NEW YORK — You may be wondering why there is a 1958 Lockheed Constellation L-1649 sitting in pieces inside the deicing tent at New York-JFK International Airport.
The TWA Hotel is coming to the airport in early 2019 and this aircraft will be transformed into a one-of-a-kind cocktail lounge, which will be located between JetBlue’s T5 and the hotel.
This aircraft, serial number N308H, was delivered to TWA in 1958 and was based at Idlewild (now JFK). The Connie only flew with the airline until 1960 to make way for the 707.
After its brief time with TWA, the Connie went on to be a bush plane in Alaska and was even used by South American drug traffickers, to be later sold for parts.
Fast forward to 2018, the aircraft had been sitting at Maine’s Auburn Lewiston Airport for the past 35 years and owned by Lufthansa.
The MORSE Development group purchased the plane and partnered with Atlantic Models/Gogo Aviaton to restore it to original 1958 conditions to bring it to its new life at JFK.
The fully restored plane was dissembled and loaded onto trailers for its journey from Maine to JFK.
Once put back together and moved to its final resting spot at the TWA Hotel, the Connie Lounge will be available to guest and bookable for events.
Tyler Morse, CEO and Managing Partner of MCR and MORSE Development, admitted, “We’re excited for her return to JFK as the Queen of Queens.”
The TWA Hotel is expected to open early spring of 2019
Some Connie Facts
The Lockheed Constellation was commissioned by TWA owner Howard Hughes and first produced in 1939.
The first 35 planes were reserved for TWA which gave the airline exclusive two years use of the fastest, most comfortable transport available. To protect his investment, Hughes insisted on complete secrecy
Hughes went about publicizing the Constellation the best way he knew how: by breaking a transcontinental speed record on a Burbank to Washington, D.C., flight in April 1944. The Connie averaged 331 mph, flying nonstop in six hours, 57 minutes, and 51 seconds on this flight.
TWA Constellation model 1649, know as “Jetstreams,” became the definitive Constellation. It featured a new, longer, narrower wing which provided for nearly double the fuel capacity of the first Connie, to 9,278 gallons (35,121 liters) and well over twice the range with maximum payload, to over 5,400 miles (8,690 km).
The Starliner could reach any European capitol non-stop from any major airport in the US. It was the fastest piston engined airliner at ranges over 4,000 miles (6,437 km) ever built.
TWA started Constellation service between New York and Paris and New York and Los Angeles in 1946
The last scheduled passenger flight of a Constellation in the lower 48 states was made by a TWA L749 on May 11, 1967, from Philadelphia to Kansas City, Missouri.