A rare vintage airplane is possibly already at New York JFK Airport at its new home outside of TWA Hotel. The L-1949A Starliner is poised to become a cocktail lounge outside of the hotel. This conversion is part of TWA Hotel's commitment to 'bringing back the magic of the jet age'. As the airplane slowly moves down I-95 from Maine to New York, not many people will realize what a colorful past this plane has had.
The L-1949A Starliner jet was built by Lockheed Martin in 1956 and released for use in 1958. Only 44 of the Starliners were ever built though Lockheed Martin built hundreds of Constellations in the 1940's and 1950's. At this time, only four of these planes are still in existence.
This L-1949A Starliner started its career as an active plane for TWA (Trans World Airlines) in the height of their popularity. After three years flying for TWA, the Starliner was sold to a company in Alaska. For several years, the plane operated as a bush plane over the Alaskan Wilderness.
In the 1970's, the plane was found in South America. How it came into the possession of drug runners will never be known. However, the large cargo doors and space were perfect for quickly moving pallets of pot in and around South America. The plane was later abandoned in Honduras.
The plane was retrieved and moved to Miami in the 80's. An aviation enthusiast saw how rare the plane was and had planned to have it completely restored. The plane was actually flown to Maine, where the restoration project was supposed to begin.
Sadly, before the restoration had really begun, the owner ran out of money. This plane, along with three others he had purchased, remained covered and sat on the tarmac for decades.
Lufthansa has since purchased some of the planes and has taken one back to Germany for restoration. The owners of the new TWA Hotel were lucky enough to get the Starliner, and they are restoring it to its former glory, transforming it into a cocktail lounge eventually. It is a perfect ending for such a rare plane with a very colorful past, don't you think?