Starting life as Transcontinental & Western Air, then becoming Trans World Airlines, TWA was a major player in aviation. Founded in 1930 through a merger of smaller carriers, it flew its last flight on 1 December 2001, having been merged into American Airlines.

On the US aviation scene, its contemporaries were Pan American, United Airlines, Eastern Air Lines, Delta Air Lines and AA among others. Some remain with us today while others have been consigned to the airline graveyard in the sky.

Sky High… The Story of TWA

Produced by KETC St. Louis and originally broadcast in January 2001, this hour long presentation is a fascinating look into the airline’s history. From its humble beginnings through to the takeover, all the main events are touched on. It’s worth the watch, made even better by the excellent quality of the upload to YouTube.

There is some fantastic historical footage worth seeing too. Viewers looking for a bit of history about aviation in the US would enjoy this, as it’s not only about TWA. For example, it goes into detail about the early Air Mail contracts and how air traffic was once controlled. Plus there is fun information on how people still preferred train travel as flying was so dangerous back in the day!

Of course, the main event is TWA itself, including its famous (or infamous!) leaders such as Jack Frye, Howard Hughes and Carl Icahn. There are also interviews with a few employees of the airline who delve into their memories for some cool first hand stories from the past.

There are some great nuggets such as how the stewardesses avoided the jets and preferred to stay on piston equipment and the reasons behind that. Some high profile accidents are also mentioned. All in all, it’s a great presentation and well worth watching.

Overall Thoughts

From seeing the things people write on aviation forums, there appears to have been a real esprit de corps among the TWA employees. They all certainly seem to have had a lot of pride in their airline. A lot of that comes across in the presentation as well.

There is never a single reason why an airline goes out of business and there certainly were numerous events in the history of this airline that helped it go that way. A shame, but that’s life.

What did you think of TWA? Did you enjoy this documentary? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Tequask via Wikimedia Commons.