Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Guest Post: Santa Claus Trades in Sleigh for Helicopter, Flies to the National Museum of Transportation

Guest post:  The Aero Experience thanks our friend, Gregg Adam of Independent Aviation Solutions, based at Creve Coeur Airport, for providing his personal insight on flying Santa to the National Museum of Transportation on November 25.

Gregg Adam and Nick Hisserich 
I was contacted last year by an amazing woman named Renee from the National Museum of TransportationShe said they had a helicopter deliver Santa to the kids at the museum every year, and the helicopter and pilot backed out. We spoke for an hour or so about the museum's needs, and she said she heard my name around town about me being a helicopter pilot and having a helicopter.
I told her I would be honored to help the museum in any way I could, and that I would donate my time and helicopter to the cause. And it was history since then.

This is now the second year I have helped the museum get Santa to the kids safely and on time! Renee called this summer and was super excited as usual to plan the flight for Santa. When she called, I said, “Renee, it’s July and 102 outside. We have time to plan!"

The National Museum of Transportation is an amazing organization, and they do a lot for the St. Louis community. It’s the least I can do to help them make the kids happy, and they will always remember the helicopter bringing Santa to see them.

When I was around 8 years old, I saw a helicopter pilot land at the State Fair in Florida not far from where I lived. I saw the pilot get out of the helicopter with his flight suit and helmet, and that’s what made me want to be a helicopter pilot. I’m almost 40, and I still think of the time I saw that pilot, and that’s how I feel those kids are looking at me when we land. Hopefully that changes their lives forever and makes them want to get into aviation and become a helicopter pilot!

Monday, November 27, 2023

National Museum of Transportation Skytrain and T-Bird Outdoor Displays Represent Planes In a World of Trains and Automobiles

By Carmelo Turdo

Most visitors to the National Museum of Transportation in west St. Louis County, MO set out to enjoy the largest collection of vehicles in the world, including the renowned outdoor locomotive yard and the Lindburg Automobile Center. For the aviation enthusiasts, there are two aircraft displays that bookend the museum in the parking areas.

Upon entering the Barrett Station Depot side of the museum, one is greeted by a Douglas C-47A Skytrain, serial number 43-15635, wearing the distinctive D-Day invasion stripes. This aircraft flew a troop glider tow mission on the June 7, 1944 Operation Hackensack landing and resupply mission over Normandy. It continued to serve in the USAAF and later USAF until it was retired from the 131st FW, MO ANG in St. Louis and delivered to the museum in 1972. It is now on loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, OH.

Here is how the C-47 arrived at the museum under a CH-54 Skycrane of the Kansas National Guard:

(Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum Archives)

(Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum Archives)

The current display at the National Museum of Transportation can be seen by all visitors, in a place of honor, as they approach the parking lot. Here is a walk-around view of the aircraft as it looks today:

The other aircraft on display, this one at the other parking area, is T-33A s/n 52-9446 marked as 52-9564 from the 438th FIS. The 438th was home to interceptors including the F-94B, F-89D, F-102A and F-106A based at Kincheloe AFB, Michigan before being moved to Griffiss AFB, New York and renamed the 49th FIS. T-33s provided target support for interceptor training missions, a mission flown by T-33s of the 131st FW in St. Louis as well.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Airport Directors and Aerospace Industry Executives Participate In Second Annual Take Flight Forum

By Carmelo Turdo
Five St. Louis area airport directors and aerospace industry executives participated in St. Louis Regional Freightway's Second Annual Take Flight Forum held on November 8 at the Bi-State Development offices in downtown St. Louis. Throughout the program, each speaker addressed the market niche served by their airport or business and provided updates on annual operations, capital investments, workforce development and the economic impact of their facilities. 
The over-arching theme of the program was the spirit of collaboration necessary to grow the aviation services sector in the region.     

