The two days of 26/27 September saw some very unusual movements in UK skies - but very welcome ones at that! Gary Parsons reports. Pictures by the author and Damien Burke.
No less than three historic propliners made the journey from the States, one C-121A Constellation on Thursday 26th followed by two C-54s the following day. The 'Connie' was much delayed N749NL, recently purchased by the Dutch National Aviodome Museum, and the one intended to have made several airshow appearances this year, starting as way back as Biggin Hill. Unfortunately certification by the FAA took longer than anticipated and engine problems delayed the trip until this season's end - but at least she finally made it! After a two-hour stop for fuel at Duxford she left for a three-day stop at Manston and subsequent onward journey to Lelystad Airport in the Netherlands. During the flight from Manston to Lelystad the Connie was escorted by an Orion of the Dutch Navy Air Service and a Fokker 50 of KLM Cityhopper. Restoration of the aircraft will continue.
Meanwhile, on Friday 27 September two C-54s arrived at North Weald, in anticipation of becoming movie stars early next year. A film about the Berlin Airlift is to be shot in the UK and Aces High have enlisted C-54s N31356 ('44-42914') and N44914 ('56498').
N44914 still sports its glorious 'MATS' Atlantic Division paint scheme and is operated by New Hampshire based Atlantic Warbirds. Built for the USAAF as 44-72525 it was immediately transferred to the US Navy and was used until 1972. Atlantic Warbirds have operated her since 1996, although less frequently in recent years due to lack of funding.
You can find out more about all three aircraft in Graham Robson's new book 'Propliner Renaissance'