aviodome's C-121A, the two groups shared information and tools, and all was going well. Both groups planned on restoring their aircraft for the European airshow circuit to have their aircraft receive "standard" airworthiness certificates from the FAA. The FAA became very inflexible with certification requirements, and it became apparent, from Aviodome's experience with N749NL, that the FAA would only certify the ex-military aircraft to the "Experimental" category, thus prohibiting the carriage of passengers. After the expenditure of considerable resources, the SCFA recognized this reality and, in August 2002, decided to halt the restoration of N105CF and explore other possibilities.

The FAA became very inflexible with certification requirements, and it became apparent, from Aviodome's experience with N749NL, that the FAA would only certify the ex-military aircraft to the "Experimental" category, thus prohibiting the carriage of passengers. After the expenditure of considerable resources, the SCFA recognized this reality and, in August 2002, decided to halt the restoration of N105CF and explore other possibilities.

That other "possibility" was C-121C N73544, affectionately known as the "Camarillo Connie ."Operated by the CHS and based at Camarillo, California, it had received a "standard" airworthiness certificate years ago and could thus carry passengers.


N73544 Lockheed C-121C of the Constellation Historical Society, known also as "Camarillo Connie" shot air to air in 1998, Zoggavia Collection

The SCFA entered into negotiations with owner Benny Youensi in the Fall of 2002 and, in December 2002, announced to its membership that it intended to bring N73544 to Europe. When things were falling into place, the project's major sponsor pulled out due to concerns about the project's financial viability. After several months of additional negotiations with Benny, a five-year lease/purchase agreement was verbally agreed to, and the project was back on track. The aircraft belonging to the Constellation Historical Society from Camarillo was registered in the US aviation registry with the registration number N73544. 

The departure date from Camarillo was 26 April 2004, with stops at Omaha, Nebraska, Missouri; Manchester, New Hampshire, Stephenville, Newfoundland; Keflavik, Iceland, Prestwick, Scotland; and Paris Le Bourget, France, before finally arriving at Basel, Switzerland, on 8 May 2004. All forty passenger seats, limited to SCFA members for $5,000 apiece for the entire US to Europe flight, were sold. 

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More than thirty-years ago since the last Super Connie touched down at the runway of Basel-Mulhouse airport on 8 May 2004. Ralph Kunadt.

The CHS and SCFA jointly operated the Super Connie on the European show circuit for five years. All went as planned, and at the end of the five years, SCAF purchased the aircraft operated solely by the association and the main sponsor, Breitling. Due to Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation regulations, all flights on N73544 were restricted to SCFA members only, and ticket sale at airshows was not allowed. The Super Constellation was in use under the registration number HB-RSC until 2016.


View of the Wright R-3350 engines, 300m over the Lake of Zurich in August 2016. Zoggavia Collection

The operating and maintenance costs of the HB-RSC were mainly covered by sponsorship and member contributions, as well as the work of volunteers. For maintenance and operation, there were contracts with SR Technics, the watch manufacturer Breitling, and other sponsors from the private sector. The crew consisted of former and active pilots and flight attendants. The pilots and flight engineers had a valid flight license according to EASA specifications for a multi-engine civil aircraft with a three-person cockpit with the corresponding type rating. The association regularly carried out training flights to maintain its authorizations.


Impressions of flying the Super Connie. All images Zoggavia Collection

The association was supported by around 3,500 paying members in September 2015. The Super Constellation was in the air for around 60 to 70 hours per year and appeared at air shows throughout Europe until 2016. Due to brake damage during a rolling test in 2017 and additional stricter requirements, extensive repairs and renovations became necessary, for which financing could not be guaranteed until spring 2019.


HB-RSC take-off to a pleasure flight from Dubendorf airport in 2016. Zoggavia Collection.

In July 2019, SCFA sold the aircraft to a new owner without disclosing its identity. The aircraft was dismantled and transported from Zurich to Meier Motors GmbH, Eschbach-Bremgarten, South West Germany, in November 2019, with the hopeful anticipation that the necessary revision of the wing could be carried out and the Super Connie could fly again in the future. For the last transport, that of the fuselage, the BAZL, The Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA), specified a special scaffolding so the fuselage could not warp. It was estimated that it would take three years to repair the damage to the wings, a timeframe that holds promise for the aircraft's revival.

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On the evening of 27 November 2019, the Super Connie left Zurich Airport. Hansjörg Bürgi Skynews link.

HB-RSC remains registered as an antique aircraft in the Swiss register and is formally owned by a local investment broker, Immo Norse AG.  DIAG Aviation GmbH had hoped to rebuild and reactivate the aircraft but never did so. The Super Connie is up for sale and can be delivered worldwide.

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