By Rudy King, Media Relations Staff
While most of the John F. Kennedy International Airport landscape today is dotted with new age aircraft such as the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, tucked inside the airport’s Hanger 20 is a cool piece of Aviation history from a bygone era that paved the way for these modern aircraft.
The shell of a 1958-era Lockheed Constellation plane, nicknamed “Connie,” was recently delivered to the airport and — while it’s no longer airworthy – the aircraft soon will serve in an entirely new capacity: as a cocktail lounge for the new TWA Hotel, which is scheduled to open next year.
Known as the secret weapons of TWA, the Lockhead Constellation planes were things of beauty. First produced in 1939 and commissioned by TWA’s owner Howard Hughes, the aircraft, with a 50-foot wingspan and able to cruise at 300 miles per hour, broke the transcontinental speed record on a flight from Burbank, CA to New York in 1946. It also served as Air Force One for President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s.
Though these aircrafts were wildly popular in their heyday – even used by South American drug traffickers to drop drugs while in flight — only 44 L-1649s were produced. Only four remain today.
In early 2018, MCR Development purchased “Connie” and partnered with Atlantic Models / Gigo Aviation to restore the historic aircraft to the original 1958 condition.
The fully restored plane was disassembled and transported by trailers from Maine’s Auburn-Lewiston Airport to JFK Airport, where its new career as Connie N8083H will transform into a one-of-a-kind cocktail lounge on the tarmac outside the TWA hotel scheduled to open in 2019.