TWA Hotel Constellation Makes it to JFK

On the road to JFK. Photo (c) Aaron Flacke

The new TWA Hotel being developed at New York JFK airport is going to be a must-visit destination for aviation enthusiasts when it opens.

As well as hotel rooms and amenities at the heart of the central terminal area, making use of the iconic redundant TWA terminal at the airport, it will also feature an observation area for plane-watching.

Now, another interesting aspect of the site has arrived in the form of a 1958 Lockheed Constellation aircraft.

N8083H (line number 1038) rolled off the Lockheed production line and went to fly with Trans World Airlines (TWA). It is actually a L-1649A Starliner.

It went on to fly for Alaska Airlines, Red Dodge Aviation and a number of private operators in its lifetime. Gerald McNamara bought it for a mere $150 — at a May 24, 1979 auction, according to ConnieSurvivors.com. A year later, Airborne Enterprises restored and flew her to Anchorage, Seattle, and finally to Chandler, Arizona in 1981. There, Connie ventured into the weeds.

The cockpit of N8083H. Photo credit MCR

Connie’s career went up in smoke by early 1983, when she was modified to airdrop marijuana, then got stuck in the mud with a damaged propeller at a remote landing field in Colombia. Outfitted with a new prop, she flew to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, where she was abandoned.

In June 1986, Connie and her corroded wings were rescued by the owner of Maine Coast Airways, Maurice Roundy, who ferried her from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Auburn-Lewiston Airport in Maine. Hoping to fly her again, he parked her in front of the airport, adjacent to his house.

Aiming to fly an L-1649A cross-country, the charity Deutsche Lufthansa Berlin-Stiftung launched the Super Star Project, buying Connie N8083H and two other Starliners at a 2007 auction.

Before and after restoration works.

MCR/MORSE Development partnered with Atlantic Models/Gogo Aviation to purchase and restore her to her original condition at Auburn. Over six months she was brought back to life, using original parts, and painted in TWA’s classic colours.

Disassembled and loaded onto a truck, the Connie then made one last journey across country to New York’s JFK airport and received a lot of media attention along the way. Here are two videos showing the trip:

Photo (c) Aaron Flacke

Arriving at JFK. Photo (c) Ryan Dorsett.

She is now going to become a treasured part of the TWA Hotel, acting as a cocktail lounge for guests and visitors to enjoy once reassembled.

To keep up with progress on the project, visit https://www.twahotel.com/connie-airplane/connie

 

 

 

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