Art Deco of LaGuardia Airport – Time Travel to the Past

Written by Henry M. Holden

Municipal poster showing the iconic DC-3 and Boeing 314 Clipper Ship advertising the only two airports in the New York City area at the time, Floyd Bennett Field, and North Beach Airport. (author’s collection)

Hardly more than a decade after Charles Lindbergh’s historic 1927 solo flight from New York to Paris, the world’s first Transatlantic passenger flights were regularly departing LaGuardia Airport’s Marine Terminal. Designed in the Art Deco style, the terminal is a “modern” example of travel prior to World War II.

The Airmail Act of 1925 created a revolution in mail transport and led to what would be called “The Golden Age of Aviation.” By the early 1930s, commercial airlines and airports were being developed, the result of the Federal government’s use of commercial airliners and private contractors for mail transport.

The history of the Marine Terminal coincides with that of commercial aviation in United States. Fiorello LaGuardia (1882-1947) had been an enthusiastic advocate of aviation from its earliest days. While in private law practice, he had as a client, Giuseppe Bellanco, a pioneering aviator and flight instructor. LaGuardia took flying lessons in 1913, in Minneola, Long Island.

The outside of the Marine Air Terminal sports the flying fish on the upper portion of the building. The flying fish represented the Boeing 314 Clipper ships. (photo by Henry M. Holden)

When the United States entered World War I, although LaGuardia had been recently elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, he enlisted as a lieutenant in the aviation section of the Signal Corps. He served in the Eighth Aviation Instruction Center in Fogia, Italy. He also flew as a pilot/bombardier with the Fifth Squadron on the Italian-Austrian Front, reaching the rank of Major.

LaGuardia was an early proponent of military of aviation, and also recognized the potential of commercial passenger airlines. The airport, which became his namesake is a tribute to this aspect of the career of one of New York’s most colorful and inspirational political leaders.

In the fall of 1933, now New York City’s mayor, LaGuardia was flying home from a vacation in Florida. On the final leg of his journey from Pittsburgh to New York, his TWA DC-2 landed at the only commercial airport to serve New York City; Newark Airport, in New Jersey. Insisting his ticket said New York, LaGuardia refused to get off the plane. LaGuardia demanded to be flown to New York City’s Floyd Bennett Field, in Brooklyn, which then had no scheduled airline service. TWA relented, and the plane flew on to Brooklyn. LaGuardia had dramatically made his point. One of the world’s great cities needed an airport closer to Manhattan than the commercially unsuccessful Floyd Bennett Field. Incredibly, New York City, an epicenter of global business, and culture, was not served by any airline.

The Boeing 314 is shown docked outside the Marine Air Terminal with the landplane airport in the background. (photo author’s collection)

Floyd Bennett Field was difficult to get to, and from, due to the distance, approximately 15 miles from New York City on the poorly kept, mostly dirt roads. Floyd Bennett Field led some planners to look at a parcel of land called North Beach, in Queens County, closer to mid-town Manhattan.

North Beach Airport

In 1929, North Beach was home to a private airport, built by aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss. The Depression had forced the closing of the airport.

Mayor LaGuardia realized the need for an airport for one of the world’s great cities. LaGuardia campaigned relentlessly for a new airport, and North Beach seemed ideal. The airport was small, about 100 acres, but only five miles from Manhattan, on a main highway, and had unobstructed water approaches, critical for the flying boats of the era.

The landplane terminal lobby circa 1940 shows some of the Art Deco architecture sans murals popular at the time. Around the perimeter are the airline ticket and check-in counters. LaGuardia Airport was one of the first airports to have shopping, kiosk although it appeared it was for the wealthy passengers. The stairway leads to the departure area. (PANYNJ)

Plans for the airport, which was to be federally sponsored and funded through the Works Progress Administration (WPA), were approved by President Roosevelt on September 3, 1937. Just six days later, the Mayor presided over groundbreaking ceremonies and construction began.

Construction begins quickly

Construction at North Beach proceeded rapidly. First came the land-filling of a portion of Bowery Bay, the Rikers Island channel, and Flushing Bay, which more than doubled the acreage of the original site. Initially some 5,000 men were employed, but when building construction began the work force gradually increased to 23,000 workers by 1939. A 558-acre airport with almost four miles of runways and taxi strips emerged. Not only was LaGuardia the largest airport in the world at the time, it was also the costliest at $40,000,000, the greatest single undertaking of the WPA in those days.

This section of the Brooks mural shows navigators plotting a course with a slide rule for the next clipper flight. (photo by Henry M. Holden)

The original buildings included the landplane administration building, six hangers, office buildings, and a seaplane hangar at the Marine Air Terminal.

The airport officially opened on October 15, 1939 with a crowd estimated to be more than 325,000 just as the World’s Fair was opening a short drive away. It had a circular rotunda, restaurants, customs facilities, and a control tower. Today, only the Marine Air Terminal remains of the original buildings.

Among the 150 airplanes which took part in the festivities were three that circled overhead as the mayor made his address, skywriting “Name it LaGuardia.” This inaugurated a campaign to rechristened it, and on November 2, the City Council officially agreed upon New York City Municipal Airport LaGuardia Field.

By 1940, LaGuardia eclipsed Newark Airport. In March 1940, the Marine Air terminal was dedicated. At the ceremony two new Pan-American Boeing 314 clipper ships were on display. The clipper ships represented both the culmination of the development of seaplanes, and also the inauguration of a new era commercial flying.

The narrative of the mural begins with the mythology of Icarus and Daedalus. (photo by Henry M. Holden)

The clipper ships caused a genuine sensation and were described in the New York Herald Tribune as “breathtaking” in size. Clare Booth Luce in a Life Magazine article made a prediction, “Fifty years from now, people will look back on the Clipper flights of today as the most romantic voyage of history.”

The accommodations aboard these planes were indeed luxurious by today’s standards. The two deck interior featured dining rooms, private compartments, and sleeping sections.

But this glamorous era was brought to an abrupt end by World War II. The clippers were pressed into war service and functioned as passenger planes on government missions and cargo carriers.

The Marine Air Terminal today is a reminder of its original use. The building was planned for convenience of both passengers and crew. The clippers taxied in from Long Island Sound pulled by small motorboats and docked outside the terminal. For maintenance, they were hauled out of the water and moved along special railroad track into a nearby hangar.

Although a very large airport for the era in which it was built, by the late 1940s it was the world’s busiest airport, and clearly too small for the increasing amount of air traffic. Through the years, its runways were lengthened, and facilities were improved to handle larger and faster aircraft and more people.

Art Deco Rules

The Marine Air Terminal is a Art Deco masterpiece. It is rich colors, bold geometric shapes, and lavish ornamentation. The exterior boasts two cheerful frieze of flying fish intended to represent the flying-boat clippers of that era. The terminal is facing brick, originally buff colored with black brick detailing, but stainless steel, one of the new materials favored in the Art Deco circles, makes a sleek appearance on the exterior and interior of the building. Faceted circles, again a nod to the Art Deco style, were created by setting the black brick in vertical, angled courses between the banks of windows. The apparent simplicity of the Marine Terminal design is deceptive. It is a building of subtle interlocking geometric relationships, well scaled, well-balanced, and well-planned.

