12 June 2009

In 1946 a Pan Am Lockheed Constellation departed New York La Guardia bound for London when an engine fire developed soon after takeoff. The Constellation belly-landed on a 4500 foot grass strip in Connecticut with no injuries to the crew or passengers. The engine fire burned through the engine mounts and by the time the Connie came back over land, the engine and its prop fell off completely before the aircraft landed. With stainless steel firewalls, an engine fire could be contained within the nacelle for 30 minutes.

Pan Am repaired the aircraft and lightened it as much as possible with minimal fuel and it was able to take off from the grass strip in only 2000 feet. Back at La Guardia, the burnt out nacelle was faired over the three-engined aircraft ferried to Lockheed in California for rework. Until the arrival of the Boeing 727, that was the fastest flight yet by a three-engined aircraft.

Source: Aviation History, July 2009. "Call Her Connie" by Stephen Wilkinson, p26.

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