Airline Wings

American Airlines

Written by Charlie Dolan

My connection with American Airlines began on November 9, 1954 when I took my first ride in an airplane between New York City (KLGA) and Washington, D.C. (KDCA) It was my tenth birthday (shared with my twin brother) and our father took us to the nation’s capitol to soak up some history. I forget which aircraft took us south and then north, but one was a Convair and the other a Douglas DC-6. The result was immediate and the aviation bug had bitten.

I began working on my private pilot license while in college and enjoyed “commuting” between home on Long Island and Buffalo, NY with American Airlines doing the lion’s share of my transportation. The routes were operated by various aircraft between 1963-1967 with rides taken on DC-6s, Lockheed Electras, Boeing 727s and the “Pocket Rocket” BAC 1-11 known to AA as the BAC400.

While I was stationed at Montreal’s Dorval Airport (CYUL) I began to collect the insignia of airline “front-end” crewmembers after the demise of Braniff International Airlines. Shortly after I began asking crews how I could go about obtaining wings and cap badges, I was contacted by Captain Dick Koran of AA. In no time at all, a long lasting friendship developed.

Dick was a wealth of information and we spent many evening together, swapping brass and lies, whenever he had a Montreal RON.

Now to the topic of American Airlines insignia. Recently, AA switched to a new set of wings and cap badges to replace the silver insignia which had been in use for just over fifty years.

I have not had an opportunity to closely examine the new pilot wing and cap badge, but my natural resistance to change left me less than enthusiastic. They seem small in comparison to the last issue, but I may get used to them.

I believe that American’s first wings were the generic U S Air Mail wings worn by many carriers which transported the mail. There was also a “MATE” wing worn by co-pilots.

   

The first American Air cap had A”AMERICAN AIRWAYS” embroidered on the headband just below the A A and eagle gold badge. This was later changed to “AMERICAN AIRLINES”

During this period American issued its first AA wing which had a flat disc under the A A and eagle.

In 1934, AA issued wing insignia which designated pilot qualifications (pilot, captain, supervisory captain / check pilot) until 1946 the eagle was facing to the left as you looked at the wing.

In 1946, the eagle was reversed and began facing right as you looked at the wing.

As American began operating larger, more complex, aircraft a flight engineer was added to the crew.

During the war years, American Airlines pilots assisted the military by operating ferry flights and non-combat missions in support of the war effort. There is a photo of Ernest K. Gann, wearing an Army air Force leather flying suit with the American Airlines cap. It was shortly after this photo was taken that Capt. Gann left AA to join the short lived Matson Line.

The hat was changed in 1949 and removed the “AMERICAN AIRLINES” from the headband and added a gold bullion wreath to surround the now gold bullion thread eagle.  These insignia lasted into the jet-age, when the gold gave way to the silver insignia.

   

 

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American Airlines Junior Wings

Written by Lane Kranz

Over the past 80 years, American Airlines has issued nearly two dozen different junior wings. Over the years, the junior wings tell a story. From the proud early years American issued metal wings, followed by plastic wings in the post-deregulation years, followed by no junior wings in the post 9/11 and bankruptcy years, followed by a cookie-cutter junior wing currently in circulation. There have also been some extremely rare and hard-to-find wings issued perhaps by mistake or perhaps in a short-lived trial run. Either way, all of these wings are important to junior wing collectors.

The oldest AA junior wing and one of the rarest wings in the world.

The newest and current issue AA junior wing.

An American junior wing in the shape of a wing (what a great idea!).

The pin-back version of the all-silver, large font AA wing.

The common AA junior wing, followed by a rare ‘mistake wing’ with the red letter on the right, followed by the all-silver version of this wing.

The sticky-back versions of the large font AA wings.

The metal junior stewardess wings in silver and gold.

The metal junior pilot in silver and gold.

The metal AA wing in silver and gold. Interesting to note that these wings were the last of the wings that were issued in both silver and gold. All subsequent wings were silver.

The cloth patch with sticky back version.

The rare Miss Stewardess AA wings in both silver and bronze.

A novelty item and perhaps airline issued AA hat pin.

A novelty item and perhaps cereal box issue, 3 AA plastic pins in blue, green, and brown that includes a fuselage perhaps of a Boeing 707.

A few “new finds” to pass along. Allegiant, Aegean Airlines (Greece), and Alaska Airlines have issued new junior wings. Note the blue and green colors in Alaska’s new wing. Many thanks to Dave Cherkis and Bryan Mellon.

Keep on Collecting!

Lane

Written by Lane Kranz

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Trans World Airlines A Book of Memories

This review column focuses on both current and older books on commercial aviation topics.
Written by Shea Oakley.

Trans World Airlines A Book of Memories: TWA Employees and Friends Tell the Story of an Iconic Company

By Jon Proctor and Jeff Kriendler
Bluewater Press
ISBN 13:978-1-60452-122-1
265 Pages

Recent years have seen a number of books of this type published. They belong to what might be considered to be a new genre that I call, “employee –driven airline histories.”  In addition to the volume being reviewed here, there have been two other books produced in the same basic format on Eastern and Pan Am by separate publishers. The co-author of this one, Jeff Kriendler, was also co-author for the Pan Am history. The TWA book is the latest of the three having been published earlier this year.

What sets these books apart from other printed chronicles of major airlines is the fact that each chapter is a separate story about some aspect of the company told by either a former employee or a “friend”, often a passenger, of the subject airline. Two other distinctive aspects of the genre are the choice of only defunct carriers as subject matter and the presence of a large number of color images sourced from one or two well-known longtime airliner photographers (this book’s co-author Jon Proctor and/or George Hamlin being the photographers in question in at least two of the three books mentioned).

After 75 years of continuous operation, TWA was the target of a successful 2001 takeover attempt by American. It was a logical early subject for an employee-driven airline history as it was one of the original “Big Four” U.S. trunk carriers. Also, for many years, it was the only domestic company that had an extensive international route system. Beyond those claims to fame additionally Trans World was an airline known to have a certain glamour and spirit that set it a bit apart from other pioneering carriers.  This was often rightly or wrongly attributed to TWA’s longtime owner, a man who was at least as iconic as the airline he ruled for many years-the eccentric and reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes.

The book’s 61 chapters cover a myriad of stories told by Trans World insiders. Just a sampling of subjects include encounters with Hughes, flying famous passengers (including the Pope), operated aircraft types, hijackings, accidents, humorous stories from both flight and ground crews, and a number of pieces about upper management from the perspective of TWA executives through the years. Also included is plenty of material pertaining to the one larger carrier that was acquired by TWA, St. Louis-based Ozark, and even coverage of its hotel subsidiary of many years, Hilton.

If you have an interest in this historic and storied airline, it is fair to say that this book should become part of your library. About my only two caveats would be that I would have preferred it to be printed on glossier stock for better photo reproduction (though this is, admittedly, an expensive proposition for independent publishers) and copy-editing for grammar errors might have been tighter. Happily, a planned further print run will give the authors the opportunity to fully perfect what is otherwise a book well worth owning.

Availability: Copies of this book can be ordered for $29.95 each from Jeff Kriendler, 5600 Collins Avenue, Suite 14P Miami Beach, FL 33140. Shipping and handling are included.

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Douglas Factory Models

Written by Jim Striplin

Airline issued models, otherwise known as “Airline Counter Models” or “Travel Agency Models”, have always been source of fascination for Airline enthusiasts.  These models were manufactured for the Airlines by many notable model builders going back as far as the 1920s.  These models were first made of wood and were later constructed of aluminum and modern plastics.

In this first article, I have decided to feature the models produced for the Airlines by the Douglas Aircraft Corporation, commonly referred to as Douglas Factory Models or DFMs.  The Douglas Aircraft Corporation, was of course, one of the greatest Aircraft manufacturers of the 20th Century.  Douglas also had the foresight to provide its customers with very high quality models for sales promotion and advertising.   Models were given to Airline companies that purchased airplanes from Douglas.  Extra models could be purchased by an Airline to be displayed in Airport terminals, Airline ticket offices, and Travel Agencies.