The mural pays homage to DaVinci, the Wright brothers and ends with the pre-World War II Boeing 314 Clippers. The display beneath the mural tells the story of the terminal in photos. Publisher and historian Geoffrey Arend, who was responsible for the mural’s restoration used the display to gin up interest in the mural’s restoration. (photo by Henry M. Holden)

Murals tell the history of flight

The Marine Air Terminal’s mural measures 12 feet (3.7m) in height and 237-feet (72m) in circular length, called “Flight,” and divided into three sections, that had a very specific focus according to artist James Brooks. “The aim of the design,” said Brooks, “is to identify the spectator with the broad scope of man’s yearning for flight and its final recognition.”

This was the last and largest mural produced under the WPA. The WPA, a key part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal Administration, was the nation’s largest employer in the years leading up to World War II.

Almost anyone can recognize the references to Icarus and Daedalus, to DaVince on the mural; and the prewar aviators who navigated the seas with little to guide them but a compass, dead reckoning and the stars.
The mural tells the story of the global desire to fly from humankind’s earliest dream of becoming airborne, to the visions of Leonardo Da Vinci. It shows the flight of Icarus and Daedalus, in Greek Mythology. The Wright brothers are pictured and the mural ends at the point in aviation history where Pan American Airways’ flying boats were dominant.

But artistic and political tastes can deviate and change. In the early 1950s, just a decade after Brooks finished the mural, someone at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey ordered that the mural be painted over. There was no official reason ever given for covering the mural, but the widely repeated story is that, in the anti-Communist fervor of that era, someone saw left-wing sympathies in Brooks’ mural.

The Bowing 314 Clipper ships was one of the latest aerial technological advances in 1939. It was the zenith of man’s dream and the golden age of the ‘flying boat. (Photo by Henry M. Holden)

In the representation in the mural of an ordinary man and woman, with the woman holding binoculars, it is possible to see why someone might have felt uneasy amid the Cold War paranoia. Brooks portrayed flight as being important for the common citizen, and not just society’s military, business and political elites.

What James Brooks left for us was the ability to travel through time: first, back to when air travel for the masses was a glittering promise, and then to when it became a subversive idea.

By the end of the war, technological advances in airplane design had made the Clippers obsolete. The terminal was closed for airline traffic in the 1950s (though it was still used as a waiting area for passengers who were bused to the main terminals) and it fell into a state of disrepair. In 1966, it was renovated and reopened for corporate jets.

It was only in the late 1970s, when publisher-historian, Geoffrey Arend, launched a campaign to restore the mural did many become aware of the mural. Arend published Air Cargo News and had an office in the terminal building. To attract attention to the “missing” artwork, Arend placed old photos of the mural in the terminal lobby, in sight of travelers who used the building to board corporate and private aircraft. Eventually he was approached by Laurence Rockefeller, and Reader’s Digest founder DeWitt Wallace, who agreed to finance the restoration. After an extensive restoration project headed by Arend, the mural was rededicated on September 18, 1980.

The Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia Airport remains the only active airport terminal dating from the first generation of passenger travel in the United States, the “Golden age of the flying boat.”

In 1982, the terminal was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

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Airlines of Asia – Past and Present

Written by Charlie Dolan

Air Ceylon         AE             1947 – 1979     Went bankrupt

Air India   (Tata)       1932 -1949       Became Air India

Air India            AI     AIC   1949 – present

Air Koryo          JB     KOR           1950 – present
North Korea’s flag carrier. Only airline awarded one star in 2014 by Skytrax

Air Siam             VG             1970 – 1976

All Nippon Airways   NH    ANA          1952 – present

Ariana Afghan Airlines       FG    AFG           1955 – present
(with breaks during hostilities)

Asiana Airlines           OZ    AAR           1988 – present

C A A C
Civil Aviation Administration of China CA  CCA  1949 – 1988
Split into six smaller operators

Dragonair
Hong Kong Dragon Airlines       KA    HDA          1985 – present

Merpati Nusantara Airlines        MZ    MNA          1962 – 2014

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Delta Air Lines and Predecessors on Postcards

Written by Marvin G. Goldman 

Delta ‘Welcome’ postcard in its ‘Keep Climbing’ series, issued by the airline about 2017.   

Delta Air Lines has a long and fascinating history, starting with a tiny operation in the mid-1920s.  In its early years Delta was not favored with government-subsidized mail contracts and route awards to the extent enjoyed by American, Eastern, Pan Am, TWA and United, but Delta grew internally with good management, and eventually it also acquired several large airlines, including Chicago & Southern (1953), Northeast (1972), Western (1987) and Northwest (2009).

By the end of 2017, Delta’s annual revenue totaled $41 billion (3d largest in the world, just after Lufthansa group and American Airlines group).  It carried 186 million passengers in 2017 (2d only to American’s group) with over 850 aircraft, to more than 335 destinations.

I devote about half of the postcard images in this article to Delta itself, and have selected one or two postcards for each of the more significant Delta predecessors.  I have also included certain dates of airline acquisitions, service periods and liveries to aid in assigning a time frame to postcards of Delta and its predecessors.

Compared to the other major U.S. airlines (such as American, Eastern, Pan Am, TWA and United), Delta in the pre-internet era distributed relatively fewer ‘airline-issued’ postcards.  However, in recent years the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta (also known as the Delta Air Transport Heritage Museum) has been issuing several modern postcards showing Delta aircraft or reproductions of historic Delta posters that are available for purchase at the museum or on its website “deltamuseum.org”.  In addition, Delta has been issuing in the U.S. and from local offices in Europe some modern ‘advertising’ or ‘destination’-type postcards.

Delta traces its roots to Huff-Daland Dusters, a crop-dusting operation established in 1924.  I am not aware of any postcards issued by that company, but recently the Delta heritage museum published the following:

Huff-Daland Duster (Petrel 31) crop duster. Modern postcard of one of the company’s original aircraft, beautifully restored by Delta employees. Aircraft donated to the National Air and Space Museum in 1966, and on loan to the Delta Flight Museum, Atlanta, Georgia. Postcard published in 2002 by the Delta Flight Museum.

In late 1928 C. E. Woolman and a group of investors in Monroe, Louisiana, acquired the assets of Huff-Daland Dusters and formed Delta Air Service. This new company continued crop-dusting and, with two newly acquired Travel Air Model S-6000-Bs, started scheduled passenger service on 17 June 1929.  C. E. Woolman went on to serve Delta in leading executive positions for 38 years.

Curtiss-Wright 6B Sedan, restored and painted to represent Delta’s 1929 Travel Air S-6000B, and now on exhibit at the Delta Flight Museum.  Modern postcard issued by the Delta Flight Museum.

Delta’s original headquarters at Monroe, Louisiana, about 1930, with a Curtiss Robin J-1 at right.  Issued by Airliners International 2015 Atlanta, photo courtesy of Delta Flight Museum, published by jjPostcards, Bassersdorf, Switzerland.

From 1930 to 1934 Delta barely survived, as it could not obtain any useful airmail route from the U.S. Government in order to be profitable.  However, when the mail routes were rebid in 1934, Delta managed to land new Route 24 between Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas and Charleston, South Carolina, via Monroe, Louisiana; Birmingham, Alabama; and Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia.  Initially it used Stinson aircraft on the route, but at the end of 1935 Delta acquired the first of five Lockheed 10 Electras that served as its main aircraft during the last half of the 1930s.

Delta Lockheed 10 Electra at Augusta, Georgia. ‘Linen’ finish. Pub’r: John J. Miller Co., no. 67788; printed by Tichnor Bros., Boston.

In 1940 Delta acquired Douglas DC-2 and DC-3 aircraft, starting a long close relationship with Douglas airliners, followed by DC-4s in 1946, DC-6s in 1948, and DC-7s in 1956.

