TWA – or: Trans World Airlines – is something like an icon of (US-)American aviation. Even though the St. Louis-based company seized operations more than two decades ago, there is still a lot of magic and emotion behind this airline company name. Kansas City honors the history of the carrier in the TWA Museum. During my visit there in late July 2022, I just had to dip into aviation history.
TWA Museum – Location & Admission
The TWA Museum is located right at the Southern part of the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport (MKC) of Kansas City. The building is an active airport building and also holds service of a general aviation company. The location is not too far away from Downtown Kansas City. However, it is not really possible to cross Missouri River by one of the close bridge by foot. Thus, you need a car. Free parking is provided in front of the building. You should by the way not mix up TWA Museum with the Kansas City Airline History Museum. This one feels to be run down and was closed during my visit despite named to be open.
The museum is opening between Wednesday and Saturday from 10:00 to 16:00 hrs. Adult admission is 10 USD. Groups should call ahead. One reason for that is that you need to walk through a hangar to see part of the exhibition. This implies that this part of the visit (typically the first part) has to be done accompanied by a museum guide.
TWA Museum – The Visit
I joined a group of two people for a tour. The first room of the exhibits holds a massive collection of TWA items already. There are numerous airplane models, instruments, but also a large collection of TWA uniforms. The showcase illustrating the evolution of TWA uniforms was very impressive – especially as several well-reputed fashion designers have been working for the brand. You also leaned about how the service in the cabin in generally changed (on a much higher level you are used to have nowadays).
The most catching exhibit in the smaller next room is likely the world map on the wall which shows all places served by TWA. There is also the original setup of a former TWA manager in display.
Hangar and adjacent places
With your guide, you are entering a former TWA hangar in the next part of your tour. The hangar is nowadays mainly used by modern aircraft, but it is also used by a former 1937 Lockheed Electra 12A, which is by that also the oldest TWA aircraft, which is still existing and able to fly. Luckily, there was also the opportunity to explore the cabin and cockpit of this flying legend.
You are now entering multiple rooms from the hangar. They host a huge range of items related to TWA. The first room, for example, majorly deals with mock-ups and simulators in fact used for TWA flight training. Later rooms feature memorabilia of the airline, but also a made-up version of a TWA lounge, which I felt to be very exciting.
A lot of merchandise and souvenirs could also be watched in the showcases illustrating the collaboration of TWA and the Kansas City Chiefs. However, you also see how the airline in general developed. The last part of the hangar area visit is a training dummy for flight attendants, which covers the last room. Before you leave, you should have a detailed look at the memorial for people being killed in TWA plane crashes. After you return from the hangar, you can also move freely in the main part of the museum and have a deeper look at items you are particularly interested in.
TWA Museum – Services
The museum staff was amazingly friendly. You could absolutely feel how emotional they still are about TWA. The museum is also offering a Super Constellation simulator (with instructions) and a gift shop. The latter is an amazing place and even offers original TWA tableware. Unfortunately, I did not know how to protect tables and bowls in my suitcase – would have loved to have some of them.
TWA Museum – My View
If you are somehow interested in aviation and visit Kansas City, this one has to be on your list. The staff is amazing, the tour was great and the museum features a massive collection. In this case, I also have to mention the nice souvenir store. The price is more than right in here. Great place!
Flyctory.com about US Aviation
Here are all Airports & Airlines postings related to the USA:
Here are all postings about museums concentrating on aviation: