8:30 AM, it’s a frigid spring morning. Three yellow school buses pull up to the curb of Kansas City International Airport’s Terminal A. This isn’t a rare sight; local schools often send sport and academic teams on trips to compete. But this day is different. The buses, filled to capacity with girls age 10-13, come to a stop outside a shuttered airport terminal which for years has not seen passenger traffic. These young minds would indeed be boarding a plane for a multi-hour experience, but the goal was not to travel. Instead, today’s visit to the airport is to learn about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) through hands-on experiences aboard an ultra-rare, airworthy L-1011 wide-body aircraft.
The plane, which last served as a mobile hospital, arrived in Kansas City, MO last year thanks to TriStar Experience, a local non-profit. The organization seeks out rare planes, with the goal of inspiring the next generation to seek STEM and aviation careers. Readers may recall this is the same organization which rescued and restored TWA’s Wings of Pride plane which is currently on display in partnership with the TWA Museum at the Downtown Kansas City Airport.