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Truck Carrying Old TWA Plane Gets Flat Tire On I-495 In Bolton

BOLTON (CBS/AP) — An old commercial jet was spotted on the side of Interstate 495 in Bolton Wednesday afternoon.

The TWA airplane left the Auburn-Lewiston Airport in Maine Tuesday on a flatbed truck for a long, slow journey to Kennedy Airport in New York where it will be turned into a cocktail lounge.

But the journey came to a halt when the truck got a flat tire in Massachusetts.

Once the tire is repaired, the wings, body and tail of the rare aircraft will resume the trip. The convoy is nearly one mile long so it won't get to New York for several days.

Once at JFK, the L-1649A Starliner will serve as the cocktail lounge outside the TWA Hotel, a hotel that promises to bring back "the magic of the Jet Age."

A spokeswoman for TWA Hotel says the plane, built in 1956 and in service starting 1958, does not fly anymore.

twa plane on i-495 in bolton
The flatbed carrying the TWA jet had a flat tire on I-495 in Bolton Wednesday. (WBZ-TV)

Hundreds of the Constellations were produced by Lockheed in the 1940s and 1950s. But only 44 Starliners were built.

The plane flew for Trans World Airlines for three years before flying around the Alaskan wilderness as a bush pilot plane, said Tyler Morse, CEO of New York-based hotel owner and operator MCR and Morse Development. Morse's company is building TWA Hotel.

By the 1970s, the plane had become a drug-running plane in South America. "It had giant cargo doors to fly pallets of marijuana around South America," Morse said.

The plane was later abandoned in Honduras and brought to Florida in the 80s. An aircraft enthusiast had it flown out to Maine with hopes of restoring it, but ran out of money.

The plane, one of four of its kind still in the world, sat at the tarmac for years, Morse said.

A decade ago, German airline Lufthansa Technik bought the enthusiast's three vintage planes with the hopes of restoring one. This year, Lufthansa ended up dismantling that restoration project and announced it would move one of the planes to Germany to finish restoration work.

Now, the other plane long stored in Auburn, Maine is also set for a new adventure.

Over the next several days, the plane will be towed on a flatbed over 300 miles down I-95 while accompanied by a lengthy convoy, Morse said. It'll reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour on the highway and as low as a few miles an hour for sharp turn.

The rare airliner will end up inside the New York airport, next to terminal 5.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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