Flight attendant designs TWA employee memorial

HAMILTON, Mass. (AP) — When TWA flight attendant Janet Collett flipped on the TV last summer and saw burning wreckage of TWA Flight 800 floating in the ocean off Long Island, she knew Warren Dodge was dead.
Only hours earlier, she had served her friend and co-worker as he flew from Boston to catch the Paris-bound flight in New York. They parted company forever as he walked into John F. Kennedy International Airport.
The loss of Dodge and 53 other TWA employees who died in the crash prompted the airline to sponsor a national competition for a memorial honoring them.
Collett, who has dabbled in art but had never completed a project on a grand scale, submitted the winning design.
She hopes the memorial helps loved ones deal with their grief and move on with their lives.
“Being on the line, working with other TWA employees, it’s a situation that has not come to rest,” Collett said in a recent interview.
The airline’s labor unions are sponsoring the memorial. Other memorials are being planned for all 230 people killed in the crash.
The sculpture, now under construction in New York City, stands about 6 feet tall. Atop a marble base stands a pedestal holding three different-sized panels of etched green glass.
The first panel depicts a Boeing 747 lifting off, as seen from behind. The next shows the plane in midair, being cradled by the hands of God. The third shows the plane nearly transformed into a dove, being released above some clouds and the sun.
On the final panel are portions of the poem “High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee Jr., which President Reagan quoted in a 1986 speech following the deadly Challenger space shuttle explosion.
“Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue, I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace, where never lark, or even eagle flew; and, while the silent, lifting mind I’ve trod the high untrespassed sanctity of space, put out my hand, and touched the face of God,” it reads.
TWA employees are paying two-thirds of the costs for the $18,000 sculpture, and the airline is paying the rest. Employees have started a cookbook drive and plan a fund-raising hockey game to raise money.