Carriers of the Caribbean

Written by Charlie Dolan

As I continue to bounce around the globe, I thought that after the recent meteorological events of the past month called for a visit to the Caribbean. When my wife and I were stationed in Bermuda between 2002 and 2007, we experienced two hurricanes, but nothing like the devastation wrought on the Bahama Islands. We hunkered down for almost a full day during each event, but our houses withstood the winds. I can’t begin to understand what the people on Abaco went through or when they will be able return to their former lives.

I will open the display with the wings of Bahamasair. I am not sure which of the wings has the proper orientation, but I suspect that the bullion thread wing is aligned properly. The solder on the metal might have allowed slippage during assembly.

The ALM insignia show six stars. The later insignia lost one of the stars when Aruba became independent. Air Jamaica was helped “off the ground” by Air Canada which sent crews to train the local pilots on the operation of the Boeing 727s, DC- 8s and 9s, some of which came from Air Canada.

The CDA cap badge of Dominicana shows the outline of the island of Hispaniola, with Haiti and the Dominican Republic in different colors.

With hopes that the tropical cyclone season ends quickly, I attach the wings and badges of the Caribbean carriers.

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Junior Wings of Transamerica Airlines

Written by Lane Kranz

Transamerica Airlines was a fascinating airline with an intriguing past. The website www.transamericaairlines.org is operated by former employees. They provided the following brief history.

Brief History of Trans America Airlines
Kirk Kerkorian started operations of Los Angeles Air Services in 1948. The airline was renamed Trans International Airlines (TIA) in 1960. Kerkorian took TIA public in 1967 and used the additional cash to build a casino in Vegas called The International (later the Las Vegas Hilton). He managed to get Barbra Streisand and legendary Elvis to perform and the new hotel and those two helped to set Vegas attendance records. In the early Super70s, he bought MGM Studios in Hollywood and returned to Las Vegas to build the MGM Grand hotel (now Bally’s).

The financial services giant Transamerica began diversifying in the 1960s and ended up owning a movie distributor, a car rental agency, a machinery manufacturer, and yes this airline – though it did not change it’s name to Transamerica Airlines until 1979.

After buying TIA in 1968, Transamerica acquired Universal Airlines and Saturn Airways in the Super70s. TIA was a cargo and charter airline until deregulation. On November 2, 1979, scheduled passenger flights began for the first time on a New York-Shannon-Amsterdam route, which was just the beginning of several transatlantic routes.

An inability to operate profitably left Transamerica, which was divesting itself of its non-core businesses, looking for a buyer for the airline. It could not find one and shut down Transamerica Airlines on September 30, 1986.

Trans International issued one junior wing (1960s) and Transamerica issued one junior wing (1979-1980s).

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Departed Wings ~ Muse Air (MC)

Written by Jon Jamieson

1980-1985 || Dallas, Texas

In the few years after deregulation, many airlines were started to serve a niche market and take advantage of the new, un-regulated environment. One such airline was Muse Air, which took the name of its founder, former Southwest Airlines President, Lamar Muse. Hoping to capitalize on a new “class” of service, Muse Air was officially formed on October 27, 1980, and within a few months $34 million in start-up capital had been generated.

Muse Air started service with two leased McDonnell Douglas MD-80s while awaiting delivery of their own. Seen taxiing at Dallas-Love Field in July 1981, is N10029, a McDonnell Douglas MD-81.

The airline selected the new McDonnell Douglas MD-80 as its aircraft of choice with leather seating for 159-passengers and Stage III noise compliance. Wearing a stylized signature script along the fuselage of its new MD-80s, Muse Air officially launched service on July 15, 1981, from a Dallas-Love Field base to Houston-Hobby Airport. Unique and controversial at the time, Muse Air was the first U.S. airline to institute a “No-Smoking” policy on all of its flights.

Prior to delivery, one of Muse Air’s new MD-82s was used by McDonnell Douglas on a world-wide sales tour. Taxiing for takeoff at Long Beach Airport in November 1982, is N934MC “Friendship 82.”

Over the next year, Muse Air expanded operations beyond Texas, starting service to both Los Angeles and Tulsa. During 1983, Muse Air acquired the smaller Douglas DC-9-50 for intra-Texas services to San Antonio, Lubbock, and Austin. The airline struggled with main competitor Southwest Airlines for routes, gate space, and fares resulting in mounting losses that Lamer Muse stepped down in 1984, replaced by his son Michael.

