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The Beginning of the End For Lockheed Constellation

In the spirit of #TBT (“Throwback Thursday,” not Brazil’s Tabatinga Airport) FlyerTalk takes a look back at the events that helped shape modern aviation. Here are just a few moments from history that changed the face of the industry during the week of October 4.


October 4, 1992

Five minutes into El Al Flight 1862, the Boeing 747 lost the number three engine due to microscopic cracks in fuse pins attaching the engine to the wing. The separated engine then collided into the number four engine, causing the aircraft to lose control before ultimately crashing into an apartment building in Amsterdam.

All four people aboard the aircraft and as many as 39 on the ground were killed in the wreck. As a result, Boeing issued a service directive to inspect the fuse pins for wear on all 747. 

October 5, 1951

Built as an upgrade to the Model 240 family, Convair celebrated the first flight of the Model 340, a propeller aircraft featuring a longer fuselage and wingspan.

The aircraft was hailed for the low operating costs and high reliability, earning orders from many international airlines. Among the operators of the Model 340 were Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Northeast Airlines and United Airlines. 

October 6, 1981

After inadvertently flying into a tornado vortex, NLM CityHopper Flight 431 broke up shortly after takeoff. All 17 people aboard the aircraft were killed.

While sabotage was originally considered as a possible cause, investigators determined severe turbulence as the cause of the accident. 

October 7, 2008

As many as 115 passengers were injured when Qantas Flight 72 began inexplicably pitching downward while on autopilot. In the span of five minutes, the Airbus A330 began pitching downward more and more severely, the final time rapidly descending 400 feet and causing rapid injury to passengers.

The pilots made a successful emergency landing at Learmonth airport, where injured passengers were transported to nearby hospitals. The cause of the pitch issue was determined to be a faulty air data inertial reference unit responding to a defective inertial reference. 

October 8, 1922

Lillian Gatlin, founder of the National Association of Aviation Gold Star Mothers, becomes the first woman to fly across the U.S. while riding aboard Air Mail aircraft. Departing from San Francisco on October 5, Gatlin landed in Long Island three days later. Gatlin flew the route as part of a campaign to make March 2 a memorial day for lost aviators.

October 9, 1906

Hailed as the first successful Zeppelin to take to the skies, German LZ 3 celebrated its first flight over the skies of Germany. LZ 3 improved upon the failures of the first two aircraft in that it featured two sets of elevators adapted from a biplane, as well as new horizontal stabilizers.

The Zeppelin would ultimately be used by the German Army in World War I, before being decommissioned and destroyed seven years later.

October 10, 1956

It was the beginning of the end for the Lockheed Constellation aircraft line, as the Lockheed L-1649 Starliner took to the skies for the first time. Powered by four propeller engines, the L-1649 was capable of flying nonstop to Europe from California.

Pushed by Howard Hughes when Lockheed supposedly wanted to give up on the project, TWA became the first operator of the new aircraft on June 1, 1957.


[Photo: NACA – Ames Imaging Library System]

Comments are Closed.
cestmoi123 October 13, 2015

The Starliner was essentially the last stage of long-range propeller-driven commercial flight. They were essentially gone from passenger service within 4-5 years of the first one flying.

BearX220 October 8, 2015

How is the first flight of a new aircraft type "the beginning of the end" for that type? What the heck are you talking about?