Delta Douglas DC-2, NC14921, its first of the type, at Atlanta, Georgia. ‘Linen’ finish. Pub’r: R. & R. News Co., Atlanta; printed by Curteich-Chicago, no. 0B-H1385, 1940. This aircraft was purchased from American Airlines and in service with Delta from February 1940 to January 1941.  There are at least three varieties of this postcard, with different text on the front and back.

Delta Douglas DC-3, NC28341, ‘Ship 41’. Airline Issue (‘A/I’) in 2004 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Delta’s passenger service. Published by the Delta Flight Museum. This aircraft flew Delta’s first DC-3 passenger service, 24 December 1940, and DC-3s remained in Delta’s fleet until 1960. Ship 41 is on display at the Delta Flight Museum.                          

Delta Douglas DC-6 Over Miami Beach, Florida. ‘Linen’ finish postcard. Pub’r Curteich, no. 2C-N704, 1952. Delta operated DC-6s from October 1948 to December 1968.

Delta-C&S Douglas DC-7, N4871C. A/I, no. T106. This aircraft is shown in its original delivery color scheme and was the first one delivered to Delta, in March 1954, soon after the May 1953 merger of Chicago & Southern (C&S) into Delta. The image on this card was utilized on two other Delta-issued postcards, with slight modifications. First, the card was reprinted with the tail marking changed to show a ‘Golden Crown’, reflecting an enhanced service, still with the Delta-C&S name which was retained by the airline from the time of the merger until September 1955. Then, the card was reprinted a second time with the Delta-C&S name on the front changed to “Delta” and with other stylistic livery changes. The wording on the back of each version differs. Yet all three versions carry the same airline issue number. 

For shorter-haul routes during the 1950s, Delta modernized its fleet with Convair 340s starting in 1953 and 440s starting in 1956.

Delta Convair 440, N4820C, at Paducah, Kentucky. This aircraft was originally a model 340 acquired in 1954 that was modified to the 440 standard after 1956. Pub’r: Curteich no. 1DK-665; distributed by Wilson’s Book and Stationery, Paducah, 1961.

In 1957 Delta acquired five Curtiss C-46s from Civil Air Transport of Taiwan for air freight services.  These aircraft served until about 1967.

Delta Curtiss C-46 ‘Air Freighter’, N9884F. A/I, probably 1957. Oversize card. Peter Fu Collection.

Delta joined the jet age on 18 September 1959 by launching the first scheduled service of the Douglas DC-8 pure jet (New York to Atlanta route).  Just eight months later, Delta became the first to launch service of the Convair 880.  For short-haul routes, Delta introduced the DC-9 in 1965.

DC-8-11, N804E, at Miami. This was one of Delta’s first DC-8s, received in October 1959. It was subsequently upgraded to a DC-8-12 and then DC-8-51 standard. Pub’r: Curteich no. G.519; distributed by Gulf Stream Card, Miami. My card is postmarked 15 November 1961.

Convair 880, N8802E, Delta’s second 880, received February 1960. Delta initially called the 880 the “Aristocrat of Jets”, as stated on the reverse of this card and emphasized by the crown over the 880 on the front. A/I, no. T-315, also with an apparent Curteich number 0DK-606 indicating a 1960 issue date. This card was later reprinted by Delta (bearing the same postcard numbers) with the text on the front removed and different text on the reverse. The ‘Aristocrat’ wording was dropped and, in a preview of things to come, the number of passengers noted was increased from 84 to 92.

Douglas DC-9-14, N3303L.  This is an unusual ‘pop-up’ postcard issued by Delta. When opened up, the inside has an interior view on the left and a ‘pop-up’ view of the DC-9 with a sky background, giving a 3-D effect.

The 1970s saw the introduction of several wide-body jet aircraft. Delta operated a handful of Boeing 747s and DC-10-10s in the early 1970s, but found them not the best suited for its route system. Instead it turned to the Lockheed L-1011 Tristar 1 and later the Tristar 500, operating more than 50 L-1011s.

Lockheed L-1011 TriStar 500, N751DA, the first model 500 operated by Delta, introduced in 1979 particularly for long-range routes. A/I in 2000 as an historical postcard. This card shows the classic Delta ‘widget’ livery in use on Delta aircraft from 1962 to 1997.

Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia has served as Delta’s main hub for several decades. The dominance of Delta at this airport is amazing. Just like today, the following airport scene in the 1980s featured row after row of Delta aircraft.

Delta aircraft, including Boeing 727s, L-1011s and DC-8s, taking on passengers at multiple rows of gates, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia. Pub’r: Thomas Warren Enterprises, Atlanta, nos. 561109 and A-153.

Delta’s later jet fleet includes a mixture of mainly Boeing and Airbus aircraft, the larger portion being modern Boeing types.  Here are a few postcard examples:

Delta Boeing 767-200, N102DA, its first 767, with a special livery symbolizing Delta’s role as the Official Airline of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. A/I, no. P98303. There is another variation of this card, A/I no. P97977, with the aircraft closer up and lower, and with the Delta Olympic logo smaller. Named ‘The Spirit of Delta’, the funds to acquire this aircraft were raised by Delta’s employees through payroll deductions. The aircraft is now on display at the Delta Flight Museum, as seen in the next postcard image.

Delta Boeing 777-200, with Delta’s ‘Colors in Motion’ tail livery (also called ‘Flowing Fabric’), its main tail livery from 2000 to 2007. Delta introduced the 777 in May 1995. A/I, 2000.

Delta Boeing 757-200, N717TW, in SkyTeam logo, at LAX, 19 January 2009. Duane Young photo. Issued by Airliners International 2014 LAX. Pub’r jj Postcards. Delta is a founding member of the SkyTeam airline alliance.

Delta Airbus A350-900, N502DN, in Delta’s ‘Onward and Upward’ livery adopted 30 April 2007 and still current. This livery re-introduced the Delta ‘widget’ logo, in updated form. It took four years to complete the livery changeover on all its aircraft. The A350 is the latest addition to Delta’s fleet. Pub’r Flying Photos Magazine. Photo by Agustin Anaya, Atlanta.

Turning to more significant airlines that merged into the Delta system over the years, I have selected one or two postcards of each, generally showing an aircraft and color scheme in use at the time of the acquisition concerned.  Let’s start with the first major acquisition by Delta — Chicago & Southern Air Lines on 1 May 1953.

Chicago & Southern Lockheed Constellation 749. A/I, Nov. 1951. This aircraft type became a Delta-C&S aircraft upon the 1953 merger of C&S into Delta.

Delta’s next acquisition was Northeast Airlines (known as Boston-Maine Airways prior to 19 November 1940). This acquisition occurred on 1 August 1972.

Northeast 727-95 in the famous ‘Yellowbird’ livery introduced in 1966, over the Miami Beach ‘Gold Coast’, Florida. A/I, 1966. In 1967 Northeast started to acquire the larger Boeing 727-200, and on 14 December 1967 it operated the first scheduled flight of that type, in ‘Yellowbird’ livery from Miami to New York (Kennedy).  Northeast’s 727s were all taken over by Delta upon their 1972 merger.

In December 1986 Delta acquired Western Air Lines, their operations being merged on 1 April 1987. This added numerous western U.S. routes to Delta’s system and made it the fourth largest airline in the U.S. at the time.

Western Air Lines McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10, referred to by Western as the ‘Magnificent Queen of Western’s jet fleet’ and the ‘DC-10 Spaceship’. A/I. There are two versions of this card, with different text on the reverse and a different destinations list. Western operated this type from 1973 until its 1987 merger with Delta.

