DALLAS – Today in Aviation, Trans World Airlines (TW) 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.
The last service, Flight TW220, operated from Kansas City International (MCI) to Lambert St. Louis Airport (STL). The choice of route was symbolic as Kansas had been where the TWA story started back in 1930, while St. Louis had been the focus of its hub and spoke operations and headquarters for many years.
Onboard the McDonnell Douglas MD-83 (N948TW) were many TWA employees, and at the controls was the airline’s CEO, Captain William Compton.
Crowds of emotional employees watched as the aircraft taxied out and was given a water-cannon salute.
Wings of Pride
N948TW was TWA’s ‘Wings of Pride’ aircraft, which 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. The MD-83 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’ livery. It continued to serve with AA after the take-over before being acquired by Tristar History in 2014 and repainted in the iconic color scheme.
Despite being swallowed up by AA, the TWA name does live on through its new owner’s heritage liveries. Boeing 737-800 (N915NN) currently appears in a hybrid TWA/American livery.