A View of the Alps from the Breitling Super Constellation

Story by Ken Panton

The advent of the next boom to the jet age is soon arriving. With the introduction of the behemoth Airbus A380, capable of transporting over 600 passengers per flight, a milestone in aviation will be achieved. And to meet the increasing demands of regional flight, the sleek and small regional jet Embraer 170 is taking flight.

In the front cabins, airlines are constantly improving service, amenities, and comforts to capture their share of the lucrative First and Business Class market. We recently had the opportunity to reflect on the time when air travel was truly glamorous, albeit time consuming and not necessarily convenient, when the rich and fabulous were photographed for glossy magazines boarding planes, and when passengers arrived dressed in their Sunday’s best. Airlines like TWA and Eastern were the airlines of choice and the Super Constellation was the airliner of distinction. The remarkable beauty still flies and passengers are graced with a feeling of old Hollywood glamour throughout their journey.

Recently I stepped back in time when I had the chance to fly, in the Swiss Alps, in a perfectly restored Super Constellation. At a private air show presented by esteemed timepiece maker Breitling, myself and Bentley Motors VIPs from around the world were treated to a thrilling day of aviation demonstrations and flying. The Breitling Super Constellation, one of four remaining Super Constellations, may be the most graceful and beautiful plane in flight.

Conceived by the great Howard Hughes in the late 1930’s the Constellation represented the ultimate in airline style and luxury during the 1950’s. This was the plane of the jet set in an era when traveling to London or Paris was considered an exotic journey for the wealthy. These former “Queens of the Atlantic” Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellations are nearly extinct, making it hard to imagine the era when they regularly crossed the oceans.

Nowadays, the only way to get close to the past glamour inherent in these planes is by going to an air show, so I was very lucky to experience the plane first hand. The Breitling Super Constellation was indeed fabulous and the views over the wings and down to the beautiful Swiss Alps were remarkable. What a superbly romantic way to travel the skies.