Pacific Northern Airlines Boeing 720, taking off from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. A/I, no. P42365, issued late 1961 or early 1962. Artist card. Originally founded as Woodley Airways, the airline adopted the Pacific Northern name in 1945 and, in 1967, it merged into Western Air Lines which later merged into Delta.

On 1 October 2009 Delta made its largest acquisition ever — Northwest Airlines. This resulted in Delta becoming, by some measures, the largest airline in the world.  Northwest itself had absorbed several other airlines over the years. Here are some postcard examples of more significant ones, funneling into Northwest and then ultimately into Delta.

Northwest Airlines four-view postcard showing a Boeing 747-400 and 757, Airbus A320, and MD-80 in the color scheme featuring a logo on the tail having an ‘N’ and circle with a triangle pointing northwest. Probably an A/I, no. 23285-E. Postmarked 8 January 1994. Northwest merged into Delta on 1 October 2009.

Northwest Orient Airlines 747-100 tri-view card also showing two interior scenes. A/I, about 1970. Oversize, 6 x 8.5” (15.2 x 21.5cm.). 747 timetable on portion of back. Northwest dropped ‘Orient’ from its brand name upon its 1986 acquisition of Republic.

Republic Airlines Boeing 727-200, N715RC. A/I, no. 0-04 10-3-1186. Oversize, 3.75 x 8.5” (9.5 x 21.7cm.). Republic merged into Northwest Airlines on 1 October 1986.

One of Republic Airlines’ predecessors was Wisconsin Central Airlines, founded in 1944 to serve cities in Wisconsin.  As its service territory expanded Wisconsin Central changed its name on 16 December 1952 to North Central Airlines, which then combined with Southern Airways in 1978 to become Republic Airlines1

Wisconsin Central Airlines Lockheed Electra L-10A. A/I. Wisconsin Central started operating L-10As on 25 February 1948, and this postcard probably dates from that year.

North Central Airlines Douglas DC-9. A/I, printed by Cartwheel, Afton, Minnesota, no. 121383, issued about 1977. A variant of this card has North Central’s Philadelphia office phone numbers on the reverse. North Central was known as Wisconsin Central from 1944 to 15 December 1952. On 13 July 1979 North Central merged with Southern Airways to form Republic Airlines.

Southern Airways DC-9-31, N908H. A/I. Oversize, 4 x 7” (10.2 x 17.7cm). Southern merged with North Central Airlines on 13 July 1979 to form Republic Airlines.

Republic Airlines acquired Hughes Airwest (previously known as Air West) on 1 October 1980. Air West in turn was a combination of three airlines. Here is a selection of postcards from this group of airlines that eventually, through Northwest, melded into Delta.

Hughes Airwest DC-9-15, N9349, at Reno, Nevada. ‘Stippled’ edges. Pub’r: Smith Novelty, Carson City, Nevada; printed by Colourpicture, Boston, no. P305136.

Air West DC-9-31, N9344. ‘Stippled’ edges. Pub’r: Ellis Post Card Co., Arlington, Washington, no. 116593. Air West was formed on 17 April 1968 as a combination of three airlines — West Coast, Bonanza, and Pacific. It was renamed ‘Hughes Airwest’ in July 1970. This aircraft went on to serve in the colors of Hughes Airwest, Republic and Northwest.

West Coast Airlines DC-9. A/I, probably in 1966 when West Coast first acquired DC-9s. Artist postcard. West Coast was founded on 5 December 1946 and became a significant regional airline in the Pacific Northwest.

Bonanza Air Lines Fairchild F-27A ‘Silver Dart’, N149L, over Hoover Dam, Nevada. A/I. Oversize, 4 x 8.5” (10.1 x 21.5cm.). This card was issued attached to another Bonanza postcard showing a DC-9. Bonanza was founded 5 August 1946 and served major cities in Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah.

Pacific Air Lines Boeing 727-100, N2979G. Pub’r: Aviation World, nos. B-025, 77842-D. Pacific was founded in 1941 under the original name of Southwest Airways, the name being changed to Pacific on 6 March 1958. It was mainly a feeder airline serving southwestern U.S. cities.

Southwest Airways Martin 2-0-2, N93049, at Los Angeles International Airport, probably between 1952 and 1958. Published as an airport card by H. S. Crocker Co., Los Angeles, no. LA-1098; distributed by Souvenir Color Card Co.  Southwest Airways was formed in 1941.

To summarize how the world of airline mergers remarkably led Southwest Airways into the Delta family, (a) Southwest’s name was changed to Pacific Air Lines in 1958; (b) Pacific combined with West Coast and Bonanza to form Air West in 1968; (c) Air West’s name changed to Hughes Airwest in 1970; (d) Hughes Airwest merged into Republic (formed by the 1978 combination of North Central and Southern) in 1980; (e) Republic merged into Northwest in 1986; and (f) Northwest merged into Delta in 2009. Quite a voyage!

Lastly, at various times between 1984 and 2012 Delta owned some regional airlines and operated them as ‘Delta Connection’ carriers. These included Atlantic Southeast Airlines, Ransome, Comair and Mesaba/Northwest Airlink.  Today, Delta’s policy is to operate ‘Delta Connection’ services utilizing aircraft owned by other companies.

Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) ‘Delta Connection’ ATR-72-210. A/I, 2002. ASA was founded in 1979 and became a Delta Connection carrier in 1984. From 1999 to 2005 it was wholly-owned by Delta. In 2011 ASA merged with ExpressJet, and ExpressJet is now one of the ‘Delta Connection’ carriers. ASA operated ATR-72 turboprops from 1993 to 2008.

Notes:  The original postcards of those shown are published, except as noted, in standard or continental size.  All postcards shown are from the author’s collection, except the Delta C-46 card. I estimate their rarity as — Rare: the Delta L-10 and C-46 cards, Wisconsin Central L-10A and Southwest Airways at LAX cards; Uncommon: the Delta DC-6, Convair 440, DC-8, Convair 880, and DC-9 ‘pop-up’; C&S Constellation; Northeast 727, Boston-Maine L-10; Pacific Northern 720; Northwest 4-view and 3-view cards; Hughes Airwest DC-9; and West Coast DC-9 cards. The rest are fairly common.

This article is a revision and update of a similar article by the author published in The Captain’s Log of the World Airline Historical Society, Fall 2012 issue.

References:

  1. Davies, R.E.G.

(a)  “Delta: An Airline and Its Aircraft — The Illustrated History of a Major U.S. Airline and the People Who Made It”, Paladwr Press (1990).

(b) “Airlines of the United States since 1914”, Smithsonian Institution Press (1972).

(c) “A History of Airlines in the Jet Age”, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (2011).

  1. Delta Flight Museum Website – deltamuseum.org.
  2. Cearley, George W. (author and publisher), ‘The Delta Family History’, 160 pages (1985).

Airliners International 2019 Atlanta

The annual Airliners International show and convention will be held in 2019 during 19-22 June at the Delta Flight Museum located at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Here is a postcard showing the collecting scene at the previous (2015) Airliners International show in the Delta Flight Museum, with the Delta Boeing 767 ‘The Spirit of Delta’ right inside the show venue.

Airliners International 2015 Atlanta convention in the Delta Flight Museum. Postcard issued by Airliners International 2015 and 2016. Pub’r jjPostcards.

I encourage all airline and airport postcard collectors who are members of the World Airline Historical Society to enter the Airliners International 2019 Postcard Contest in Atlanta, 19-22 June 2019. Postcard contest rules are on the show website, www.airlinersinternational.org.  Whether you win or not, your entries stimulate others to start or expand airline memorabilia collecting, and it’s a great boost for all collectors.

