MUSEUM PHOTO OF THE WEEK

Each week, we'll post a new photo from our museum. It may be related to a future (or past) story, or we've posted it just because it's interesting. Here's our photo for the week of 12/10/18 

Museum visitors taking our audio tour are greeted by the voice of former TWA president Richard Pearson. In our photo above, Dick is seen recording his introduction back in August, at the Blue Hills Country Club, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Dick's career at TWA started in 1967, when he became a project leader in TWA's fledgling data processing division. He was also closely involved in the development of TWA's PARS computer reservation system. In 1976 he moved over to aircraft Maintenance and Engineering and in 1978 was promoted to the position of Vice President.  In 1984 he was elected Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of TWA. He then served as President of TWA during 1985 and 1986. A native of Ottawa, Kansas, Dick currently resides in Kansas City.

Dick has been a longtime friend and supporter of the TWA Museum and we appreciate his contribution to our audio tour. Now up and running at the museum, the audio tour takes our visitors through thirteen exhibits in our main gallery, guided by the voices of our museum volunteers. We expect to expand the audio tour to three more stops in 2019.





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PHOTOS FROM PREVIOUS WEEKS



In the company of some friends, TWA's first Boeing 767 (N601TW) is seen in the latter phases of construction at Boeing's plant in Everett, Washington. It's the closest diagonally parked airplane and its partial tail logo can be seen. Published in the May 10, 1982 edition of TWA's Skyliner employee newspaper, there's lots going on in this picture. In a beehive of activity, N601TW shares the space with three identifiable United 767s and one Delta 767. The plane in the foreground is a fourth United 767.

TWA took delivery of N601TW in November 1982 and its inaugural flight took place just a few days later as flight 892 flew from Los Angeles to Washington's Dulles Airport. In 1985, TWA became the first U.S. airline to fly a twin-engine airplane non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean, in commercial service. That occurred in February 1985, when a 767 flew flight 810 from Boston to Paris. That was no small feat. TWA engineers worked to have the 767 properly outfitted to comply with government requirements, which had limitations concerning the distance a twin-engine plane could be from alternate landing sites. Today, twin-engine airplanes dominate international flying, around the world. 

Upon its purchase by American Airlines in 2001, the Boeing 767 was the remaining wide body airplane in TWA's fleet, handling much of its international flying.

(posted week of 11/26/18)
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In 1971, TWA took a major step forward by introducing its PARS computer system into its reservations offices and airports, around the world. The photo above shows TWA employees in its Los Angeles reservations office saying goodbye to paper reservations cards, which were part of a manual procedure used to record and store passenger and flight data. At the airport, PARS also served a major role in airport operations, passenger ticketing, check-in and seat assignment (among many other functions).

Computer reservation systems were a major part of airline technology, introduced in the 1960s and 1970s. Airlines were among the first major businesses to successfully use real-time computer systems to interface directly with their customers. PARS (an acronym for Passenger Airline Reservations System) served TWA well, both as an in-house computer system and as a distribution system for third-party sellers (such as travel agencies). In 1987, Northwest Airlines became hosted in PARS (also maintaining an ownership stake in the system) and in 1990, Delta Air Lines became a partial owner of PARS as well (although they continued to run many of their passenger functions in their own in-house system).

Today, PARS still functions as a travel distribution system, hosting a variety of airlines and travel companies throughout the world. Its name has changed to Worldspan and it is a part of the Travelport group of companies.

(posted week of 11/26/18)

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TWA's presence in the movie and television industries is a big part of its history. Starting mainly in the 1940s, TWA aircraft (interior and exterior), airport facilities and uniforms  were seen in literally hundreds of movies and television programs, throughout the world. Our archives contains a variety of studio publicity photos showing famous actors performing in scenes with TWA being a prominent part of the surroundings.

Credit for this phenomenon goes in large part to Howard Hughes, who had a controlling interest in TWA from 1939 to 1961. In addition to his accomplishments in business and aviation, Hughes was also a film director and producer. Under his leadership, TWA became known as the "airline of the stars". In addition to acting in scenes with a TWA presence, many famous personalities of the time flew TWA commercially (we have lots of pictures of those folks, too).

So, what's your favorite film that featured TWA? Let us know and we'll post responses in our blog's "Write To Us" section. You can email us at twamuseumguides@gmail.com or comment on Facebook or Twitter.

(posted week of 11/19/18)

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A most interesting photo shows TWA's fleet of Convair 880 airplanes stored at TWA's Kansas City Maintenance and Overhaul Base, after their retirements from service. Although there is no date attached to the description of this photo, it was likely taken in the mid-1970s, as the last Convair 880 flew for TWA in June 1974. The majority of the fleet was either sold or scrapped by the late-1970s. 

Built by the Convair division of General Dynamics Corporation, stiff competition from Boeing and Douglas caused the Convair 880 to never gain a foothold in the airline industry. Only 65 were manufactured. Of that amount, TWA flew 28, being the planes's largest operator. The photo above shows all 25 Convair 880s TWA owned at the time of their retirement (of the original 28 flown, one was leased and two were lost due to accidents). It's also likely that the scene above was the largest gathering of Convair 880s in the same place, at the same time.

(posted week of 11/05/18)
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This picture of a Constellation cabin shows passengers enjoying TWA's "Sky Coach" service. The low-fare concept was introduced by TWA in 1949, on its flights between New York and Los Angeles (and selected cities in between). Service was begun with DC-4 aircraft and then extended to similarly configured Constellation aircraft, as shown above. 

While the photograph was likely staged, it does tell us some things about travel back in the early 1950s. Clearly the seats (the equivalent of today's economy class) are quite roomy and its interesting to note the overhead storage was for comfy pillows and blankets... not overstuffed backpacks and wheelie bags. In-flight entertainment likely consisted of reading, card-playing or having a conversation with the person sitting next to you. Everyone was well-dressed and, of course, every child was cute and well-behaved.

While we at the museum tend to look back fondly at this "golden age" of flying, there were drawbacks (as some of our readers have pointed out). TWA's early Constellations presented maintenance and operational challenges, especially with the extended stress of flying long distances. Additionally, flying was expensive. A 1951 sky coach round trip fare between New York and Los Angeles was $220 (which is equivalent to about $2,100 today).

(posted week of 10/29/18)

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The goal of having the ability to circumnavigate the world was something TWA had great interest in from the moment it began its Transatlantic services in 1946. The pieces finally began to come together in 1969 when TWA was granted rights to begin flying limited Transpacific routes. Finally in 1971, the last of the gaps were closed as Hong Kong (TWA's easternmost existing Transatlantic city) was connected to the U.S.via the Pacific and around-the world travel on TWA became a reality. 

Our photo of the week is from a 1974 TWA system timetable. While appearing a bit strange in dimension, it does illustrate the ability to depart most any TWA city via one ocean and return via the other. The Transpacific schedule between Hong Kong and Honolulu was a variable one, as stops in Taipei, Okinawa and Guam differed by the day of the week. The Transpacific legs were flown with Boeing 707-331B aircraft. Strong competition (especially from carriers able to fly the Pacific more quickly and efficiently via Tokyo) and rising fuel prices resulted in TWA ending their Pacific service in 1975 (Transatlantic service to Hong Kong, Bombay and Bangkok eventually were dropped as well). So for a relatively short period of time, the routes of Trans World Airlines truly reflected its name. 

(posted week of 10/22/18)

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One of our museum's most important exhibits is our Flight 800 Memorial Room. In it, we pay tribute to the 38 TWA employees and 192 passengers who lost their lives when flight 800 exploded off the south shore of Long Island, New York on July 17, 1996. The gallery serves to remind our visitors that while this was a tragic event, it is important that it be memorialized.

Many articles related to flight 800 (including portraits of each of the 38 TWA employees and a monument that once stood in New York) are displayed in this softly illuminated and quiet space. We also display a special photograph, showing Boeing 747 aircraft N93119. The picture (seen above) was taken in St. Louis, just days before the plane took off from New York's Kennedy Airport on July 17th, as flight 800. The Boeing 747-131 aircraft was acquired new by TWA, in 1971. 

Visitors often ask us about the cause of the explosion. The official NTSB conclusion was that a wiring short circuit set off a sequence of events that resulted in an explosion in the airplane's center fuel tank. Those findings were (and will always remain) controversial. However, we believe our Flight 800 Room sends a much more important message to our visitors. Though rare, accidents are a part of aviation and those whose lives are lost in its pursuit should be properly remembered. Our Flight 800 Memorial Room also displays the histories of other TWA accidents, honoring the TWA employees and passengers who lost their lives in them, as well.  

(posted week of 10/15/18)


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Visitors to our museum can now step into our recently- acquired TWA Boeing 707 cockpit procedures trainer. Much like our L-1011 trainer, it is a full-scale representation of the cockpit and our visitors can get a real "feel" for what it was like to sit at the controls. The 707 trainer was owned and used by TWA. One of the most significant aircraft in TWA's history, the Boeing 707 was flown from 1959 to 1983.    

Many of our museum's acquisitions are possible thanks to some pretty interesting and amazing people. It's what makes our museum "hum". In this case, we introduce you to Fred Schieszer, Professor Emeritus of Aviation at the University of Central Missouri. In the early 1980s, Fred coordinated the acquisition of the trainer from TWA and it was used as a teaching tool at UCM's Department of Aviation for many years. After its time at UCM was up, Fred was instrumental in arranging the trainer's next big role, as an exhibit at the Strategic Air Command (SAC) Museum in Ashland, Nebraska (roughly between Omaha and Lincoln). When SAC recently advised Fred that the trainer's time at their museum may soon be up, Fred contacted us. With Fred's help and expertise and the efforts of some of our volunteers, the trainer made its way from Ashland down to Kansas City in August, where it was set up in our museum's Education Center room, for our visitors to enjoy. 

(posted week of 10/8/18)


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"Time flies" is an understatement when you consider that 50 years ago (on September 30, 1968), the first Boeing 747 prototype rolled out of Boeing's factory in Everett, Washington (the picture above, showing one of the 36 747s flown by TWA, clearly shows the aircraft's grandeur). TWA had orders for nineteen 747-131 airplanes at the time of the plane's introduction and on December 31, 1969, TWA took delivery of its first, ship N93102. The first revenue flight took place between New York (JFK) and Los Angeles on February 25, 1970. The first international flight took place between New York and London on March 18, 1970.  

TWA flew three series of the 747 (-100, -200 series and the 747 SP) from 1970 until its last scheduled 747 flight in February 1998. There is much that can told about this amazing aircraft and we could fill pages and pages with information. But for now, we'll just say happy 50th birthday to the debut of an airplane that TWA and many, many other airlines flew (and some still fly!) with pride.  

