The very first guest of the forthcoming TWA Hotel at JFK Airport is checking in months before its doors officially open next spring — and she’s never actually checking out.
Meet “Connie,” a newly restored 1958 Lockheed Constellation airplane, which will become a unique cocktail lounge and event space for the 512-room TWA Hotel.
Last week, Connie’s fuselage and tail made a 300-mile trek from Auburn-Lewiston Airport in Maine through New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York to her new home at JFK Airport accompanied by a convoy of state police, civilians and a “Queens or Bust!” sign. Her wings and engines will travel separately to the TWA Hotel.
Connie’s trip to the TWA Hotel wasn’t without some typical road trip fun, including visiting a few scenic rest stops — and getting a flat tire. But now Connie is home at JFK Airport, where she’s truly come full circle.
“Our Connie started her illustrious TWA career at Idlewild (now JFK) in 1958,” said Tyler Morse, CEO of TWA Hotel developer MCR and Morse Development. “She was replaced by jets in 1960 and survived working as an Alaskan bush plane in the 1970s, only to be abandoned by drug runners in Honduras in the 1980s. We’re excited for her return to JFK as the Queen of Queens.”
The Connie “will look like it’s parked out front” of the TWA Hotel, Morse told Metro earlier this year when MCR unveiled a guest room model, adding that kids will even be able to play in its cockpit.
The TWA Hotel is slated to open in spring 2019 and will restore Eero Saarinen’s iconic TWA Flight Center, which opened in 1962.
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6 fast facts about the Connie airplane at TWA Hotel
The 1958 Lockheed Constellation airplane known as “Connie” is sure to be a highly Instagrammed part of the TWA Hotel, but her past is just as illustrious as her future (and we’re not just talking about what she may have seen with those Honduran drug runners).
Here are a few more tidbits about TWA Hotel’s Connie aircraft:
• She’s one of only four remaining L-1649A Lockheed Constellation airplanes in the world.
• The aircraft was commissioned by TWA’s eccentric and reclusive former owner Howard Hughes.
• The Connie fit 45 people and went 300 mph.
• With Hughes at the helm, the Connie broke the record for fastest nonstop trip from Burbank, California, to New York in 1946.
• The Lockheed Constellation fleet served as Air Force One for President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s.
• While Eero Saarinen designed the TWA Flight Center around propeller-driven aircrafts, by the time it opened in 1962, it was functionally obsolete due to new jets taking flight.