The St. Louis Regional Freightway is an enterprise of Bi-State Development founded in 2014 to promote and enhance the St. Louis region's capabilities as a multi-modal freight hub. The Take Flight Forum was an opportunity to highlight the aviation sector as an economic driver in the bi-state area, affecting not only the immediate communities but the state and nation as well. The Forum was moderated by Mary Lamie (right) Executive Vice President of Multimodal Enterprises for Bi-State Development. 

The Take Flight Forum participants testified to the aviation industry's resilience through good times and bad, and they provided practical steps toward growing the region's aviation services now and into the future. 

The airport directors took the stage first. They are (L-R):

Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, St. Louis-Lambert International Airport; Darren James, MidAmerica St. Louis Airport; John Bales, Spirit of St. Louis Airport; Sandra Shore, St. Louis Downtown Airport; and Daniel Adams, St. Louis Regional Airport.

St. Louis-Lambert international Airport is the commercial air carrier hub for the St. Louis and bi-state region, tracing its roots to the lease of land by Albert Bond Lambert in 1920. The founding of the Missouri National Guard's 110th Observation Squadron came in 1923, and St. Louis businessmen joined Lambert in financing Charles Lindbergh's solo trans-Atlantic flight in 1927. The municipal airport grew and became home to such legendary aircraft manufacturers as Curtiss-Wright and later McDonnell Aircraft, McDonnell Douglas and now Boeing. TWA and Ozark Airlines were the main air carriers throughout the jet age. Expansion continued to include Terminal 2 and the W-1W parallel runway project. Today St. Louis-Lambert International Airport has become a major hub for Southwest Airlines and a growing number of international flights, and construction of a consolidated terminal is in the planning stage.  

Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge has served as Airport Director since January of 2010. She brought a unique perspective to the job, having served in management roles with American Airlines, TWA and Ozark Airlines in St. Louis. Hamm-Niebruegge has overseen the airport's recovery from the economic downturn of 2008, the effects of the loss of TWA and Ozark Airlines traffic, the Covid pandemic and numerous other challenges. 

Significant development projects are on the horizon at St. Louis-Lambert International Airport, including a new, modern terminal and gate structure design and other improvements mentioned in the most recent master plan.

"The new, consolidated terminal plan would keep the historic domes of Terminal One," Hamm-Niebruegge assured the forum audience. "Those domes are known throughout the world as one of the greatest airport architectures in the industry. So the domes would stay, the lobby would get reconfigured, and then we would look at a sixty-two gate single terminal concourse. So one united checkpoint once you pass through the ticketing area, and a dual-sided concourse." The growth of Southwest Airlines connecting traffic is driving the need for more aircraft loading capacity as well as a tripling of car parking capacity in the Terminal One parking garage. $335M for enabling projects has already been allocated in preparation for the architectural design phase.

"When you're out talking to people or out talking to businesses, I don't think we compete against each other - we all actually bring a portfolio to the table that's one of the strongest in this industry," Hamm-Niebruegge said in response to a question about the role of smaller airports. "What you want in aviation you can find here when you put us all together."

MidAmerica St. Louis Airport is a joint-use airport located adjacent to Scott AFB. The airport was conceived in the early 1990s and opened in 1998. After more than a decade of intermittent passenger and cargo service, the airport has seen a stable growth in commercial airline service. Allegiant Airlines now flies to eleven destinations around the country from MidAmerica, and Boeing, the airport's largest tenant, is building a new production facility for the MQ-25 Stingray Carrier-Based Unmanned Refueling System aerial tanker.
Darren James is the new Director of MidAmerica St. Louis Airport. He previously served as Assistant Airport Director and is a retired USAF Brigadier General who most recently served as the special assistant to the Commander, Air Mobility Command, at Scott AFB.  

"We are one of twenty-one joint-use facilities throughout the nation," James said as he described the unique position that MidAmerica St. Louis Airport holds in the community. "We partner with a military facility...They have active duty, they have Air National Guard and they have Air Force Reserve missions. And we're a happy participant in their missions daily." 

