Qantas Lockheed L1049G Super Constellation VH-EAO

Lockheed L-1049G-82-153 Super Constellation VH-EAO Southern Aurora (c/n 4679) taxying at the Qantas Empire Airways (QEA) maintenance area at Sydney/Kingsford Smith Airport in the late 1950s. These aircraft, powered by four 3250 hp Wright R3350-TC18-DA3 Turbo Compound engines, operated with 10-12 crew and up to 39 passengers in all First Class configuration, or 27 Deluxe and 30 Tourist seats, or 60 seats in an all-Tourist configuration. Cruising speed was approximately 335 mph. The Super Constellation represented the pinnacle of piston-engine airliner development and, in some eyes, the epitomy of beauty in design.

VH-EAO was delivered to Qantas on 28 October 1957. Its delivery flight, under Captain A.A.E. Yates, was the first non-stop flight by a commercial aircraft from Honolulu to Sydney. On 14 January 1958 VH-EAO was one of two Super Constellations to depart Melbourne/Essendon on Qantas' inaugural round-the-world service. VH-EAO departed Australia via the 'Southern Cross' route across the Pacific, carrying a special philatelic mail - cick here to see come air mail covers carried on this flight.

Click on the image at right to download a copy of this Qantas brochure from February 1955 on Constellation flights to the USA and Canada.

(380 kB .pdf file)

Qantas brochure

When QEA bought Lockheed Electras, VH-EAO was traded back to Lockheed as N9722C on 13 October 1959 with a total flying time of 5,874h 9min and 932 landings racked up in two years of line-flying. However, just on a year later, with the Electras temporarily grounded for wing modifications, the aircraft was leased back from Lockheed on 18 August 1960 because of a shortage of capacity. Re-registered as VH-EAO, it served under the appropriate name Southern Prodigal. In March 1961, QEA re-purchased the aircraft and operated it for a further two years until finally disposed of on 5 March 1963 to California Airmotive as N86682.

Click here to see a colour shot of Southern Aurora at Essendon for the Round-the-World inaguration in 1958.

(Photo: CAHS collection)

Click here to see a photo of L1049 Super Connie VH-EAD

Click here to see a photo of earlier L749 Constellation VH-EAB

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Qantas brochure download