Donald Douglas, Jr., the son of company president Donald Douglas, Sr., is said to have taken an interest in establishing a factory model shop about the time the DC-2 was being developed.  A Douglas factory worker, Victor Pastushin, a Russian immigrant, was at the same time already producing ashtray type models on his own.  Pastusian is likely to have had some influence on Douglas management, and Donald Douglas, Jr. in starting a factory model shop.  (Victor Pastushin will be the subject of a future article on “Airline Ashtray Models”) Donald Douglas, Jr. has always been credited with the establishment of the Douglas Factory Model Shop, which, however, was always kept as a separate entity by Douglas, Jr. from the Douglas Aircraft Corporation itself.

The first Douglas Model Shop has always been believed to be operated in the Douglas Aircraft Santa Monica, California plant.  It is unclear, however, if there was an actual Aluminum foundry located on Factory premises.  An Aluminum foundry incorporates a furnace to melt Aluminum that is then poured into sand molds.  More than likely a foundry located somewhere in the Los Angeles basin, already producing airplane parts for Douglas, did the actual casting.  Workers at the model shop would then laboriously file out and hand polish the sandcast models before the applying paint and decals.

The same Zinc Chromate primer, and finish enamel paint used on real Douglas aircraft, were used in finishing the models. Decals were produced using high quality water transfer decal sheet and Airline livery colors were applied using the silk screen process.

It is known that the DC-2, DC-3 and DC-4 models were actual sand castings.  Beginning with the DC-6 models, very expensive permanent molds, made of tool steel, were used to cast the models.  A sand core was placed inside the fuselage mold to make the model hollow, and lighter.  Permanent molds were used to cast all models from the DC-6 to the DC-8-63.  Most of the Douglas models were cast in 1/50th scale.  This scale was the most common size desired by Airlines and Travel Agencies.  1/72nd models were also produced but were less popular.  The early DC-2 models were produced in larger scales. It should be noted that the Douglas factory also produced models of its Military aircraft (C-124s, C-133s, B-66s, etc.).

The Douglas factory produced Aluminum models from 1934 to 1966.  After 1966 Douglas models were produced by a company called Marketing Aids located in Anaheim, California.  Marketing Aids produced mainly DC-9s, DC-8-63s, and DC-10s in fiberglass and plastics.  Marketing Aids inherited a great number of unfinished Aluminum models (blanks) from Douglas, along with a huge inventory of Douglas factory decals.  They also had acquired many leftover finished Aluminum models, some of which were sold to private individuals.  With the merger of Douglas with McDonnell (forming McDonnell-Douglas) in April of 1967, the era of the Douglas model came to an end.  Marketing Aids continued to produce some models for McDonnell-Douglas for a short time.  The remaining inventory of Aluminum Douglas model blanks, decal sheets, and fiberglass models were either sold off or simply thrown away.

In conclusion, the models produced by the Douglas factory, and later Marketing Aids, are highly regarded by collectors and Airline historians.  Noted for accuracy and correct scale, they are a prized addition to any model airliner collection.

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American Airlines Timetables

American Airlines – An Abbreviated Timetable History

Written by David Keller

One of the most renown and enduring names in the history of commercial aviation is that of American Airlines. While many other pioneers of the airline industry have fallen by the wayside, American has persevered for over 8 decades, surviving economic collapse, wartime, and terrorist attacks.

The seeds that would eventually sprout and combine to form American Airlines were sown in the 1920’s. Like many of the US trunk carriers, American’s formation resulted from an amalgamation of dozens of small, short-lived entities that were acquired by other companies in an error to stitch together a nationwide air network.

One such airline was Colonial Air Transport, which operated between New York and Boston, as depicted on the June 1, 1929 timetable. Colonial also had divisions known as Colonial Western and Canadian Colonial, which operated to Cleveland and Montreal respectively.

   

Another of those early lines was Universal Air Lines. The timetable dated November 1, 1929 shows 5 divisions being operated, representing airlines which had been added to the Universal system in the past few years. Universal and Colonial were quickly gobbled up by The Aviation Corporation, which began operating as American Airways in 1930.

   

The February 10, 1930 American Airways/Universal Division timetable is one of the earliest to display the American Airways name. Other timetables were still being issued for the other divisions, and the only logo appearing on the timetable is that of Universal Air Lines.

    

By mid-1931, American Airways had started using an early version of the familiar AA logo with the eagle, although timetables were still issued by division. The illustrated timetables from the Universal and Embry-Riddle Divisions show that a standard format was being used across the system. Additionally, each has a promotional message on the back entitled, “A Nationwide Network of Airlines”, to promote the American Airways system as a single entity.

The October 17, 1931 issue dispenses with the individual divisions and, with the exception of Alaskan operations, brings everything together into a single timetable. The route map shows the carrier’s (somewhat circuitous) transcontinental network.

           

The timetable dated February 1, 1934 was issued shortly before the Federal government decided to cancel all airmail contracts later that month. Air Mail contracts were the lifeblood of the industry and the survival of the airlines operating those contracts was put into serious jeopardy by this action.

     

After a few disastrous months of having the air mail routes flown by the military, new contracts were awarded, with the caveat that those possessing the cancelled contracts, would not be eligible to bid on the new ones. The existing airlines simply altered their names to become “new” applicants, and ended up receiving contracts that closely resembled those they had lost a few months prior. The June 15, 1934 timetable shows the carrier now operating as “American Airlines”, albeit with the same logo employed under the prior name. This timetable also contains an ad for Curtis Condor sleeper service. New aircraft were on the horizon, and the Condor would only remain in service for a few years.

  

The most significant of those new types was none other than the Douglas DC-3. A development of the DC-2, American was the first airline to place the Three into service in June of 1936. The timetable dated June 1, 1936 has several pages dedicated to the new aircraft and promotes the new services starting “on or about” June 25th.

   

   

By 1941, the varied types used in the mid-30’s were gone, frequencies were increasing and the entire schedule was operated with Douglas equipment, either “Skysleepers” or 21 passenger “Flagship Clubs”. Based on that, it appears that the small fleet of DC-2’s the carrier operated prior to the introduction of the DC-3, had already been phased out.

   

The timetable dated August 1, 1942 shows the impact of the United States entry into World War II. The timetable dispenses with the red, white and blue covers that had been a staple since the mid-1930’s, and also shows reduced services resulting from many of the carrier’s aircraft being put into wartime roles.

   

After the end of the war, American and the other US airlines were clamoring for newer, larger equipment. In March of 1946, American Airlines began service with the Douglas DC-4. The timetable dated March 27, 1946 shows DC-4’s operating American’s “Mercury” transcontinental service.

   

The following year saw the DC-6 enter service with American. The timetable dated April 27, 1947 promotes one-stop transcontinental service “starting soon”, with service already being offered between Chicago and New York. This type proved to be popular with the airline, and was utilized until the mid-1960’s, making it the last piston-powered type to be retired from American’s fleet.

   

Continuing the rapid succession of new equipment introductions, American became the first operator of the Convair 240 in early 1948. In just over a year, the Convairs had replaced the DC-3 on the shorter segments, and the timetable dated April 24, 1949 shows the schedule operated entirely by the DC-6 and Convairs.

   

   

Another facet of American’s operations after the war was its Transatlantic services via American Overseas Airlines, made possible by the acquisition of American Export Airlines in 1945. DC-4s, Constellations and Stratocruisers flew for AOA before American sold the division to Pan Am in 1950. The Transatlantic Service timetable dated May 1, 1948 depicts a Constellation, which was operating “Mercury” services to Europe.

In 1953, American was once again the first to introduce a new type with the introduction of DC-7 service in November, 1953. The November 1, 1953 timetable contains a full page promotion for the aircraft, despite the fact that it wasn’t slated to enter service until November 29th. The DC-7 enabled American to offer the first nonstop transcontinental service in both directions. (TWA began eastbound-only nonstop service a few months earlier.)

   

January, 1959 saw the simultaneous introductions of American’s first turboprop and pure-jet types. The January 23, 1959 timetable shows the Lockheed Electra operating between New York and Chicago, with service to Detroit following shortly thereafter. The Electra served in American’s fleet for approximately 10 years, before being retired in the interest of an all-jet fleet.

