Welcome to the first video essay in our Short-Hauls section, TWA's Final Departure From Lisbon


On January 14, 2001, TWA operated its last flight from Portugal as flight 901 departed Lisbon, bound for New York's Kennedy International Airport. This brought an end to TWA's presence in Portugal which had begun almost 55 years earlier. The video was taken by a TWA employee and has been edited for this article. You'll see TWA's Lisbon staff bidding the flight farewell at the gate, followed by pushback, taxi, and takeoff. After takeoff, you'll see something we think is pretty special. 


TWA and Portugal   

Lisbon, Portugal was among the earliest of TWA's international destinations, first served in May 1946. TWA also served the Azores, a region of Portugal consisting of nine islands in the Atlantic Ocean, roughly 900 miles west of Lisbon. In the pre-jet era, the Azores proved the ideal location for a needed fuel stop between the U.S. and Lisbon. Once TWA's jets made non-stop flights possible, Azores service was significantly reduced. TWA did continue to periodically schedule Boeing 707 jet flights with a stop in the Azores; however, that came to an end in 1979.  

Throughout the 1990s, TWA's service to cities in Europe decreased substantially. By 2000, Lisbon remained as one of only a few European cities still served. Unfortunately that was not to last much longer as TWA ended service to Lisbon, effective January 14, 2001.


About the video

The video was taken by TWA Lisbon employee José João Inácio who was among many employees there to witness TWA's final departure. We received the video from Carlos Carreiro, a former TWA flight attendant, purser and flight service manager. In addition to providing the video, he was a great source of information about TWA's history in Portugal. A native of the Azores, Carlos emigrated to the U.S. in 1976 and flew for TWA from 1978 until 2001, continuing his career with American Airlines until 2003. He is also the author of three books about Portuguese cultural and aviation history. Carlos currently resides on the island of São Miguel, in the Azores. 

As you watch the video, keep in mind it was taken with a hand-held video camcorder, so you'll notice some shaking, especially on close-up shots. Also note this was the era of videotape, so images are not as sharp as we see with today's digital video technology. With that said, we think the subject and meaning of the video are what you'll notice most. 

Thanks to the TWA employees you'll see in the video as well as their predecessors who worked for TWA in Portugal. While it was a sad day for TWA's Lisbon employees, they made sure TWA's last departure from Lisbon was given an honorable and heartfelt farewell.

CLICK OR TAP HERE TO SEE THE VIDEO


Article written by: Wayne Hammer
Edited by: Larry Dingman
Copy editor: Pam Tucker

Videographer: José João Inácio 


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WELCOME TO OUR MUSEUM'S VOLUNTEER RESOURCE PAGE.

Here, you'll find information that we think will help those volunteers who interface with our guests or who just want to know more about how things work at the museum.


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FLIGHT SIMULATOR TUTORIAL


Tour guide Art Lujin gives a 20-minute tutorial on the basics of flying our popular Constellation flight simulator. Helpful information for tour guides assisting guests or for those volunteers interested in taking the Connie up for a spin. Click here to see the video.


 

MUSEUM PHOTO OF THE WEEK

Historical post from the week of 5/28/18


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 employees of TWA and Boeing, the airplane's manufacturer. 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 Damascus, Syria. Upon its arrival in Damascus, 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, technicians from Boeing and TWA 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 Damascus, where the work was completed. 

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.

 

SANTA IS COMING TO THE TWA MUSEUM!


 *** CANCELLED***

Due to increased safety protocols issued by Kansas City, Missouri, we have determined that it is in everyone's best interest to cancel Santa's visit for this year.

If you made reservations, you should have already been contacted by the museum. If you have not been contacted, please call us at 816-234-1011

We look toward Christmas 2021 with optimism and hope to see Santa at the museum then.


Thank you for your understanding.





Welcome to the first article in our Short-Hauls section. In it, we'll present stories that are shorter than our blog's full-length articles, focusing more on specific people and/or topics. We hope you'll enjoy this and future Short-Hauls stories.

Our first Short-Hauls article is really two stories in one. First, a photo essay of TWA's retired fleet of Convair 880 jets as it was residing at TWA's maintenance and overhaul base next to Kansas City International Airport, in 1977. We think the photos speak for themselves.

The second story is about the photographer. A (then) 21-year old young man from Amstelveen, the Netherlands and how he found his way to Kansas City, to spend a day with the Convairs.

Fons Schaefers was (and still is) a self-described "aircraft buff". In the spring of 1977, he made his first trip to the United States with a plan: “To see as many interesting aircraft spotting sights as possible.” After landing in New York, Fons rode buses across the country, mostly heading to the airport of each city he visited (he admits to some “conventional" tourist activities in a few major cities). Heading west, Fons made one of his stops in Kansas City, as he knew about a group of 25 retired TWA Convair 880 jets sitting together at TWA’s overhaul base. Figuring these airplanes would soon be sold, scrapped or moved elsewhere, Fons hoped to photograph the world’s largest gathering of Convair 880s. On May 12, 1977, he stepped off a Greyhound bus in Kansas City and headed for the Kansas City International Airport.

