The REAL answer to “What’s wrong with this picture?”

Connie landing

The Connie in this picture is PanAm NC88858 landing at Burbank Airport in 1946. There are only 3 engines, #4 engine caught on fire on climb out on a flight from the U.S. to London on June 18, 1946. The fire eventually became uncontrollable and burned through the engine mount, resulting in the entire engine leaving the airplane. The plane returned to the U.S. and landed with no problems.
Damage was such that the PanAm mechs determined they could not repair the Connie, so they applied sheet metal to where the engine “used to was” and the airplane was ferried to Burbank, a 2,450 mile trip. The picture is that Connie on arrival. The Lockheed plant was at Burbank.
Kudos to our readers, an astute group. Most of you made a correct identification immediately. The runway is 15 at Burbank, which apparently was out in the country at the time. Those hills in the background are now covered with homes that are waaay out of my price range. Marv, 15 is the long runway now, have no idea what it was in 1946.
The Connie was in production through 1958, it was a surprise to learn that by the time the Connie ceased production in Burbank Lockheed had already completed the first 20 U-2 aircraft. What a contrast.
fliterman, good to see your comment, embiggify the picture of the Connie and the third tail is there, it looks like a radio antenna on top of the fuselage. NavyDavy hit the nail on the head. Three engine ferry back to base.
Yours truly flew in and out of Burbank many times in his career and is sad to report that all the Lockheed manufacturing facilities he could see at Burbank at the beginning of his airline career disappeared by the time he retired six years ago. It’s all a parking lot now.
Somehow a parking lot in place of the facilities that gave us the Connie, the U-2, the SR-71, and the F-117 just doesn’t sit right.
My dad, rest his soul, flew the RC-121 Constellation off the East Coast for many years. The Connie was known for engine problems, at one time it was called the “Best Trimotor ever built.” Dad was on station once over the Atlantic and an engine went from good to bad to really bad in just a few minutes, then fell off. He told me it gave a new meaning to the phrase, “we lost an engine.”

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “The REAL answer to “What’s wrong with this picture?”

  1. Buck

    I like yer Dad’s stories, Busbob. You could tell us some more, if’n ya have a mind to do so. 🙂

    As fer me and Connies… I didn’t know Pan Am flew the things. I saw a LOT of Connies in TWA livery as a boy and lotsa Pan Am Stratocruisers (think civilian C-97) but never a Pan Am Connie.

    • Bill Dolan

      This Connie landed at windham airport windham ct had Laurence Olivier and Olivia dehavlliad on board I have copies of pictures taken by local newspaper reporter. Landed gear up on the grass along side Rey 24.

  2. Pan Am beat TWA into the trans Atlantic service by 3 weeks, starting in January of 1946. Here’s a picture of one at Heathrow:

    The Connies cost $750,000 each, brand new. Wonder what that is in today’s dollars?

  3. Bill Brandt

    I don’t think there has ever been a more beautiful airliner. But losing an engine like that – would be, to me, the vibration would have been such that it would scare the daylights out of you. For it to literally tear itself from the mounts would have been something.

    Imagine being over the Atlantic and that happening.

    It is sad about Burbank. Blame California politicos, who have made it very difficult to have a manufacturing plant here.

    And Lockheed started in Burbank.

    I never would have thought that – thought they were experimenting with a different engine or something.

    Thanks for the post Busbob

  4. Flugelman

    Lots of connections for me here. (Should I say Connie-ctions?). My first Navy squadron was VR-7 Det A flying the last 4 C model 121’s out of Tachikawa.

    As far as Burbank, we made many trips out there in our P3’s while I was in VX-1. Lockheed always brought us the BEST box lunches I had ever had. Gourmet style sandwiches with yummy desserts.

  5. Bill Brandt

    Busbob – this gets curiouser and curiouser. That plane must have been cursed.
    Two years later it crashed.
    PanAm NC88858
    http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19480415-0

  6. Cool article! I remember my last Connie ride PIT-CVG 1964

  7. Awesome story of the Connie and the pilots that flew it and the mech’s on the ground that kept it going! J. Harrod , Retired air carrier , now retired and wishing I could go back to the days!1

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