The same timetable also shows the introduction of the Boeing 707 on the New York to Los Angeles run. Flight times were 4 ½ hours eastbound, with the return trip requiring an additional hour. Being the first to operate jet service domestically, the 707 received a full-page promotion, while the Electra didn’t receive any mention at all.

In the summer of 1960, the Boeing 720 entered service with American. This was a shorter, lighter, reduced-range version of the 707 designed for routes not requiring a 707’s capabilities.

For all the advantages the early jets offered by cutting flying times, they were actually somewhat underpowered. A step toward remedying this situation came in the form of the turbofan engine, which had greater thrust and did not require water injection which was utilized by the early turbojets. The timetable dated February 5, 1961 contains a promotion for the introduction of the new fanjet-powered 707, which the carrier dubbed “Astrojet”. Besides taking new deliveries of the fanjet 707s, American decided to convert all of their previously-received aircraft to the “B” standard, with fanjet engines. This timetable also shows the carrier differentiating between the 707s and 720s in its fleet, although this would be short-lived, and all aircraft in the 707/720 family would soon be generically identified as 707s in the timetables.

    

Joining the Boeings in 1962 was General Dynamics’ Convair 990. Although the 990 was intended to be a fast aircraft capable of transcontinental operations, the promised performance was never achieved, and as the April 29, 1962 timetable illustrates, they were utilized on shorter routes. The 990 only remained in the American fleet for about 6 years.

   

As the manufacturers shifted their focus to smaller jetliners, American signed up for Boeing’s model 727. The new trijet went into service in April of 1964 between Chicago and New York. The routes that appeared in American’s quick reference specified all of the jet equipment as “Astrojets”, so it isn’t possible to determine which flights were being operated by the 727. However, one of those flights continued to Dallas, and is shown in the columnar section of the timetable where the jet types were specified individually. Although there are no promotions for the 727 in this timetable, the October 5, 1964 timetable does have a full page ad for the 727, which was fulfilling a new schedule of 5 roundtrips between Cleveland and New York.

   

   

Continuing the trend towards smaller jets, American also purchased the British Aircraft Corporation One-Eleven to serve on short hauls. The 1-11 was placed into service on March 6, 1966 between New York and Toronto. Although largely used for high-frequency services from New York, the twinjets would eventually operate as far afield as Dallas. In the end, the 1-11 was another short-timer in American’s fleet, and disappeared from the schedule by early 1972.

   

The Trans-Pacific route case was a political football that had been kicked through 4 presidential administrations, with recommendations being made only to be later overturned. The case finally concluded in 1969, which resulted in American receiving route authority to Hawaii with continuing service to the South Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand.

The timetable dated October 1, 1969 shows displays a pineapple on the cover and has a “Pacific Here We Come” promotion on the back cover. However, service wouldn’t actually start on the new routes until the following August. The August 1, 1970 timetable contains a special supplement highlighting the new service. In the mid-1970’s American swapped these routes to Pan Am, receiving Caribbean routes in exchange.

   

   

As much as the race was on to inaugurate jet flights in the late 1950’s, 1970 was a competition to offer 747 service. American’s initial 747s weren’t due until the Summer of 1970, but to avoid losing ground to TWA (which inaugurated service in February), American utilized leased aircraft from Pan Am, and was able to start transcontinental 747 service in early March, only a few weeks after TWA. The March 2, 1970 timetable touts the new service with several promotional mentions.

   

The following March, American completed the acquisition of Trans Caribbean Airways, gaining routes to 6 Caribbean destinations. The March 2, 1971 shows some of those flights still being operated with DC-8 aircraft formerly operated by Trans Caribbean. (Those would quickly be replaced by American’s own 707s.)

   

American’s next widebodied type, the DC-10, went in to service in 1971. Despite being the first carrier to place the DC-10 into service on the Los Angeles – Chicago run in August, the July 6, 1971 timetable contains no acknowledgement of the new aircraft. (It does have a very nice color centerfold promotion for the 747, though!) The September 13, 1971 does feature the DC-10 on the cover.

   

   

Late 1973 saw the airline industry reacting to the shock of the Arab Oil Embargo, which reduced the availability of jet fuel, eventually resulting in carriers operating with reduced fuel allocations. Airlines quickly grounded many of their gas-guzzlers, which were generally either older first-generation jets or 747s, in favor of smaller types. The October 28, 1973 timetable, which was printed before the Embargo was announced, features a DC-10 on the cover, and 12 daily 747 departures from Chicago. In the January 7, 1974 timetable (which features 727s on the cover), many schedule changes were made, including the removal of many 747’s from active service. In this issue, there were no longer any 747 services being offered to Chicago.

   

The Airline Deregulation Act was passed in 1978, allowing airlines much more freedom to set fares and enter new markets. The initial flurry of new route applications was for dormant route authority, plus each airline was allowed entry on one route of its choosing. While most airlines proudly announced new routes in their December timetables, American waited until their January 20, 1979 timetable to inaugurate the new services. (However, none of the new cities appear on the route map in this issue.)

In the deregulated environment of the 1980’s, the airlines focused on expansion, both through mergers and the creation of hubs.   Much of American’s expansion was achieved by adding international routes to its network. In the summer of 1982, American was awarded its first European route connecting Dallas/Ft. Worth and London, courtesy of Braniff International’s bankruptcy. The June 1, 1982 timetable shows the new service, although it only merited a one-line blurb on the route map page.

    

Later in 1982, American put the Boeing 767 into service, its first new model in over a decade. The November 1, 1982 timetable dedicates most of the back cover to promote the inaugural service, unfortunately, equipment was not being specified in order to determine which flights the 767 was actually operating.

   

The following summer, another new aircraft joined the fleet, this time a McDonnell Douglas offering, the MD-80 (dubbed Super 80 by American and other carriers). These planes arrived as part of a small order on very favorable terms, in the hope that the carrier would be pleased and order more. This worked out very well for the manufacturer, as American would eventually amass a fleet of over 300 MD-80s.

   

Most airlines have “regional” code-sharing partners nowadays, and American’s November 1, 1984 shows the modest beginnings of American Eagle. Seven destinations were served from Dallas/Ft. Worth, operated by Metro Airlines. Today, American Eagle services are provided by around 10 airlines operating hundreds of aircraft, most of which are regional jets.

   

American was one of the more aggressive airlines in the hub-building arena. In addition to its major hub operations in Chicago and Dallas, the April 15, 1986 timetable shows the creation of a new hub in Nashville. American initially operated 20 routes from Nashville, with 9 additional routes being flown by American Eagle.

   

By the spring of 1987, American was serving 8 European destinations, but had yet to acquire highly-coveted routes to Asia. In the April 5, 1987 timetable, American was finally able to boast a new Tokyo route, with flights beginning in May. Because American did not have aircraft capable of operating nonstop from its Dallas/Ft. Worth hub to Tokyo, a pair of TWA 747SPs were acquired to handle the service.

   

The June 15, 1987 timetable saw American engaging in substantial service expansion on both sides of the country. In the east, a new north/south hub had been created at Raleigh/Durham with new service to 35 cities. And in the west, American had acquired AirCal, with those flights being effective on July 1.

   

The December 17, 1988 timetable shows American building San Jose into a north/south hub on the West Coast. This was part of the “H” route strategy that was thought to be the key to success, having strong north/south route networks in place on the coasts, connected by east/west transcontinental service.

   

In the summer of 1990, American greatly expanded its international network with the addition of Latin American routes previously operated by Eastern Airlines. The June 15, 1990 timetable details the new service, which would eventually result in an American hub being set up in an almost unthinkable location – Miami!

   

A little under 20 years after inaugurating DC-10 service, American put the MD-11 into service between San Jose and Tokyo. The MD-11 was essentially a stretched DC-10 (with other improvements), but needed a new model number due to a series of high-profile DC-10 accidents. American (like many of the other MD-11 customers) was not overly pleased with the aircraft, and sold the entire fleet to Fedex.

   

By the early 1990’s, American was performing hub operations in 7 locations; San Jose, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Chicago, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, Miami and San Juan. The first of these to falter was San Jose, with American making arrangements for Reno Air to replace it in a number of markets. The timetable dated July 1, 1993 shows a good portion of San Jose services discontinued as of July 15th. Ironically, in 1999, American would purchase Reno Air, thereby reacquiring many routes it had surrendered.

