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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Arlene E. Johnsen Trans World Airlines Collection

Identifier: 2010-08-05
The Arlene E. Johnsen Trans World Airlines Collection consists of textual materials collected by Arlene E. Johnson during her 36-year career as a flight attendant for Trans World Airlines (TWA), from 1960-1996. It also includes a small amount of materials related to the crash that claimed her life, collected by her twin sister, Marlene. Original order has been maintained and the collection is arranged into two series: Series I: Arlene Johnsen TWA materials and Series II: TWA Flight 800 materials.

Series I, Arlene Johnsen TWA materials, give a good sense of what it was like to fly with TWA in the 1960s through the 1980s and many documents include Arlene Johnsen's personal notes and annotations. It contains material such as flight attendant training manuals, including a “Hostess Course” manual for the Boeing 707; and employee information, including memos, policies, timetables, and correspondence. There is a small amount of information related to Vietnam War-era Material Air Command stewardess duties, including a commendation letter and instructions for flight attendants arriving in Guam and Vietnam. Also included are health and travel benefit documents; and labor agreements, as well as materials related to labor disputes between flight attendants and TWA in the 1960s and 1980s. Ephemera such as menus, safety cards, TWA advertising brochures, and 1965-1980s in-flight movie fliers, many with personal annotations by Johnsen, are also present.

Series II, TWA Flight 800 materials, was collected after Arlene’s death by her twin sister, Marlene. It is comprised of both original and photocopied clippings and newspaper articles that relate to the crash of TWA Flight 800, the investigation, and aftermath of the incident.


  • 1961-2003


Language of Materials

All materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


.65 Cubic Feet (1 full-width legal size document box, 1 half-width legal size document box, and 1 oversize folder)

Biographical Note: Arlene E. Johnsen

Arlene E. Johnsen was born April 13, 1936 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from college, Johnsen joined Trans World Airlines (TWA) and served as a flight attendant from September 1960 until her death on July 17, 1996. Johnsen died, along with 229 others, when TWA Flight 800 crashed.
Historical Note: Trans World Air (TWA) Flight 800 Trans World Airlines Flight 800 (TWA 800) was a Boeing 747 (N93119) that exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near East Moriches, New York, on July 17, 1996, at about 8:31 p.m. EDT, 12 minutes after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport. The entire flight crew and all passengers (230 people) died in the crash.

There was speculation that a terrorist attack via a missile or bomb caused the fatal crash based off of eyewitness accounts. Investigations by various agencies stated this was not the case but many people believed differently.

One probable cause of the accident was an explosion of flammable fuel vapors in the center fuel tank. As a result, new requirements were developed for aircraft to prevent future fuel tank explosions.


Wikipedia ( and various online sources.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated in memoriam by Marlene Johnsen, Arlene's twin sister.


No further accruals are expected.

Processing Information

The collection has been kept in original order, as arranged by donor.
Guide to the Arlene E. Johnsen Trans World Airlines Collection
Completed - Level 3
L. Zaborowski, J. Parent
2014, 2019
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
2nd edition

Revision Statements

  • August 2019: Added additional subject and controlled vocabulary, updated historical note about Flight 800, and minor corrections to spelling/grammar for finding aid.

Repository Details

Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle Washington 98108-4097

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
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