(posted week of 10/1/18)
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This image of a TWA Boeing 717 (pushing back from the gate at Minneapolis - St. Paul International Airport) gives us lots to tell about this airplane and TWA. Originally designated as the MD-95, it was re-named the Boeing 717 to acknowledge the merger of McDonnell Douglas and Boeing, in 1997. The last version of the original DC-9 family of jets, the 717 was also the last commercial aircraft to be produced at the former McDonnell Douglas factory in Long Beach, California. And most significantly for us, the Boeing 717 was the final aircraft type delivered to TWA. 

The airplane shown, N2419C, also has an interesting story that is common to some of the newer aircraft TWA was flying, when TWA's operation was merged into American Airlines, in December 2001. Delivered new to TWA in April 2001, it was part of an order of 50 Boeing 717s TWA executed with Boeing in 1998. (TWA had accumulated 30 in its fleet by 2001). When TWA ceased operations, the leases for its 717s went to American, however, the planes were not flown by American. In April 2003, N2419C was acquired by AirTran Airways and re-registered as aircraft N910AT. AirTran was eventually acquired by Southwest Airlines, however, (you guessed it) Southwest decided not to fly AirTran's 717s. N910AT then went to Delta Air Lines in 2014. Still registered as N910AT, it continues to fly today as a member of Delta's fleet (in fact, a number of ex-TWA 717s took that same path of ownership!).

So, if you find yourself about to board a Delta 717, check out the registration number on the fuselage. You just might be flying on the former TWA Boeing 717 pictured above!

(posted week of 9/24/18)
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From 1972 through 1997, 38 Lockheed L-1011 TriStars flew for TWA, however, only one looked like ship N31029, pictured above. In 1995, TWA began re-painting its aircraft in a new design scheme (or livery). Understandably, it was decided to not paint aircraft that were soon to be retired or returned to their lessors. Although the The L-1011 fleet was nearing its retirement age, TWA chose one L-1011 to be repainted. It was ship N31029.

With the above in mind, we were curious why N31029 was re-painted, only to sport the new livery for just a few months. So, we checked with our friend Jon Proctor, who knows more than a few things about TWA's L-1011s. Jon did not have an "official" answer but surmised that perhaps it was related to publicity. In any case, the sight of N31029 in TWA's final livery was an impressive sight and we're glad it found its way to at least one of the great L-1011s.

For the record, N31029 was acquired by TWA as a new airplane in August 1975. In 1978, it was converted from a TriStar 1 series to a TriStar 100 series, thus giving it the capability to fly overseas. Of note, this same airplane was leased to Delta Air Lines for two years (1978-1980) and then returned to TWA. It ended its flying career as a TWA airplane.

(posted week of 9/17/18)
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Back in the late 1960s, there was a battle to win the market for a new generation of wide body jets that were smaller and more versatile than the Boeing 747. And so began the competition between the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and the Lockheed L-1011. Both manufacturers courted airlines around the world. Our photo of the week above shows McDonnell Douglas' vision of a TWA DC-10, in what was then TWA's "double globe" livery. 

In 1968, TWA (along with Eastern Air Lines) chose the L-1011. While many considered the L-1011 a technologically superior airplane, the DC-10 proved much more successful, with McDonnell Douglas producing a number of variants, as well as a second-generation of the model (the MD11). Lockheed, on the other hand, managed to produce only 250 L-1011s, taking major financial losses on the project. 



Our blog's article about TWA's L-1011 goes into some detail about the battle between the DC-10 and L-1011 and why the L-1011 wasn't as successful. If you haven't read it yet, we think you'll find the entire article quite interesting. Click here to read it.

(posted week of 9/10/18)

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Frank Sinatra's 1958 album "Come Fly With Me" is notable to us because of the prominence of two TWA Constellations on the cover. Released by Capitol Records in 1958, the album was themed as a musical trip around the world. In addition to the title track, songs featured included "Autumn in New York", "Moonlight in Vermont" and (of course) "I Love Paris". 

Although Frank's image on the cover portrays a pretty happy guy, the truth was he was not pleased. Famed record producer George Martin recalled that Sinatra felt uncomfortable that his image was being used as free advertising for TWA, hinting that Capitol Records had made a "private deal" with TWA (which at the time was owned by Howard Hughes, one of the entertainment world's most well-connected people).  Despite Frank's misgivings, the album did very well, ascending to number one for five weeks on the Billboard charts, in 1958. It was also nominated for a Grammy Award. 

The album cover is just one example how the TWA brand was among the most highly-recognized in the industry.

(posted week of 9/3/18)
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This week, we take you back to a time when contemplating which seat to occupy on your flight was a much simpler exercise. The above Boeing 707 seat chart is from a 1980 brochure highlighting TWA's "Airport Express" service. The colorful seat map served as a reference for passengers to select their seats in advance, taking advantage of automated seat assignment functionality on TWA's PARS reservation system. Typically, a seat could be reserved about a month before departure.

You'll also note the seats in coach all had the same basic dimensions and except for some minor restrictions, if the seat was available, you could reserve it. It didn't matter what fare you were paying, or where it was located. If it was empty, you had a shot at it. We'll also venture to say the seat "pitch" (or distance between the same point on two seats, one behind the other) was more generous, compared to certain economy class seats today. The seat chart also, however, reveals that some things are now better. Today's high-definition in-flight entertainment is much more robust and accessible than the limited choices presented on the 707's three movie screens.  You'll also notice there were smoking sections in both first and economy classes back then and we all know how "effective" that delineation was for non-smokers. Also, first class seats on comparable aircraft today offer many more options in recline and overall comfort.

(posted week of 8/27/18)
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We are pleased to announce that the TWA Museum Audio Tour is now up and running at our museum. This first phase covers thirteen "listening stops" in our main gallery, giving our visitors the opportunity to view our displays in greater detail. Each audio tour listener is lent a state-of-the-art portable listening device and high-fidelity headphones, giving them a clear narration at each stop. They also have the ability to choose which stops to take, and can visit the stops in any order. Here are some more facts about the tour:

..The narrator for each stop is one of our volunteers. The entire tour was produced and recorded at the museum.
..Each of the thirteen stops is about 6-7 minutes in length.
..Visitors will continue to be given the additional options of a personally guided tour, or they can just browse at their leisure. We will also continue to run escorted tours to our "hangar galleries" and outside to visit our JetStar airplane.
..On the audio tour, visitors will experience some things that will enhance the description of the display. For instance, at Stop #107 (pictured above), listeners will find out about the Concorde SST and how close TWA actually came to flying it (and why they didn't). And... they'll hear the sound of a Concorde taking off from London, as well as a sonic boom produced by the Concorde while flying off the coast of France. At Stop #103, the audio begins with  the unmistakable sound of a Constellation at full power, taking off.
..There are more stops currently being produced that will take visitors on the audio tour into our second gallery, including an informative and moving visit through our Flight 800 Memorial Room.
..We're pleased to offer the audio tour to our visitors at no extra charge. It's included with the price of admission.

In the near future, we will combine our audio tour with video to produce virtual tours for our online and blog readers. Look for the first of those appearing on our blog and website, in 2019. Better yet come on down, grab a listening device and headset and take the tour! We think you'll like it!

(posted week of 8/20/18)
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Our L-1011 cockpit procedures trainer has come a long way since we received it in pieces, back at the beginning of the year (scroll down to see our photo of the week post from 2/16/18). Thanks to the skill and hard work of our museum's volunteers and friends, the exhibit is now a popular stop on our tour. We are talking over possibilities of adding some interactive capability to the sim, but for now it's a static display.

Nevertheless, it is attracting quite a bit of attention. Our younger visitors are especially excited to sit in the front, gazing over the spectrum of instruments and dials. Even the flight engineer's position gets its share of curious young pilots-to-be (some learning about the historic role of the flight engineer, for the first time)! 

Not to be forgotten, adults also enjoy the exhibit. Former L-1011 pilots and mechanics visiting really appreciate the opportunity to step into the realistic environment, often telling us about their past experiences working on and flying this great airplane. We hope you'll get the chance to stop by soon and have a seat! 


(posted week of 8/13/18)

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The newest addition to our museum's large-scale model collection arrived on August 2 and it's something to behold. In 1/25 scale, it has a 60" wingspan, a 47" long fuselage and stands on its pedestal at a height of 4 1/2 feet. The story of how it was built and how it came to us is as interesting as the model itself.

Back in July 2017, we were contacted by Jim Sineath, a resident of nearby Lee's Summit, Missouri. Jim informed us he was building a scale model of a Lockheed Constellation in TWA colors and sent us some of the early construction photos. He wanted to know if we'd be interested in displaying it when completed. We didn't hesitate to say "yes". Over the past year, Jim kept us updated with photos of his progress. We expected something special, however, when Jim delivered his model last week, we were amazed!

Some details about the model: Jim fabricated and constructed the entire model on his own. It took him twenty months to complete. It's made of balsa wood with a fiberglass surface. Its design is based on the Constellation model 749, however, he included some features from later models as well. It's named the "Star of Paris", a tribute to the city that's a favorite of Jim and his wife. 

Jim's extensive background in aviation included a sixteen year career as one of the original Life Flight helicopter pilots in Kansas City. He has also been a helicopter instructor and check airman. In speaking of his model, Jim commented: "I did it as a tribute to all of those who worked for TWA and those who will be inspired to seek a career in aviation." 

Thank you, Jim. Our museum is privileged to have friends like you. 

(By popular demand, we have added more pictures of Jim's model. Click here to see them. )


(posted week of 8/6/18)

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This illustration from our archives collection is identified as "TWA Calendar 1938, DC-3 Sky-Sleeper". The activity pictured around the nighttime boarding of this DC-3 clearly conveys the excitement of travelling in the early days of TWA's operation. The lighting and shadowing seems also to add elements of intrigue and romance to the scene. It really caught our eye. 

The plane itself is depicted accurately. DC-3 ship number 350 was built and operated as a DST (Douglas Sleeper Transport) and was one of the earliest delivered to TWA in April 1937.  If you're a regular visitor to our photo of the week, you may recall seeing previous posts showing TWA's great DC-3s. If you'd like to see a couple, scroll down to the photos posted for the weeks of 2/19/18 and 4/16/18. 

(posted week of 7/30/18)



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On July 6, 1984, TWA said goodbye to the last of its retired Boeing 707 jetliners. In the photo above, Boeing 707-331B aircraft N8738 lifts off from Kansas City International Airport, headed for the aircraft storage facility at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. TWA's very first Boeing 707 went into service 25 years earlier.

TWA's retired Boeing 707s met a variety of ending chapters once they retired from the fleet. Some were sold to other airlines and military forces, some were flown to storage facilities and some were taken apart at TWA's maintenance and overhaul base in Kansas City. Speaking of the latter, retired TWA President Dick Pearson told us that TWA had leased an industrial-grade hydraulic "guillotine" to facilitate the destruction process at Kansas City. When the oldest 707s were placed under it, the blade was lowered and it bounced right back up. Those early 707s seemed to know they were great and were not about to go quietly!  