   

In 2001, American absorbed a much larger carrier, as it merged with the long-ailing TWA. The July 2, 2001 timetable shows the TWA logo with the moniker “An American Airlines Company” beneath it. Unfortunately, events that unfolded later in the year resulted in most of the routes, aircraft and personnel acquired in the merger being shed shortly thereafter.

   

The darkest day in American’s history came later that year, on September 11th, as two of its aircraft were deliberately crashed, taking the lives of all on board and many on the ground. The first timetable issued after the attacks was the December 15, 2001 edition, displaying the very subdued cover design that would be used on the remaining timetables until the cessation of publication the following summer.

The age of the printed timetable had largely ended, but September 11th didn’t cause the airlines to stop issuing printed timetables, it merely hastened what technology was making inevitable. Several airlines had already stopped printing for prolonged periods (including American, which did not issue a timetable for most of 1999), only to restart publication later.

The past 15 years have been difficult ones for American, as the carrier struggled financially while watching United and Delta grow with their acquisitions of Continental and Northwest, respectively, But American’s recent merger into US Airways (which retained the American name), has vaulted it past it’s competition and made it the world’s largest passenger-carrying airline. The “AA” that graced the airways for some eighty five years will soon be history, but the eagle soars on.

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American Airlines Playing Cards

Written by Luc Mertens

Please allow me to introduce myself as the successor to Fred Chan as Editor of the Playing Cards Section.

I worked for a major manufacturer of playing cards worldwide for 34 years.  In those 34 years I travelled about 5 million miles for the company visting all continents.

As a “professional disease” I started to ask for playing cards on the airplanes and consequently I had a nice collection before I got to know Trev Davis and Fred Chan through some collector friends.  Then the ball really started rolling and now my collection counts for over 4,000 different decks….

In my career I was also a platinum member of American Airlines for a several years so I have known this airline for a long time.

American Airlines was an early legacy carrier and has put out playing cards since 1944 (Figure 1).  In total so far American Airlines has issued, to our knowledge, 75 different decks of playing cards carrying the AA logo.  The subsidiary company American Eagle also issued 3 different decks of which the inaugural flight to Las Vegas is a tough one to find (see Figure 2).

AA always have been very strong in displaying their name and logo on the cards as shown in Figure 3 through Figure 8 .

Recently right after the US Airways merger, AA came out with a deck of playing cards which was a generic deck in a plastic case carrying the AA logo (Figure 9).  This was a disappointment to the collectors and not in line with the old style of issuing playing cards as part of their marketing campaigns ((see 242-A)) .

Another issue AA(L) recently came out with, was a joint deck with their global partner Qantas (Figure 10).

Also shown is the most recent known American Airlines deck, issued on 500 decks only, in a cooperation between the AA museum and one of the playing card collectors. (Figure 11?)

Figure 1   Figure 2   Figure 3

Figure 4   Figure 5   Figure 6

Figure 7   Figure 8   Figure 9

Figure 10   AAL-243-A

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American Airlines Etiquettes

Written by Arthur H. Groten M.D.

American Airlines, as we know it today, first appeared as such in 1934 after E.L. Cord of automotive fame acquired American Airways and renamed it. They worked closely with Donald Douglas to develop the DC-3, the first airplane to carry passengers at a profit without subsidy for mail handling. They were instrumental in establishing LaGuardia Airport.

I shall look at the etiquettes they issued prior to the post-war acquisition, in 1948, of American Export Airlines to form American Overseas Airlines, sold to Pan Am in 1950.

All American Airlines labels were either arrow-shaped or a horizontal hexagon. The first appeared in 1937, claiming “Tomorrow’s Mail Today.” This slogan appeared on all but two of the 8 and two of those in Spanish (Figures 6 & 7 which differ in the size of the lettering). The first four separated “American” and “Airlines” with their flying eagle logo (Figures 1-4); thereafter that logo was omitted.

As you will note in the illustrations, several have “NC136” or NC136A’ on the right wing (Figures 2, 3, 5 & 8). I do not know the significance of this. Perhaps a member can enlighten me.

The first of the two covers I show is from Chicago in 1939 to San Francisco and forwarded within that city, using the first etiquette produced (Figure 9). The 16¢ stamp paid the 6¢ airmail postage and the 10¢ special delivery fee. The second, a postcard, was sent from Mexico using the Spanish-language label. (Figure 10)

The study of American Airlines etiquettes can be extended to include their many early subsidiaries as well as those issued after the War. The last etiquette appeared in 1962.

Figure-1    Figure-2    Figure-3

Figure-4   Figure-5   Figure-6

Figure-7   Figure-8

Figure-9   Figure-10

 

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American Airlines Postcards

American Airlines on Postcards

Written by Marvin G. Goldman

In March 1929 a group of airline investors formed a holding company called The Aviation Corporation (‘AVCO’) which proceeded to acquire and combine over 80 small airlines launched between 1926 and early 1929. In January 1930, AVCO’s airline subsidiaries were reorganized and incorporated into ‘American Airways’, and in April 1934 American Airways became transformed into American Airlines, Inc.

Postcards of individual airline predecessors of ‘American Airways’ range from uncommon to rare to nonexistent. One of these predecessors, which did issue a few postcards, was Colonial Air Transport. Founded in 1926, Colonial began passenger service between New York and Boston in April 1927. Ford Trimotors entered its fleet in early 1929, and that year Colonial became one of the component airlines of AVCO which in turn became American Airways in 1930.

01-Sz-Colonial-Air-Transport-Ford-5-AT-B-'Nacomos',-A--I,-Marvin-G-Goldman-Coll'n

Colonial Air Transport Ford 5-AT-B Trimotor. Airline Issue (A/I), probably in 1929. The card’s back states: “The Flagplane ‘Nacomos’ of the Colonial Air Transport and her sister ships, the ‘Nemissa’ and ‘Nonantum’ fly regularly along the skyway between New York and Boston. These giant tri-motored cabin cruisers carry 12 passengers, 2 pilots and a cabin steward. Two trips are made daily, with an average flying time of but 1 hour and 45 minutes.”

‘American Airways’ (1930-34) issued only a few different postcards. All are hard to find, and here is one of them:

02-Sz-American-Airways-Ford-5-AT-B,-A-I,-Marvin-G-Goldman-Coll'n

American Airways Ford 5-AT-B Trimotor. A/I between 1930 and 1934. Printed by Lumitone Photo Print, New York. The back says ‘On Board AMERICAN AIRWAYS’

In 1933 American Airways introduced the Curtiss T-32 Condor aircraft, and following the April 1934 transformation into ‘American Airlines’, the latter started utilizing the Condors for the first sleeper service in the U.S. The Condor was also the last biplane built in the U.S. for commercial airline service.

03-Sz-American-Curtiss-Condor,-3-view,-AI,-Marvin-G-Goldman-Coll'n

American Airlines Curtiss AT-32A Condor, NC12390. A/I, probably 1934. The postcard back says: “These huge sleeper planes have a top speed of 190 miles per hour, are equipped with 12 full length berths and fly nightly on regular schedule between New York and Chicago and from Los Angeles to Dallas – Ft. Worth on the Southern Transcontinental, the Fairweather route, between California and New York.”

Also in 1934, American Airlines introduced the Vultee V-1 aircraft. American used the Vultee on routes from the Great Lakes to Texas. According to noted airline historian Ron Davies, the Vultee V-1s were the fastest commercial airliners of their day, but they also symbolized the end of the single-engine era.

04-Sz-American-Airlines-Vultee-V-1,-NC-13767,-A-I,-Marvin-G-Goldman-Coll'n

American Airlines Vultee V-1, NC13767. A/I, probably in 1934. The postcard back claims that American Airlines is ‘Largest in the United States’ and that ‘American’s fleet of fast Vultees is making air travel history’. 

In December 1934 American introduced to its fleet the more modern Douglas DC-2 (which had first flown on scheduled service with TWA the previous May).

