Our July trip to Rome, NY to see resurrected Super Constellation CF-TGE got me looking at photos taken 50 years ago. These two passable views of none other than TGE quickly resurfaced from a box of “2 1/4 square” b/w negatives. My field notes don’t give dates for these, but they would have been taken in 1960 – 61. The view moving to the left shows TGE taxying from the terminal at Malton Airport some time before 1000 hours (after which the sun moved out in front of the photographer standing at this spot at this time of year). Since the curtains are mainly drawn, it’s likely that no passengers were aboard and TGE was heading to TCA’s maintenance hangar. In the second view, TGE is taxying for takeoff from R10 or R15. Across to the southeast is the terminal with Viscounts, Britannias and a DC-8 awaiting. Beyond are Genaire (the original TCA hangar at Malton) and TCA’s long, yellow brick maintenance hangar.
Beginning of the End: CF-TEZ Comes to Grief at Malton
While watching the late news on Thursday night, February 10, 1960, I caught a report that a TCA Super Constellation had just crashed at Toronto’s Malton Airport. Details were thin, but I decided to get out to Malton as soon as possible to have a look. The fact that I had to be in class at East York Collegiate (where I was a 16-year-old Grade 11 kid) complicated plans, but early on Saturday morning I packed my Minolta Autocord “2 1/4” twin-lens and hitchhiked the 25 miles out to Malton. Rides must have been decent on that frigid morning, since I was sizing up the crash scene about 0900.
The plane was CF-TEZ, a fairly new L.1049H. The photos here set the scene. TEZ was sitting on its belly off the far end of Runway 10 quite close to Malton’s wartime hangar line, then home to the Toronto Flying club and many corporate operators. No.3 engine had be torn off by the impact. TCA technical people were jacking up TEZ, getting it ready to haul out of sight. I slogged through the snow right onto the site and, making sure not to ask permission, started photographing. No one seemed too concerned, although an RCMP officer and some TCA type did try shoeing me away.
I quickly finished and wandered off. My records for the day show that I also photographed Super Connie CF-TGE, Cessna 195 CF-EMP and US Army Otter 59-2215. I also noted a couple of CF-100s, American Airlines Electras and DC-6Bs, a DH Heron, US Beech E18 N102MC and other aircraft. It had been a typical foray to Malton, except for the highlight of CF-TEZ. So what was the story behind the TEZ accident? February 10 had been a ferociously stormy night at Malton, freezing rain included. A Lockheed Lodestar had already gotten into trouble trying to land. It dinged a wingtip flying through a tree, and diverted to Niagara Fall, NY, where it crash-landed. Then came TCA Flight 20 — CF-TEZ. It had originated that afternoon in Vancouver and was on its final leg from Winnipeg under Capt Doug Holland. The press reported that the ILS system in use for R10 was acting up that night. Somehow, Capt Holland landed long and hard with wheels up, perhaps attempting to go around or divert. TEZ, however, sank onto R10, slithering all the way into the over-run. Happily, none of the 6 crew or 53 passengers was hurt.
TCA did a good job keeping this very bad PR out of the papers. The Globe and Mail had nothing to say about the crash, while the Toronto Daily Star only reported very briefly on February 12. Its next and last item appeared on the 25th headlined “Irregularity in Glide-Path, Pilot Warned Before Crash”. The next heard of CF-TEZ was that Lockheed had bought it back. It now sojourned in the weeds in the empty Avro Canada compound, where we spotters pretty well ignored it, as there was no access for photography. Then, in August 1962 a sale was made — TEZ was purchased by California Airmotive and shipped by rail to Montreal. Using parts from CF-TGC, then derelict at Dorval, it rose anew as N9740Z. Ownership changed to a California leasing/finance company and a lease was signed with the great air freight company, Slick Airways. On February 3, 1963, CF-TEZ/N9740Z came to a very ugly ending. That night it was on approach in fog to San Francisco International with cargo from Albuquerque. The landing was botched and the plane crashed, killing 4 of the 8 people aboard. Classic Super Connie Landing Shot TCA Super Connie CF-TEY lands “sans” wingtip tanks on Malton’s Runway 28 on March 19, 1960. Shortly after this (April 10), I photographed my first TCA DC-8, so the writing was on the wall for the grand old Super Connie. The last time I noted active TCA Super Connies was at Malton on August 13, 1961 (TGA & TEX). Then on May 13, 1962, I observed TEZ dismantled and ready for shipment to be refurbished by Timmins Aviation at Dorval.
From Canada, CF-TEY joined Trans International Airlines in March 1961, where it served as N6924C into 1969. It sat at Oakland and Houston until revived in 1972, then operated sporadically as N74CA under the Central American Airways banner, eventually ending in long-term storage at Columbus, Indiana. Finally, a plan was hatched by famed Lockheed test pilot Herman “Fish” Salmon to resurrect N74CA. On June 22, 1980 Salmon was taking off to deliver it to Alaska. The plane was overloaded and not delivering takeoff power, then No.2 engine began smoking. Salmon got airborne, but crashed after less than a mile. Of 8 aboard, 3 died, the legendary Salmon included. The NTSB investigation made it clear that this had been a completely unnecessary accident — human factors topped the long list of causes. Total flying time on TEY to its demise was 20,416 hours.