In March and April 1994, as a high school graduation gift, I took a trip to Spain with some classmates and chaperones (including a very attractive South American woman! ). We flew TWA, IND-JFK-MAD round trip. The JFK-MAD and MAD-JFK legs were on 747-131s. This is the only time I've ever been on a 747--and it was a lifelong dream, fulfilled, to fly on a 747--my favourite aircraft of all time!
The memories are so vivid, it is as if the trip happened only yesterday. I have such a photographic memory. What I especially remember fondly are the Trans World Flight Center (Terminal 5) at JFK and the TWA 747-131.
JFK Terminal 5--Trans World Flight Center
This was the first thing I ever saw at JFK airport. When my DC-9 from IND landed, we deplaned at Terminal 6 (what was then TWA's domestic terminal). We actually boarded a Plane-Mate style "bus" directly from a jetway at T6 and rode across the apron to T5, where we entered the terminal directly from the Plane-Mate via a jetway into the concourse. I got my first glimpse of JFK traffic from the bus, and I saw my first L-1011s and 747s, parked at T5. Compared to any airport I had ever traveled through (this was my 2nd air trip, by the way), JFK was HUGE!
Photo © Joe Pries - ATR Team
Photo © Joe Pries - ATR Team
Remember a scene like this, back when TWA had their thriving base at JFK? I sure do! I remember the evening transatlantic rush from T5 very well!
If you've ever noticed, the larger concourse, named Flight Wing One, looks like a huge guitar! Inside, I remember the acres of red-carpeted floor, the floor-to-ceiling windows tinted green all around the edge of the "guitar", and especially, the ceiling which was riddled with holes for the lights--very much like a constellation of stars overhead! In the center were the toilets, bar, and restaurant areas. Along the top of the floor-to-ceiling windows were parallel red stripes and "TWA". Outside it was pitch dark (it was late March, still early spring). Around the outside of the "guitar" were the jetways, one or two at each corner. There were actually two layers of windows, forming a glass hallway around the "guitar's" perimeter. The concrete tube leading from the "guitar" concourse to the main part of T5 was the "guitar's" neck, in my view. The other concourse, Flight Wing Two, was much smaller and looked more like a concrete-and-glass "spider" with two longer arms sticking out, at the end of which were triangular gates.
Outside, as I was taxiing in my TWA 747 in the dark to the runway, I finally saw the outside of the main T5 building--with its lighted TWA sign. This space-age building was beautiful!
I have a weird memory about JFK T5--my hearing aid died there just before boarding! I had no hearing for the whole 10-day trip to Spain!
The TWA 747-131 in twin red stripes
The first time I ever saw a 747 for real was nose-to-nose through the window of the guitar concourse at T5; it was waiting at my gate for me! (I had always wanted to fly on one, but I had heretofore only seen 747s in National Geographic advertisements for Pan Am, TWA, and Northwest Orient; this dates me quite a bit, doesn't it?) This lovely lady stared back at me, her white nose bisected by the twin red stripes of TWA. This 747 did not have the black glare shield. Unfortunately, I never knew about registrations back then, so I never found out the registration of this 747.
Photo © Michael F. McLaughlin
My TWA 747 looked exactly like the one in the above photo!
Photo © Francis J. Smith
This is my photo of a TWA 747 next to mine when I came back to JFK at the end of the trip. My only TWA 747 photo I ever shot. As you can see, they rarely cleaned the windows on the terminal.
When I boarded the TWA 747 that evening for the JFK-MAD flight, I was awed by the elegant winding spiral staircase that greeted me when I entered via door L1. A lovely flight attendant greeted me and showed me where to go. In the nose were the First Class (Ambassador?) seats; they were big recliner-chair-style seats back then. Zone B was the Business Class section. These slightly smaller reclining seats were blue with red and white stripes down the middle of each. Economy, where I sat, had a mixture of red and blue seats.
The bins along the sides were larger than the ones I had seen in old 747 ads; these must have been a newer design at that time. The center overhead bins, however, were still the old style. The window surrounds (the panels around the windows) were a bit different than the ones I had normally seen in 747 ads.
The seats on TWA 747s were numbered, instead of lettered as normal. My seat was 49-3, the third seat in row 49.
Another thing I noticed was that the fuselage tapered aft, so the windows of doors L5 and R5 actually allowed me to look straight down at the endless ocean below.
I had my first ever inflight meals and movies on this TWA 747!
Upon landing at MAD, we parked at a remote stand, between an IB 727-200 and a TG 747-400. We deplaned via stairs to a waiting articulated bus, very similar in design to an American 5th-wheel travel trailer!
Please share your memories of TWA at JFK!