MidAmerica St. Louis Airport and Scott AFB support $3.1B in economic impact and provide 23,000 jobs including those at the Boeing St. Clair production facility. It is the sixth busiest airport in Illinois and is a primary, non-hub airport with Allegiant Airlines as the local ultra low-cost carrier. In June, a 42,000 square foot terminal expansion was opened for additional TSA lanes and passenger holding areas. Two additional passenger boarding bridges were added and the concession space was recently remodeled. International travel opportunities are also planned for the future, with a new federal inspection station and parking for three additional aircraft on the apron.   

Spirit of St. Louis Airport was developed as an alternative to then Lambert-St. Louis International Airport for the business aviation sector. The project was spearheaded by aviator and aerospace engineer Paul Haglin and the airport was officially opened in 1965. Since then, the airport has become a home for corporate flight departments, starting with Ralston-Purina. Today, the airport accommodates a large number of corporate and general aviation aircraft, multiple FBOs, Wings of Hope global humanitarian aviation organization, Elite Aviation flight school, the Red Tail Cadet Program and one of the nation's biggest airshows. 
John Bales has been the Spirit of St. Louis Airport Director since 2007. He grew up in aviation as the son of an Ozark Airlines pilot, and he soloed at Spirit of St. Louis Airport on his sixteenth birthday. He has worked at all levels of airport operations management, and he currently serves on multiple boards and committees around the community.  
"Spirit is the busiest business aviation airport in the FAA Central Region," Bales noted in his opening remarks. The airport supports over 155,000 operations per year, with over 300 international arrivals as one of only five ports of entry to the U.S. in Missouri. Public and private investment projects include business and private hangar developments, runway enhancements and continuation of STEM education programs including the Spirit Airshow and STEM Expo and the Red Tail Cadet Program hosted by Elite Aviation. 

"We all have our own niche," Bales continued. "Small airports - they offer a lot too...St. Louis is an aviation Mecca."

St. Louis Downtown Airport traces its history to 1929 when it opened as Curtiss-Steinberg Airport before the long association with Oliver Parks, Parks College and later St. Louis University flight programs. During World War II, the USAAF provided basic flight training at the airport. The Parks era ended in the late 1950s, and Bi-State Development began the long-term development of what would become the current state-of-the-art facility that serves general aviation, corporate customers and charter operations. The airport's largest business is Gulfstream Aerospace, and a new Ground Engine Run-Up and Compass Calibration Pad facility has been completed. 
Sandra Shore became the St. Louis Downtown Airport Director in February of 2022 after serving as Airport Director at Quincy, IL Regional Airport. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Management from SIU-Carbondale and holds several AAAE credentials including Airport Accredited Executive. Shore sees her role as serving the region as well as the airport, focusing on workforce development and increasing the economic impact of the aviation industry in the community. 

St. Louis Downtown Airport contributes $422M of economic impact to the region and supports over 1,500 jobs. Tenant growth, especially with the expansion of the Gulfstream facility, is fueling the demand for a skilled workforce in the St. Louis-Metro Illinois area. 

"We just finished our Ground Engine Run-Up and Compass Calibration Pad facility that we talked about last year," Shore announced. "We're continuing to see record-setting numbers in our fuel sales and our operations...Business is back in St. Louis."

The airport supports the education and workforce development efforts of their tenants and community groups. Teacher conferences, youth flight days and apprenticeship programs are just a few of the events and programs taking place at the airport year-round. 

St. Louis Regional Airport serves general aviation and corporate customers, providing over 1,500 jobs and generating an economic impact of $480M. The airport is home to West Star Aviation, a heavy maintenance and overhaul business servicing the most popular corporate jet aircraft at locations throughout the Midwest and South. Aircraft from around the world seek out the services of West Star, and they plan to expand their skilled workforce into the foreseeable future. The airport has significant room for development of new facilities to meet the needs of the aviation community for many years to come.                                                                                 
Daniel Adams is a St. Louis University Aviation Management and Flight Science graduate. He has been the Airport Director since April of 2022 after serving as Airport Operations Coordinator and Operations Supervisor at the Columbus, Ohio Regional Airport. 

