Photo by Jeff Yapalater

BY JEFF YAPALATER

The TWA Flight Center welcomed the Lockheed Constellation tail number H8083H for the last time.

The Starliner L-1649A “Connie” was carefully cradled into place reunited with her wings April 9th as a lounge and event venue for the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport.

The Connie had visited JFK during the 1960’s when Eric Saarinen designed TWA Arrivals Terminal was in full fashion with the traveling elite taking flight overseas in pampered comfort. Over the years, new and faster aircrafts eventually phased out this iconic plane, leading to a series of buy and sells that left this Connie deteriorating until Lufthansa stepped in and helped arrange a new use; as a lounge at the new TWA Hotel and a much anticipated event venue.

The Connie had been seen being moved along Interstate 87, popping up in Manhattan all the while being housed under a large outdoor hangar at JFK until it moved to its final arrival destination on the “tarmac” at the TWA Flight Center, adjacent to the JetBlue terminal.

The actual logistics of the reconstruction of the aircraft were carefully handled by Worldwide Aircraft. Owner Marty has been seen at the airport many times preparing for the move of the wings recently, the fuselage on March 9, and the engines and tail to follow shortly. All of this is part of a documentary being filmed.

Catching many arriving passengers by surprise, the huge Bay Crane and a dozen experienced movers strapped 4 belts across the 15,000-pound aircraft body. Then it was slowly lifted to the amazement of many onlookers with cellphones raised high recording every minute of Connie’s last flight.

The TWA logo was clearly seen against the backdrop of the new hotel wings and the JFK Air Traffic Control Tower as it was placed majestically on its awaiting wings.

The TWA Hotel opens May 15 with the Connie in place, however interior remodeling will keep it from officially opening until the TWA Flight Center opens late summer or early fall 2019.

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