NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A vintage plane that went from flying passengers in the 1950s to running drugs in the 1970s came in for a landing in Times Square on Saturday. The flying piece of history is about to get a new job in the 2020s – it’s being transformed into a cocktail lounge at the former TWA terminal at JFK Airport.
The fuselage of the 1958 Lockheed Constellation is spending the weekend in Times Square as part of an upcoming documentary about the redevelopment of Eero Saarinen’s landmark TWA Flight Center into a hotel.
The plane arrived in New York in November from Maine, where it was being restored.
It was trucked Friday night from Kennedy Airport to Times Square, where the same model plane was featured in an eight-story billboard in the late 1950s.
The Constellation – known as “Connie” – flew for TWA for three years before it was forced into retirement by the Boeing 707.
The plane was bought last year by MCR/MORSE Development, the developers of the soon-to-open TWA Hotel.
MCR CEO Tyler Morse said the vintage plane will serve as a cocktail lounge at the hotel.
“We’re trying to recreate the theater of the hotel and make it a special experience,” he said Saturday.
“This plane became an Alaskan bush plane for about a decade and then it ran drugs through South America for 10 years and they put a cargo door in the side so they could drop the weed and kick it out of the plane as they were flying low and slow over Latin America,” Morse added about the plane’s storied past.
The plane is getting lots of attention, and it even got a ticket for parking in a “no-plane zone.” It won’t be double-parked for long, the plane takes off for JFK Sunday evening.
The 512-room TWA Hotel is scheduled to open in May and will be the only hotel on the airport’s grounds.
It is intended as an homage to the era when Saarinen’s gull-winged TWA Flight Center opened in 1962. The terminal closed in 2001 when TWA was acquired by American Airlines.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)