AUBURN — After 10 years, the “Super Star” Constellation is taking off — or at least moving on.
Lufthansa Technik announced Thursday that it will be removing the wings from the historic aircraft, packing it up and taking it to Germany later this year to finish the decade-long restoration.
At different phases, the project to restore the Lockheed L-1649A “Super Star” Constellation employed hundreds of people in a leased hangar at the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport.
Project Manager Oliver Sturm said 70 people work there now.
“The airplane is too complex to finish here because it’s a very old aircraft, coming from the ’50s,” Sturm said.
He didn’t yet have a firm date for its departure nor did he know whether any final public tours were planned.
“(The decision) is so brand new, we have to figure out what does it mean for the people, for the crew, for the aircraft,” he said.
In a statement released from Lufthansa Technik’s corporate parent, the company thanked local workers, business partners and both communities for its “steadfast support.”
“The project concludes an important phase since its inception and is soon to commence the next phase of its journey and will be welcomed in Germany where it will continue to be a shining example of German-U.S. aviation heritage and honoring the long-standing ties between both countries,” according to the statement.
“The L-1649A, known as the ‘Super Star,’ was the aircraft which served the United States on nonstop flights from Germany, three years after the re-establishment of Deutsche Lufthansa in 1955. The restoration of this magnificent aircraft continues to be a journey of precision work and collaboration with a very talented and dedicated team of experts, engineers, and skilled workforce on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque said it had been an honor to host the crew and have the project here.
“While we are sad to see the project shift to Germany ahead of their initial schedule, we are pleased to know that Auburn played such an important role in bringing back a true aviation icon,” he said. “It’s time for the airport and both Lewiston and Auburn to look boldly forward to the future economic impact the infrastructure that they leave behind will bring to our community.”
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The Lockheed L-1649 being restored at the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport by Lufthansa Technik must be kept in a “zero-stress condition” in order to remove any panels for restoration, according to then-project manager Michael Austermeier. (Sun Journal 2010 file photo)