Proudly displaying its “signature” logo, N933MC, a McDonnell Douglas MD-82, departs San Jose Airport in December 1984.

Although new cities were added such as the high-tech City of San Jose, the airline continued to struggle with finances brought on by fare wars with both Southwest and Continental Airlines. By early 1985, with continued management changes and finances in the “red,” the airline sought offers for possible purchase. During this time, the airline continued to expand adding passenger service to points in Florida and Oklahoma.

Awaiting takeoff clearance on Runway 25 at Las Vegas-McCarren Airport in February 1986, is N670MC, a Douglas DC-9-51.

In March 1985, Southwest Airlines offered $60 million for the purchase of Muse Air, much to the dismay of both Continental Airlines and America West Airlines. With approval from both the Justice Department and Department of Transportation (DOT), Muse Air became a wholly owned subsidiary of Southwest Airline under the new name Transtar Airlines on June 27, 1985.

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Junior Wings of West Coast Airlines

Written by Lane Kranz


West Coast Airlines (WCA) began operations in 1946 with a pair of DC-3s from Boeing Field in Seattle. In 1952 West Coast merged with Empire Airlines and in 1955 West Coast became one of the 13 Local Service Carriers granted permanent operating certificates. West Coast operated DC-3s, F-27s, Piper Navajo’s, and DC-9s. In 1968 a 3-way merger between West Coast Airlines, Pacific Air Lines, and Bonanza Airlines created a new carrier, known briefly as Air West, and later as Hughes Air West. Their legacy continued over the next several decades as Hughes Air West was acquired by Republic Airlines, then Northwest Airlines, and later Delta Air Lines. Ironically, Delta Air Lines now operates a growing and thriving hub at SEA, only 7 ½ miles from West Coast’s original headquarters at Boeing Field.

West Coast issued 4 known junior wings. Each of these wings are laminated plastic with a pin on the back. The wings with the WCA logo are from the 1940s and 1950s era. The wings with the newer, stylized logo are from the early to mid-1960s. A rare piece of history from a remarkable airline.

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While we’re in the neighborhood

Written by Charlie Dolan

The last article I submitted dealt with the air carriers of Australia through the years. Rather than spin the globe severely, let’s just go , as the locals in Bermuda would say, “Down ‘de road a bit.” Or, in this case, a bit north in the Pacific Ocean. Our destination – New Guinea and Papua New Guinea. Because of the distances involved and the difficult topography, air travel was, and remains, a necessity. Back in the late 1970s I was going through an in-flight magazine of one of these companies. I’m not sure which one it was, but a disconcerting fact was that one of the articles dealt with the discovery f a World War II crash site and the recovery of the remains of the crew. A difficult way to reduce the unease of the passengers.

Air New Zealand NZ ANZ 1940 (as TEAL) 1965-present

Air Niugini PX ANG 1973 – present (Papua New Guinea)

Air Pacific Now Fiji Airways FJ FJI . 1947 -present

Mount Cook Airlines NM NZM 1920 – present

New Zealand National Airways Corporation NZ 1947 – 1978 Merged with ANZ

Tasman Empire Airways Limited T.E.A.L. TE 1940 – 1965 Became Air New Zealand

 

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“Down-under” Airlines

Written by Charlie Dolan

Just to keep our heads and globes spinning, I decided to jump from the North Atlantic to the South Pacific for this Log article. Once you have all completed your crossing the Equator ceremonies we’ll get started with looking at those lines which operated under a completely set of constellations. (celestial, not Lockheed).

                     Aeropelican APL PO 1971-1980 (to Ansett)

                        Ansett Airways AAA AN 1936-2002

                    Ansett Flying Boat Service 1952-1974

                      Ansett New South Wales 1990-1993

                    Compass Airlines YM CYM 1990-1993

                   East – West Airlines EW EWA 1947-1993

                              QANTAS QFA 1920-present

                McRobertson Miller Airlines MV 1927-1993

     Trans Australia Airlines TN TAA 1946-1994 (to QANTAS)

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An Ode to the Observation Decks at JFK

                                         (Photo by Mel Lawrence, Shea Oakley collection)

You might notice the silhouetted figures of several individuals on the roof of the building above and behind the photo of this Pan Am DC-8-33 taken in the 1960’s. They are members of the public enjoying what was once the largest observation deck at JFK International Airport. It encompassed all of the International Arrivals Building (IAB) and its East and West Wing, including piers, for over a decade after the terminal’s opening in 1957.