St. Louis Regional Airport is home to a major West Star aircraft maintenance complex as well as over one hundred aircraft hangars and two runways - 8,100 feet and 6,500 feet long - to accommodate most types of civilian and military aircraft. 

"We just completed our runway rehabilitation this summer - grade runway overlay, new pavement, new lighting," Adams said during his introductory statement. "A public parking lot project is in the works, fuel facility project in the works. We've got a new hangar going up...We are trying to keep up with West Star. They are very aggressive on their timelines and projects, and we are just trying to keep pace with them and keep them happy as a great tenant." 

A new feature of this second Take Flight Forum was a panel of aerospace industry executives who manage facilities at one or more of the airports featured here. 

Randell Gelzer, Sr. Director, Government Operations for the Boeing Company 

Boeing St. Louis has 16,000 employees and 360 suppliers in Missouri and an almost equal number of suppliers in Illinois. Though the Super Hornet and Growler production is winding down, there will continue to be upgrade and support work for those aircraft remaining in service for decades to come. Production of the F-15EX Eagle II, T-7A Red Hawk and MQ-25 Stingray Carrier-Based Unmanned Refueling System aerial tanker are coming on line, and work continues on 777 wing assemblies and classified research projects at Phantom Works. Over $700M has been invested in the St. Louis area facilities in the last decade.
The fabrication facility at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport has grown to accommodate the new MQ-25 production. Boeing will invest $200M in that site, with 300 new jobs projected. The St. Louis-Lambert International Airport site will receive $1.8B in new investment, with 500 jobs expected. 

"Boeing has had a longstanding presence in the community - it's the partnerships, relationships at all levels within this ecosystem whether that's with the airports, non-profits, the business community that's here, the business partners, the chambers and a lot of you here in the audience today." 

$13M of charitable grants, volunteer hours/matches and other resources were given to non-profit organizations last year. STEM programs supported by Boeing include First Robotics, Wings of Hope SOAR Into STEM program and the Red Tail Cadet Program hosted by Elite Aviation. Boeing recently hired their 1000th graduate from the St. Louis Community College Sheet Metal Assembly and Composite Mechanic Pre-employment programs. 

Anthony Ray, VP and General Manager of St. Louis Completions for Gulfstream Aerospace 

Since the debut of the G1 in 1958, Gulfstream Aerospace has produced a long line of business aviation aircraft. Headquartered in Savannah, GA, Gulfstream has 20,000 employees worldwide, twelve service centers and four completion centers that provide paint, interior configuration and other custom work ordered by the customer. The most recent completion center opened at St. Louis Downtown Airport this summer at the site of the existing service center in operation since 2017. 
Gulfstream is making a $28.5M investment to increase the capacity of the St. Louis completion center to serve a larger proportion of Gulfstream aircraft.

"What drove us to St. Louis? I'll honestly say it's the relationships that we currently have with Bi-State Development, the local government leaders in the region, with Sandra [Shore] and her phenomenal group at the St. Louis Downtown Airport. It just made for a great place for Gulfstream to find its next strategic environment for us to grow and be a part of."

Gulfstream plans to add another 200 employees to the 500 already at St. Louis Downtown Airport, especially in the avionics, interior cabin installation and systems coordinator areas of expertise. Workforce development efforts are underway to provide vocational counseling to educators and apprenticeships for high school students at the Gulfstream facility. Over time, these student apprentices will be trained in specific trades that may lead directly to full-time employment after graduation. 

