MIAMI — It is no secret that John F. Kennedy Airport is a historic place in the aviation community, not by any means. From the Concorde, to the first 747 commercial flight, to the arrival of the Beatles, JFK has been the home of some incredible history throughout its existence. As time marches on, some of this history has been erased, some forgotten, and some just recently torn down. Other bits and pieces of history at JFK, however, have stood up to the test of time, and can still be found throughout the airport. Here are a few things you may just see the next time you visit JFK:
Tower Air Terminal
Tower Air had quite a strange run, lasting from 1983 up until 2000, eventually surrendering their air operator certificate to the FAA due to a lack of funding and leadership. Tower Air utilized a fleet entirely made up of old Boeing 747-100s and 747-200s, some of which dated back to the 1960s having entered service with Pan Am (ex. N731PA).
The Tower Air terminal was less of a terminal as much as it was an aircraft hangar with a couple of gates added to it. In fact, this terminal is located far outside the Central Terminal Area at JFK; totally isolated from every other airline. To this date, more than thirteen years since its closure, all the original signage and markings on the building are still in place. CRT televisions with the final flight status information burned in remain on the buildings exterior. This will probably remain the status quo until the building is knocked down to make way for something better.
Decades Old Airplane Markings
The wide variety of aircraft that have touched down at JFK over the years is quite stunning. What is even more stunning is that some aircraft ramps still have the markings for these old aircraft. When do you think the last time a 707 or L1011 regularly visited JFK? It has probably been quite a number of years, but these markings can still be found physically marked into the pavement. The following markings were spotted at the Pan Am Worldport, which is sadly being demolished right now.
The Ghosts of Pan Am
While the Pan Am Worldport has seen its end of days, there is still quite a bit of Pan Am history left at the airport. In the northwest corner of the airport, drivers may find themselves on Pan Am Road on the way to one of the several terminals that Pan Am used throughout their lifespan.
Inside terminal 2, which is currently used by Delta, passengers may find some Pan Am oddities in plain sight and not even know it. On the second floor of the building, one of the frosted glass windows lining the SkyClub actually has the Pan Am logo etched into it.
TWA Flight Center
Without question, the most stunning piece of living history at JFK is the TWA Flight Center, which unlike many of its fellow classic terminals, was spared the wrecking ball. Originally opened in in 1962, the Flight Center is now on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
The Flight Center is a thing of beauty, and is a testament to the way flying once was.
The Flight Center has been partially adapted into JetBlue’s Terminal 5, but is not actually used in any capacity. Once a year, the public is invited inside as a part of Open House New York, and modern passengers can get a taste of the good ole days. There are plans to turn the Flight Center into a hotel, but progress is slow and the projects future is in question.