(posted week of 7/23/18)
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This artist's rendition appeared in a 1979 brochure, introducing the new Boeing 747SP to TWA employees. TWA purchased three of these airplanes (the "SP" standing for "special performance") with the first going into service on May 1, 1980, flying the Los Angeles-Boston-London route. The 747SP was not hard to spot, as it was 47 feet shorter than a full-size 747. Adding to the oddity of its appearance was the fact that the upper-deck "hump" had the same dimensions. Also, the tail of the SP was slightly larger, an aerodynamic accommodation due to less weight being forward of the wing and its effect on the plane's center of gravity.  

Boeing had two goals in mind when designing the 747SP. One was increased non-stop range. It was an impressive 7,500 miles. The other was to offer a companion aircraft for larger 747 operators that could be used on lower-capacity routes (an attempt by Boeing to compete with the Lockheed L-1011 and Douglas DC-10). Neither idea worked out well, as Boeing manufactured only 45 747SPs, in a 13-year period (by contrast, Boeing has manufactured over 1,500 full-sized 747s over the past 50 years and is still going!). 

TWA used its three SPs on a variety of domestic and international routes, never fully utilizing its unique long range. They flew for a short time in the fleet, being sold in the mid 1980s. One was sold to the United Arab Emirates, for use as a government and VIP transport. The other two were sold to American Airlines. 

(posted week of 7/16/18)

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The long and successful reign of the Boeing 727 in TWA's fleet began with the plane shown above. Taken in late 1963, TWA's first 727-31 rolls through its final production phase at the Boeing plant in Renton, Washington. TWA took delivery of its first two Boeing 727s (N850TW and N851TW) on April 29, 1964, flying them from Renton to Kansas City. They went into revenue service on June 1, 1964. 

TWA would go onto fly 96 Boeing 727s (that figure includes both the original 727 model and the later "stretched" version), retiring the last one in the year 2000. In addition to domestic U.S. service, TWA maintained a fleet of 727s in Europe, flying them within Europe and the Middle East, connecting passengers to and from TWA's European Transatlantic gateway cities. They truly were workhorses. It's also interesting to note that the Boeing 727 was the first three-engine plane TWA flew since flying the Ford Tri-Motor, in the 1930s.

With its T-shaped tail and three rear-mounted engines, the Boeing 727 was one of the most recognizable and successful aircraft ever produced. Boeing manufactured an amazing 1,832 of these airplanes over a 22-year period. They literally were seen everywhere, populating the fleets of countless airlines, around the world. 

(posted week of 7/9/18)
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This picture taken at Los Angeles International Airport in 1983 really caught our attention. Seen in the TWA Skyliner employee newspaper, it was part of an article that described  how some airlines with limited service, contracted with TWA to handle their flights. Southwest Airlines with "limited" service at LAX? Yep...  that indeed was the case.

In 1983, Southwest had ten daily departures from Los Angeles and TWA provided maintenance and ramp services for them. The two airlines also had a similar arrangement in San Francisco, where TWA provided services for Southwest's five departures. My, how times have changed!

Today, Southwest operates 133 departures from LAX, flying to 32 cities and they employ almost 900 people in ground and technical operations there. In 2017, they were the fourth largest airline at the airport, accounting for 11.7% of the traffic carried there. They also have a major presence at some of Los Angeles' "satellite" airports, including Ontario, Burbank and Orange County. 

We are always pleased to welcome our friends from Southwest to our museum. Crew members on a layover in Kansas City will sometimes stop by to say hello and look over the great history of the airline that "lent them a hand" at Los Angeles, 35 years ago.

(posted week of 6/25/18)
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TWA's first three MD-82 airplanes (then known as the DC-9-82) await their finishing touches at the McDonnell Douglas factory in the spring of 1983. Neatly in a row are the first three delivered to TWA (N901TW, N902TW and N903TW). Keeping things in order, N901TW was the first delivered to TWA in April 1983, making its first revenue flight on May 3, from Kansas City to Washington, DC. The MD-82 and MD-83 proved very popular with TWA, as 101 of them were flown in TWA colors, right up to TWA's final scheduled departure in 2001 (flown with an MD-83). 

No stranger to this family of airliners, TWA flew the first model of the DC-9 back in 1966 (our photo for the week of 4-30-18 shows the delivery of the first DC9-14). Several other models and variations were flown in the next 35 years, including the Boeing 717 (the last of the DC-9 family of airliners to be produced). When all was said and done, TWA flew over 150 airplanes of the DC-9 family.

Interestingly, TWA also had the honor of flying the very last MD-80 type aircraft built. Ship N984TW was delivered in December 1999. In recognition of this milestone, TWA named the airplane "The Spirit of Long Beach", recognizing the historic home of the Douglas factory.

(posted week of 6/18/18)
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The amazing transformation of TWA's iconic Flight Center at New York's Kennedy International Airport is entering its final stages. As seen in the photo above, work on the interior restoration is moving right along. In early 2019, the new 512-room TWA Hotel will open, with TWA's original terminal building serving as the "heart" of the hotel. The rooms themselves will be contained in two new structures, adjacent to and connected with the original terminal.

The TWA Hotel is a project of MCR Development, in New York. At their invitation, our museum's Board of Directors recently traveled to Kennedy to tour the construction site and came back with some amazing pictures, such as the one above. Our museum and MCR have become good friends over this past year, with MCR's CEO, Tyler Morse, visiting our museum a few months ago and introducing us to some of his staff.  We have since provided Tyler's designers with some items that will be displayed at the new hotel. In reality, the new hotel will serve as a museum too, displaying a large variety of TWA memorabilia, in many ways reflective of the early 1960s, when the terminal first opened at (what was then) Idlewild Airport. A vintage Lockheed Constellation will also grace the surrounding grounds of the hotel. Wow!

Want to see and know more (we're sure you do!). More pictures from our recent visit to the construction site. Click here to see them. 

We also encourage you to visit www.twahotel.com, where you can learn more details about the hotel itself.

(posted week of 6/11/18)
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In August 1959, TWA and one of its brand new Boeing 707-131 aircraft played a role in Cold War diplomacy. Then Vice President Richard Nixon made a trip to Moscow and Poland. TWA was called upon to fly members of the press from Moscow to Warsaw. Once there, Vice President Nixon boarded the airplane (N744TW) and flew it to Keflavik, Iceland. In Keflavik, the Vice President switched to a military airplane, while TWA took the press corps home to Washington, DC. The photograph above was taken enroute to Keflavik, as Nixon spoke with the press on the plane's public address system. There were three TWA captains assigned to the support crew, with Captain Gordon Granger in command (we're not certain which captain is pictured).

While in Moscow, the airplane was put on public display for two days and about 5,000 Russian citizens got their first chance to step inside of a U.S.-built jetliner. Even Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev walked through N744TW. He thought it was a good airplane, but commented it held less people than the Soviet-built Tupolev TU-104 jetliner.


(posted week of 6/4/18)

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While the photo is clearly troubling to look at, the story accompanying it is a testament to the bravery, professionalism and ultimately the ingenuity of TWA's employees. On August 29, 1969, TWA flight 840, a Boeing 707-331B was hijacked after leaving Rome. It was scheduled to fly onto Athens and then Tel Aviv. It was the final destination that attracted the interest of the hijackers, who identified themselves as members of the Palestinian Liberation Movement. After leaving Rome, the hijackers demanded the plane be diverted to Demascus, Syria. Upon its arrival in Demascus, the plane was completely evacuated and moments later, an explosion was set off, resulting in the complete destruction of the front end of the aircraft. No one was hurt.

There are many aspects to this event, however, we'll put those aside for now, concentrating instead on what happened afterward to the airplane itself. Amazingly, TWA technicians were able to engineer a repair to the aircraft and it was eventually put back into service, flying the line for TWA until its retirement in 1983. To fix it, a completely new forward section (extending from the nose to just beyond the forward cabin door) was manufactured by Boeing in Seattle and then flown to Demascus, where the work was completed. Again, amazing.

As an historic footnote, the repaired airplane was re-registered (from N776TW to N28714), as there was concern that the aircraft would receive unwanted further "attention" if it retained its original registration number.

(posted week of 5/28/18)


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In 1940, TWA took a significant step forward with the acquisition of the Boeing 307 "Stratoliner". Perhaps most significantly, the Stratoliner was the first commercial aircraft to be pressurized, flying above most bad weather and providing its passengers with a ride that was smoother, faster and more comfortable than predecessor aircraft. Boeing made sure that cruising above the clouds was a luxurious experience as well, constructing a spacious cabin that had a diameter over eleven feet, at its widest point.  Within the cabin, up to 33 passengers sat in lounge-style seating with ample width and legroom. 

This concept of luxury extended to the restrooms, as well. There were two on board. Female passengers could retire to the "Ladies Charm Room". As the picture above illustrates, there was lots of room. The 207 cubic foot space contained 34 square feet of floor area,  which included two dressing tables, two full mirrors and an upholstered bench by each table. The toilet was in a separate enclosed area. Men were made comfortable as well, as their "Men's Lounge" had 32 square feet of floor area and a lounge seat that was upholstered in "top-grained leather". As with the ladies room, the toilet area was in its own enclosed space. We should also mention the ceiling height in the Men's Lounge was seven feet!!

Just some things to ponder the next time you "excuse yourself" at 35,000 feet.  

(posted week of 5/21/18)

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In this era of the Max, Superjumbo and Dreamliner,  an image of the pioneering Boeing 707 taking to the skies still catches one's attention. This legendary airplane opened the world of jet travel to millions of people. Pictured above is ship N775TW, a Boeing 707-331B, acquired by TWA in 1962. Larger and more powerful than the (also popular) -100 series, the 331s allowed TWA passengers to jet non-stop between the U.S. and Europe. The Boeing 707 served TWA well, with many flying through the early 1980s, including N775TW. 

In all, TWA operated over 100 Boeing 707 airplanes (an almost even mixture of -100 and -300 models). TWA's last Boeing 707 passenger flight took place on October 31, 1983. Ship N18710 originated at Kennedy Airport in New York, stopping at Chicago O'Hare and terminating in Kansas City. After its arrival, it was towed to TWA's nearby Maintenance and Overhaul Base, where it joined several other TWA 707s, to await further disposition.

(posted week of 5/14/18)
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February 5, 1966 marked the arrival of TWA's first DC-9 aircraft. Ship N1052T is shown in the photograph above, upon its delivery flight to Kansas City. This was the first of 20 DC-9s (6 were DC-9-14 models and 14 were DC-9-15 models) that TWA first ordered in 1964. And so began a long and significant relationship between TWA and the Douglas DC-9 family of jets, that would last through TWA's final day of operation. Over that period of time, TWA flew almost every generation of the DC-9 produced. 