While the IAB roof was perhaps the most impressive of the Idlewild/Kennedy observation decks it was by no means the only one. In those pre-terrorism days both the Eastern Terminal (on the site of the current Terminal 1) and, later, the BOAC Unit Terminal (the current Terminal 7) had open-air decks. There was also an enclosed viewing area just beneath the cab of the original control tower. This was open to the public until the early 1970s (the author remembers visiting it while a young Port Authority volunteer intern in the mid 1980s. At the time it still had identification photos and descriptions of airliners in use circa 1960 mounted under glass.)

By the 1970s, all that remained of the original IAB deck was a small section in what was called the “center of the U” in the central part of the building across from the control tower. It too was finally closed in the 1980s.

One other excellent place for public observation of JFK flight operations existed after 1973; the rooftop parking lot of the Pan Am “Worldport” terminal, which was the now-demolished Terminal 3. From here there were excellent views all around of takeoffs on the long “Bay Runway” (13R-31L), ramp action at the Pan Am terminal itself, and then the West Wing of the IAB and the Northwest/Delta terminal (now T-2) on either side. As security concerns mounted at Pan Am during the second half of the 1980s, a large fence with panels eliminated the view from the Worldport roof almost entirely.

Today, there is an open-air section of the new Delta Terminal 4 extension, but it is located post-security and open to Delta Sky Club members only. In a sad sign of the times, no dedicated viewing areas remain at John F. Kennedy International, though the developer’s plans for the upcoming TWA Hotel at Terminal 5 include mention of a 10,000 square foot public observation deck.

Article previously published on NYCaviation.com

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Airlines of the Atlantic

After bouncing around Africa and Asia, it felt right to follow along alphabetically and pay attention to air carriers which operate primarily from bases in or near the Atlantic Ocean. So, make sure you have your anti mal de Mer pills handy and enjoy the images.

Due to its longevity and several mergers, Icelandair is represented with several iterations of insignia. Carriers which formed today’s Icelandair included Flugfelag Islands, Loftleidir and finally Icelandair.  The story behind the two versions of Loftleidir insignia is that the “IAL” for “Iceland Air Loftleidir” was dropped because folks (and guessing those were New Yorkers at KIDL) would point to the insignia and say “Right, Icelandair’s Always Late”.

Air Atlanta Iceland  CC  ABD          1986 – present

Loftleidir         LL                               1944 – 1979

Eagle Air (Arnarflug) IS FEI 1970 – 1995

Greenlandair (Gronlandsfly)  GL GRL  1960 – 2002

Icelandair        FI  ICE                        1937 – present


Loftleidir         LL                               1944 – 1979

SATA (Air Acores)          SP SAT     1947 present (Sociedad Acoreana de Transportes Aereos)

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Charred Seats and Cow Pies: The Day a Flamingo Ran with the Bulls

By Russell Goutierez

Unscheduled landings are surprisingly common in the airline industry. Typically, some unforeseen event or condition causes a brief stop, after which the flight continues to the intended destination. Such was also the case for Captain Lionel “Steve” Stephan and his four passengers, if in a very memorable fashion – so memorable that he started his incident report by writing, “Oh boy, did I get the devil scared out of me today.”

Captain Stephan graduated from the Embry-Riddle Flying School in 1928. He flew for the Embry-Riddle Company, which then was based in Cincinnati, and for the Aviation Corporation (AVCO) after the two companies merged in 1929.



Captain Lionel “Steve” Stephan and his 1928 Embry-Riddle diploma. (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Archives)

On November 8, 1930, Captain Stephan – just 21 years old at the time – was the pilot and sole crew member aboard NC656E, a Metal Aircraft Corporation Flamingo G-2. Powered by a 410-hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial engine, the Flamingo carried a pilot and seven passengers and operated on Contract Air Mail Route 24 (CAM-24), which was awarded to Embry-Riddle in 1927 and remained with AVCO following the merger. CAM-24 linked Cincinnati and Chicago by way of Indianapolis.