Delta Air Lines ‘Thank You’ postcard in its ‘Keep Climbing’ series, a Delta slogan introduced in 2010. Issued by the airline about 2017. There are at least seven different cards with this view, each saying ‘Thank You’ in a different language — English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, Chinese and Japanese.

Until the next article, thank you for reading, and Happy Collecting.  Marvin.

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Musings from a Passenger’s Seat: Eastern Airlines Memories

Written by Lester Anderson

Mel Lawrence Photo-Shea Oakley Collection

I will state, without reservation, that I was a fan of Eastern Air lines and I want to share some of those memories.

My First 727 Flight

I graduated high school in 1965 and (along with my traveling companions, two other high school students graduating the same high school) we celebrated our graduation by taking a flying trip to Hartford from New York.  We had no thoughts of going into the city, we wanted to fly from a NY airport to the Hartford airport, and then fly home.

We planned this through research using the OAG (Official Airline Guide).  This was a book that was about the same size as the New Jersey Bell telephone directory.  For those of you under 40 and have no idea what that means, it was an 8 ½” x 11 book, with soft covers, about 300 pages, printed on newsprint paper.  It listed every flight in the United States, listing the airline, type of aircraft, departure and arrival times, days of travel and fares. It was published twice a month to keep current. We could never afford a subscription, but I had a travel agency that I befriended (Greenwald Travel in Clifton) and they would give me a copy of the expired last issue.

We all had mail subscriptions to the airline timetables, but they were mainly useful to see the flight details.  But the OAG it gave all fares and which airlines were authorized to offer special fares.  In the 1960’s all fares were approved by the CAB, and between city pairs, and unlike today they changed only when the CAB gave the OK. Classes included First on all aircraft (F) and Economy on jets (Y) and Tourist on piston engine (T). But important to us were deeply discounted fares, often on weekends, called Weekend Excursion (YE) fares.

So a month after our high school graduation we flew on an Eastern Air Lines Excursion Fare from JFK to Hartford and return to Newark for the magical fare of $12.00 ($11.43 plus 57 cents tax). (See the Eastern Air Lines ticket image).  The validation franking (even though the official name had changed to JFK) was International Airport, New York, NY.  (As a side note, I was a fan of the James Bond movies, and the airline code for all airline issued tickets by Eastern was 007).

The first flight was on an Eastern DC-7B.  Since my first flight ever was on a DC-6B this was like the big brother of an old friend.  I must admit while I remember taking the flight, I cannot give any outstanding details about either the flight or the aircraft, other than remembering the taxi time at JFK was much longer than LGA or EWR.

The return flight was a major reason for the trip, it was a new Whisperjet 727.  Eastern had begun flying the 727 the year before, so this was a brand new airplane. I sat mid-cabin across from the galley.  My first major memory was that it was far from whisper-quiet.  Engine noise was not there, but the wind noise was even louder!  I was later told that the degree of soundproofing insulation was an airline option

I was over 18 and in those days you could drink alcoholic beverages in NY at 18, so I was interested in the galley liquor display.  Unlike today when everyone gets a small bottle, about 8 full size bottles were mounted vertically on the bulkhead with a dispenser at the bottom. If someone bought a drink the stewardess (yes that is what they were called) put a glass under the spout and the correct amount was dispensed.  Both because it was expensive for us (plus it was a mid-afternoon flight) we passed on buying drinks on the plane.

For all of our flights, leaving JFK, arriving and departing Hartford, and arriving Newark, access to the airplane was outside using steps, not the Jetway that became the standard way of boarding years later.

And one other change—the back cover of the ticket package reminded you that if you were on a round trip ticket and stayed overnight you needed to reconfirm you return reservation.

Ionosphere Club

When they started, airline clubs were the exclusive facilities that only the most valued customers of an airline could visit.  In the 1970’s airlines were forced by congress to open their clubs to any passenger who would pay a membership fee. And for me, that was the golden ticket.  For $25 for a year, I signed up for a membership at Newark Airport.  A few months later they sent me an invitation to upgrade to a 5-year membership, which I also gladly did.  Then a few months later (they had an effective marketing department), I was given the opportunity to become a lifetime member, for me and (eventually) my wife.  The total cost was just about $500, and this has given me club access through all of Eastern’s existence, then Continental’s President’s Clubs (with only a minor requirement of flights to affect the transfer) and now we are lifetime members of the United Club.  When I did sign up for the lifetime membership they send me a wood wall plaque (see picture) attesting to my membership. It is still on my wall (basement wall, but still my wall).

I got a good deal on this and so did Eastern because as I travelled on business, having the advantage of the Ionosphere Club, did get me to book as much travel on Eastern as I could.

As a member of the Ionosphere club, I was also invited to open an account in the Eastern Airlines Credit Union.  While I had no real need for another bank account, the checks on that account were pictures of Eastern airplanes, so how could I say no.  And while I visited only once, I found that the “local branch office” for making deposits and withdrawals was in Eastern Flight-Operations.  In those days of little security, just showing my Eastern Credit Union membership card got me in the door of flight-ops.

Flight  Memories

When I was in the computer business I did a lot of business travel by air.  And although I eventually did have multi-year memberships in the United Red Carpet Club and the Delta Crown room, my favorite was Eastern and the Ionosphere Club. I was never able to convince my employer to pay for the memberships, but I found them invaluable whenever there was a flight delay or cancellation (the line at the counter had 100 people, the club may have had 2 or 3 in line).  Plus in those days, flight changes and sometimes upgrades were at the discretion of the agent, and the club agents were very generous, especially to we frequent travelers.

If you flew south, with Eastern (and Delta for that matter) odds are very high you were going thru Atlanta.  Eastern had a great presence there.   They occupied concourse C fully and split the gates of Concourse B with Delta, and both concourses had Ionosphere Clubs.  And if you were making a connection (as you often were), they had a great “cheat corridor.” There was a passageway built under the tarmac of the gates with a moving walkway between the two Eastern Concourses so you could easily go from one concourse to the next if that was needed for your connection.  From what I can find on the web, the passageway still exists but it is closed off since there is no more need for it.

Airline Food

What is there to say about it.  But two things I can relate about Eastern.  They had what I called their “Apple Snack”, a plastic tray with an apple, two wrapped pieces of cheese, and some crackers, all in a shrink wrapped package the flight attendants (times, and job designations, changed from the 60’s) could easily distribute to the 100-150 passengers even on hour long flights. And it was the perfect snack for an afternoon flight. The regular meals were OK (nothing great, nothing terrible) but Eastern had probably the best selection of “special meals” you could order in advance.  I took advantage of that often, and it gave me a meal of which my seat-mates often would be envious.

Eastern’s frequent flyer program, OnePass, gave each member a book of tickets, about the size of small checks. When you turned in your ticket (all flights used paper tickets), you also turned in this OnePass form which had your information already printed on it, and you just wrote in the date and flight number.  And it worked very well.

Although I traveled a lot (and therefore got my share of first-class upgrades), I never had a position where I was authorized to fly first class on a first class ticket.  But Eastern had a Y-ONEPASS fare which, if the ticket was written as full “Y” fare, you could book confirmed space in the first-class cabin.  A great marketing way around a customer who needed to fly “Y”, but would love to sit in “F.”

And during the times of “saving every dime” Eastern did a power-back at the Atlanta airport gates with the 727 and DC9 aircraft to avoid needing the tug.  My memory of that (and I knew what was coming so I was never concerned) is the aircraft moved forward a foot or so towards the terminal before starting to back up.