TWA became a "major" operator of the DC-9 starting in 1986, when the acquisition of Ozark Airlines resulted in the addition of several DC-9s into the TWA fleet. Meanwhile, in 1983, TWA purchased its first DC-9-80 series aircraft. The -82 and -83 models would eventually dominate TWA's domestic short and medium haul fleet for the rest of the company's history. Fittingly, the last TWA-brand departure occurred on December 1, 2001, when TWA flight 220 flew from Kansas City to St. Louis. That flight was made on DC-9-83 (by then called the MD-83) ship N948TW, also known as TWA's employee-sponsored "Wings of Pride".

Right up to the time of its of its purchase by American Airlines, TWA was flying the final version of the DC-9 family,  the MD-95 (renamed the Boeing 717). So ended the stories of both a great airline and a great airplane.

(posted week of 4/30/18)

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In addition to being nice to look at, this TWA advertisement from the early 1960s tells us quite a bit about TWA's burgeoning fleet of jet airplanes and Kansas City's vital role in maintaining them. We're assuming the registration on the plane in the foreground is accurate, which identifies it as N770TW. That airplane, a Boeing 707-331 was acquired by TWA in 1960 and flew the line for twenty years. In addition to the two other 707s, to the right are two Convair 880s. TWA's first Convair flew in 1961 and that fleet would grow to 28 airplanes. 

As the advertising copy indicates, the planes are residing at TWA's Maintenance and Overhaul base by (what what eventually would become) Kansas City International Airport. Of special interest is the advertisement's theme of TWA's jets "coming home" to Kansas City after flying the skies around the world. Kind of a neat image, we think. Also note the mention that while being serviced at "home" they're receiving the best care in the world! We couldn't agree more.

(posted week of 4/23/18)

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On the back of this photograph is written the description: "DC3 lineup at Newark NJ airport. Lte 30's". There's really not much more to add as this captivating photograph really speaks for itself. We count twelve DC-3s, but the image is a bit cluttered as you get to the rear of the line. It's also interesting to observe that each aircraft has a uniformed employee standing attentively in front. Quite a sight!

The tails on the first two are legible, so we can tell you the first is aircraft NC17323, delivered new to TWA in August 1937. Next to it is NC17321, also delivered new in January, 1937. Interestingly enough, they were both constructed by Douglas as sleeper transports (DSTs). The lack of sleeper berth upper windows would indicate TWA opted not to utilize either as a sleeper airplane. However, the third and fourth ones in line are visibly outfitted to be sleepers, as you can discern the two small upper windows (and a different passenger window layout) on each. 

The 104 DC-3s TWA flew presented a variety of configurations and appearances. Flexible is an adjective that can be added to durable and reliable, when describing these great airplanes. In fact, we invite you to scroll down to our photo of the week from 2/19/18, to see yet another DC-3 that was built to be a sleeper, flown as a regular passenger plane and even saw service in World War II. When it comes to airplanes, there was nothing like them!

Update (4/19): Blog reader Steve Forsyth observes some of the tail shapes down the line indicate DC-2s are present, as well. We couldn't tell for sure, but will accept the possibility that Steve can see better than we! 

(posted week of 4/16/18) 

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In 1967, TWA announced a significant expansion to its Maintenance and Overhaul Base, located adjacent to (what would eventually become) Kansas City International Airport. The architectural drawing above is one of several in our archives that shows the initial plan. Some of what you see in the drawing actually came to be, most notably, the shell-shaped "super hangars". The first phase called for two such hangars, which did get built on the north side of the complex and were opened in 1971. Phase two called for two more on the south side, however, they were never built.

The picture is made more intriguing by the illustration of two SSTs. Those actually are Boeing SSTs, for which TWA had placed twelve orders. Those airplanes never came to be as the Boeing SST program was discontinued in 1971. TWA also had orders for six Concorde SSTs, but they were rescinded in 1973. It's also interesting to note the size of the hangars were designed to handle the large length and wingspans of both Boeing's SST and their upcoming 747. While many are most familiar with Concorde's relatively smaller SST, Boeing's version was dramatically larger, with a length of 300' (longer than the 747!).

Completed not long before the opening of Kansas City International Airport, the two hangars were a landmark at the airport. Standing ten stories high, they clearly let the flying public know of TWA's presence in Kansas City. American Airlines took possession of TWA's leases on the entire base after their purchase of TWA in 2001. American eventually vacated the base in 2010. Today, the "super hangars" remain, leased to private aircraft maintenance companies. 

By the way, if we've piqued your interest in TWA's history with the SST, check out our blog article: TWA's Concorde SST - The Plane That Never Was. Click here to read the article. 

(posted week of 4/9/18) 

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A wide-angle view accentuates the sleek lines of the Lockheed L-1011. One of several photographs from our museum's digitized Ed Betts collection, the airplane shown above was the second L-1011 produced. It was rolled out of Lockheed's factory for flight testing and certification in December 1970. In anticipation of flying the L-1011, TWA sent several employees out to Lockheed's plant (in Palmdale, California) to take publicity photos like this one. After testing and certification, the airplane above was delivered to Eastern Air Lines. Huh? Eastern?  

Yes. Eastern. It turns out the first twelve L-1011s produced were heavier in weight than TWA preferred, so that first run of twelve went to Eastern. After successful testing, the above airplane was re-painted in Eastern's livery and eventually delivered to them as aircraft N301EA. For the record, Eastern did fly the first L-1011 in commercial service, two months before TWA (but not with aircraft N301EA).

The thirteenth L-1011 (TWA's first) came off the Lockheed's production line as ship N31011 and was delivered to TWA in May 1972, soon to make TWA's first L-1011 passenger flight on June 25, 1972.  Eventually, TWA would fly 36 of its own L-1011s before the last was retired in 1997. A memorable 25-year run. 

Want to know more about TWA's great L-1011. Below are links to our blog article about the L-1011 and to a more detailed article written by Jon Proctor (a good friend of our museum and blog). Speaking of Jon, our thanks to him for providing us additional details about the above photo and the interesting story behind it. 

(posted week of 4/2/18) 
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The January 1943 issue of TWA's Skyliner newspaper featured a most interesting article about the WAMs, TWA's Women Apprentice Mechanics. In 1943, 110 women worked in Kansas City (with additional women in New York and California) filling positions left vacant by male TWA mechanical and technical personnel who were serving in the armed forces during World War II. 

Pictured above is Mrs. Dawn Winans, at work in the propeller shop, in Kansas City (in the hangar next to what is today our museum!). Self-described as a housewife, Mrs. Winans also had a mechanical aptitude, commenting that she "kept up the household equipment". This included overhauling her family's Model T automobile. One of Dawn's co-workers, Mrs. Hildred Ogden had been a beauty shop operator before becoming a WAM for TWA. Mrs. Ogden also demonstrated mechanical aptitude and was quoted as saying, "I prefer grease to cosmetics."

The WAMs served in most every area of TWA's maintenance operation including (but not limited to) the engine, radio, and sheet metal shops. They also helped maintain the interior and exterior appearances of TWA's fleet. Several received high praise for their skills and dedication. Some remained with TWA full-time, after the war. Mr. R.W. Lichtenberger, a TWA maintenance foreman at Kansas City had this to say about a member of his group, Miss Mary Payne:

"Our foremost woman, Mary Payne, is on a specialized assignment. Out on the main floor in the hangar, surrounded by dozens of men workers, she is making special installations for navigation training, on compasses. And she's doing a grand piece of work."

(additional information for this commentary obtained from Flying Magazine, June 1943, vol XXXIII, Number 6. Article authored by Idell D. Hays)

(posted week of 3/26/18) 

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We chose a photo that can best be described as "majestic", as this TWA model 1049 Constellation cruises above the  picturesque topography of the Southwestern United States

The aircraft pictured above (N6906C) carried the name: "Star of The Rhine" and flew for TWA from 1952 through 1960. The model 1049, known more commonly as the Super Constellation had several improvements over its predecessor, the model 749. Among them was its increased length of 114' ( almost 20' longer than the model 749) higher maximum take-off weight and a faster cruising speed of 320 miles per hour. The Super Constellation made the nonstop flight from Los Angeles to New York in just under eight hours. 

TWA had a long and storied history with the Constellation. First flying it commercially in 1946, four models of the Connie were flown, with the last being retired in 1967. In all, TWA flew over 150 Constellations to a long list of cities in the United States and overseas. With its unique triple-tail, it remains one of the most recognizable commercial aircraft in history and clearly symbolizes the grandeur of airline travel before the advent of the jet age.

(posted week of 3/19/18) 

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Special Thanks to Hank Belz, for providing this improved image from the Skyliner

From our collection of TWA aircraft that "almost were", we present the Airbus A330-300. The photo was taken from a copy of TWA's Skyliner employee newspaper of 4/18/89.  In March 1989, TWA executed a memo of understanding with Airbus for a firm order for 20 of these aircraft and options for 20 more. Under the same agreement, TWA had the right to convert 10 of those orders and 10 options to the longer-range Airbus A-340. 

This was all part of the plan to began the phase-out of TWA's Boeing 747 and Lockheed L-1011 aircraft (first flown in 1970 and 1972, respectively). The expectation was to have the first A-330 flying in 1993.  It was estimated the A-330 had operating costs 1/3 lower than the L-1011.

A number of events after the 1989 order changed everything. After declaring its first Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1992, TWA halved the order to 10 firm and 10 options, all for the A-330. That plan was eventually modified when in 1998, TWA decided to use the several million dollars already pledged to Airbus to instead order 50 smaller A-318 and 25 A-320 aircraft. Of course, TWA's end in 2001 meant no Airbus aircraft ever flew in TWA colors. At the museum, we have a model of the proposed A-318 in TWA colors and it's featured in our Museum Photo of The Week for 1/15/18. If you haven't seen it, scroll down a bit, and take a look.

At the museum, we often hear people ask: "what if..."  Thanks to our collection of items such as the above photo, we can give you some idea. 

(posted week of 3/12/18) 
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Our museum's newly-acquired L-1011 cockpit procedures trainer (CPT) gets installed in our museum's Education Center gallery. Formerly owned by Delta Air Lines, It was donated to us by the National Museum of Commercial Aviation, in Atlanta. It came to our museum in pieces, with most of the components loaded in 34 boxes. That's where our great volunteers and friends of our museum stepped forward. 

We were fortunate to have Greg Tyler (former TWA Avionics Technician from Indianapolis) and Gary Mayden (TWA/American Maintenance Crew Chief from St. Louis) come to Kansas City to work with several of our museum's volunteers in assembling the simulator. That's Greg in the white shirt with his friend, former TWA electronics technician Felix Bernard.   

