Restored 1950s Airplane to Become Hotel Cocktail Lounge

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TWA Hotel
The Connie is making her way to New York, where she'll serve as the cocktail lounge and event space for the TWA Hotel. (Photo credit: Aaron Flacke)

The TWA Hotel’s 1958 Lockheed Constellation “Connie” L-1649A Starliner airplane has been fully restored and is making her way to her new home at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Once in New York, the Connie will become a one-of-a-kind cocktail lounge and event space at the 512-room hotel opening in spring 2019.

TWA Hotel’s Connie—one of only four remaining L-1649As in the world—is a critical piece of Trans World Airlines’ history. Commissioned by TWA’s eccentric former owner, Howard Hughes, the Lockheed Constellation fleet served as Air Force One for President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s and broke the record for the fastest nonstop trip from Burbank to New York with Hughes at the helm in 1946. The former TWA terminal was designed around the propliner, but when it opened in 1962, jets had come onto the scene, making the terminal functionally obsolete. Now, this former terminal will become the home of the newly restored Connie.

“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,” explained Tyler Morse, CEO and managing partner of MCR and MORSE Development, in press materials. “We’re excited for her return to JFK as the Queen of Queens.”

Decorated in authentic TWA livery, the disassembled Connie was loaded on two separate trucks—one for the fuselage, one for the tail. Escorted by a convoy of state police and civilians, she has trucked through Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York on a journey that began on Oct. 9, 2018. The plane’s wings and engines will travel separately.

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