Some Sadness

Eastern declared bankruptcy in New York (where Eastern management felt they would have a better chance).  It was a Miami company, but due to the rules of bankruptcy, the first Eastern entity to declare was Ionosphere Clubs Inc. which was a New York corporation. Then Eastern Air Lines could join its sister company in the bankruptcy filing and it would be adjudicated in New York which management thought might be friendlier than if they declared in Florida.   History shows how that worked out.

But my greatest sorrow was going thru the Atlanta Airport after Eastern finally ceased all operations.   The tram that goes between the concourses just bypassed the darkened Eastern only concourse C and the Eastern/Delta Concourse B was partially blocked. I also walked between concourses (ATL has a moving walkway) and it was upsetting to walk past the C entrance with all lights off, and the B entrance partially closed off’ a sad memory of Eastern’s demise.

But I am glad that I have so many more good and vibrant memories of Eastern, and that spirit of the “Wings of Man” still lives on in me.

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Junior Wings of Panagra ~ Pan American Grace Airways

Written by Lane Kranz


In the late 1920’s Pan American Airways attempted to extend its route network to the western coast of South America.  However, a shipping conglomerate known as the W.R. Grace Company had a near monopoly, albeit by land and sea.  Pan Am knew that it would be extremely difficult to acquire landing rights.  In 1929 a deal was struck and a new company was formed.  Pan American Grace Airways, known as Panagra, was established with Pan American and W.R. Grace each owning 50% of the new airline.


Over the next 38 years, Panagra would grow and connect points from New York to Santiago and Buenos Aires.  They would operate numerous different types of aircraft, including the DC-3, DC-6, DC-7, and DC-8.  In February 1967 the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) and President Lyndon Johnson approved a merger between Panagra and Braniff International.  Braniff would operate these South American routes until its bankruptcy in 1982.  The CAB then awarded these routes to Eastern Airlines in a 5-0 decision.  In 1990, Eastern Airlines signed an agreement to sell its Central and Latin American routes to American Airlines, which continues to operate many of these routes today.

Over a period of nearly 4 decades, Panagra issued some of the most beautiful and detailed Junior Wings.  There are 10 different known junior wings, each made of metal, and each wing is considered quite rare and highly collectable.  These wings represent a period of history known for innovation and resilience.  Panagra is a prime example of the power of compromise.

Panagra Junior Pilot and Junior Hostess with block lettering.

Panagra Junior Pilot and Junior Hostess with green background and script lettering.

Panagra Junior Pilot and Junior Hostess with script lettering and no color.

Panagra Junior Pilot and Junior Hostess with dark green background and short pin.

Panagra Junior Pilot and Junior Hostess with light green background and long pin.

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Inter-Island Airways, Ltd.

Written by Arthur H. Groten M.D.

Inter-Island Airways was founded in early 1929 by a local steamship company to link Honolulu with the outer islands in November of that year.

Sometime thereafter, either 1930 or 1931, they established an Air Express service to carry mail between Honolulu and Hilo. By 1934, the name had become Hawaiian Airlines, Inc. which officially carried mail as AM Route 33 (revised) as of October 8, 1934.

Recently I came across a group of seven covers from 1931 to 1933 with various hand stamps for the Inter-Island Airways, Ltd. Air Express. There were two hand stamps used. One is three-line reading “Shipped by Air Express/[ a pair of wings]/Inter-Island Airways., Ltd.” used 1931 to 1933 in blue and purple (Type 1). The second reads “Received by Inter-Island Airways, Ltd/Date:…./To Be Called For” in purple in 1932-1933 (Type 2).

Of the seven covers, five are definitely commercial while two are probably philatelic. The rating and hand stamps on the commercial covers are as follows: 1) Aug 1, 1931 unfranked but has several numbers on it probably some form of accountancy, Type 1 in blue; 2) October 28, 1932 (hand-dated) on R.R.B. cover, Type 1 in blue; 3) April 1, 1932 2¢ Washington Bicentennial postal envelope, Type 1 in blue (Figure 1); 4 & 5) not dated,, lightly tied with Type 2 in purple, one franked 2¢ postal envelope + 1¢ Franklin, the other with 4¢ + 8¢ Washington Bicentennial issue stamps (Figure 2). The two suspected philatelic covers have 1) 3¢ William Penn tied with Type 2 with Type 1 alongside, both in purple (Figure 3) and 2) 3¢ Oglethorpe tied by Type 2 in purple. None have back stamps.

From this small sample we can surmise that Type 1 was in blue 1931-1932, later purple and that Type 2 appeared in 1933 in purple. The 12¢ rate is an outlier, perhaps a multiple weight.

So much for the description of the group, I have been able to find no information about the service or any catalogue listing. That surprises me. I ask if anyone can help. I can be reached here.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

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Aviation Miscellany

Written by Arthur H. Groten M.D.

Over the years I have devoted a number of columns to various aspects of aviation paraphilately. This column will describe some bits of more or less philatelic ephemera. I have not been able to accumulate enough for a column devoted to any one of these topics so let’s call this a miscellany.

Covers have been used for advertising and promotional purposes since the mid-19th century. I have written about how government promoted the development of aviation in the U.S. using various pieces of ephemera. This, of course, happened elsewhere as well. Examples from Belgium, Czechoslovakia France and Germany show how the slogans on machine cancelling devices of the 1930s sent the same message: use airmail. (Figures 1-4)

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4

Beloved of philatelists are fancy cancels. I have found only this 1951 one that notes the 5¢ airmail rate. (Figure 5) Adjuncts are the myriad private hand stamps such as the 1953 “Air Mail Hubba Hubba” used from APO 704 in Japan (Figure 6) and the 1973 “Air Mail Wiki Wiki” from Hawaii. (Figure 7)

Figure 5

Figure 6

Figure 7

Particularly popular, beginning in the 1930s, were the recently created meter machine slogans. They were particularly popular with companies as free visual advertising. Thus, Imperial suggested to use their airmail from Singapore in 1936 on a cover franked with the scarce Universal “Midget” imprint. (Figure 8) Lufthansa had many different slogans for their services during the 1934-9 period; they used Francotype machines, in this case, type D multi-value. (Figure 9) The de Havilland Aviation Co. at Hatfield Aerodrome in Hertfordshire mentioned their production of aircraft, engines and propellers in 1955 on the Universal “Multi-value” machine. (Figure 10)

Figure 8

Figure 9

Figure 10

Amongst the rarest of such slogans are those found on permit imprints. The one shown in Figure 11 is known in red, blue and green, all from the same company with the same permit number 13399.

Figure 11

In keeping with the tradition of the advertising cover, many airlines used envelopes imprinted with their name, often franked with slogan meters and, on occasion, found with their own airmail etiquettes. Examples of the former, from Egypt (MISR), India (Air India) and Italy (LAI) (Figure 12-14), and of the latter from Australia (Qantas) and France (Air France) are a sampling of what can be found. (Figures 15-16)

Figure 12

Figure 13

Figure 14

Figure 15

Figure 16

These covers neatly bridge the philately/paraphilately aspects of our hobby and are examples of how to enhance one’s collection (and exhibit, if one wishes) with collateral material. Or is it collateral? You decide.

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Pan Am’s Flying Clippers

Written by Henry M. Holden
henry39holden@gmail.com
www.henrymholden.com

By the mid-1930s, Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) used Martin M-130 and Sikorsky S-42 flying boats to cover their their Caribbean and South American routes.