The L-1011 trainer joins our exhibit of TWA crew training items at our museum. These includes TWA pilot training modules from the 1960s (you can see one in the background), an ex-Ozark Airlines FH-227B navigation trainer and flight attendant training mock-ups.

Our special thanks to the National Museum of Commercial Aviation and its Chairman, Chuck Maire. That museum recently closed and we were honored to take possession of the trainer, for future guests to see and enjoy. TWA, Delta and Eastern Air Lines were the largest operators of the L-1011, with TWA flying the aircraft from 1972 through 1997. If you'd like to know more about the L-1011's role at TWA, check out our blog article: The Tri-Star Of Our Show (click here to read the article)  


(the above information about the photo was excerpted from an article by Pam Blaschum, which will appear in the upcoming edition of our museum's newsletter).

(posted week of 2/26/18) 
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This picture from our archives caught our attention for a couple of reasons. That chauffeur is doing his job well, standing attentively by his TWA Airport Limousine car. An image you might want to keep in mind, the next time you're waiting on an endless taxi line or searching for your Uber driver in the arrivals area.

We'll date the picture as the late 1930s, based on the car and presence of that very impressive DC-3 airplane. Being the curious bunch we are, we did some research on that airplane (NC18954) and found it has an interesting story of its own. Delivered to TWA in June 1938, it was impressed into wartime service by the U.S. Army Air Force in June 1942. It came back to TWA two years later and served its passengers again until it was retired from the fleet in 1952. It's technically a DC-3B-202A, a model built specifically for TWA.
  
On the DC-3, you'll notice a small rectangular window above the passenger seat window. That was for a sleeper berth, as this particular model was fitted with a small forward section that could be converted to a sleeper configuration. There were two such windows on each side. This was one of 26 DC-3s flown by TWA that were constructed for sleeper accommodation, however fleet records show that only 14 of them were officially designated as "DSTs" (Douglas Sleeper Transport). We are assuming the other 12, while capable of being converted, were not utilized as sleeper aircraft. 

TWA would go onto fly 104 DC-3s of varying configurations. Included in that number were 55 that were originally built as military aircraft and later converted to commercial passenger use.  

(posted week of 2/19/18) 

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Our archives holds a number of TWA baggage tags. While they occupy a very small space, some of them tell a pretty big story. The bag that was attached to the top tag was carried by TWA at least 55 years ago, as it was going to IDL, New York's Idlewild Airport. Opened in 1948, Idlewild was named for the golfing resort upon which the airport was built in southeastern Queens, in New York City. In December 1963, it was renamed Kennedy International Airport, shortly following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. TWA had a rich and storied history at this airport, including it's iconic terminal, the TWA Flight Center, designed by Eero Saarinen (and opened in 1962, while the airport was still known as IDL). Today, Kennedy Airport's three-letter "JFK" code is one of the most recognizable in the world and the airport continues to be one of the world's busiest.

If you traveled to Kansas City prior to 1972, you (and your checked baggage) went to MKC, located just across the Missouri River from downtown Kansas City. In 1972, all scheduled airline operations moved north to the new Kansas City International Airport (MCI). As we at the museum know very well, MKC (known officially today as the Wheeler Kansas City Downtown Airport) continues to operate as a very active airfield. Despite no longer hosting scheduled airline flights, it does have its share of interesting sights. In fact, our blog section "On The Street Where We Live" chronicles some of those sights we occasionally see, right by our museum. Click here to see that section of our blog.  

Pretty interesting stuff, from just a couple of baggage tags!

(posted week of 2/12/18) 

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One of our museum's more interesting exhibits resides in our Education Center room. You're looking at a cockpit navigation instrument simulator for a Fairchild FH-227B turboprop. It was originally owned by Ozark Airlines and became TWA's property when Ozark was purchased in 1986. Ozark flew a total of 21 FH-227Bs, acquiring them in 1966 and 1967. The last propeller blade spun for Ozark in October 1980, when the last 227B was retired from the fleet. 

At the time of its purchase by TWA, Ozark was an all-jet airline (DC-9s and MD-80s) with service from the east coast to the west coast. They also shared a hub in St. Louis with TWA and in 1986, TWA owner Carl Icahn felt it was time to deal with competitive issues, by purchasing Ozark. In our museum's main gallery, we have a display  containing several items from Ozark (including the final uniform worn by their flight attendants).

As far as the simulator is concerned, it's a favorite stop for visitor photographs, as you can sit inside. We occasionally get a few snickers from some visitors as they peer into the cockpit. However, we are quick to remind them of the amazing engineering and ingenuity that went into designing reliable and realistic flight simulation, during the pre-digital era. 

(posted week of 2/5/18) 

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Throughout the years, TWA saw scores of famous people on board its aircraft. In fact, it often was referred to as the "airline of the stars". This was especially noticeable in the 1940s and 1950s, as Howard Hughes (TWA's owner during that time) had many friends and business acquaintances in the entertainment industry. The photo above shows this included four-legged notables too, as Lassie is seen at the base of a stairway leading to a TWA aircraft. Although there is no date on the photo, we'll say mid to late 1950s.

This was no ordinary travelling pet. Typically accompanied by trainer Rudd Weatherwax, Lassie occupied the first class section and was treated... like a passenger.  Weatherwax recalled a flight where the captain announced Lassie was on board and the passengers broke out in applause and cheers. Since accuracy is our blog's most important priority, we should tell you Lassie was a male (despite being identified as a female on television and in the movies) and there were nine Lassies during the run of the popular TV show from 1954-1971. All were descendants of the original Lassie (and you thought all we knew about were airplanes?).

Our museum and archives contain dozens of photographs of actors, professional athletes, politicians and legendary people of the times, spending some of their time on TWA.

(posted week of 1/29/18) 

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The legendary Boeing 727 displayed its versatility with the model 727-100QC. The letters stood for "quick change" and that it was! Its unique design allowed TWA to convert the aircraft from a passenger airplane to a cargo plane (and vice versa), in just about an hour. The trick was the interior floor, which had sets of rollers embedded in it. Seat and galley pallet "modules" could be slid to the front of the airplane and removed through a large vertically-hinged forward loading door (shown prominently in the picture). Once the cabin was emptied, cargo pallets could then be loaded. After the cargo run was completed, back in went the seats and galleys.

The airplane pictured above, N890TW, was TWA's first QC model, acquired in April 1967. TWA would eventually fly eight of these and kept them until 1982, when they were all sold to United Parcel Service. By the way, TWA wasn't alone in its use of this most unique aircraft. Boeing manufactured 164 727-100QC airplanes that were used by carriers around the world.

(posted week of 1/22/18) 

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This week's photo reminds us that even in its later years, TWA was looking to the future. This included plans to renew and add to its fleet of airplanes. In 1998, TWA placed a significant order for new airplanes with Airbus Industries. Included in the order were 50 Airbus A318 jets. Pictured above is a 1/100 scale model of the proposed aircraft, standing in our museum.  At the same time, TWA ordered 25 of the larger A320 aircraft and placed an order with Boeing for fifty 717s, adding to that aircraft type already in the fleet.

Unfortunately, an Airbus in TWA colors was not to be, as TWA was acquired by American Airlines in 2001, prior to the proposed delivery dates of the orders. In addition to being a great-looking model, it serves as an example of the determination to move forward that TWA showed in 1998, despite its financial challenges. 

By the way, our museum has a few other models of airplanes in TWA colors that never came to be. Each has an interesting story explaining why the models exist and the reasons they got no further. If you're interested in knowing more, check out our blog article about the museum's models, "Our Model Citizens" (Click here to see the article).
 

(posted week of 1/15/18) 

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It's possible some prospective passengers reading this 1957 advertisement may have been confused, seeing the title "Jetstream" attached to a propeller-driven Lockheed model 1649 Constellation. Some felt TWA was implying that this final model of the Constellation was as good as passenger jet aircraft, which would soon be competing with it. TWA marketers, on the other hand, claimed the term related to the airplane's ability to take advantage of the jet stream winds (as stated in the ad).  

Semantics aside, The 1649 Constellation was a solid airplane, with tremendous operating range. Capable of carrying up to 10,000 gallons of fuel, it could fly nonstop between the west coast of the U.S. and Europe (via the "polar route") and stay airborne for around 20 hours!  Just two years after starting its 1649 Constellation service, TWA began flying its first Boeing 707 jet, hastening the retirement of their entire Constellation fleet. TWA's last Constellations flew in 1967. 

First flown commercially by TWA in 1946, over 150 "Connies" were operated by TWA in that 21-year period, consisting of four model types.

(posted week of 1/8/18)  


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A unique headline greeted TWA employees when they unfolded the October 24, 1966 issue of the company's Skyliner newspaper. It announced the beginning of TWA's service to Hong Kong, effective October 31. The new destination became the most distant on TWA's then Transatlantic route system, extending it 1,063 miles beyond Bangkok. TWA passengers were thus treated to Hong Kong's infamous approach into Kai Tak airport, literally looking into apartment buildings as they descended over high-rises situated in the densely populated city. Three years later, TWA would receive authority to fly west of Hong Kong (via the Pacific), thus gaining the prestige of being an around-the-world airline. Unfortunately, that  distinction would last only a few years, as TWA relinquished its Transpacific flying rights in 1975, through a route exchange agreement with Pan American World Airways.

Also of interest in the photo is the Skyliner's masthead, showing a representation of a supersonic transport aircraft. In 1966, TWA had six options placed for the French-British Concorde SST and ten options to order Boeing's SST. The entire airline industry anxiously anticipated the beginning of supersonic passenger travel. Of course, it didn't happen for TWA and most other airlines. Boeing cancelled its SST program in 1971 and TWA dropped its orders for the Concorde in 1973.

 (posted week of 1/1/18)  


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Taken about a DC-2 aircraft in 1936, this great photograph from our archives' digital collection gives us a good look into what flying on TWA was like in that era, highlighted by the presence of TWA's early hostesses. That fortunate lad is being tended to by Ruth Rhodes. Ruth was among the first group of 22 hostesses hired by TWA in 1935. Her poise and pleasant manner is evident in the photograph. While working a flight early in her career, those were among Ruth's many qualities noticed by TWA's President, Jack Frye, who recommended her to become TWA's first Chief Hostess.

Ruth's career with TWA was, however, short-lived, as she got married in 1937. Back then, hostesses hired had to be single and were required to resign if they got married. In addition, any young woman applying for the position had to be a registered nurse, 21 - 26 years of age, weigh no more than 118 pounds and have a height of 5'1" - 5'4". Despite these very specific requirements, more than 2,000 applications were received for the first 60 positions TWA advertised.

