I had written about the Air Canada L-1011 fleet in NetLetter # 1344 and mentioned that Fin # 510 had been acquired by Orbital Sciences and branded as “Stargazer” (N140SC) then modified into the launch pad for Pegasus rockets.
Reader Gregory Landry contacted us with an update on the aircraft. Greg writes:
“This week on TV they are featuring an L-1011 REG N140SC. The only L-1011 still flying; previously owned by AC Reg C-FTNJ ACFT (510?).
Stan Price and Michel Leclerc and myself signed the airworthiness and maintenance release on this aircraft before delivery to Orbital Science. The aircraft had been stored in the desert at Mirana.”
The TV show that Greg refers to is “Mighty Planes” Season 4 Episode 3 first aired on June 20, 2017 on the Discovery network.
Lockheed L-1011 MSN 1067 was first delivered to Air Canada on September 3, 1974 and was among the aircraft of this fleet removed from service due to the high operating cost. It was chosen by Orbital Science (over the DC-10 and B-747) for the task of becoming a rocket launcher due to the sturdy structure of the L-1011.
The “Stargazer” has now reached 25 years of serving in this capacity and a combined 43 years of service. I have not been able to confirm that it may be the last L-1011 in service and has been retired. It presently is parked at the Mojave Air & Space Port where it has traditionally been parked waiting for its next rocket launch
Below are several links of interest:
Also, a history of the Lockheed L-1011 on YouTube