When passenger demand increased for trans-Pacific and Atlantic travel toward the end of the 1930s, Pan Am went to Boeing for a long-range flying boat. In response, Boeing developed the Model 314, nicknamed the “Clipper” after the great ocean-going sailing ships.

Pan American wanted a flying boat with an extraordinary range that could supplement the airline’s trans-Pacific Martin M-130. On July 21, 1936, Pan American signed a contract for six Model 314s. The first deliveries occurred in March 1939. The Model 314 was the largest civil aircraft in service at the time.

NC18602 (No. 18) was the California Clipper. It was the last Pan Am 314 to be retired. By 1946, when it retired, had accumulated more than a million flight miles. (Photo Boeing Archives)

It was twice the size of the Sikorsky S-42, and outweighed the Martin M-130 China Clipper by 15 tons. The Boeing 314 weighed 40 tons and cost $550 000 per copy. Initially it had poor directional control due to the single vertical stabilizer. Boeing eventually settled on the triple-tail arrangement which became a feature of the design.

It had a central hull and adapted the experimental XB-15 bomber’s 149 ft. (45 metres) wing and engine nacelles on the flying boat’s large (for its day), whale-shaped body.

In the place of the traditional floating stabilizers at the wingtips, sponsons mounted on the sides of the hull were used. The sponsons were developed by Claude Dornier, and used on the Dornier Do X and Dornier Do 18. The sponsons also contained fuel tanks, which brought the capacity of the total fuel on board to almost 3,525 gallons (16 ,00 liters).

The new 14-cylinder double-row Wright 1,500 hp. Cyclones were the first to use 100-octane fuel. These engines on the 314A eliminated the lack of power that handicapped and ultimately canceled the XB-15 project.

Behind the upper-level flight deck were crew sleeping quarters and a giant baggage area. Between the two decks was a spiral staircase. The lower deck included a dining salon, cocktail lounge, and separate lavatory-dressing room facilities for men and women. The ultimate bow to the first class traveler was a bridal suite. One less publicized feature was the first flush toilets ever used on a transport aircraft.

On May 20, 1939, Pan American inaugurated the first transatlantic mail service. Almost a ton of mail was carried from Port Washington, N.Y., to Marseilles, France, via the Azores and Lisbon, Portugal, in 29 hours. The same aircraft opened the northern mail service to Southampton, UK on June 24, 1939.

The 314 had a 3,500-mile range and made the first passenger-scheduled trans-Atlantic flight on June 28, 1939. By the year’s end, Clippers were routinely crossing the Pacific. Passengers had a spacious lower deck that allowed seating for 74 daytime passengers on trips less than 1,000 miles over water, or 36 to 40 passengers in reclining seats for long overnight flights.

White-coated stewards served five and six-course meals on china with gleaming silver service. The standard of luxury on Pan American’s Boeing 314s has not been matched on heavier-than-air commercial transport since then. (Photo Boeing Archives)

Luxury Air Travel

Pan Am’s “Clippers” were built for the “First Class traveler,” a necessity given the long transoceanic flights. It had a cruising speed of 188 miles per hour (303 km/h), but typically flights at the maximum gross weight were flown at 155 mph (249 km/h). In 1940, Pan Am’s San Francisco, to Honolulu, Hawaii, the route took 19 hours.

The 314s had galleys crewed by chefs from five-star hotels. White-coated stewards served five and six-course meals on china with gleaming silver service. The standard of luxury on Pan American’s Boeing 314s has not been matched on heavier-than-air commercial transport since then. This was travel for the super-rich, priced at $675 from New York to Southampton, UK (comparable to a round trip aboard Concorde in 2006). Most of the flights were trans-Pacific, with a one-way ticket from San Francisco to Hong Kong via the “stepping-stone” islands costing $760 (or $1,368 round-trip)

The 314 proved to be an excellent airplane. The XP–15 wing design increased the range t0 3,500-miles. It was a huge wing that not only gave the 314 the incredible range, but also the capability of making some in-flight repairs on the engines. Like the XP 15, there was a passageway inside each wing through which a crew member could crawl.

The lower deck included a dining salon, cocktail lounge, and separate lavatory-dressing room facilities for men and women. (Photo Boeing Archives)

World War II

On September 3, 1939, the golden age of the clipper ships came to a dead stop with the outbreak of World War II in Europe. The war curtailed Pan American’s opportunity to build on its success, and the northern trans-Atlantic route was abandoned on October 3, 1939.

At the outbreak of the war in the Pacific, the Pacific Clipper was en route to New Zealand. Rather than risk flying back to Honolulu, and being shot down by Japanese fighters, the captain decided to fly west to New York. Starting at Auckland, New Zealand, the Pacific Clipper reached New York after traveling over 31,500 miles (50,695km).

The Clipper fleet was pressed immediately into military service for the war effort. The flying boats were used for ferrying personnel and equipment to the European and Pacific Theaters. The aircraft were purchased by the War Department, and leased back to Pan Am for a dollar.

Few other aircraft of the day could meet the wartime distance and load requirements. President Franklin D. Roosevelt traveled on Dixie Clipper to meet with Winston Churchill at the Casablanca conference in 1943.

On the Marine Air Terminal interior wall is a mural representing the history of flight. The last mural depicts the Clipper ships and the crew plotting their flight. At that point, 1939, the Clipper represented the latest in aviation technology. (Photo Henry M. Holden)

The Clippers had long legs. American military cargo was carried via Brazil to Liberia, to supply the British forces at Cairo, and to the Russians, via Teheran. The 314 was then the only aircraft in the world that could make the 2,150-statute-mile (3,460 km) crossing over water, and was given the military designation C-98. Since the Pan Am pilots and crews had extensive expertise in using flying boats for extreme long-distance over-water flights, the company’s experienced pilots and navigators continued to serve as a civilian flight crew.

Success breeds more

With the success of the Boeing 314, Pan American ordered six more aircraft with increased engine power and passenger capacity, as the Boeing 314A, to be delivered in 1941.

Initially, the goal was to double the service on both the Atlantic and Pacific routes. However, the fall of France, in 1940, caused some doubt about whether the Atlantic service could continue. Passenger numbers were declining due to the war, and if Spain or Portugal joined the Axis, then the flights to Lisbon would end.

LaGuardia Airport, in New York City, was the clipper’s east coast operating base. A special building, the Marine Air Terminal, built in 1939, was for clipper passengers. The flying fish on the side of the building represented the Clipper ships. (Photo Henry M. Holden)

The 314A was a great improvement, it had increased fuel capacity of nearly,1 000 gallons (4,500 liters). The first 314A flew as a prototype on March 20, 1941, but with WW II raging, only half the order went to Pan Am. Three were bought by the British government and allotted to British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) for use as transport aircraft, primarily intended for the UK – West Africa route. The sale made a small net profit for Pan Am – priced at cost plus five percent – and provided a vital communications link for Britain. Churchill later flew on Bristol Clipper and Berwick Clipper, which he praised strongly, adding to the Clippers’ fame during the war.

They faded quickly

Twelve Boeing 314 Clippers were produced by the Boeing Airplane Company between 1938 and 1941. Of the 12 three were lost to accidents, although only one of those resulted in fatalities: 24 passengers and crew aboard the Yankee Clipper died in a landing accident, in Lisbon, Portugal, on February 22, 1943. Among the fatalities was a prominent American author, and war correspondent, Benjamin Robertson. American singer and film actress Jane Froman was seriously injured. Two more Clippers were sunk in collisions with rescue ships after being forced to land due to engine trouble.

