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 10/16/17. 
  

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. 


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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.

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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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