Ruth and her 21 classmates paved the way for thousands of women and (eventually) men to pursue careers as TWA flight attendants over the next 65 years. Ruth believed that a career as a hostess gave women the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience adventure. Despite TWA going through many changes over the years, Ruth's words clearly stood the test of time. As far as the infant in the photo, we don't know who he was, however, if you are an 82 year-old man who has an inexplicably pleasant memory from your infancy, that could be you!

By the way, our blog article "Presenting The Case For TWA's Flight Attendants" tells the story of this great profession, as presented in our museum. We invite you to check it out. Click here to see the article. 

We also invite you to browse the growing digital collection of our archives' historical photographs and documents at:

(posted week of 12/25/17)  


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In celebration of the holiday season, we thought we'd make the subject of this week's Museum Photo of The Week .... Well... Us... The volunteers of our museum.  As you probably can guess, some of us are former TWA employees, including flight attendants, pilots, mechanics, administrators, engineers, etc. What you may not know is that some of us are the sons, daughters, siblings and even grandchildren of former TWA employees. There are also a number of us who do not have a working or family relationship with TWA, but share a great interest in TWA's legacy and the work the museum does. Whatever our backgrounds, we all are proud to contribute to our museum's success and feel fortunate to be able to spend time with each other, working together to make the TWA Museum the great place it is. From our family to yours, best wishes for a joyous holiday season and a happy new year! 

(posted week of 12/18/17)  

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Today, computer-generated graphics are at the core of flight simulation. From video game systems to the most advanced professional motion simulators, it's hard to imagine there was a time this technology did not exist.  But there was such a time...

Back in the early 1960s,TWA's flight training center in Kansas City, Missouri trained its pilots on "electronic" flight simulators, which were highly advanced versions of the famous Link trainer. To add the visual component of flying to these cockpit simulators, a separate area existed that contained a movable closed-circuit television camera (shown above), which hovered over a large model of an airport and its surrounding landscape (not much different than a model railroad layout). Coordinated with commands from the cockpit simulator, the camera progressed along a track (right side of the photo) with more minute movements controlled by a series of motorized brackets attached to the camera. As the simulator was flown, the camera positioned itself accordingly and sent a black-and-white image projected onto  a 12 x 15 foot screen, in front of the cockpit simulator. In the photo above, it appears the simulator has just touched down on the runway,  

The complexity of flight training in the pre-computerized era required creative solutions by some very clever engineers. In our museum, we have many examples of how the challenges of training TWA pilots were met by these very ingenious people.

Want to learn more about how TWA met the challenge of simulation training in the pre-digital era? Check out our blog article "TWA Pilots - Chairmen of the Boards", which tells about our very impressive collection of early cockpit instrument training panels (Click here to read the article). 

(posted week of 12/11/17) 

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Well before the days of digital HD audio and electronic noise-cancelling headphones, this is how TWA (and other airline) passengers got to hear music and in-flight movie audio. The "pneumatic headset" was a breakthrough in passenger entertainment systems and first appeared on TWA (in conjunction with their introduction of movies) in 1961.

Stereo audio was electronically distributed to the armrest of each seat, where it was converted to actual sound through two tiny speakers, within the armrest. A two-pronged hollow plug (at the end of the black tubes above) connected to a receptacle in the armrest and sent the music through those tubes into the earplugs at the top. Quite a clever invention! Although not the highest audio quality by any means, they did the job for several years. Starting in the 1980s, electronic headsets started replacing the pneumatics, allowing a direct connection to the audio source and a much clearer sound. 

Although unsophisticated by today's high-tech standards, passengers still received robust content. In addition to a channel for movie audio, a variety of music was offered including rock, easy listening and classical music. There were also "talk"channels with subjects of general interest. Just for fun, we looked at the audio program from August, 1972. You could rock out to "Outta Space" by Billy Preston or relax with the instrumental rendition of "My Way", by the Ambassador Strings. There were dozens more, but we think you have the idea. 
(posted week of 12/4/17)  

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Much more than TWA's other four-engine narrow-body jet, the Convair 880 was its "own plane" for sure. Shorter, narrower, lighter and arguably sleeker than the Boeing 707, it also could cruise faster than its Boeing fleet mate. It caught the early interest of TWA owner Howard Hughes and he ordered several in 1955. Unfortunately, financial concerns delayed its arrival to TWA, with its inaugural flight occurring on January 12,1961.

TWA flew 28 Convair 880s. In addition to TWA, Delta Air Lines had several 880s in its fleet and American Airlines acquired the advanced Convair 990. Even Elvis owned an 880! Unfortunately, Convair couldn't break into the passenger jet market dominated by Boeing and Douglas and ceased production of the 880 in 1962 (the 990's production ended a year later). Despite this, the Convair 880 was a favorite of TWA crew and passengers alike (pilots often calling it the "airborne hot rod"). 

Aircraft N815TW shown above was officially delivered to TWA in December 1960 and was immediately leased to Northeast Airlines for three years. It then joined TWA's fleet and was eventually retired in 1974 (along with the rest of TWA's  Convairs). By the way, one of our favorite pieces of trivia at the museum is how Convair chose the model number of 880. That number represented the amount of feet per second Convair claimed the airplane could cruise. Do the math... the result is 600 miles per hour.  Our museum owns a few models of the Convair 880, including an excellent one that was literally left on our doorstep (see our weekly photo posting of 7/10/17).
(posted week of 11/27/17)

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Digital version of TAT Plane Talk photograph courtesy of State Historical Society of Missouri

Our museum's historical timeline shows TWA introduced inflight movies in 1961. Well, while we were doing some research for an article, we came upon the above photograph. It was taken aboard a Ford Tri-Motor in 1929, on Transcontinental Air Transport (one of the airlines that combined to form TWA, a year later). As part of its New York-Los Angeles air/rail service, TAT showed onboard motion pictures. According to the TAT's Plane Talk (the company's employee newspaper), the projector, batteries, and screen weighed only 34 pounds. Think about that the next time you're on a flight and streaming House Hunters onto your Iphone.

The movies shown in 1929 consisted primarily of newsreels. As a change of pace, the cartoon adventures of "Oswald The Lucky Rabbit" were occasionally shown. Oswald was conceived by Walt Disney and many believe was the origin of Disney's most famous character, Mickey Mouse. 

Though it was short-lived, TAT's air/rail transcontinental service was a groundbreaking achievement on many levels, made possible by the efforts of many pioneering people, including Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart. If you're interested, why not take the trip yourself, by reading our blog's article about this historic venture. Even if you're not a fan of Oswald The Lucky Rabbit, we think you'll find the article interesting (click here to see the article). Oh... and let's keep all of this among ourselves, as we don't plan to change the 1961 date from our timeline!
(posted week of 11/20/17)

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To those of us fortunate enough to have access to our museum's archives, perusing the files, drawers, shelves and closets is quite an experience. While it's easy to be in awe when looking at something like a 1929 air route map signed by Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, there are other  times when being in the archives is just plain fun!

And so it is with this week's photo above. Our archives contains thousands of TWA swizzle sticks and stirrers! While James Bond preferred his martinis "shaken not stirred", the evidence shows it was the opposite for most TWA passengers. We'll spare you the history of TWA's swizzle sticks (believe us... we have the info) and just mention we have quite a variety. Our most numerous are the infamous "red propeller" sticks.

While a few swizzle sticks are displayed in our gallery, the vast majority are stored safe and sound in our archives. According to Carol Emert, our archivist, most of them were donated, with some people bestowing huge collections upon us. It's clear many people hung onto them when their glasses and cups were collected. We suspect somewhere in your house, there may be some too.
(posted week of 11/13/17)
    
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We think the excitement can still be sensed in this now 48-year old photograph.  Appearing on the front page of TWA's company newspaper of January 12, 1970, the two airplanes pictured were described as TWA's "first Boeing 747s", being prepared for delivery at Boeing's plant in Everett, Washington. Although we can't quite discern either plane's registration, we assume one is aircraft N93102, the first delivered to TWA on December 31, 1969. 

The 747 began its service to TWA's passengers on February 25, 1970 when Flight 100 departed Los Angeles for New York's Kennedy Airport. International service began on March 18, 1970 when Flight 700 took off from Kennedy, bound for London's Heathrow Airport.

When all was said and done, TWA flew 36 747s from 1970 through 1998. Those who were fortunate enough to remember the debut of this great airplane likely had no thoughts of its eventual retirement. However, time marches on and we salute the flight of United Airlines' last 747, occurring on Tuesday, November 7.  Not too long after that, we'll see Delta Air Lines fly its last 747. Luckily, that familiar profile will still be seen as some non-U.S. carriers and cargo airlines will continue flying the legendary airplane for some years to come.

(posted week of 11/6/17)


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On September 28, 1995, the paint shop at TWA's Kansas City Maintenance and Overhaul base rolled out the first aircraft in TWA's new paint scheme, or "livery" . As it turned out, it would be TWA's final livery. As seen in the photo, it attracted more than a few TWA employees on the day of its debut. According to then TWA CEO Jeff Erickson, TWA reviewed 54 designs before choosing this one. That first airplane to get the new livery was DC-9-30 aircraft N927L, which was acquired from Ozark Airlines, when TWA and Ozark merged in 1986. The previous design (the "twin red stripes") was 21 years old and TWA felt it was time to signify a change, both visually and operationally. 

Some aircraft were not re-painted, including those that were soon to retire or be returned to lessors. A very large percentage of the fleet, however was in the new livery at the time TWA was acquired by American Airlines, in 2001.

Also of interest is the white building with dark windows in the very upper left corner of the photo. That was TWA's Kansas City Administrative Center. Although TWA's corporate headquarters moved from Kansas City in 1964, both the Overhaul Base and the Administrative Center remained important parts of TWA's operation through 2001.  
(posted week of 10/30/17)



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Our museum's three largest models stand regally, greeting visitors in our main gallery. We'd love to have some more room for each of them, but for now they line up to make a most interesting photograph. In order, they are the Lockheed L-1011, The Boeing 747 and the Concorde SST. Each model has a unique story.

The five-foot long L-1011 cutaway was acquired by the museum in horrible condition. Dennis McCarthy, one of our great volunteers, spent nearly a year meticulously restoring both the interior and exterior. From the below-deck galley to the 200 re-painted seats and accompanying armrests, it's a sight to see!

The 9 1/2-foot long Boeing 747-100 cutaway was originally situated in TWA's London ticket office at Piccadilly Circus. After becoming obsolete in appearance, it went back to the U.S., where TWA gave it to a travel agency. When it was eventually discarded, someone called TWA to report a tail of a large TWA model sticking out from a dumpster. It was rescued by a TWA ticket agent and delivered to our museum. It's since received a lot of TLC from us. Quite a model and quite a story!

