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The Lockheed L1649A Starliners of Trek Airways

Trek Airways operated two Lockheed L1649A Starliners


Lockheed L1649A-98-17 ZS-DTM c/n 1041 later re registerd as ZS-FAB
Lockheed L1649A-98-17 ZS-DVJ c/n 1042

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 Petzer.

As a 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 1038 and carried Luxair livery and was registered LX-LGY and was purchased from Air France in July 1966


Trek Airways Lockheed L1649A Starliner ZS-FAB
At Haneda Airport, Tokyo, Japan, 1 May 1968
Photograph: Shinji Yoshida GETA-O



 
                                
Lockheed L1649A Starliner

ZS-DVJ
c/n 1042 
 
 


 
The Lockheed 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 airliners.
 
Lufthansa 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 airliner.
 
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 ZS-DVJ.
 
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 1974
Photograph: Daan Conradie



On 9 October 1971 she undertook her last flight. Former Trek Airways pilots, Laurie Giani and Piet Retief 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 Kariba
Photograph: Clinton H Groves Collection

 
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 beautiful.
 
During 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 and must rank as the World’s finest L1649A in passenger configuration, restored to static display.
 
The SAA Museum Society plan to move the aircraft, which is currently at SAA Technical, by road, to Rand Airport in Germiston, to join their existing fleet of aircraft on static display.

 


Trek Airways Lockheed L1649A Starliner ZS-DVJ
At  Haneda Airport, Tokyo, Japan, 15 March 1967
Photograph: Shinji Yoshida GETA-O 

 


ZS-DVJ showing the Trek Lugdiens titles. Note the Trek Airways emblem below the cockpit.
Photograph: Lee Holden Aviation Collection
 


 
Technical data for Lockheed L1649A Starliner
 
Wingspan
45.72 metres / 150 feet.
Length
35.41 metres / 116.2 feet.
Height
7.54 metres / 24.75 feet.
Weight empty
45,569 kgs / 91,645 lbs.
Weight loaded
72,575 kgs / 160,000 lbs.
Maximum speed
607kph at 5,670 metres / 377 mph at 18,600 feet.
Cruise speed
467 kph / 290 mph.
Ceiling
7,225 metres / 23,700 feet.
Range
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.
Engines
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 diameter.





ZS-DVJ Landing at Warmbaths on 9 October 1971
Photographs: SAA Museum Society collection

 
 


 


 
 
    
  

 
Fuselage section ready for transport to Jan Smuts.
May 1979. Photograph: SAA Museum Society

Ready for SAA's Open Day on April 30 1988
Photograph: SAA Museum Society


Cockpit before restoration, as arrived back from Warmbaths
Photograph: Omer Mees


Cockpit after restoration. Spares came from all over the world
Photograph: Julian Whitelaw


After many years of hard work the interior is finished
Photograph: Julian Whitelaw


New coat of paint in February 2004
Trek Airways and Trek Lugdiens titles still need to be applied
Photograph: Julian Whitelaw



Lockheed L1649A Starliner ZS-DVJ
Photos Julian Whitelaw






   



   

A Starliner to fly again.

The members 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 Starliners.

The three Starliners are:

N7316C c/n 1018
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 Lufthansa Technik.

DLBS has been in communication with The SAA Museum Society and the SAAMS are offering help wherever possible.

Click on the links below for further updates on the restoration to flying condition of Lockheed L1649A c/n 1018

Deutsche Lufthansa Berlin-Stiftung (DLBS)

Lufthansa Technik