Upon arrival at the airport, Fons walked into Terminal B, home of TWA's passenger operations. Looking east from the terminal, he could see the Convairs parked, however, they were about a mile away.  As Fons recalls, "Being young and not so organised, I had not contacted TWA beforehand." Undeterred, he approached a TWA agent asking if he could “visit” the Convairs. "Quite to my pleasant surprise, the agent found someone at TWA maintenance willing to help me." A few minutes later, Fons made the short trip from the terminal to the overhaul base by taxi. There he was greeted by Larry Andrews, a TWA employee in materials management. Fons remembers, "He allowed me to wander around the set of 25 identical aircraft and take photos. He was even so kind as to drive me back to the terminal afterwards." The result was a series of great photographs that today take us back to a moment in TWA's history. A tribute to the Convair 880s.






Today, 43 years later, Fons is a retired aircraft safety engineer and lives in the quiet village of Surhuizum, in the Netherlands. His career included working for the Fokker aircraft company, Martinair (a Dutch airline) and SGI Aviation Services (a consulting company). He currently is in the process of writing a book about the history of aircraft cabin safety. He points out that TWA played a pioneering role in the research and development of large commercial aircraft evacuation, beginning in the early 1950s.


Fons Schaefers takes a break with N814TW - May 12, 1977

We at the blog consider ourselves fortunate to have heard from Fons and thank him for sharing his story and photographs. We also want to recognize the great TWA people who played an important role in the story: The unknown airport agent who cleared the way for Fons to head to the overhaul base and, of course, the late Larry Andrews, who welcomed Fons, once there. TWA's Convair 880s are long gone, but the memories of that day still resonate with Fons.  "I only now realize how privileged I was to be permitted to walk and take photographs there and then.” We, too, are privileged to have been given the opportunity to present the photographs and story of a young man from the Netherlands, who made it to Kansas City and spent a day with the Convairs. 







On a final note
We first heard from Fons Schaefers in May. He had been searching online for pictures of TWA’s 25 retired Convairs at the overhaul base and came across our blog’s Photo of The Week that was posted on November 5, 2018 (it’s shown below). After comparing the notes and photographs from his 1977 visit, he determined the time our photograph was taken and the time of his visit were very close. He emailed us his story and photographs and the rest, as they say, is history. Fons was even able to identify the ship number of each of the 25 Convairs in our photograph and we’ve included that information below our original photo. For those of you with an interest in TWA’s Convairs, here’s your chance to identify each one, as they stood together in 1977 (click on the photo to enlarge). Thanks, Fons.

Original photographs property of the TWA Museum  

Some Short-Hauls facts
TWA had a fleet of 28 Convair 880 jets that flew from 1961 until 1974. Although they bore some resemblance to the Boeing 707 (TWA’s other four-engine jet flown at the time), the Convair was smaller and interestingly, faster. Known by pilots as an “airborne hotrod”, it could reach speeds up to 650 miles per hour! Unfortunately, the spike in oil prices during the early 1970s highlighted the operational inefficiency of the Convair 880, hastening its retirement from TWA’s fleet. 


Tell us your Short-Hauls story
We'd like to give our blog readers the chance to tell their stories about having been a TWA passenger or employee in a Short-Hauls article. If you have an idea for a story, let us know. We'll get back in touch with you to see if it might become a future article. Please address your correspondence to: twamuseumguides@gmail.com.


Article written by: Wayne Hammer
Edited by: Larry Dingman
Copy editor: Pam Tucker
Unless noted, all photographs are the property of Fons Schaefers

Have a comment about this article? Click here to get in touch with us. 

Click or tap here to go to the Short-Haul table of contents

Click or tap here to go to our blog's home page

Click or tap here to go to our museum's website




ARTICLES




TWA's FINAL DEPARTURE FROM LISBON is a short five-minute video taken by a TWA employee in Lisbon, Portugal. It chronicles the last TWA flight to depart Lisbon and includes the farewell at the gate, the flight taxiing out and then taking off. There's also a special surprise after the takeoff. Click or tap here to go to the article





A DAY WITH THE CONVAIRS tells the story of a 21-year old "aircraft buff" who took a trip to TWA's Kansas City overhaul base and walked among 25 retired Convair 880 jets. A great story with amazing pictures. Click or tap here to go to the article















JON PROCTOR


Photo courtesy of jonproctor.net

It is with a deep sense of sadness that we recognize the passing of Jon Proctor, on April 22, 2020. Jon was known worldwide as a preeminent commercial aviation journalist, historian and photographer. He authored and contributed to numerous books and aviation magazines. During his career, Jon also served as a Senior Editor and Editor-in-Chief at the prestigious Airways and Airliners magazines.

And Jon was a TWAer, having served the airline for 27 years. He held many positions at TWA, starting as a transportation agent in Los Angeles in 1964. From there he wore many other hats, even serving as a bus-driving tour guide at the Kennedy Space Center, when TWA ran the public tour operations there! Jon is perhaps best remembered for his work in TWA's in-flight operations, serving as (among other positions) an onboard Director of Customer Service.

Jon was also a good friend of the TWA Museum, often sharing his writing talent and photographs with us. Many of our volunteers knew Jon personally and many worked with him during his time at TWA. We all mourn his passing. Rest in peace, Jon.