The Lockheed L1649A Starliners of Trek
Trek Airways operated two Lockheed L1649A
Lockheed L1649A-98-17 ZS-DTM c/n 1041 later re
registerd as ZS-FAB (Also
L1649A-98-17 ZS-DVJ c/n 1042 (Also
Trek Airways' first Starliner, ZS-DTM,
arrived at Jan Smuts Airport on the 17th of February 1964
after her delivery flight from San Francisco in America. Amongst her
crew were Tom Meredith, Fred Gratz, Ian Laatz and Cornelius Balt.
Trek's second Starliner, ZS-DVJ, began her delivery
flight from America to Hamburg on the 2nd of March 1964.
Amongst her crew were Tom Meredith and Captain Alan
matter of interest there was a third Starliner but this was never registered in South Africa, nor
did it carry Trek Airways livery. The aircraft was c/n 1036 and carried
Luxair livery and was registered LX-LGY and was purchased from Air France
in July 1966
Trek Airways Lockheed L1649A
At Haneda Airport, Tokyo, Japan, 1
Photograph: Shinji Yoshida GETA-O
Lockheed L1649A Starliner
L1649A Starliner was the final development of the basic Constellation
design and first flew on October 11, 1956. Only 44 Starliners were built,
the L1649A being the last of the Lockheed piston-engined
originally purchased this Starliner and was delivered to the airline on 17
January 1958 and allocated the registration D-ALOL and was used for
Trans-Atlantic flights. It was leased to World Airways from 5 October 1962
to February 1964 and registered N45520. It was sold to Trek Airways (Trek
Lugdiens) and registered ZS-DVJ on 24 April 1964.
Prior to Trek
obtaining their Starliners they leased two South African Airways Lockheed
L749A Constellations. They were painted in Trek Airways livery and
retained the SAA registrations, ZS-DBS and ZS-DBU.
From 7 May to
September 1965, ZS-DVJ was leased by South African Airways to operate
regular services between Johannesburg and Perth. It was also chartered to
operate services between Johannesburg and Cape Town during the peak season
of 1967–1968. In basic Trek colours, it wore “S.A. Airways” and “S.A.
Lugdiens” titles on the fuselage.
In 1966, ZS-DVJ
scored two “firsts” in South African aviation history. Flying the first
non-stop commercial crossing of the Atlantic by a South African operator,
ZS-DVJ touched down at Rio de Janeiro shortly after midday on 15 February
1966, having left Luanda at 22:30 the previous night. July 5, 1966 saw
ZS-DVJ landing at Tokyo on the first Far-East flight by a South African
She went to
Safari Travel Ltd and was leased to Luxair on 18 May 1967 and was
registered LX-LGX. She returned to Trek Airways in June 1968 as
Only a few
Connies remain in airworthy condition. Many were sold to smaller airlines
and with the arrival of more modern equipment, these grand old ladies of
the skies were either demolished under the breakers hammer or allowed to
die a slow death parked out of sight on some airfield.
When Trek Airways moved into the jet age
they no longer required the services of the Starliners and they were sold.
ZS-DVJ was retired by Trek Airways in April 1969 and stored at
Johannesburg. ZS-DVJ’s sister ship ZS-FAB was sold to a Germiston scrap
metal dealer for R5 000. When he realised he could not sell her for a
profit ZS-FAB was broken up at the then Jan Smuts Airport. Starliner
ZS-DVJ was the lucky one. On 27 July 1971 she was purchased, for R2000 by
Mr. W.J. Pelser, owner of “Klein Kariba” pleasure resort just outside
Warmbaths, now Bela-Bela.
ZS-DVJ at Klein Kariba in
9 October 1971 she undertook her last flight. Former Trek Airways pilots,
Piet Retief (Captain), Jack Wight (First Officer) and Laurie Giani (Flight Engineer) put her down on the specially prepared strip
next to the Klein Kariba pleasure resort in the Waterberg Mountains.
Happily this Starliner was not destined to end her days at a pleasure
resort where she was robbed of various bits and pieces.
ZS-DVJ at Klein
Photograph: Clinton H Groves
In May 1979
ZS-DVJ was donated to SAA. She was dismantled by SAA engineers, and taken
by road to the then Jan Smuts Airport, arriving on 23 May, and
painstakingly re-assembled. Restoration began in February 1984 and was
completed in time for SAA’s Open Day on April 30, 1988. She was restored
to her former elegant appearance in Trek Airways livery. Sadly she will
never again grace our skies, her airframe being damaged beyond repair in
the final move.
ZS-DVJ is a
stunning example of what a dedicated group of aviation enthusiasts, all
members of the South African Airways Museum Society can do in the way of
restoring a dilapidated old aircraft into something quite
February of 2004 she was given a new coat of paint, again Trek
Airways livery, which was generously donated by SAA Technical. She is one of
four that survive in the world.
It took many years but in 2018
the Starliner was eventually relocated to the SAA Museum at Rand
of the Museum's “Connie” can be followed by visiting the various
pages on our website, see links below.
Airways Lockheed L1649A Starliner ZS-DVJ
At Haneda Airport,
Tokyo, Japan, 15 March 1967
ZS-DVJ showing the
Trek Lugdiens titles. Note the Trek Airways emblem below the
Photograph: Lee Holden Aviation
Technical data for Lockheed L1649A
45.72 metres / 150
35.41 metres / 116.2
7.54 metres / 24.75
45,569 kgs / 91,645
72,575 kgs / 160,000
607kph at 5,670 metres / 377 mph at
467 kph / 290 mph.
7,225 metres / 23,700
7,950 km with 8,845 kg / 4,940 miles
with 19,500 lb load or 9,945 km with 3,630 kg / 6,180 miles with
8,000 lb load.
4 x Wright R3350-18 Turbo-Compound 18
Cylinder, air-cooled radial engines delivering 2,535 kW / 3,400 HP
driving Hamilton Standard Hydraulic 3 Blade propellers of 19 foot
ready for transport to Jan Smuts.
May 1979. Photograph: SAA Museum
Ready for SAA's Open Day on April 30
Cockpit before restoration, as arrived back from
WarmbathsPhotograph: Omer Mees
Cockpit after restoration. Spares came from all
over the world
Photograph: Julian Whitelaw
years of hard work the interior is finished
New coat of paint in February
Trek Airways and Trek Lugdiens titles still need to be
L1649A Starliner ZS-DVJ
to fly again.
of the ZS-DVJ restoration team are good friends with Maurice Roundy, who
until December 2007 was the owner of 3 of the 4 surviving Starliners
world wide. For a numbers of years several of the SAAMS Connie Restoration
Team made the Journey to Maine to vist Maurice and his
The three Starliners are:
N8083H c/n 1038
N974R c/n 1040
In December 2007
the three Starliners were purchased by Deutsche Lufthansa Berlin-Stiftung
(DLBS) and work began on restoring one of the aircraft to airworthy
condition, namely N7316C. The task of restoring the aircraft was given to
DLBS has been in communication with The SAA Museum Society and
the SAAMS are offering help wherever possible.