Circa Autumn 1929. Note schedule at top left and delightful details like “CAM 24” in cover logo (it was Embry-Riddle’s only route) and “USE AIR MAIL” in bottom stripe (mail, not passengers, kept carriers solvent then). The USD 35.00 one-way fare equals about USD 540.00 in 2019, and included free airport transportation and 25 lbs. of luggage, with excess charged at 25 cents a pound. (Björn Larsson’s collection at www.timetableimages.com)

Pics inside the timetable included the Flamingo “air liner,” its “luxuriously furnished, tastefully appointed interior,” and the “control room.” The two “ultra-comfortably upholstered seats” forward are the ones that lost their hind legs to the fire. (Björn Larsson’s collection at www.timetableimages.com)

Workers load mail onto an Embry-Riddle Company Flamingo serving CAM-24 in February, 1929. (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Archives)

The excitement began shortly after the intermediate stop at Indianapolis. Mechanics had recently installed a more effective heater in the seven-passenger Flamingo, and the passengers enjoyed the warmth on the climb out of Cincinnati’s chilly Lunken Field. But the sun was up after departure from Indy and the cabin got stuffy, so someone closed the heater vent in the floor.

As the plane cruised at 4,000 feet about five miles east of Rensselaer, Indiana, a passenger opened the cockpit door and said four words no one in an airplane ever wants to hear: “We are on fire!”

Captain Stephan looked back and saw flames erupting around the floor duct. He gave the passenger a pyrene fire extinguisher, cautioning him not to use it unless absolutely necessary because of the bitter fumes it produced. The pilot then turned his attention to landing. Fortunately, he had flown in the area before and knew of a large pasture near the town.

Captain Stephan’s report stated that just a hundred feet above the ground, “…this guy cut loose with the extinguisher and the fumes were terrible, but I was able to open a window in time to level out and land.” As the plane rolled to a stop, Captain Stephan exited and raced around to the boarding door to find a hasty evacuation was already underway. Three passengers were out, but the fourth – the wife of another AVCO captain – was reluctant to disembark. Steers were grazing in the pasture and she feared stepping in, well, something unpleasant. Captain Stephan coaxed her out and got to work dousing the still-smoldering fire.

The kapok insulation between the wooden floor and metal fuselage had ignited because there was nowhere for heat to go when the floor vent was closed. Captain Stephan removed the insulation and soaked the entire area with pyrene, then gathered everyone for some collaborative decision-making.

“After a thorough inspection to see that the fire had not gone beyond this area,” he wrote, “I had the passengers look it over and we all decided it was OK to go on to Chicago.” The admirably courageous customers clambered aboard, all sitting toward the tail as some of the legs had burned off the two first-row seats.

By now a curious crowd had gathered to see what was going on. Captain Stephan enlisted their help in shepherding the bulls over to one corner of the field and soon the Flamingo was on its way.

NC656E, the Metal Aircraft Corporation Flamingo G-2 flown by Captain Stephan on November 8, 1930, wearing Universal Air Services markings in this undated photo. (Dan Shumaker | www.shu-aero.com)

One can only imagine how terrified the passengers were, and we know how the aftermath would play out today in the news and social media, but things were much different in 1930. In fact, the Flamingo wasn’t even taken out of service. Rather incredibly, a mechanic patched the floor in Chicago, disconnected the heater, declared the ship airworthy, and the return trip departed for Cincinnati just an hour behind schedule!

AVCO eventually became part of what is today American Airlines, and AA later honored Captain Stephan with its Distinguished Service Award (DSA) for his handling of the inflight emergency. He also helped organize the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and his witness testimony aided the investigation into the ghastly 1956 midair collision between a TWA Constellation and a United DC-7 over the Grand Canyon. He retired in 1968 following a remarkable career that began in the open cockpit of a WACO biplane and concluded over 40 years and 35,000 flight hours later in the left seat of a Boeing 707.

Captain Lionel “Steve” Stephan, extraordinary pilot and aviation pioneer, died in 2003 at the age of 94.

Captain Lionel “Steve” Stephan (left) at a 1985 Embry-Riddle reunion. (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Archives)

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Mohawk Airline’s Gaslight Service

Written by Henry M. Holden

Mohawk Airlines was a regional passenger airline operating in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, mainly in New York and Pennsylvania, from the mid-1940s until its acquisition by Allegheny Airlines in 1972. At its height, it employed over 2,200 personnel and pioneered several aspects of regional airline operations, including being the first airline in the United States to hire an African American flight attendant in 1958. The airline was based at Ithaca Municipal Airport near Ithaca, New York until 1958, when it moved to Oneida County Airport in upstate New York.

