Eero Saarinen's TWA Flight Center opened to passengers in March 1962, just a few months before The Jetsons arrived on American television screens. It's a landmark of Atomic Age optimism and as such makes for a bittersweet experience for those of us aware of just how many gorgeous imagined futures we have consigned to the past.
The head house has acted as a front end for the TWA Hotel since 2017, operated as an exercise in nostalgia that consciously or otherwise, also serves as a lesson on the cruelties of the passage of time, scored by dreamy late 60s muzak playlist piped into old terminal and the car park outside, where Up, Up and Away (my beautiful, my beautiful balloon) appears to be on permanent loop. Some of the artifacts one comes across are jarringly poignant, like the beaten up period suitcases piled onto a cart, which brought to mind a Holocaust exhibit.
The building has a stark sentimental connection for me, for it was the venue for one of the more unsettling experiences of my childhood. On an evening in April 1980 I became marooned there with my parents as the skies blackened and a prodigious thunder storm promptly closed the airport around us. It was as if all I could see outside those immense slanted windows was gushing water.
After several hours we boarded our TWA jumbo routed to Heathrow but whilst taxiing to the runway the tempest suddenly intensified and we were held there for several more hours. Later on, those few minutes between leaving land and breaking through above the rugged and incandescent thunder heads were exceptionally gnarly.