MIAMI – Today in Aviation, Trans World Airlines (TWA) took its final flight in 2001, marking the end of 76 years of aviation for the iconic airline.
TWA was taken over by American Airlines (AA) in April 2001 after entering Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the third time.
Flight 220 operated from Kansas City International (MCI) to Lambert St. Louis Airport (STL). Onboard the McDonnell Douglas MD-83 (N948TW) were many TWA employees were on board and at the controls was the airline’s CEO Captain William Compton.
Crowds of emotional TWA employees watched on as the aircraft taxied out and was given a water-cannon salute.
Wings of Pride
The ‘Wings of Pride’ aircraft that operated the official final flight began life with Spanish airline Spantax (BX) in 1987. After a short stint with BWIA West Indies Airways (BW), the MD-83 entered the TWA fleet in May 1994. But this wasn’t just any aircraft. N948TW was actually a gift to the airline from its employees paid for as a deduction from their payroll.
Before TWA’s demise, the jet was painted in a special ‘inverted’ TWA livery. It went on to serve with AA after the take-over before being acquired by Tristar History and repainted in the iconic livery.
Despite being swallowed up by AA, the TWA name does live on through American’s heritage liveries. Pre-Covid Boeing 737-800 N915NN was painted in a hybrid TWA/American livery.
Featured image: At its heyday, TWA operated a fleet of 747-100 aircraft. This aircraft N93119 would later blow up in midair as TWA Flight 800. Photo: By Eduard Marmet – http://www.airliners.net/photo/Trans-World-Airlines/Boeing-747-131/0280179/L/, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16492667