05-Sz-American-Airlines-DC-2-at-McKellar-Tri-City-Airport-(now-Tri-Cities-Reglonal-Airport)-TN,-Marvin-G-Goldman-Coll'n

American Airlines Douglas DC-2 at McKellar Tri-City Airport (now Tri-Cities Regional Airport), Tennessee. Airport card no. C-20, printed by Fort Wayne Printing Co., Fort Wayne, Indiana. I love the country folk viewing the ‘modern’ aircraft in this postcard. I acquired two copies of this rare card at a local postcard show about 25 years ago, kept one, and traded the other to Allan Van Wickler. I presume that trader eventually went to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum along with the rest of Van’s postcard collection that he donated to them.

At the initiative of legendary American Airlines president C. R. Smith, Douglas Aircraft developed the famous classic DC-3 aircraft as a successor to the DC-2. American placed the first order for the DC-3, with half of them being the Douglas Sleeper Transport (‘DST’) variant, and American was the first to operate the DC-3 in commercial passenger service — on 25 June 1936. With the DC-3 American started calling its airliners ‘Flagships’.

06-Sz-American-DST-NC14988,-Night,-A-160-A,-Marvin-G-Goldman-Coll'n

American Airlines Douglas DC-3, Douglas Sleeper Transport (‘DST’) variant, NC14988. A/I, no. A-160-A. The postcard back says:“Passengers boarding the world-famous ‘American Mercury’…giant Flagship Skysleeper overnight from New York to California. American Airlines, Inc. is the original sleeper plane line.”

07-Sz-American-DST-Interior-Sleeper-Beds,-A-245-F,-AI,-PM-1939-0314,-MGGoldman-Coll'n

American Airlines Douglas DC-3, DST, Interior Sleeping Berths. A/I, no. A-245-F.

Written messages on postcard backs are often informative and can enhance the value of particular cards. Here is the back of the preceding DC-3 sleeper transport card, written in March 1939 during a New York to Los Angeles transcontinental stop in Dallas, Texas, which even back then was a primary American Airlines hub.

08-Sz-American-Airlines-Douglas-DST-Sleeper-Berths,-A-I-A-245-F,-Back,-PM-1939-0314,-Marvin-G-Goldman-Coll'n

Postcard Back of American Airlines DC-3 DST Sleeper Berth card no. A-245-F.   American called this transcontinental flight its ‘favorable Southern All-Year Route’, flying overnight from New York, coast-to-coast service with ‘only 3 stops’ and no change of planes, arriving in Los Angeles in the early morning. 

During the 1930s American (as well as Eastern and United) issued map postcards publicizing their routes. The following one issued by American and distributed on board encouraged passengers to mark their route in pencil and mail it to relatives and friends.

09-Sz-American-Airlines-Route-Map-Postcard,-A-I,-A-245-C,-Marvin-G-Goldman-Coll'n

American Airlines Route Map Postcard, A/I, no. A-245-C, issued about 1939. There are at least two variants of this card showing slight route changes.

The postcard back says: “This flight–marked out in pencil on the map–is a fine example of the real way to travel. With freedom from tipping, complimentary meals, and no ‘extras,’ it’s not hard to figure a saving of money as well as time.”

Around 1945 American issued several color postcards of its DC-3s, most of which are quite common. American DC-3s were also featured on many airport postcards, and here is one from a series of Washington National Airport cards:

American Airlines Douglas DC-3 at Washington National Airport. Pub’r Air Terminal Services, Washington National Airport; Printer Capsco, Card ‘C’. ‘Linen’ finish.  

Starting in 1946, following the end of World War II, American introduced to its fleet four-engine Douglas DC-4s followed successively by DC-6s (1947) and DC-7s (1953). It also placed in service two-engine Convairs, being the first airline to order the model 240. Many postcards feature these propeller types. Here are a few.

11-Sz-American-Airlines-DC-6-Over-Manhattan,-Enell-no.-4,-PM-16-Sep-1957,-MGGoldman-Coll'n

American Airlines Douglas DC-6 over Manhattan.   Real photo postcard by Enell, no. 4. American was the first operator of the pressurized DC-6.

American Airlines Douglas DC-7, N334AA ‘Flagship Vermont’, at Los Angeles International Airport. Photo by Bill Eccles. Pub’r H. S. Crocker Co., Los Angeles, no. LA-1095. This aircraft was with American from 1956 to 1962. The nose of this DC-7 is on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC.

13-Sz-American-Convair-at-El-Paso,-Petley-653

American Airlines Convair 240, N94255, in fleet 1948-1953, at El Paso International Airport, Texas. Pub’r Petley Studios, El Paso, no. 653.

American became the first airline to order the turboprop Lockheed Electra, and the type entered service with American in January 1959, just a few days after Eastern.

Sz-14-American-Airlines-Lockheed-L-188-Electra,-N6125A,-at-Little-Rock,-Arkansas,-MGGoldman-Coll'n

American Airlines Lockheed L-188 Electra, L6125A, at Little Rock Municipal Airport, Arkansas. Pub’r Siebert News, Little Rock, Colourpicture no. P61020 L-7. Ex Deke Billings collection.

American entered the jet age with the Boeing 707. On 25 January 1959 American became the first airline to start domestic pure jet service in the U.S. with its own aircraft, its first 707 route being the prestigious nonstop transcontinental route between New York and Los Angeles. My own first flight with American was in May 1965 on one of their Boeing 707s, when I moved from Los Angeles to New York. This was the first of over 230 flights I’ve had on American. It was a great feeling to fly on American’s 707s, and this postcard tells it all.

Sz-15-American-Airlines-Boeing-707,-'Flying-Hi',-MGGoldman-Coll'n

American Airlines Boeing 707 ‘Flying Hi’. Pub’r Colourpicture, Boston Mass. no. P31749.

American also ordered Convair jets to its own specifications, which became the Convair CV-990, seeking an even faster transcontinental jet than the 707. However, this type’s entry into service was delayed until March 1962, and it proved less economical than the 707.

Sz-16-American-Airlines-Convair-990,-A-I,-MGGoldman-Coll'n

American Airlines Convair CV-990A. A/I no. T-151-12B, probably 1962. The postcard back calls the 990A ‘the most advanced jet airliner in commercial operation’.

The four-engine jets were soon followed by the classic workhouse short-haul tri-jet, the Boeing 727, operated by American starting in April 1962.

Sz-17-American-Airlines-Boeing-727,-A-I-T-152,-MGGoldman-Coll'n

American Airlines Boeing 727. A/I no. T-152, probably 1962.

In March 1966 American added to its fleet two-engine pure jet British Aircraft Corporation BAC 1-11-400s. Here is the front and back of an unusual postcard-sized card issued by American, apparently by its Chicago office, which has a local Chicago to St. Louis timetable on its back.

Sz-18-American-Airlines-BAC-1-11-400,-Schedule-Postcard,-A-I,-Front,-MGGoldman-Coll'n

American Airlines BAC 1-11-400. A/I, 1966, apparently by American’s Chicago office. Ex Deke Billings collection. The timetable on its back shows flights between Chicago and St. Louis being operated by four different aircraft types of four different manufacturers! — Douglas DC-6, Lockheed Electra, Boeing 727, and the highlighted BAC-1-11-400s. Take your pick! 

Back of foregoing American Airlines BAC 1-11-400 card.

In March 1970 American placed into commercial service the Boeing 747 jumbo jet, the first wide-body two-aisle aircraft.

American Airlines Boeing 747-100. A/I no. T152, 1970. 12.7×25.4 cms. (Naturally, for a jumbo aircraft American had to issue a jumbo postcard).   The livery shown was introduced in 1967 and continued as American’s main color scheme until 2013. Waiting at JFK Airport to board an American Airlines 707, flight 1 to Los Angeles, on 27 February 1970, I noticed a large crowd gathering at a nearby gate and gawking at the most humongous plane I had ever seen. American had parked their first brand new 747-100 so their local cabin and ground crews could practice their new work duties. That was my first actual view of a 747. Two weeks later, on my return flight ‘AA 2’ from LAX to JFK, I flew in a new American 747. 

Meanwhile, Douglas Aircraft developed the wide-body tri-jet Douglas DC-10, and American became the first operator of the type, a DC-10-10, on 5 August 1971.

