Monday, September 24, 2012

National Airline History Museum

So we missed the space shuttle flying over Los Angeles, Friday morning—major bummer—but at least we got to see the National Airline History Museum in Kansas City. Karen had visited several years ago and came back with tales of such fabulous artifacts, that I've wanted to go ever since. Lucky we knew about it beforehand or else we never would have found it.

Located to one side of the city’s former “downtown airport,” the museum celebrates the history of passenger flight and TWA, in particular. There is a small room filled with airline ephemera and uniforms—noteworthy, but not nearly as fascinating as the exhibits at our own Flight Path Learning Center at LAX. What sets the Kansas City museum apart from others is its small but exciting collection of aircraft: a 1951 Martin 4-0-4, built in Burbank at the Lockheed plant not far from my childhood home; a 1941 Douglas DC-3, built in Santa Monica; a 1972 Lockheed L-1011; and the true centerpiece, the first Lockheed Super G Constellation to be restored to flying condition. We got to board the Martin 4-0-4. But it was the “Connie” that really took our breath away: a wallpapered interior, sleeping bunks, and a relatively wide body for its time. Little wonder the Constellation was such a popular passenger airplane.

Martin 4-0-4


The Constellation

Connie's distinctive three-fin tail

Map of the world interior wallpaper

Artist's rendering

The absolute pièce de résistance for us Disney fans, however, was the third-scale replica of TWA’s “Moonliner II” from the long defunct—and much loved—Rocket to the Moon ride of our youth. I had a vague memory of it being part of the museum, but nearly collapsed when I saw it. 

      Moonliner II replica


And if that wasn’t enough, we found yet another Moonliner atop the former corporate HQ of TWA in present-day Kansas City! Just too fabulous for words!

18th and Baltimore in downtown Kansas City

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