Vintage TWA Lockheed Constellation Lands in Times Square en Route to TWA Hotel at JFK

The TWA Hotel's Lockheed Constellation in Times Square over the weekend

By Paul Riegler on 24 March 2019
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A TWA aircraft that carried passengers in the late 1950s landed and spent the weekend in Times Square, en route to its final home at the new TWA Hotel at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The 1958 Lockheed Constellation’s visit to Times Square was part of the filming of a documentary, “The Rebirth of the TWA Flight Center,” which is about the redevelopment of Eero Saarinen’s landmark terminal into a hotel. The fuselage of the plane was disassembled and trucked from Maine in October 2018.

The vintage “Connie” will become a cocktail lounge at the hotel, which will be the only on-airport hotel at JFK. It was parked in Times Square at the intersection of Broadway and 45th Street, adjacent to the spot where the storied airline’s eight-story, light bulb-studded Connie billboard hung from 1955 to 1960, complete with a two-fifths scale Connie model with working propellers on top.

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Depending on the airline’s configuration, the Constellation could carry between 71 to 95 passengers at a speed of 331 mph (533 km/h).

Saarinen’s gull-winged terminal opened its doors to passengers in 1962. The terminal closed in 2001 after TWA’s assets were acquired by American Airlines in bankruptcy. TWA commissioned the Lockheed Constellation in 1939 and a Constellation broke the speed record for a transcontinental flight in 1946.

The advent of the jet age in the late 1950s along with the introduction of the Boeing 707, which could carry 130 more passengers than the Connie, forced the retirement of propliners such as the Constellation.

The 512-key TWA Hotel is slated to open in May.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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