Sz-21-American-Airlines-DC-10-Cutaway-Interior,-Oversize,-MGGoldman-Coll'n

American Airlines Douglas DC-10-10, Cutaway View. A/I, 1971. 15.2×22.8 cms. Ex Allan Van Wickler collection.

Except for operating later series of the 747 and DC-10, and the MD-11, all of American’s subsequent aircraft types have been two-engine aircraft.

Sz-22-American-MD-80s-at-DFW,-Texas-Postcard-Co.-D-150-711

American Airlines MD-80 series aircraft at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Pub’r The Texas Postcard Co., Plano TX, no. D-150 711. For short hauls, the MD-80 series aircraft became a classic workhorse for American, and they were heavily utilized at American’s DFW Airport hub. At the southern end of DFW, in Fort Worth, Texas, American maintains its world headquarters, flight training academy, and the American Airlines C. R. Smith Museum.

American Airlines Boeing 757. A/I. This card and the next are two of the relatively few postcards issued by American since 1990 that show aircraft.

Sz-24-American-Airlines-Fleet-Types,-A-I,-MGGoldman-Coll'n

American Airlines 8-Airliner View Card. A/I. Part of a series of postcards issued between 1991 and 2001, at the same time as the preceding card.

I do not have a postcard issued by American that shows its new aircraft livery introduced in 2013. However, for those postcard collectors who also collect airline-issue postcard-sized advertising cards, particularly those featuring aircraft, here is a beautiful American airline-issue card featuring their Boeing 777 in the new livery. The back of the card advertises American’s ‘Travel Center’ in New York City.

Sz-25-American-Airlines-777-Advertising-Card-Issued-by-AA-New-York-City

American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER in New Livery. On 17 January 2013 American unveiled its new livery on its first Boeing 777-300ER aircraft which went into service later that month. Advertising card issued by American’s New York City Manhattan office in 2015.

Over the years American Airlines has acquired several other airlines. Here is a selection of postcards issued by airlines that became absorbed into the American Airlines system.

In 1945 American acquired American Export Airlines and renamed it American Overseas Airlines (‘AOA’). AOA was utilized for trans-Atlantic routes to Europe, particularly London, Copenhagen and Hamburg. American Airlines eventually sold AOA to Pan Am in 1950.

American Export Airlines Vought-Sikorsky VS-44 ‘Excalibur’, NX41880. Part of the LaGuardia Airport series of 21 cards issued in 1944 or 1945. Pub’r Harry H. Baumann, New York NY, no. E-6202. ‘Linen’ finish. A companion card with a different VS-44 view is also part of the set as no. E-6203.

Noted airline postcard collector Doug Bastin of Chester, England, sent to me scans of several rare American Overseas Airlines postcards from his collection for possible use in this article. Here are three of them.

American Overseas Airlines Lockheed Constellation at London Heathrow at the original temporary hutted terminal, viewed from the first public viewing facility. (Now, how’s that for a great plane spotter’s view?). Pub’r E A Wilson. Doug Bastin collection.

American Overseas Airlines Douglas DC-4 at Copenhagen. Pub’r F. Munthe no. 5572. Doug Bastin collection.   According to Doug, there is a companion card, no. 5573, showing AOA DC-4 N90906, Flagship Copenhagen’ with AOA titles, being refueled at Copenhagen, and it’s possible the titles were removed from this no. 5572 postcard image following the sale of AOA to Pan Am.

American Overseas Airlines Boeing B-377 Stratocruiser, N90941 Flagship Great Britain, at Zurich. Swissair Photo no. 5199. Doug Bastin collection. According to Doug, the image clearly shows the Curtiss propellers unique to the AOA and United Airlines fleets. A companion card, no. 5200, shows a different view of this aircraft in Zurich, apparently taken at the same time. Bruce Charkow’s original of that companion card appears in the postcard column of The Captain’s Log ‘Majestic Propliners’ issue, Spring 2013.

Other significant airlines acquired by American Airlines from the 1970s to the present include Trans Caribbean Airways, Air California, Reno Air, TWA and US Airways. Here is a postcard selection.

Trans Caribbean Airways Douglas DC-8. A/I. Trans Caribbean operated mainly from New York, and also from Washington DC, to Caribbean destinations. Trans Caribbean merged into American Airlines in 1971.

Air California Boeing 737-200, N463GB, in fleet 1968-72. A/I no. 160578, postmarked 14 January 1970. Ex Deke Billings collection. Air California was founded in 1967, initially to operate flights within California out of Orange County airport. It changed its name to AirCal in 1981, and was acquired by American Airlines in 1987.

Reno Air McDonnell Douglas MD-80 series. A/I. Reno Air operated from 1992 until 1999 when it was acquired by American Airlines. 

Trans World Airlines (TWA) Boeing 767-200 in the airline’s last color scheme before being acquired by American Airlines. A/I. Printer, Platz Press. TWA was one of the most noted airlines in aviation history. It operated from 1925 until 2001 when it was merged into American. TWA was featured in issue 26-1 of The Captain’s Log (2001).

Sz-34-US-Airways-A330-300,-A-I,-MGGoldman-Coll'n

US Airways Airbus A330-300. A/I. US Airways traces its history back to 1937. Predecessor airlines include Allegheny (name changed from All American Airways), Lake Central, Mohawk, Pacific Southwest (PSA), Piedmont and American West. In 1979 the airline adopted the name ‘US Air’ and then changed it in early 1997 to ‘US Airways’. The lengthy merger process of US Airways into American Airlines was completed in 2015. The Captain’s Log issue of 26-2 (2001) featured US Airways.

‘American Eagle’ is a brand name started by American Airlines in 1984 as a means of partnering with small regional airlines, with coordination of regional flights to feed into American’s network. Aircraft would be painted in an American Eagle livery, but be operated by one of several regional airlines. During 1987-89 American Airlines acquired most of its partner feeder airlines. However, starting in 2012 American Airlines started contracting out its ‘American Eagle’ brand to increasing numbers of independently owned regional airlines. Here is just one sample postcard of the many airlines that have flown under the ‘American Eagle’ brand.

Sz-35-American-Eagle-Embraer-120,-N124AM

American Eagle Embraer 120 Brasilia, N124AM of Air Midwest at Wichita, Kansas, August 1986. BUCHairCARD 8736. Air Midwest operated from 1985 to 1988 when its assets were acquired by AMR, American Airlines’ holding company.  

Notes: Except as noted, all postcards shown are standard or continental size and from the author’s collection. I estimate their rarity as follows: Rare: the Colonial and American Airways cards, the American Airlines Curtiss Condor, Vultee, DC-2 and BAC 1-11-400 cards, and the American Overseas Airlines Constellation and B-377 Stratocruiser cards; Uncommon: the American Airlines two DC-3 DST cards and the DC-6, DC-7, Convair 240, Electra, 747-100 and DC-10-10 cards, and the American Export Airlines VS-44 and American Overseas Airlines DC-4 card; the rest are fairly common.

Airliners International 2016 New Orleans — Postcard Contest.  Many thanks to all who submitted the beautiful entries in the AI 2016 postcard contest.  Congratulations to the prize winners: 1st place, William Demarest, ‘Unusual Boeing 727-100 Postcards’; 2d place, John Bretch, ‘Convair 880/990’, and 3d place, William Baird, ‘Fokker F27’.  Thanks also to the three postcard contest judges, Armen Avakian, Rick Neyland, and Peter Winck.

The AI 2017 show in Denver will also have a Postcard Contest.  You are invited to submit an entry–it’s fun and also promotes our airline postcard collecting passion.  The contest rules are posted on the AI 2017 website.

References:

Davies, R.E.G. Airlines of the United States since 1914, Smithsonian Press (1972), and Airlines of the Jet Age, Smithsonian (2011).

Bedwell, Don. Silverbird: The American Airlines Story. Airways International (1999).

American Airlines website, aa.com, links at ‘About us’, ‘History of American Airlines’ (2016).

Wikipedia online articles on American Airlines and its predecessors and affiliates.