DC-3 – 357 N409 D (C/N 3277) airborne over New York City. Note the gaslight on the tail. (Henry M. Holden Collection)

Like most local trunk carriers in 1960, Mohawk Airlines still had 11 DC-3s in their fleet. They planned to retire their DC-3 service by the end of 1961 and replace the venerable machine with Convair 240s. They decided their last two DC-3s could serve a dual role. They could spend their last days in an old fashioned, sentimental way, and fill some gaps in Mohawk’s east-west route between Buffalo and Boston.

A Stewardess dressed in Gay Nineties costumes, with sequins and ostrich feathers served five-cent cigars, free beer, cheese, and pretzels. (Henry M. Holden Collection)

Mohawk was an example of the wide-spread growth of airlines encouraged by the reliable DC-3. Richard C. DuPont’s All American Airways first started in May 1939 as a feeder airline on six routes from Ohio to New York. DuPont started All American with 11 silver, yellow and green refitted DC-3s. In its first month of operation, they flew 809 passengers. Because the airline’s schedule allowed for only two-minute station stops at the airports, Douglas equipped the DC-3s with what was, at the time, a unique fold- down door with built-in steps. When All American expanded its routes and became Allegheny in 1953, the airline had expanded its fleet to 13 DC-3 aircraft, each with 24 seats and equipped with carry-on baggage racks to streamline passenger service. By 1956, Allegheny was serving over 50 communities in eight states with a fleet of DC-3s in green and white livery sporting a red wordmark stripe.

The company continued to expand, and in 1968 Allegheny merged with Lake Central. The acquisition of this airline gave Allegheny access to cities on the Great Lakes and a gateway to the mid-west. Lake Central also had its beginning with the now famous and well- used DC-3. Famed and flamboyant Roscoe Turner started Turner Airlines, Inc. in November 1949 with four DC-3s. By December 1960, Turner Airlines, now Lake Central, had grown to 15 DC-3s painted in red, white and blue. When people began to talk about replacing the DC-3, Lake Central went so far as to study the possibility of putting the DC-3 back into production. They dropped the idea when they discovered it would be too costly.

NC28340, c/n 3277, “Air Chief Mohican.” (Henry M. Holden Collection)

In October 10, 1960, Mohawk introduced its “Gaslight Service.” To make the planes more appealing, Mohawk dressed up the interior to resemble a Victorian setting. They added red velvet curtains with gold tassels, Currier and Ives prints, and carriage lamps. Stewardesses dressed in Gay Nineties costumes, with sequins and ostrich feathers served five-cent cigars, free beer, cheese, and pretzels.

NC28340 C/N 3277 “City of Atlanta” was delivered new to Delta in November 1940. It served them until sale to Mohawk in April 1953. (Henry M. Holden Collection)

At first, Mohawk allowed only men on the “Gaslight Service” because the airline felt, “Women would find the atmosphere cloudy because of the five-cent cigars and free beer.” They stressed that women and children were, of course, welcomed aboard all Mohawk’s other flights.

Mohawk claimed they didn’t lose any women passengers because when the Gaslight flights were scheduled, businessmen filled the seats. But the women disagreed and charged discrimination. Mohawk bowed to their objections and boxed off a “family parlor” in the front of the plane.

The men retained the Gay Nineties “club car” where they drank their beer and puffed on smelly cigars.

Someone raised the question about the future of the trusty DC-3s, when their year was up with Mohawk. The airline said, “We’ll sell them, and they’ll undoubtedly go on flying for a hundred years more.”

More than 23,000 passengers flew the “Gaslight Service” downing 31,700 cans of beer, smoking 17,600 cigars, and consuming a ton of pretzels and a half ton of cheese.

Mohawk’s “Gas Light Service” area of operation covered the northeastern part of New York in the 1960s: The State of NY, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and even sometimes on the other side of the Canadian border. The airports in which they operated are the following (non-exhaustive list): La Guardia, Boston-Logan, Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany, .etc. Its area of operation was throughout the Northeast with the Mohawk River, a tributary of the Hudson River in the former territories of Native Americans, Haudenosaunee, Iroquois, and Mohawks.

In 1962, N409D was sold to Houston Aviation Products Corp, Houston, TX. On 22July 1969 it was withdrawn from service and lost in the dustbin of aviation history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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