Jason Noll, Director of Sales and Marketing for AVMATS

AVMATS is a family-owned company founded in 1978 that services jet aircraft with specialized missions, including business jets and retired military aircraft. They have facilities at Spirit of St. Louis Airport and MidAmerica St. Louis Airport as well as a warehouse and shop in O'Fallon, MO. AVMATS services 300-400 aircraft at Spirit of St. Louis Airport each year, some internationally based. They perform scheduled maintenance and repairs, engine service and avionics modifications. AVMATS has just under 200 employees, many having advanced skills working with sheet metal, composites, upholstery and wood structures. AVMATS employees stay with the company over 13 years on average, a significant achievement in the aircraft maintenance industry.

In the early years, the decision to become a full-service maintenance and modification business at Spirit of St. Louis Airport was a considerable leap, and good relations with the airport management was the key to their success. Access to a port of entry is also beneficial to serve the specialized needs of clientele from around the world. 

"They [airport management] helped us work in and around the airfield, giving us lease opportunities, giving us the ability to build an engine test cell, to build some hangars, to add some more capacity and support all throughout the process...From our client's standpoint, it's an easy place to visit and it's a wonderful place to stay while their aircraft is being serviced. And then from our standpoint as a business, the airport administration is super responsive, they're pro-business and pro-growth. So they've made everything possible for us."

Brian Bauwens, General Manager of East Alton and St. Louis Downtown Airport Sites for West Star Aviation

The West Star Aviation facility at St. Louis Regional Airport has over 600 employees and over 400,000 square feet of hangar space, with another 100,000 square feet due to be added in the near future. It is a full-service MRO - Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul site - providing paint, interior avionics and related services for a variety business jet aircraft. West Star also has a 50,000 square foot facility at St. Louis Downtown Airport.  In the last twelve rolling months, 850 aircraft have been serviced at these locations.
"The access to talent, the relationships, all play a part. The biggest challenge coming up is the education piece and getting more people up to date. But in this area, the relationships with Danny [Adams] at St. Louis Regional and Sandy [Shore] at St. Louis Downtown for us with the facilities, the manpower, it just makes sense to do the growth here in St. Louis."

The Aero Experience thanks the airport directors and aerospace industry executives who participated in the Second Annual Take Flight Forum. We also thank Bi-State Development and the St. Louis Regional Freightway for hosting the event.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Come Fly With Me: New Book Tells the Story of TWA, Once the "Airline of the Stars"

By Carmelo Turdo
A new book, Come Fly With Me: The Rise and Fall of Trans World Airlines, tells the inside story of how a hybrid rail/air transcontinental travel system became a household name as the "Airline of the Stars" before collapsing to the pressures of deregulation and predatory investors. Co-authors Dr. Daniel Rust and Alan Hoffman were at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis November 9 for a book signing and panel discussion that sold out the book supply and filled the Lee Auditorium with many former TWA and Ozark Airlines employees (Ozark was acquired by TWA in 1986). The authors also made an appearance at the TWA Museum in Kansas City on November 10, bringing their message to the airline's early headquarters and current repository of TWA memorabilia, a former TWA Lockheed Electra aircraft, full-scale training equipment and a learning center.

During the autograph session, the Museum hosted several exhibits featuring TWA and St. Louis aviation historical items in MacDermott Grand Hall under the Spirit of St. Louis movie aircraft replica. The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum provided a 1960s-era flight attendant uniform along with aircraft models, patches, pins and other memorabilia. St. Louis University displayed an original Parks Air College mechanic coverall, crew wings and photo history of the Parks College evolution from the first federally certified school of aviation to a major part of the School of Science and Engineering at the University. Former TWA, Ozark and other airline pilots and maintenance technicians visited the exhibits and shared their experiences before heading to the auditorium for the main event.

A capacity crowd gathered in the Lee Auditorium for a presentation by the authors followed by a panel discussion with former TWA and Ozark Airlines employees. Missouri Historical Society Managing Director Sam Moore spoke briefly about the programs at the museum before introducing Alan Hoffman as the first speaker of the evening. 

