When we arrive in a new city I start doing research and often there are pleasant surprises. That was the case when I learned that Kansas City had a TWA Museum. Yes, Lee loves planes and flight museums, but TWA is something special because his father worked for and retired from TWA. He worked third shift as a ground crew member and Lee’s entire childhood was formed in some way because of that job. So even though I don’t care that much about flight museums generally I definitely wanted to visit it with him.
It was open on Saturdays so went went first thing in the morning and it was a little hard to find. It is in a building that currently hosts Flight Support, but after a couple of wrong turns we found it.
The hallway leading up to the museum had lots of cool vintage posters and several pictures and medal cases. That was all free, but the $10 to get into the museum itself was a bargain, especially with the significance it had for Lee. The only thing we didn’t like was we had to be led by a tour guide because the museum is actually in multiple rooms and in order to get to them all you need to go into the working hangar. Makes sense because of the design, but we would have much preferred being allowed to walk around alone.
I should probably mention at this point that when Lee was a teenager his father moved to Florida while Lee stayed with his mother in Columbus. Using his fathers flight pass he flew for free many, many times on TWA and always sat in first class. Back then they didn’t pay much attention to his age and he was able to drink and eat elaborately on these many first class flights. Think Leo DiCapprio in Catch Me If You Can. That was Lee’s flying experience. He was very happy when we found some old menus from First Class because it proved he wasn’t misremembering the experience. Check out these menu items. On todays flight you are lucky if you get pretzels.
As I stated earlier we walked out into the hangar and walked into nearby rooms, which had multiple training stations for crew members and pilots including a complete mockup of an Ambassador Club.
Lee’s favorite part was the full size training cabin and he immediately sat in his favorite seat…1A. He also found a crew jacket on board which his father wore every single day and that made him pretty emotional. It’s funny all the memories old items can bring back.
All in all it was a great museum, but my absolute favorite part was the gift shop. They had lots of actual TWA items for sale here and the vintage stuff was really cool. Lee’s favorite was one of the flight bags, which he had as a kid, his Dad was very thrifty. I absolutely loved all the TWA gift bags which had tiny travel size stuff in them. Ranging from $2-$5 I bought several and laid them out when I got home to look at them. Don’t ask me why tiny stuff gave me such a thrill but I went crazy over the little TWA stapler!
You are either old enough to remember flying as it used to be or you are not, and either way I think the museum was well worth the entrance fee. For us the trip was filled with nostalgia and I am really glad Lee got to experience it.
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