The Concorde SST never flew for TWA, but we have a great seven-foot model to show what might have been. In the mid-1960s, TWA jumped on the supersonic bandwagon and took options to purchase six Concordes. For several reasons, the Concorde lost its attraction and TWA (along with all but two airlines) cancelled the options. Nevertheless, our model attracts a great deal of interest... And many questions!

Want to know more about these and some of our other models? Check out our blog article, "Our Model Citizens". We think you'll enjoy it   
(posted week of 10/23/17)

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You're looking at another significant piece of history our museum is privileged to own. On April 17, 1944, TWA flew non-stop, coast-to-coast in a record time of 6 hours, 57 minutes. It was was performed in a Lockheed Constellation, making the trip from Burbank, CA to Washington, DC. It was no ordinary flight. The aircraft was the second production model of the Constellation (actually a military version, known as a C-69) and Howard Hughes (then TWA's owner) arranged for TWA to deliver the airplane to the Army Air Forces, in Washington. He even had the plane "temporarily" painted in TWA colors for the flight.

The document pictured is the actual navigator's log from the flight. As can be seen in the upper right-hand corner, one of the pilots was indeed Howard Hughes. He shared the captain's duties with TWA President, Jack Frye. Hughes occupied the left seat for the first half of the flight and Frye flew the second half, also executing the landing in Washington. The rest of the crew also consisted of TWA employees. 

The military version of the Constellation performed personnel transport service toward the end of World War Two and beyond. Two years later (1946), TWA would take delivery of its first Constellation (the model 049) and the rest, is history. TWA would eventually fly over 150 Constellations in passenger service, with the last flight occurring on April 6, 1967.


By the way, if you're interested in getting a closer look at the contents of the log (and it's quite something to read), we have posted a larger photograph. Click here to get a closer look. 
(posted week of 10/16/17)




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On June 14, 1985, TWA flight 847, a Boeing 727-231 aircraft was hijacked to Beirut, Lebanon on its way from Athens to Rome. In exchange for the safe release of the 139 passengers and eight crew, the hijackers (identified as associates of the Hezbollah organization) demanded the release of several hundred prisoners held in Israeli custody. The hijacking turned into a 17-day ordeal, with the airplane making two round trips between Beirut and Algiers. When it was over, there was one casualty, a U.S. Navy serviceman, Robert Stethem.

Throughout this entire ordeal flight 847's Captain, John Testrake displayed tremendous courage and poise. The often-seen picture above was taken at a press conference, held by the airplane, in Beirut. Captain Testrake calmly answered questions, while one of the hijackers wielded a pistol, at times held inches from Testrake's head. In addition to Captain Testrake, the entire TWA crew performed extraordinarily. Of note was Flight Service Manager Uli Derickson, who often stood her ground against the hijackers, in their attempts to harm, harass and frighten passengers.


The photograph is one of our museum's treasured items. After returning to the United States, Captain Testrake gave this picture to the TWA Credit Union with the humorous inscription: "This guy needs a loan. Can you help???" Known to his peers as a gentleman and ultimate professional, John Testrake passed away in in 1996.

(posted week of 10/9/17)


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A 1979 class of newly-hired flight attendants are trained in water evacuation (or "ditching") at TWA's Breech Training Academy, located in Overland Park, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City.

Built in 1969 and named in honor of former TWA Board Chairman Ernest R. Breech, the training center was set on a sprawling 25-acre campus, which housed a main building and three dormitory structures. Though its major role was to train flight attendants, several other TWA employee groups also made occasional use of Breech. It was considered among the premier flight attendant training facilities in the world.

In 1981, a freeze in flight attendant hiring and the costs associated in maintaining the campus resulted in TWA phasing out the usage of Breech. It was closed in 1982 and sold to a real estate development group in 1985. The campus and its buildings remain today at the intersection of Lamar Avenue and Shawnee Mission Parkway, used as offices by financial services and marketing companies.
(posted week of 10/2/17)



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Among the very special items in our museum's archives is a container of the tiles that were used in constructing the interior of the world-famous TWA Flight Center at New York's Kennedy International Airport. Affectionately known as "penny tiles", millions of these were used to surface floors, walls, stairwells and a variety of other spaces in the terminal.

Designed by renowned architect Eero Saarinen, the TWA Flight Center opened in 1962. The last passenger flight departed the terminal in 2001. Since then, the building has stood vacant, undergoing significant modifications in 2005 to serve as a "gateway" to an adjacent terminal complex built by Jet Blue Airways.

In 2015, a new and exciting role for this great building was announced. MCR Development announced it was using the iconic main structure of the terminal as the core of the new TWA Hotel. Construction of the 505-room hotel is well underway, with completion scheduled for 2018. More information about this incredible project is available at www.twahotel.com


And the penny tiles? MCR Director Kaunteya Chitnis tells us salvageable tiles are being restored and where needed, replacement tiles will closely resemble the originals. Wow!
(posted week of 9/25/17)  







(We've added a current photo of how things look today. Scroll to the bottom of this week's post to see the transformation!) 

You may not be aware that before there was a Kansas City International Airport, there was TWA's Maintenance and Overhaul base. Built in 1957, the base (and a north/south runway) occupied land that would eventually be shared with the airport, upon the latter's completion in 1972 . That large tract of prairie beyond the hangars (you're looking west) is today occupied by MCI's passenger terminals and three runways. 

Shortly after MCI opened in 1972, TWA expanded its facility by adding two "super hangars" to house the new generation of Boeing 747 and Lockheed L-1011 jumbo jets. Today, the complex of buildings remains, leased to private companies.

Note: For those of you who are TWA airplane buffs, the picture also contains seven Martins (202s and 404s) and two Lockheed Constellations. You might need to zoom in on the image, to spot them all. 

Special note: See our 7/31/17 photo of the week for a look inside the engine shop (that's the smaller building to the left).

Added 9/13/17
We received some letters asking where terminals, runways, etc. are situated today. We found the following picture: 

Original photograph by Americasroof, posted on English Wikipedia

Some of the empty space is now occupied by the east/west runway (9/27) on the left side (the path of the original east/west taxiway is still there). The original north/south runway (today 1L/19R) is still seen at the top. An additional north/south runway (1R/19L) has been added (passing right behind the base). Two of MCI's three terminals can also be seen (termainals B and C). Behind the original hangar building you can see the complex containing the "super hangars" that were opened in 1973.
 (posted weeks of 9/11/17 and 9/18/17)






We really smiled when someone donated the above to our museum. In the mid-1970s, TWA introduced Trans World Service featuring a "Taste of Europe in the U.S.A.", with service on certain domestic flights themed to match countries on TWA's international network (not to be confused with the 1968 "Foreign Accent" campaign and its ill-fated paper uniforms).

TWA's advertising agency (Wells Rich Greene) even had a song written, which was used on television and radio commercials. A unique marketing piece, the surface layer of the sheet music above was a clear plastic phonograph record. You could listen and sing (or play) along.

Another memorable part of the "Taste of Europe" campaign were the television commercials starring British actor Peter Sellers, who played three stereotypical European characters. Prior to this, Sellers had never done television commercials. We think he did a pretty good job. Be prepared to smile: CLICK HERE TO SEE THE COMMERICAL
(posted week of 9/4/17)





Museum volunteer and former TWA pilot Frank Von Geyso helps keep our museum's Lockheed JetStar II humming. The aircraft (registration N77C, msn 5232) was donated to our museum in July, 2016.  During 1967-1972, TWA leased three JetStars for real time pilot flight training. Although our JetStar is not one of those three (ours was manufactured in 1979), it closely resembles them and allows us to convey the unique relationship TWA had with this aircraft type. Currently standing right outside our museum, next to TWA's "Wings of Pride" MD-83, the JetStar is available for our guests to visit.

While we have no plans to make it airworthy, it's important to us to keep the plane in good condition: inside, outside and under the hood. Systems (including the engines) are periodically run and checked out by our pilot-volunteers. As seen in the photograph, the cockpit has a very impressive array of instrumentation to support the operation of this iconic 4-engine private jet. (posted week of 8/28/17)





Artifacts and documents related to TWA aircraft accidents are among the most important pieces in our museum's collection. Like other pioneers of early commercial aviation, TWA experienced accidents. The photograph above is a passenger seat ashtray that was recovered from the wreckage of Transcontinental and Western Air flight 1295. The DC-2 (acquired new, only three months earlier) was flying from Albuquerque, NM to Kansas City in the early morning fog and darkness on May 6, 1935. The plane was being flown at a dangerously low altitude when it crashed into the ground in rural Macon County, MO. The pilots were killed as were three of the six passengers. Among the fatalities was New Mexico U.S. Senator Bronson M. Cutting. 

The accident report cited poor performance by the U.S. Weather Bureau for not correctly evaluating the deteriorating weather and visibility developing in Kansas City. The aircraft was also improperly cleared by personnel and crew, who were aware the aircraft's two-way radio was malfunctioning. In a subsequent report, a U.S. Senate committee also claimed the U.S. Bureau of Air Commerce had not properly maintained necessary navigational aids. As a result, the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938 was enacted, forming the basis of what would become the Civil Aeronautics Board. As to be expected, the causes of this accident were carefully investigated and evaluated. Necessary changes were enacted by T&WA and the government, ensuring improved safety for all future passengers and crew. 
(posted week 8/21/17)





The sight of this Lockheed L-749 Constellation at Orly Field in Paris is impressive enough, but what really makes this photo from our archives intriguing is what's going on underneath the aircraft. That large object hanging from the Connie's belly was known as a "Speedpak". It was an external cargo container (or pod) that was literally attached (when needed) to the bottom of the airplane. Measuring 33'x7'x3', it could hold 8,200 pounds of cargo. After loading, it was wheeled to the aircraft (yes, it had wheels) and an electric hoist system lifted it to the bottom of the plane, where it was secured. Although the photo has no date, we can tell you the aircraft (the "Star of West Virginia") was acquired by TWA in 1951. Based on the photo's general appearance, we'll call it mid-1950s. There's more! On February 21, 1955, a Speedpak was used to haul a small sports car on a TWA Constellation from London to Frankfurt. Hard to believe? CLICK HERE TO TAKE A LOOK.
(posted week of 8/14/17)





First acquired by TWA in 1940, the Boeing 307 Stratoliner ushered in a new level of passenger comfort thanks, in large part, to the advent of airplane cabin pressurization. The first commercial airliner to be pressurized, the Stratoliner could cruise up to 20,000 feet, making for a very smooth ride. TWA capitalized on this by making the interiors roomy and plush, for its 33 passengers. Its glamorous existence was cut short by World War II, when the U.S. government requisitioned TWA's fleet of five Stratoliners and used them to ferry munitions to Allied troops fighting in Europe and North Africa. Upon their return to TWA's fleet, their usefulness was quickly eclipsed by TWA's acquisition of more advanced aircraft, most notably the Lockheed Constellation. The Stratoliner's career with TWA came to an end in 1951. We have more to tell you about this most unique airplane in our blog article: TWA'S Stratoliner- Performing Under Pressure.  (CLICK HERE TO READ IT).  
(posted week of 8/7/17)






The engine shop at TWA's Kansas City Maintenance and Overhaul Base was the location of this interesting and impressive photograph, as technicians worked on Pratt and Whitney JT4 turbojet engines. There is no date assigned to the photo, however, it was likely in the early 1960s, as these engines powered TWA's early Boeing 707 aircraft. Opened in 1957 (15 years before the Kansas City International Airport would occupy adjacent grounds) the base was significantly expanded in the 1970s to accommodate larger, wide-bodied aircraft. Today, much of the complex of shops and bays is still in operation, leased to private maintenance contractors and even houses an electric vehicle assembly facility.
(posted week of 7/31/17)





Among the items in our archives' "promotional photos" drawer sits the above. That's the set of the Price Is Right television show, back in 1968. We assume Bob Barker was either doing a commercial spot for TWA or a trip on TWA was an item up for bid. In either case, TWA's "Foreign Accent Flights" promotion was on display, as the ladies were modeling the four associated flight attendant uniforms. The uniforms were made of paper and designed to be worn during the flight and then disposed of afterward. The paper uniforms proved to be troublesome and the promotion lasted barely a year. Interested to know more? Our blog article about TWA's flight attendants follows the chronology of uniforms worn and much more. CLICK HERE TO READ IT.
(posted week of 7/24/17)





Among the many historic passenger amenities we display, this one gets some grins. According to records in our archives, this "footie" slipper (we trust it was one of two) was given to TWA passengers starting in 1946. They were distributed on overnight flights, including those on which passengers were offered sleeping accommodations.
(posted week of 7/17/17)





Visitors often ask how our museum acquires our many pieces and artifacts. The answers vary, but this model of a TWA Convair 880 was recently left outside our door (by an anonymous donor) while the museum was closed. At 28" in length and having a 27" wingspan, it's a very impressive model. It's pictured in our workshop and will soon be repaired and renovated to be displayed. TWA flew 28 of these jets, mostly acquired in 1961. The Convair 880 and Boeing 707 flew concurrently for many years, comprising TWA's earliest jet fleet.
(posted week of 7/10/17)



TWA Museum archive photo by Jack McClain
On November 10-13, 1984, Kansas City received an unexpected visitor. As part of an extensive goodwill tour, the space shuttle Enterprise, piggy-backed on a NASA 747, was headed to California from New Orleans. Bad weather to the west forced it to divert to Kansas City International Airport. The unexpected three-day stopover captured Kansas City's attention and imagination! Parked at TWA's maintenance and overhaul base, TWA management seized the opportunity and positioned one of its own 747s, nose-to-nose. Word got around town quickly and thousands came up to the airport to see this amazing sight. The first space shuttle to be built, Enterprise never went into space, instead launched from atop a 747 for earth atmosphere gliding and landing tests. Enterprise resides today aboard the U.S.S. Intrepid museum, in New York City.
(posted week of 7/3/17)




With the advent of Lockheed Constellation services overseas, a need arose to be able to ferry replacement engines to points in Europe and southern Asia. In 1956, TWA purchased and modified a Fairchild C-82A for that purpose. The aircraft was based at Orly Field in Paris. To increase load carrying capability, a jet engine was affixed to the top, upgraded in 1962 to a 3,250-lb-thrust Westinghouse J-34. Affectionately known as "Ontos" (the Greek word meaning "thing"), TWA's "flying repair station" performed reliably, hauling numerous Constellation piston engines and Boeing 707 jet engines to TWA eastern hemisphere airports until its retirement in 1972.
(posted week of 6/26/17) 






In an attempt to gain a competitive edge, TWA offered "Blue Chip" service between New York and Chicago, starting in 1968. Part of the service included beer on tap. It was a good idea, but didn't quite make the grade. Handling and storage of the portable kegs presented some logistical problems and tapping the brew at cabin pressure produced more foam than beer. That feature of Blue Chip service didn't last long. The picture also gives us a peek at the special Blue Chip uniforms (on the right) worn by flight attendants. By the way, in 2016 Heineken claimed to have perfected the process, so there might be a cold one on tap in store for you on a future flight, somewhere. Interested in more information about Blue Chip service and the TWA flight attendants who provided it? Check out our blog article: Presenting The Case For TWA's Flight Attendants.
(posted week of 6/19/17)





Once upon a time, a complementary deck of playing cards was a perk available to every airline passenger. Airlines gave away millions of decks. Among our most unusual possessions are hundreds and hundreds of these items. In addition to those of TWA, we have decks representing many airlines around the world (past and present).
(posted week of 6/12/17)



You always knew when TWA's 727-231 N64347 was in town! Starting in 1996, it displayed a unique St. Louis Rams helmet graphic, in conjunction with TWA being the Rams' official airline. Naming rights were also obtained for their home field, the Trans World Dome. Acquired new by TWA in 1979, N64347's last revenue flight occurred in August, 1999. As for the Rams, after a 20-year residence in St. Louis, they moved back to Los Angeles in 2016. 
(posted week of 6/5/17)



TWA'S marketing folks found a unique way to announce the inauguration of Boeing 747 service from Chicago to Los Angeles, on May 14, 1970. Printed on a thin sponge, the image would literally expand when dipped in water. Nicely done!
(posted week of 5/29/17)



Only three month's after his historic Transatlantic crossing, Charles Lindbergh flew the Spirit of St. Louis to Kansas City to participate in the dedication of Kansas City's Municipal Airport on August 17, 1927.  A crowd estimated at 20,000 were on hand to greet him. Just four years later, TWA would build its headquarters building at the airport, which still stands today and houses the TWA Museum. The airport itself (Charles B.Wheeler Kansas City Airport - MKC) remains a busy place, seeing over 70,000 aircraft movements in 2016.
(posted week of 5/22/17)




Passengers traveling on Transcontinental Air Transport's 1929 plane/train coast-to-coast journey were given this map booklet to help them identify the cities and sights that appeared below. The map also pointed out the communications and weather observation networks, mostly built by TAT. In October 1930, TAT and Western Air Express combined to become TWA. Look for our next blog article coming soon, which will chronicle this historic journey. 
(posted week of 5/15/17)





Workers from Dimensional Innovations (a great company and great friends of our museum) affix the classic TWA "double-globe" logo to our museum's Lockheed JetStar II. Donated to our museum in July, 2016, it's actually a later version of the two JetStars TWA used for pilot training, back in the 1960s. The attachment of the logos is the first step in giving the plane its TWA identity. Sitting right next to the "Wings of Pride" MD-83, both aircraft are open to our visitors (weather and ramp conditions permitting). Also, a blog article about the JetStar and its history with TWA will be coming in the future.
(posted week of 5/8/17) 



Although this photo from our archives is 70 years old, the sight of TWA's Constellation NC86507, the "Star of Madrid" overhead still makes an awesome impression. This aircraft (a model 049) entered TWA service in March, 1946. TWA would eventually fly four model types of the Connie, finally retiring the last one in April, 1967.
(posted week of 5/1/17)



This image of TWA twin hostesses in 1956 created good publicity for TWA while they were "ambassadors" at the New York Summer Festival. They also charmed and confused passengers, when working the same flight. 
(posted week of 4/24/17)



We're guessing the pilot of the approaching Beech Hawker 800 did a double-take, as he saw eight members of the Patrouille de France poised for takeoff, waiting for him to land. The French jet squadron was in Kansas City on March 30, for the World War I centennial celebration. This scene took place at K.C.'s Downtown Airport, right by our museum. Interesting sights like this are often seen outside our doorway. 
(posted week of 4/17/17)


A seat from a Ford Tri-Motor (likely a 5-AT-B) circa 1929. Fist flown by Transcontinental Air Transport (TWA's predecessor), this was one of 10-13 seats on a typical Tri-Motor. Made of light-weight wicker, these seats were adorned with cushions and a rear slipcover. The museum was advised that this seat was occupied by Amelia Earhardt, during a flight she took on TAT. The world-famous aviatrix was employed by TAT from 1929-1930. Photos of Ms. Earhardt on and around TAT Tri-Motor aircraft are displayed near the seat.
(posted week of 4/10/17)


The Link bubble sextant was used by TWA navigators when the airline began Transatlantic service in 1946. It would eventually be replaced by a periscopic sextant. The need for a navigator in the cockpit was eliminated with the advent of more sophisticated guidance systems, beginning with TWA's usage of Doppler radar in 1962.
(posted week of 4/3/17)


At one time, TWA had options to purchase both the Boeing SST (foreground) and the Concorde SST. Neither happened as TWA withdrew its options for the Concorde in 1973 and Boeing would eventually abandon development of theirs.Want to know more? See our article about TWA and the SST at: http://twamuseumguides.blogspot.com/2016/07/twas-concorde-sst-plane-that-never-was.html
(posted week of 3/27/17)


An autographed menu from a meal served after the arrival of one of TWA's international "survey" flights at Shannon, Ireland on September 25,1945. Survey flights were performed in advance of TWA's passenger-carrying international flights (begun in 1946). This flight carried operations and technical personnel on a 14,000 mile journey, going as far as Cairo, Egypt. The flight took place on a converted Douglas C54E Skymaster. The autographs belonged to some of the TWA personnel on the flight. 
(posted week of 3/20/17)



Amenities kit, circa 1935! Given to passengers flying (what was then) Transcontinental and Western Airlines, some chewing gum often allowed passengers to better tolerate altitude changes, in the days before pressurized aircraft. 
(posted week of 3/13/17)



We visited our archives to come up with this photo from the "TWA Today" issue of July 17, 1972. A 747-131 is shown being serviced in one of TWA's two new wide-body hangars at its Kansas City overhaul base. A climb of three flights of scaffold stairs was necessary to get you close to the 31-foot high front of the aircraft. 
(posted week of 3/6/17) 



On a calm autumn afternoon, the Wings of Pride and our museum's Lockheed Jetstar II  shine in a Midwestern sunset.
(posted week of 2/27/17)


Recent visitors to Kansas City's Downtown Airport were a group of A-10 Thunderbolt jets from nearby Whiteman Air Force Base. Two were parked in TWA's historical first hangar (built in 1931). The hangar's entrance to our museum is seen in the background (you can spot part of our logo, just under the left engine, above the wing). Several of our visitors got the unexpected chance to view them, before the planes left.
(posted week of 2/20/17)




Let's eat! 1960s-era first class meal included fine china and complimentary cigarettes.
(week of 2/13/17)




The big guy is getting a face lift!  Look for a spruced-up interior and new inside lighting on our 1/24 scale 747 model when we re-open the museum on Feb 14.
(posted week of 2/6/17)


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