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World 40 Rarest Junior Wings

This article is a part of The Captain’s Log, Issue 40-4, Spring 2016
Written by Lane Kranz

To celebrate the Captain’s Log 40th Anniversary we have put together a list of the World’s 40 Rarest Junior Wings. I have collaborated with the world’s greatest junior wing collectors to assemble this list. Many thanks to Dave Cherkis, Bill Gawchik, Jose Gonzales, Cameron Fleming, and Bryan Mellon for sharing wings from their outstanding collections as well as their expertise. Together, the six of us voted on the Top 10 and we present this list to celebrate 40 Years of collecting. Also, a very honorable mention to long time collector, mentor, and friend Stan Baumwald for being the “godfather” of junior wings and his contributions, as well.

Collecting junior wings is certainly a ‘niche’ hobby. WAHS member Bryan Mellon shared his story on how he got started collecting junior wings. In 1980, Bryan was five years old and his family moved to Japan. He flew four different airlines between Richmond and Tokyo. At the end of the trip, he had four different junior wings (Eastern, Delta, Western, and Northwest) and he was hooked on collecting. Today, Bryan is a pilot for Alaska Airlines and he still has those original four wings from his trip.

My experience started in the early 1980s as a young teenager. I started collecting timetables, post cards, junior wings, and just about anything airline related. In 1985 I attended my first Airliner’s International convention in San Jose, California. I was in heaven. These were my kind of people! I was hooked. Over the next few years I began to realize that I needed to narrow my focus to junior wings and timetables. One story comes to mind from my early days as a junior wing collector. I was a college student in 1989 and I didn’t have much money. I ran into Stan Baumwald at an airliner show and he was selling a Texas International junior wing for $40. He told me it was really rare and hard to find, but $40 was just too much for my college student budget. I passed on that one. I spent the next 20 years regretting my decision as that wing is extremely rare and hard to find. I eventually found another one, but it cost me a lot more than forty bucks! I guess they call that perspective. Today, I’m a pilot for Delta Air Lines and collecting junior wings is still one of my greatest passions.

I realize this list is quite subjective and everyone will have their own opinion. However, the purpose of this list is to showcase the best of the best from the world’s greatest junior wing collectors. Here are the 40 Rarest

Junior Wings in the World:

Keep Collecting,

Lane

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American Airlines,Best Airlines,Braniff International Airlines,Continental Airlines,Delta Air Lines,featured,Frontier Airlines,Horizon Airlines,Midway Airlines,North Central Airlines,Northwest Airlines,Ozark Airlines,Pride Air,Southern Airways,Southwest Airlines,Sunair,timetables,USAir,World Airways

Timetables: Looking Back, Looking Forward

This article appeared in The Captain’s Log, Issue 40-4, Spring 2016
Written by David Keller

Editor’s Note: Some images/figures are spread throughout the article. Images referenced in the article that do not appear within the article body are included in a slideshow gallery at the bottom.

1975. The average American family didn’t have mobile phones, computers or internet service, and TV options consisted of the handful of local stations nearby. Except for a few visionaries, we wouldn’t have been able to imagine the digitally connected world of today.

Most commercial jetliners were manufactured in the US, with DC-9s, 737s and 727s (especially 727s!) just about everywhere. You could walk up to a ticket counter in nearly any airport or ticket office and come away with a printed timetable for your efforts. And the first issue of Captain’s Log was distributed by the World Airline Hobby Club (WAHC).

All fares and route authority in the US had to be approved by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB). Fares generally fell into a few basic categories (Coach, First Class, etc.) and (with some limited exceptions) did not differ between carriers. It also wasn’t possible to fly nonstop between certain cities, such as between Denver and Atlanta (which even then were two of the nation’s busiest airports).

Figure 1

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 2

The 11 trunk and 8 local airlines typically operated with load factors that hovered around 50%. And it was possible to book a multi-stop flight in many markets.

The cover of the illustrated Delta timetable dated October 26, 1975, shows the airline’s special bicentennial logo. [Fig. 1] Later issues (i.e., March 1, 1976) depicted the widget with stars and stripes overlaid on it, which was the design that was applied to the logo near the forward door on Delta’s fleet. [Fig. 2] The itinerary section finds the workhorse DC-9s operating a number of multi-stop flights with as many as 9 segments.

Figure 3

Figure 3

American Airlines’ October 26, 1975 timetable shows another feature that disappeared shortly thereafter; fares for each route. While some routes only display the traditional Coach, Night Coach, First Class, and Deluxe Night Coach fares, others show various Excursion fares, which were an early step that would lead to the proliferation of fares in existence today. [Fig. 3]

Figure 4

Figure 4

For those not in a hurry, Frontier Airlines’ June 1, 1976 timetable offered a leisurely five stop itinerary between Dallas and Memphis, which required just over 4 ½ hours. This timetable also shows Frontier’s pending route applications, including the coveted Denver/Atlanta service. [Fig. 4]

Figure 5

Figure 5

While the trunk carriers operated all-jet fleets, each of the local carriers had a fleet of propeller aircraft to serve smaller communities. While in most cases that meant turboprops, Southern Airways bucked the trend by keeping a fleet of piston-powered Martin 404s in service. The March 1, 1975 timetable shows service from Atlanta, with the Martins identified by 800-series flight numbers. [Fig. 5]

By the mid-1970’s, the local carriers were eager to dispose of their remaining propeller aircraft, and in order to do so, often collaborated with commuter airlines to take over routes that were not suitable for larger pure-jet equipment. (In other cases, commuter airlines jumped in on their own to fill perceived voids in service.)

Figure 6

Figure 6

The result was a large number of commuter airlines being formed in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Many failed in short order, the most drastic example being Sunair in Florida which reportedly only operated a single flight. The timetable dated January 15, 1981, shows that service was planned for 15 Florida cities. [Fig. 6]

Figure 7

Figure 7

Other commuter airlines achieved much greater success. Horizon Airlines began service from Seattle to Yakima on September 1, 1981. The airline was able to capitalize on opportunities that arose when competitors abandoned markets (or went out of business), and was later able to establish a relationship with Alaska Airlines which is still in effect to this day. [Fig. 7]

In late 1978, the US airline industry was turned on its head with the passage of the Airline Deregulation Act. This allowed airlines far more freedom to set their own fares and enter new markets. Initially, carriers were allowed to apply for “dormant” route authority, (i.e., authority being held by other airlines but not being operated). In addition they were allowed free entry into a single market of their choosing.

Figure 8

Figure 8

Figure 9

Figure 9

Recipients of new route authority had a relatively short time frame in which to start service, or risk losing that authority. This meant that many new routes were opened in late 1978 and early 1979, and were often promoted on the timetables.

Ozark and North Central both issued timetables dated December 15, 1978, which trumpeted new service to highly sought after markets, most notably, Florida. On this date, Ozark began serving 4 Florida cities, while North Central added 5. [Fig. 8] [Fig. 9]

Some airlines were cautious, only adding a small number of routes and new destinations. Continental’s timetable dated January 15, 1979 shows Washington D.C. as the only destination added by the carrier. [Fig. 10] National Airlines added San Juan and Seattle, with both being promoted in the March 2, 1979 timetable. [Fig. 11]

Figure 12

Figure 12

On the other hand, there was Braniff International Airways which threw caution to the wind. They camped out at the CAB to be first in line when applications were being accepted for dormant routes. Their December 15, 1978 timetable shows 30 new routes being operated, and 15 cities added to the network. It was a go-for-broke strategy, and succeeded in bankrupting the airline less than 3 ½ years later. [Fig. 12]

Figure 13

Figure 13

Another facet of Deregulation was the certification of new carriers for scheduled service. The first to take advantage of this were the supplemental airlines, which already had fleets and staff available. World, Capitol and Trans International were all operating scheduled services by the summer of 1979.

World Airways wasted no time transitioning to scheduled service. The timetable dated April 12, 1979 shows daily flights shows 2 roundtrips being operated between Newark and Los Angeles, with continuing service to Baltimore and Oakland. [Fig. 13]

Figure 14

Figure 14

The first brand-new startup was Midway Airlines. The timetable dated October 31, 1979 shows new service from Chicago’s then under-utilized Midway Airport to Cleveland, Detroit and Kansas City. Prior to that point, service to Midway Airport consisted of a handful of lightly-loaded flights. Within a few years, Midway Airlines had built the airport into a busy hub, attracting millions of passengers and numerous airlines. [Fig. 14]

The floodgates were opened, and many new airlines were proposed in the next few years. Some never made it off paper, and others never got into the air. And of those that did, most only lasted a few years, some, only months.

