The Canadair CL-44 was as the name suggests, a Canadian development of the British Bristol Britannia, albeit equipped with more reliable and more efficient Rolls Royce Tyne turboprop engines. While only two of these aircraft ever entered service with HeavyLift, they gave this airline many years of service while providing the airline with something of a unique lifting capability, the swing tails enabling the loading of extremely long items of cargo. The first of these aircraft EI-BRP was a standard CL-44 which flew into SEN during 1980 and was stored there on and off until January 1985, when she finally joined HeavyLift on lease from Aer Turas. She was eventually purchased by her lessor in May 1989 and would fly for another 18 months before being WFU, again at Southend, in November 1990 before finally being scrapped during August 1992, the remains going to Hanningfield Metals at Stock.

While still a CL-44, the second aircraft was an entirely different beast altogether, being a one off conversion carried out by Conroy Aircraft. The finished product resulted in the aircraft being fitted with an enlarged ‘Guppy’ style, upper fuselage running almost the entire length of the cabin which was initially designed to lift three Rolls Royce RB211 engines and deliver them to Lockheed who were currently building the L-1011 Tristar. However, within a year, the aircraft had arrived in the UK on lease to Transmeridian who began to use the ‘Skymonster’ name when referring to this plane, a name that ultimately stuck. This CL-44 then went to British Cargo Airlines for a number of years, before finally ending up with HeavyLift at the very beginning of August 1982. At about the same time, the ‘Skymonster’ was finally removed from the U.S register and was re-registered in Ireland as EI-BND.

From 1982 onwards, this aircraft would become something of a regular visitor to Southend, especially where engineering work was concerned. She would also occasionally bring in loads of cargo for LEP and a number of the other Southend based, freight forwarding companies. In fact, she would continue to serve this cargo airline for another 11 years before finally being withdrawn in October 1993, after which she was sold to Buffalo Airways in December of the same year. However, this would not be the last that SEN would see of this out sized aircraft. In August 1997, she returned to the airport in Azerbaijan Airways colours as 4K-GUP from where she would infrequently depart to fly operations although for the most, she remained idle until leaving for good some time during mid-1998. As of 2016 this aircraft is in storage at Bournemouth where it is currently undergoing restoration, although whether she will fly again is uncertain.


HeavyLift CL-44 Fleet

Canadair CL-44J

EI-BRP – 6/85 to 1/86 and 5/89 to 8/92

Scrapped at SEN 8/92

Conroy CL-44-O ‘Skymonster’

EI-BND – 8/82 to 12/93

Currently stored at Bournemouth


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