Alan Hoffman retired as a partner with the Husch Blackwell law firm in 2017 and collaborated with Dr. Rust on his previous book, The Aerial Crossroads of America: St. Louis's Lambert Airport. His interest in St. Louis aviation and TWA developed over a lifetime of air travel for business and pleasure, and this book project was a natural fit for Hoffman and Dr. Rust. 

"In a way I was almost born for that job," Hoffman told the audience as he introduced his role in the TWA book project. "I flew on early TWA Constellations back in 1948. And almost twenty  years later, I was a passenger on one of the last TWA Constellation flights. During my law practice, I traveled all over the country, to Hawaii and to the UK on TWA for business, and my wife and I flew TWA domestically and internationally on vacations. Our last TWA flight was in the fall of 2001, shortly before it ceased to exist, when the agent upgraded us to first-class as a gesture of appreciation for our business. So, the subject really came naturally."

Hoffman was "introduced" to Dr. Rust in 2011 when his wife brought home from the library a book entitled, Flying Across America: The Airline Passenger Experience, by Daniel L. Rust. He attended a presentation on the book by Dr. Rust at a local event, and they went on to produce the book on Lambert Airport in 2016 and Come Fly With Me earlier this year. In the intervening years, Hoffman also wrote a definitive history of Ozark Airlines, titled Up There With the Biggest: The Story of Ozark Airlines

Hoffman and Dr. Rust made extensive use of the TWA archives kept in the Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri St. Louis - 75-years of records covering TWA and its immediate predecessors, Transcontinental Air Transport and Transcontinental and Western Air. The documentation was very detailed, including corporate meeting minutes and photographs, providing the basis for Come Fly With Me. Interviews with former TWA and Ozark Airlines employees and executives were also conducted, and their stories were added to the narrative. The Missouri History Museum provided additional photographs and assisted in preparing the book for publication.

Come Fly With Me is not a dry, historical narrative that only aviation historians would venture to read. It is actually an intriguing story of the development of U.S. air travel in the context of the rise of American technological and industrial growth through the maturation of the current airline hub system. The story is told through the influence of three major actors, Charles Lindbergh, Howard Hughes and Carl Icahn, who led and sometimes dragged TWA through the highs and lows of the often-troubled times of the airline industry. 

"The three characters that we zero in on in this book - Charles Lindbergh, Howard Hughes and Carl Icahn - three that were as we say, larger than life," Dr. Rust said in his introduction to Come Fly With Me. "Three that exerted more influence and power than those who were the corporate leaders." Charles Lindbergh was an early consultant on fleet aircraft design, route structure and all-around credibility following his historic solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic in 1927. Howard Hughes was the major financier of TWA during the growth years of the late 1940s to the introduction of the Lockheed Constellation and Boeing 707 jetliner of the early 1960s. Hughes' reign at TWA began with great promise, but soon the airline became more like his personal flight service to the detriment of sound business practices. A decade later, airline deregulation drastically changed the government's role in setting routes and fares, and cash-light airlines such as TWA, Pan Am, Braniff and other legacy carriers found it even more difficult to compete. Investor Carl Icahn saw the opportunity to restructure TWA, sell off assets, cut expenses (i.e. employee concessions) and ultimately add to his personal wealth through a discount ticketing scheme in the process. TWA was ultimately absorbed by American Airlines in 2001, decimating airline traffic in St. Louis for decades.

Following Dr. Rust's presentation, a panel discussion was held on stage in the Lee Theater. The panel was moderated by Dr. Jody Sowell, President and CEO of the Missouri Historical Society, and included: (L-R) Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, Ozark Airlines employee, TWA executive and current Director of St. Louis-Lambert International Airport; Greg Pochapsky, Captain and Program Manager at Ozark Airlines, TWA and American Airlines; Jerry Castellano, Flight Attendant and instructor for Ozark Airlines and TWA; and Maurice Falls, Flight Attendant and Flight Service Manager for TWA and American Airlines.

