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THE OTHER TWA ROCKET: LOST & FOUND, KANSAS CITY, MO

other TWA Rocket

The TWA Rocket to the Moon is an icon of Disneyland’s early days. It was the centerpiece and crowning outer space touch of the original Tomorrowland, “the world of 1987.” But that wasn’t the only TWA Rocket to the Moon. I’m not talking about the smaller scale “tribute” to the original that stands in Tomorrowland today.

In 1956, TWA’s big bad boy, Howard Hughes, ordered a copy of Tomorrowland’s TWA rocket and prominently perched it atop TWA headquarters in Kansas City MO, where it stood for, well, I’m not exactly sure. When the rocket was removed, through what had to be an odd set of circumstances, it wound up in a trailer park somewhere in suburban Kansas City.

I found out about the legend of the second rocket in my faaave book ever about Disneyland, The Nickel Tour, by Bruce Gordon and David Mumford. When I read it found a new home in a trailer park, I knew immediately I’d have to go Kansas City, and SO be tracking it down. I will find that rocketship!

Finally, the day came and I found my way to Kansas City. So many Retro Americana attractions to experience there: The Steamboat Arabia Museum, Crown Center, Mugs Up Root Beer, Town Topic Hamburger’s, Fritz’s Railroad Diner, Space Age Doughnuts, a killer dead mall, vintage neon signs and, of course, the rocket.

My first stop was the Airline History Museum. I pulled up to the ol’ airplane-hangar-turned-museum at the old airport, all wide-eyed and full of airplane wonder, SO excited to see the world’s best preserved TWA Super Constellation, the iconic, three-tailed passenger plane that ruled the friendly skies before the jet age.

But what to my wondering eyes should appear, perfectly framed by the giant hangar doors, but the TWA Rocket! As I stood there all-agog, a docent walked up. I said, “Where’d you get this?” She said, “We just got it from the trailer park!”

Life is full of wonderful surprises. My imagination was inspired and my TWA Rocket lovin’ spirit soared!