Workers from The Cote Corp. move one of the wings of a Lockheed “Super Star” Constellation next to its fuselage, right, onto the tarmac at the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport in Auburn on Friday afternoon. A decadelong restoration project at the airport stalled and is being packed up and shipped back to Germany. The giant hangar that housed the iconic aircraft is being leased to Elite Airways to maintain its fleet.

AUBURN — The rare Lockheed “Super Star” Constellation worked on here for a decade before having its restoration abruptly canceled last year inched closer to returning to Germany on Friday.

The plane left a massive hangar for the first time in 11 years at the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport in several tightly wrapped parts via crane, the 150-foot wings separate from the body.

Project Manager Oliver Sturm, Lufthansa Technik’s last remaining employee, said he expected the pieces to leave toward the end of September.

“It’s going into storage first and then we wait for a decision (on the plane’s future),” he said. “It’s still open, it’s not decided yet.”

Over the years as many as 300 people worked on the 1950s’ “Super Star” for Lufthansa Technik, which initially planned to restore it to commercial flight.

Only 44 of that model were originally built and it would have been the first back in the air.


In March 2018, Lufthansa Technik announced it was halting the 10-year effort, dismantling the plane and shipping it back to Germany to finish the project. A spokesman noted then that commercial flight was off the table.

The company had initially planned to return the plane last fall, but Sturm said it got too close to winter to transport.

A detailed Lufthansa website devoted to the project with annual milestones ends with a note in 2018 that a return to Germany “will be followed by a decision about the future progress of the project, based on the excellent structural repair work accomplished in Auburn.”

In January, Elite Airways signed a hangar lease with the airport and said then it expected to bring 100 jobs.

Airport Manager Rick Lanman said Elite has leased the 180- by 120-foot hangar since January and let Lufthansa Technik use about one-third of it to store the Constellation.

“Elite really needs the extra space,” Lanman said. “They are a great thing to happen here.”

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