So many new airlines were being created, that the traditional 2 letter airline codes were being used up. At first, duplicate codes were assigned to scheduled airlines which had previously been assigned to airlines not offering scheduled services. Then, in 1981, airline codes began to appear which had numeric digits to increase the number of possible codes and alleviate the problem.

Figure 15

Figure 15

Best Airlines began service in 1982, and the timetable dated September 13, 1982 shows 2 aircraft operating to 10 destinations. Best may have been the most mobile airline ever, as it seemed that they dropped destinations and added new ones with almost every new timetable. Operations ceased in late 1985. [Fig. 15]

Figure 16

Figure 16

New Orleans-based Pride Air enjoyed a much shorter run. The inaugural timetable dated August 1, 1985 features service to 15 destinations, as the carrier attempted to establish a hub on the Gulf Coast. Only one additional timetable was issued (on October 1) before operations were halted in mid-November. [Fig. 16]

By the mid-1980’s, the tide turned, and the number of airlines operating in the US began dropping. One reason was that most of the new entrants failed rather quickly, as previously mentioned. Another was that the mainline carriers were establishing code-sharing arrangements with the commuter airlines, to provide a common brand, such as American Eagle or Northwest Airlink. The advantage to the qualifying airlines cannot be overstated, and those without such agreements found it difficult to complete. Some merged, and most eventually ceased operations, either voluntarily or otherwise.

In the second half of the 1980’s a number of major carriers were absorbed through mergers, Air Cal, Ozark, Piedmont, PSA, Republic and Western among them. From a timetable standpoint, some of those carriers disappeared without any mention by the surviving airline.

Figure 17

Figure 17

USAir’s timetable dated April 9, 1988 promotes its acquisition of PSA. Perhaps not the best combination from both equipment and route structure viewpoints, most of PSA’s routes would be dropped within a few years as Southwest expanded its presence on the West Coast, and USAir dealt with the acquisition of Piedmont. [Fig. 17]

Figure 18

Figure 18

A somewhat scarce timetable (given its recent vintage) is Northwest Airlines’ issue dated October 1, 1986. [Fig. 18] This is the only “full” system timetable (showing both direct and connecting flights) that was issued after the merger with Republic Airlines. (There were a few international timetables which did show connections but not all services were included.) Northwest changed to a “Frequent Flyer” format, which contained only direct flights, a format which was eventually adopted by nearly all major airlines in the US.

The early 1990’s saw the United States and numerous other coalition members go to war with Iraq. Most airlines struggled with the resulting travel downturn, some went to bankruptcy court, and others failed outright. Midway Airlines became one those casualties in 1991, halting operations after almost 12 years, and having outlasted dozens of airlines that started service in that period.

By the middle of the decade, business conditions were improving, and the allure of the industry was too tempting for some, resulting in a new round of airline creation. Some created “hub” operations in unlikely places such as Colorado Springs, Reno, and Savannah. Others offered service from under-utilized airports serving large cities, to avoid the congestion and higher costs involved with operating to the more popular stations.

Figure 19

Figure 19

Western Pacific inaugurated service in 1995, with the intention of using Colorado Springs as an alternative to the recently opened Denver International Airport, which was 19 miles further from downtown Denver than Stapleton. Particularly for customers in Denver’s southern suburbs, the trip to Colorado Springs was judged to be not much greater than that to the new airport.

The carrier’s timetable dated October 29, 1995 shows several of the airline’s Logojets, which were essentially flying billboards that the company used as an additional source of revenue. The Colorado Springs hub did not work out, and by 1997, the carrier was exploring a merger with Frontier Airlines and moving its operations to Denver. The merger plans did not materialize, and Western Pacific shut down shortly thereafter. [Fig. 19]

Figure 20

Figure 20

While most of the 1990’s era new entrants suffered the same fate as those from a decade earlier, one survived in an unusual way. AirTran Airways was a 737 operator based in Orlando. The carrier’s August 15, 1994 timetable shows service from Orlando to a half-dozen destinations. [Fig. 20]

Odds are AirTran’s story would have ended in bankruptcy like most of the other startups of the period. However, the tragic crash of a Valujet DC-9 in May 1996 while that airline was already being investigated for lax safety procedures, led to the carrier’s grounding several months later. Desperately needing a way to bury the Valujet name while avoiding the obvious implications of a straight forward name change, the airline purchased AirTran the following year. Despite Valujet being the surviving organization, the AirTran name was retained, and persevered until the completion of the merger with Southwest Airlines in 2014.

The events that unfolded following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 shook the airline industry to its core. A number of the 90’s startups failed shortly thereafter, and even most of the major carriers were forced into bankruptcy as cash reserves were depleted.

Figure 21

Figure 21

One of several startups in the 1990’s to recycle the names of airlines from the past was Las Vegas-based National Airlines. A struggling 757 operator that never seemed to find its market, National was already in financial difficulty before 9/11, and ceased operations the following year. [Fig. 21]

Another impact of September 11th, was to hasten the phase out of printed timetables. That day was already coming, given the rapid expansion of internet access worldwide. But the financial hardships being faced by the airlines in the post-9/11 world made printed timetables expendable, and most airlines discontinued their printing shortly thereafter.

Figure 22

Figure 22

American Airlines was one of the carriers whose aircraft were used in the attacks, and the few timetables produced afterwards mirrored the mood of the nation, displaying very somber cover designs as depicted by the January 31, 2002 issue. Their final printed timetable was issued less than a year after 9/11. [Fig. 22]

The last major US airline to issue a printed timetable was Southwest Airlines in 2009. The May 11, 2008 timetable is one of the many “faces” issues that had been the standard since the early 1990’s. [Fig. 23]

Figure 23

Figure 23

The years since have been notable for both the “unbundling” of fares and mega-mergers in the industry. The first involves removing items that were previously included in the purchase of a ticket (e.g., snacks, checked luggage, carry ons, advance seat selection), and charging separately for them. This allowed airlines to advertise lower fares, while turning those add-ons into a substantial revenue source.

These ancillary fees now amount to billions of dollars in revenue industry-wide, and the Ultra Low Cost Carriers such as Allegiant and Spirit make a substantial percentage of their total revenue in this manner. Air and seat belts are still included in the basic ticket price … for now.

The mergers of the past decade have brought the industry very close to the result envisioned by some industry analysts when Deregulation was being considered nearly 40 years ago. Several predicted that the ensuing competitive battles would leave American, Delta and United as the survivors to divvy up most of the US market. (It would have been difficult to predict that a small airline which hadn’t yet left the state of Texas would be able to enter the ranks of those well-entrenched carriers.)

While the airline industry in other parts of the world didn’t necessarily follow the same timelines as it did in the US, most areas experienced similar changes. Air service has largely been deregulated and/or liberalized, and the established legacy carriers are struggling to compete with new startup carriers. Additionally, although 9/11 was an attack on the United States, airlines worldwide felt its impact.

2016. The vast majority of folks in the developed world have access to digital content via computers, tablets, phones, or even watches, and have hundreds of TV channels to choose from. Most of us would have difficulty disconnecting from our electronic connections to the world, and find the memory of life without them fading quickly. (Although I do find it a bit annoying that after all the years of finding schedules for my home town, St. Louis, alphabetized as “Saint Louis” in printed timetables, they are now sorted in online schedules by the abbreviated spelling, and appear after San Francisco, Seattle, South Bend, etc.)

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus has wrestled approximately 50% of the commercial jetliner market from the US. Printed timetables would be eligible for the endangered species list (if such items qualified for inclusion), and are inevitably headed for extinction.

Yield management is so specialized it seems each individual seat has its own fare. And that fare can change from one day to the next.

The four remaining major carriers account for the vast majority of passenger miles flown, and do so with planes frequently 90% full with higher seat densities than ever before.

And this year will mark a transition for The Captain’s Log publication of the World Airlines Historical Society, which move from print to digital distribution. I’m not sure exactly where this journey leads (other than knowing that the images I include in my upcoming articles will be seen in full color rather than black and white), but I’m on board and looking forward to the trip!

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