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Classic Lockheed Electra airplane with ties to TWA co-founder donated to TWA Museum

The Spirit of TWA is in Kansas City.

Most people who know the history of Trans World Airlines, TWA, which was headquartered in Kansas City from 1931 to 1975, will tell you that’s a given. The historic airline helped pioneer passenger air travel from early prop-driven planes to the jet age with all its glamour of the “jetsetter” class.

The airline stopped operations in 2001 but it’s legacy lives on in Kansas City in the TWA Museum located at the Wheeler Downtown Airport in a building that once served as the airline’s headquarters.

On Thursday, the history at the museum became a whole lot richer when a 1937 Lockheed 12A Electra Junior known as “The Spirit of TWA” roared out of the sky and landed at Wheeler Airport. It is the oldest flyable plane in the former TWA fleet. The plane is loaded with ties to TWA all the way back to one of the co-founders of the airline.

“The Spirit of TWA” will have a permanent home at the museum thanks to Ruth Richter Holden who is the daughter of the airline’s co-founder Paul Richter Jr. She made her final flight on the Electra, which she has co-owned for several years, before handing it over for display at the museum. Her father had flown the plane it it’s earliest life when it was used as a research craft and to ferry TWA employees around the country.

“I never felt like I owned her. I felt like I was a caretaker until she had a better life,” Holden said of the airplane.

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