Connie passes under the Eastern Trail in Maine; Courtesy of TWA Hotel, photo by Aaron Flacke
Over the last week, a 1958 Lockheed Constellation, or “Connie,” made its way from Maine to its new home in Queens at JFK Aiport, where it will become a cocktail lounge at the TWA Hotel. Traveling 300 miles through five states, the Connie, with a “Queens or Bust!” sign on its back, was disassembled, loaded on two separate tow trucks, and escorted by state police and civilians. Connie, one of only four remaining L-1648As in the world, will sit on the “tarmac” outside of the 512-room hotel.
Before (2016) and after Connie’s restoration (2018) courtesy of TWA Hotel
The airplane was commissioned by TWA’s former owner, Howard Hughes, and served as Air Force One for President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s. By the time Eero Saarinen designed the iconic TWA terminal around the airliner, jets became a more popular mode of transport, making the terminal, which opened in 1962, nonfunctional.
MCR and Morse Development bought Connie in early 2018 and tapped Atlantic Models/ Gogo Aviation to restore the airliner to its original condition. The work, which took place at Auburn-Lewiston Aiport in Maine, involved finding authentic parts, installing floors and windows, and outfitting the cockpit with controls.
Connie on I-290 through Worcester, MA; Image courtesy of TWA Hote, photo by Aaron Flacke
Connie leaving Auburn-Leiston Airport; Image courtesy of TWA Hotel, photo by Ryan Dorsett
Connie leaving Maine; Image courtesy of TWA Hotel, photo by Ryan Dorsett
“Our Connie started her illustrious TWA career at Idlewild (now JFK) in 1958. She was replaced by jets in 1960 and survived working as an Alaskan bush plane in the 1970s, only to be abandoned by drug runners in Honduras in the 1980s,” Tyler Morse, CEO and Managing Partner of MCR and MORSE Development, said. “We’re excited for her return to JFK as the Queen of Queens.”
With Connie settling in its new home there and events open for reservation, the TWA Hotel, found in two low-rise wing-shaped buildings behind the flight center, is on track to open in the spring of 2019. The center will be repurposed as the hotel’s lobby, which will be the largest in the world at 200,000 square feet.
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