8th May 2004: Paris-Basel Mulhouse
We spent the day of May 7th with the aircraft and visiting journalists but also for final preparations for its arrival in . We are very grateful to PrivatAir who gave us great assistance at Le Bourget and to their employees who bent over backwards to help us. A large thank you also to two aircraft cleaning companies, Renotex and Skytech who, without asking, offered to wash down the aircraft free of charge.
6th May 2004: Prestwick-Paris
We arrived in Paris le Bourget after a 2 hours 45 minutes flight. We were warmly welcome by hundreds of spectators and many medias. We arrived at the PrivatAir (Francisco and Patrick employer) ramp and spent some time there before joining the for the official arrival. The fire brigade deployed 2 trucks on each side of the taxi way and sprayed a « water arch » above the airplane as we taxied.
5th May 2004: Prestwick
We continued to clean the aircraft which now appears to have rediscovered her youth. A group of us took the day to discover the region and visit a whisky distillery.
4th May 2004: Prestwick
We spent Monday cleaning and tidying up the Super Constellation, performing maintenance and welcoming visitors. More than 250 people have visited the aircraft in the last 24 hours. A small donation (two pounds) is asked of every visitor not already a member of the association. This is not negligible when one considers that thousands of people will visit the aircraft each year.
May 3rd 2004: Prestwick
On the 28th of April 1948, Air opened its first Constellation transatlantic flight. 4 days after this anniversary, we are ready for takeoff in Stephenville, at 6:30 AM. « N73544, cleared for takeoff » ! Jerry advanced the throttles and the engines fired huge flames out of the 12 power recovery turbines. It is the first time that we takeoff so early (before sunrise) and it allows us to observe these impressive flames. The aircraft is at maximum takeoff weight. We carry nearly 25000 litres of fuel, allowing us to fly over 13 hours.
2nd May 2004: Stephenville-Prestwick
The decision was taken to make for Prestwick (Scotland) without going via Iceland. The forecast given by Meteo Swiss indicated that the weather window for us over the Atlantic would close from Monday. In any case we would not take the risk to be stuck in Iceland and miss the reception on the 8th May at the airport of Basle-Mulhouse-Freiburg (which follows our planned landing there at 11am Swiss time). The current forecast for Prestwick is better than earlier ones. If the conditions deteriorate during Sunday we will land elsewhere.
30th April 2004: Stephenville
Our engineers got up early to trouble-shoot the cause of the technical problem which we had with the extension of the landing gear. A defective seal within the hydraulic actuator was found and then replaced. Tomorrow, a ground test of the gear extension will be performed.
29th April 2004: Manchester - Stephenville
The takeoff from Manchester (New Hampshire) was at 11:45am local time. Straight away we headed for Bangor (Maine) and climbed to our flight altitude of 5,500ft. The weather was to be excellent on our entire route.
28th April 2004: Omaha (Nebraska) - Manchester (New Hampshire)
We start the engines at 9am local with a huge cloud of smoke. This is normal and is due to the residual oil that has accumulated in the engines overnight. We realise that engine number 4 is leaking oil and so we stop the engine and our mechanic Carlos Gomez goes to check it. Luckily, it was only some residual oil that was being blown out.
27th April 2004: Omaha
The weather is not very good towards as storms and icing are forecast for our flight altitude. We have decided to postpone the flight from to until tomorrow, Wednesday 28th April as the forecast weather is then good. Takeoff is planned for local time ( Swiss time, ) with arrival at local time ( Swiss time, ). The flight report will be published on the morning of the 29th.
26th April 2004: N73544, cleared for takeoff
We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. 4 years of demanding work, of hope, of doubt and of perseverance. The expectations were running high. We released the 13,000 horsepower of our « Breitling Super Constellation » and accelerated along the runway. After the takeoff, we overflew the runway at to pay our respects to the town which had looked after N73544 for many years. Numerous spectators waved as we passed.
26th April 2004: Ferry flight: Camarillo - Omaha
N73544, cleared for takeoff!
At 09h45, the control tower gave the clearance to N73544 (the former Camarillo Connie) for takeoff. Many visitors came to see the departure of the Super Constellation. N73544 released its 13,000 horsepower and was airborne on a heading towards , and then the of , . The emotions on the ground as well as in the aircraft were running high. The report of this flight will be published tomorrow.