Here we feature remarks from the panel members on two controversial topics:

The culture of Ozark Airlines and the merger with TWA:

Jerry Castellano
I've never experienced, or even observed, a company that had the camaraderie, and essentially felt like a family, as Ozark Airlines. To this day, we existed for thirty-six years, we've been gone for thirty-seven years, we still have annual reunions. It was a very informal place to work...We had extraordinary service...Basically, everyone respected everyone else's job...The first difference that most of us noticed in transitioning to TWA is that it was much more formal, there were a lot more rules...There were still a lot of people whose airline career ended in 1986 when Ozark was purchased. 

Greg Pochapsky
The thing about Ozark Airlines, from our experience from the pilot side, was they had a deep, deep background and experience. Most of the guys that we started flying with in the seventies had flown in World War II in one theater or the other. A lot of us came out of the military and at twenty-five years old we thought we knew everything. We started flying with these guys that flew on D-Day or flew in the islands during World War II, and you realize these guys can do this with their eyes closed. They're making nine stops a day with DC-3s and Fairchilds and now we're in the jet age and they've done it all. They were the greatest mentors that you could have had at the time. 

Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge
The thing that stands out is that there was such a respect, and that respect, I think, came from Edward Crane on down, our CEO and President. And he believed the Midwestern people had a great work ethic and would make great employees. So they really focused on hiring people from the Midwest to really bring the type of customer service that he wanted to the airline. 

Maurice Falls
When we merged (from the TWA point of view), I became junior and so I went from going to Heathrow-London to Des Moines in October! We had a flight to North Dakota - the coldest flight in my life. Ozark people were just so remarkable in character and personality, and it was just something to remember because it did help initiate us as a family of the Midwest. 

Carl Icahn's effect on TWA:

Greg Pochapsky
Under Carl, things got difficult to do from a business standpoint...I was managing the MD-80 fleet and we needed stuff from McDonnell Douglas out at Long Beach and it was difficult to get done because we had zero credit, or less than zero credit...We were buying used airplanes, all the time...We were going around looking at used airplanes, and all of a sudden, we got a lot of new airplanes...We couldn't figure that out.

Maurice Falls
I lost my seniority, because right before the strike of flight attendants, they actually sent us to Europe. So when the strike started, if you participated in the strike in Europe, you couldn't get home. Carl Icahn was that kind of guy...We gave all the concessions we gave until we couldn't give any more. We were almost flying for a little bit of nothing, but it was in our blood.  

Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge
He was interesting because he could be a nice person if you were just in a conversation not talking about the airline. But things that stuck in my mind - we had a TWA Ambassador Club in West Palm Beach, and it was only because Carl had an uncle there and his uncle wanted a club. And so we had a club in West Palm Beach until the day it shut down. And it didn't meet any of the criteria, but it didn't matter...If there was something that he wanted, he was going to have it. It didn't matter whether it fit within the portfolio or what made sense. If he wanted it, he had it. So that's the type of individual he was.

Jerry Castellano
We were merged in after the flight attendants at TWA went on strike...Ozark Airlines recognized that the face of Ozark Airlines would be the flight attendants...And the fact that he (Icahn) just figured they could all be replaced says a lot about what his business acumen was. At one level, he did extremely well for himself...Ozark owned all but two of our aircraft - we owned like fifty aircraft - and within weeks, he had made the purchase price back by selling the aircraft. We had to lease them to operate them, so our operating costs went way up. The longevity of the carrier was not his main goal.  

Come Fly With Me goes into great detail on these topics and many others as Dr. Rust and Alan Hoffman tell the story of the airline once touted by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Hollywood starlets as the "Airline of the Stars." The story of TWA is also a story of America, with its ups and downs and cultural transformations over three quarters of the twentieth century.

The Aero Experience thanks Dr. Daniel Rust, Alan Hoffman, the Missouri Historical Society, the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum, St. Louis University and everyone who worked to make the Come Fly With Me book launch in St. Louis a great success!