My First Airplane
don't know when I started liking airplanes, but based on the
memorabilia from my childhood, it was very, very early. By the
time I was about 5, I had begun a scrapbook filled with aviation stuff,
and had created numerous sketches and drawings. By six or seven,
I had written to every manufacturer for picture packets (which they
readily supplied in those days,) and had begun a long career of model
building. But, I hadn't actually been up in an airplane - I
Here's a drawing I made in 1957 - age 13
December, 1957, that was about to change. My folks planned a trip
to visit my Uncle Paul and his family in New Orleans. We had made
this trip several times before - but it had been by train. This
time, we were going to fly! I remember endlessly studying my
large airline timetable collection picking out just the right flight.
It had to be on a Super Connie - one of my very favorites --
altho I had so many. Our next door neighbor Howard took us to the
airport. He had served in the Army Air Corps during the Second
World War, and was one of my windows into real flying stories. In
his job, he was able to get magazine subscriptions. He got me one
to Aviation Week starting in 1955. I was only 11 - good
thing they didn't know that down at the McGraw-Hill offices.
(Guess it paid off for them in the end; I've subscribed ever
remember the drive to the airport like yesterday. I did a lot of
hand-wringing and worrying. Was I gonna be afraid to fly in the
end? Heck no, I was afraid Eastern would substitute a DC-7B at
the last minute and all my planning would have been in vain. Howard
just laughed. Criminy, he said, you're getting to FLY - what
difference does it make what kind of airplane. Howard may have
been right, but he just didn't understand.
we went out on the tarmac and climbed the stairs into "my" Super
Connie. No jetways in those days. It was N6202C. I
made careful note of the Tail Number, Flight Crew, Block and Flight
Times - something I continue to do till this day. Almost 50 years
of flight logs. Now, it's computerized and I can search for any
of the thousands of records in a breeze.
Getting off in New Orleans, December 1957. A lousy picture - but then I can't do it over!
course you have to know the tail numbers, how else can you research and
follow the histories of the airplanes you've flown on. Duh!
And I have many interesting stories in that regard. In any
event, back to good old N6202C. It turns out she was the second
production Super Constellation ever built. Serial Number 4002.
The very first Super Connie (not a Production airplane) was
actually also the very first Connie. Lockheed bought the
original Prototype (S/N 1961) back from Howard Hughes (it had become an
XC-69E in the Army Air Corps during the War,) and modified it
into the Super Connie configuration. The first Production Super Connie
was N6201C, which made its first flight on 14 July 1951. It, and
N6202C were used for developmental and certification test flights.
Anyhow, back to MY
airplane, N6202C - it was technically an L1049-53-67, rolled out
in 1951, and it was delivered to Eastern Air Lines on 4 April 1952 as
Fleet Number 202. But, before it was delivered to Eastern, it
was left unpainted for Lockheed's test flying, and participated in an
historic Lockheed Family Picture in front of the hangars at Burbank.
Taken in 1951, N6202C is in the foreground. Behind it is an
Air France 749, ( note the shorter fuselage, tail fins, round windows),
then a Model 10 Electra from 1934, Model 12 Electra Junior, Model
18 Lodestar, and finally one of two giant Model 89 (XR6O-1)
Constitutions built for the US Navy in late 1946.
N6202C having completed certification flying, and been painted in Eastern colors, has her picture taken
during a pre-delivery test hop near Burbank in Spring 1952.
N6202C remained in service with Eastern until 15 Feb 1968, when it was
retired and stored at Opa Locka, Florida. Its last half dozen
years, it flew the famous Eastern Air Shuttle between New York, Boston,
and Washington, D.C. Early in her career, N6202C was one of the
two Connie stars in the Eastern PR movie
"Flying with Arthur Godfrey" (
color 1953 ), made with Chief Pilot Dick Merrill, and tracing a flight
from New York (IDL) to Miami. (Of course I have a copy!)
There are some great shots, including flying on one engine.
You can watch it here.
Ed Phelps Photo
A picture of N6202C taken on an unknown date in the 1950s at Boston and sent to me by Ed Phelps
a few more....
some unknown date subsequent, the airplane was sold by Eastern to Happy
Hour Air Travel Club. On 5 Aug 1973, at 1925 hrs local time,
while flying from Freeport in the Bahamas to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida,
she lost power in all engines and made a wheels up emergency
landing at Tamarac, Florida near Ft. Lauderdale. There were no
injuries among the five crew and three passengers. The NTSB
blamed bad maintenance and faulty flight crew actions. Read a first hand account and the Official Report here.
Photo copyright Werner Fischdick. Used with permission.
badly damaged, a more youthful and contemporary airframe would
have likely been repaired, but having neither of those attributes,
N6202C ended her flying career rather ignobly and was written off.
She was 22 years old.
After 4 legs on N6202C, we returned home with two legs on N6233G, a
real Super G. My friend Mike Zoeller in the U.K. is a graphics
designer. He's preparing drawings for a new book by Peter
Marson , famed Connie historian of Air Britain renown. He's very kindly
permitted me to reproduce one of his drawings. First, he sent me
a wonderful drawing of sistership N6231G - which was absolutely
perfect. Not content with this little deviation from absolute
accuracy, which had meaning only to me, Mike redid his drawing - making
it N6233G. What a guy!
Now you can see just how beautiful a Super G really is!
N6233G Drawing courtesy of Mike Zoeller. Used with permission.
Copyright 2006 - 2021 Robert A. Bogash. All Rights Reserved.
Revised 13 Apr 2006
Revised 25 Apr 2006
Revised 28 May 2006
Revised 8 Oct 2007
Revised 2 Feb 2009
Revised 21 Jan 2011
Revised 1 Apr 2021