Wings Magazine


The Toronto Aerospace Museum announced that it is opposed to efforts to export the last postwar, trans-Atlantic, piston-engine airliner remaining in Canada.

September 19, 2007  By Carey Fredericks

TORONTO: The Toronto Aerospace Museum at Downsview Park announced today that it is vigorously opposed to efforts to export the last postwar, trans-Atlantic, piston-engine airliner remaining in Canada.

The four-engine 1954 Lockheed L-1049G Super Constellation airliner currently being dismantled at the north end of Lester B. Pearson International Airport is CF-TGE, the fifth of 14 Super Connies0 purchased by Federal government-owned Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA) to expand passenger service in the 1950s and early 1960s. (TCA was renamed Air Canada in 1965).

The aircraft is representative of a very important era when air travel replaced ocean liners as the primary means of travelling between Canada and Europe, and airports replaced harbours as the principal international gateway to Canada for business and immigrants.

Air Canada's Super Constellation airliners were an important part of the story of Canadas development as a nation,0 said Paul Cabot, Curator of the Toronto Aerospace Museum. Were adding our voice to the many Canadian airline retirees and aviation heritage groups opposed to plans to export this historically-significant aircraft to the USA.


TCA's Super Connies were once the largest and most recognizable airliner in Canada. With its triple tail, porpoise-shaped fuselage and elliptical wing, the Constellation was widely considered the Rqueen of the skies in the 1950s when airline passengers were pampered shamelessly. Most of the piston engine airliners of the postwar era quickly disappeared when the jet age began.

Our members believe that this aircraft should have a place in a Canadian museum," says John Rodger, Immediate Past President of the over 12,000 member strong Air Canada Pionairs retirees group. The Connies were the first aircraft Rodger worked on when he joined TCA in July 1956 as a learner mechanic just out of the RCAF. The Super Constellation was a magnificent airliner in its day, and a marvel of 1950s engineering. We strongly believe this aircraft is a national treasure richly deserving of a home in a Canadian museum.

The Toronto Aerospace Museum has been trying to acquire this aircraft for several years so it could be restored, displayed and celebrated in Toronto where it flew for many years,0 explained Cabot. Our efforts have been rebuffed at every turn.

The Toronto Aerospace Museum is prepared to provide Super Constellation CF-TGE a home at Downsview Park where it would become the centrepiece of a future exhibit on Canadian airline history.

This aircraft has spent its entire 52-year life in Canada. It provided employment for thousands of Canadians in the 1950s and 1960s, and tens of thousands of immigrants flew to Canada on its wings, adds Cabot. It's an icon of air travel.

The Super Connie could fly more than 63 passengers 5,000 miles without a refuelling stop. They cut the flying time between Toronto and Vancouver by several hours, and they inaugurated TCA's first non-stop trans-Atlantic passenger flights, including the first non-stop service from Toronto to London and Paris.

The aircraft has a wing span of 123 ft., an overall length of 113 ft. and is 24 ft. 9 in. in height. Fully-loaded with passengers, a crew of seven, and fuel it had a gross weight of 130,000 lb. Maximum speed was about 350 mph, with power provided by four complex 3,240-h.p. Wright turbo-compound engines.

The Toronto museums historical research confirms that this aircraft is the very last authentic long-range, piston-engine airliner surviving in Canada that actually flew with one of Air Canadas predecessor airlines.

The fate of the Super Constellation is now being considered by Heritage Canada's Moveable Cultural Properties Program which is designed to prevent historically significant artefacts from leaving Canada.

Several years ago, Canada's aviation museums, under the umbrella of the Canadian Aeronautical Preservation Association (CAPA), a national body, successfully lobbied Ottawa to extend to historic aircraft the same protection given to other culturally significant artefacts such as paintings and military medals. These steps were taken to ensure future generations of Canadians would have an opportunity to see important aircraft reflective of Canadas rich aviation history in our own country.

The CAPA initiative was undertaken to stem ongoing efforts by foreign aircraft collectors and museums to acquire in Canada historically-significant aircraft that had long ago disappeared from their own countries.

The Air Canada Pionairs have established a web site where members of the public can register their support to keep this Super Constellation in Canada:

In the postwar era, Air Canada and its predecessor airlines (Canadian Pacific, PWA, Wardair, Nordair, Eastern Provincial, Maritime Central etc.) used Avro Lancastrians, Canadair North Stars, Douglas DC-4s, DC-6s and DC-7s, and Super Connies to fly millions of passengers across the Atlantic ocean between 1946 and the late 1960s. Only the Super Constellation, CF-TGE, in Toronto, survives.

The Toronto Aerospace Museum is located in the historically significant de Havilland of Canada aircraft factory established at Downsview in 1929. The collection includes highlights of Canadian aviation. Major projects include the restoration of the City of Toronto's 1945 Avro Lancaster Mk. X bomber, FM104, and the construction of full-scale metal replica of the famous Avro Arrow supersonic interceptor which flew in 1958 and was cancelled and scrapped in 1959. The museums replica Arrow will rollout in October 2006.

The Toronto Aerospace Museum is the only aviation educational attraction in the Greater Toronto Area, a market of five million people. It is very popular with students studying Canadian history and the science and theory of flight. It is a non-profit registered charity.

The Toronto Aerospace Museum is located at Downsview Park, 65 Carl Hall Road, Toronto, M3K 2E1 (Keele St. & Sheppard Ave. area of north Toronto). For further information and museum hours, call 416-638-6078 or visit the museum web site: . Information of Downsview Park can be found at


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