Conroy Skymonster


Transmeridian Conroy Skymonster.jpg
Role Large outsize-cargo transport aircraft
Manufacturer Conroy Aircraft
First flight 1969
Status Active service
Primary users Heavylift Cargo
Transmeridian Air Cargo
Number built 1
Developed from Canadair CL-44
Serial N447T, EI-BND, 4K-GUP, 9G-LCA, RP-C8023, N447FT
In service 1970-1999, 2013-present

The Conroy Skymonster (CL-44-0) is a 1960s United States specialized cargo aircraft based on the Canadair CL-44 freighter, with an outsize fuselage.

Design and development

The aircraft was designed by John M. Conroy as a transport aircraft that could be used to ferry three Rolls-Royce RB.211 jet engines from Belfast, Northern Ireland, to Palmdale, California, United States. The engines were to be installed on the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar airliner.[1]

The Skymonster was derived from a Canadair CL-44 freighter, in turn a derivative of the Bristol Britannia. It features an enlarged fuselage, like the Aero Spacelines Mini Guppy, which was produced by Jack Conroy's previous company, Aero Spacelines.

The conversion was performed outdoors, under covered scaffolding, at the Santa Barbara California airport.[2] The nose section was built using foam covered with fiberglass, while the larger fuselage was constructed using conventional aluminum structure.

Operational history

The Skymonster first flew on 26 November 1969, under the US registration "N447T". The CL-44 from which it had been converted also bore this same registration, and was previously operated by the Flying Tiger Line.

Only one prototype was built. Another one was ordered, but the CL-44 on which it was to be based crashed before delivery.

In 1970, the prototype was leased by Transmeridian Air Cargo, who gave it the name "Skymonster". Despite its being renamed "Bahamas Trader" later on, the name Skymonster stuck, and it is now commonly known as this.

The Skymonster at Bournemouth when it was registered as 9G-LCA

In 1978, it was bought by British Cargo Airlines.

In 1982, it went to HeavyLift Cargo Airlines, who re-registered it with the Irish registration EI-BND.

The aircraft went into storage in 1993, but was bought by a leasing company only two months later and leased to Buffalo Airways. According to Mikey McBryan General Manager for Buffalo Airways in Yellowknife Canada, this Buffalo Airways was a different operator and had no connection to the Canadian company.

Its next lease was to Azerbaijan Airlines in 1997, under the registration 4K-GUP.

In March 1998, it was leased to Baku Express.

In August 1998 it went to First International Airlines and was registered 9G-LCA.

In 1999, it was placed into storage, initially in the US, but then it was flown to Bournemouth Airport, UK, where it was scheduled to be scrapped.

In December 2006 the aircraft was registered in the Philippines (RP-C8023) and was being prepared for service in Australia.[3] As of March 2008, the Skymonster was still at Hurn.[4] In August 2008, it was reported that the aircraft was in the process of being scrapped,[5] however as of September this was on hold amid further rumours about donation to a museum in Germany.[6]

On 14 January 2010, Bournemouth International Airport Limited offered the aircraft for sale in The London Gazette.[7]

N447FT at Bournemouth in 2014.

After a long period of storage, activity was again seen around the Skymonster during the summer of 2013.[8] In July 2013 it was registered N447FT in the United States to a Jordan Harlan Wayne.[9]

As of 21 May 2021 the Skymonster remains at Bournemouth International Airport, moved from its original parking spot to make way for airport development.

See also


  1. ^ All About Guppys
  2. ^ "All About Guppys".
  3. ^ Photo Heavylift Cargo Airlines Canadair CL-44-O Guppy RP-C8023
  4. ^ CL-44 Association - March 2008 Newsletter (public release version)
  5. ^ All About Guppys - News
  6. ^ CL-44 Association September 2006 Newsletter
  7. ^ Bournemouth International Airport Limited (14 January 2010), "NOTICE OF PROPOSED SALE OF A CANADAIR CL-44-0 AIRCRAFT SERIAL NUMBER 016 KNOWN AS THE "GUPPY"", London Gazette (59306), p. 470, retrieved 1 June 2011
  8. ^ Propliner Issue Number 135
  9. ^ FAA Registry for N447FT]

External links

  • All About Guppys
  • The Canadair CL44
  • The Skymonster Conroy CL-44 Guppy is gone forever