Three Pan American Airways S-42s over Miami Beach, Florida. When passenger demand increased for trans-Pacific and Atlantic travel toward the end of the 1930s, Pan Am went to Boeing for a long-range, four-engine flying boat. (Photo Florida State Archives)

The last Pan Am 314 to be retired, the California Clipper, in 1946, had accumulated more than a million flight miles. All Pan-Am’s 314 were removed from scheduled service in 1946, and five serviceable B-314s were purchased by the start-up airline New World Airways. These sat at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field until 1950 when all were sold for scrap. The last of the fleet, the Anzac Clipper, was resold and scrapped at Baltimore, Maryland in late 1951.

BOAC’s 314As were withdrawn from the Baltimore-to-Bermuda route in January 1948, replaced by Lockheed Constellations flying from New York and Baltimore to Bermuda.

The Boeing clippers served Pan Am and BOAC well during their short careers. The advent of the four-engine land planes, which traded luxury for speed and greater operating economy, doomed the flying boats. The passing of the flying boat, however, was inevitable even before war broke out. The same Boeing engineering capability responsible for the advanced technology found in the clippers made their extinction predictable. For even as the 314 was being developed, so too was another prewar airliner with technology even more cutting edge, the Boeing 307 Stratoliner.

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Small Fleets, Short Lives: Wings from Airlines in the Past

Written by Charlie Dolan

One of the things I miss most about the printed version of The Captain’s Log is the article deadline which always seemed to be hanging over my head. It was like the dreaded term paper, which was in my mind, but eventually had to be reduced to words on paper. Subtle (or not so subtle) reminders from Joop or Bill eventually got articles into the Log to be (hopefully) enjoyed by the members of the society. The new free form Log allows me to procrastinate much more than I used to.

I decided to write about air carriers which arose to fill a perceived niche, but for one reason or another went out of business quickly. These carriers also had small fleets, which might also have affected their short life spans.

One of the first, which came to my mind, was Matson Line. Shortly after World War Two ended, The Matson Steam Navigation Company decided to provide a luxury air carrier to augment their ship operations between the west coast of the United States and Hawaii. They planned to offer the best service in the air and managed to present a business plan which lured American Airlines ‘most senior pilot, E. L. Sloniger to surrender his seniority number to join their new carrier. When he left American, a younger pilot, Ernest K. Gann, followed. If “Old number one” thought that was a good move, how could he not go along. In fewer than twenty- four months, the air carrier folded, partly as a result of political pressure which might have been supported by Pan American’s Juan Trippe.

The largest rise and fall of air carriers came after the deregulation of the airways in the 1980s. Here are some of the carriers who tried to fill niches in the skies.

Air 1    (Air One) 1983 – 1984

A first and business class aircraft cabin with coach fares. It went head to head with TWA and lost the fight.

Air South WV  KB 1993 – 1997

Operated seven aircraft primarily on the east coast of the USA

All Star ASR 1984 -1985

A small charter carrier operating three aircraft.

American International 1982 – 1984

Operated nine DC-9s

Eastwind WS SGR 1995 – 1999

Operated five aircraft on the US east coast.

  Legend LC  LGD 2000 – 2005 

An all business class airline, founded by a former head of the FAA. It operated six aircraft, but was locked in litigation with American Airlines from its inception until its demise.

Orange Air ORN 2011 – 2014

Orange operated two aircraft, but never had a truly viable operation. It did operate some sports charters.

Presidential Airways XV 1985 -1989

This carrier lasted about the longest and with a fleet of twenty three aircraft. I flew Presidential on a round trip between Montreal (CYUL) and Dulles (KIAD) in February 1985 and felt the service was good for a low cost carrier.

Pro Air XL  PRH 1997 – 2000

The carrier operated four Boeing 737 aircraft and was converting to MCD aircraft when maintenance issues led to a cessation of operations.

Ernest K. Gann

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Washington National Airport in Postcards

Written by Marvin G. Goldman

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (code ‘DCA’) is the closest airport to Washington, D.C. (District of Columbia), the U.S. capital. Although located only four miles (7 km.) from the heart of the capital district, the airport actually lies just across the Potomac River near the Crystal City urban neighborhood of Arlington County, Virginia.

The first significant air field and terminal in the National Capital area was privately owned Hoover Field. Officially opened on 16 July 1926, it was located on the Virginia side of the Potomac River just north of the present DCA, on a site now occupied by the Pentagon. The first airline to operate there was Philadelphia Rapid Transit Air Service (‘PRT’) which started passenger and mail flights between Philadelphia and Hoover Field.

Philadelphia Rapid Transit Air Service (‘PRT’) Fokker F-VIIa-3m, ‘Kendrick’, at Hoover Field, Arlington County, Virginia, serving on the Washington-Philadelphia route, July-November 1926. Airline Issue.

Back of preceding Philadelphia Rapid Transit Air Service postcard.

The route from Hoover Field to Philadelphia proved uneconomical for the Philadelphia Rapid Transit airline. Also, the field itself was not well suited for airline operations. So PRT pulled out of Hoover Field after five months. Potomac Flying Service then started operating at Hoover Field, but with only mixed success.

Just one year later, In 1927, a competing private field called ‘Washington Airport’ opened adjacent to Hoover Field. However, faced with small sites that were often flooded, flight path obstacles, and financial difficulties, the two fields merged in September 1930 to form ‘Washington-Hoover Airport’. This did not sufficiently help the situation, as the combined site was still not worthy of serving as the principal airport for the Nation’s capital city.

Postcard issued in late 1928 or early 1929 showing ‘Washington Airport’ (later part of ‘Washington-Hoover Airport’) within the upper left circle on the far side of the Potomac River. The card advertises scenic flights over Washington operated by a Ryan Brougham aircraft and was probably issued by the owner-operator of those flights, Herbert Fahy who was a co-founder of ‘Washington Airport’. There are three versions of this card: two have a “Safety 1928’ ‘United States Air Transport’ insignia on the back (with the front of one version being less colorized), and the back of the third has a message promoting the scenic flights.      

Following the failure of Congress to agree on a new site for the development of a suitable airport for the national capital, in fall 1938 President Franklin D. Roosevelt selected a site for a totally new U.S. government-owned airport to be built just south of Washington-Hoover Airport on mudflats at Gravelly Point, by the Potomac River. Construction involved a tremendous amount of earth moving, reclaiming land from the marshes and river. The new airport, named ‘Washington National Airport’, opened for commercial flights on 16 June 1941. It was considered one of the finest of its day, with innovations in building design, plane handling, air and field traffic control, lighting, and facilities for public convenience. The first three airlines to operate there were American Airlines, Eastern Air Lines, and Pennsylvania Central Airlines (‘PCA’).

During the first few years of the new airport, a legal controversy existed as to whether the airport was in fact located in Virginia or was part of the federal District of Columbia. In 1945 Congress passed a law stating the airport site was indeed in Virginia, but that the airport was under exclusive federal jurisdiction.

Aerial view of new Washington National Airport showing its four runways, Curteich no. 1B-H2275; 1941, the year of its inauguration. The deactivated Washington-Hoover Airport field can be seen at the empty land just northwest of the new airport.

The terminal and administration building of Washington National Airport, early 1940s. Real photo postcard by Tenschert, no. 321. An American Airlines Douglas DC-3 is at left, and an Eastern Air Lines DC-3 at right.

 After Washington National Airport opened, a nice set of 18 different colorized ‘linen’ finish postcards about the airport was published, likely between 1942 and 1945, by Capitol Souvenir Company (‘Capsco’) of Washington D.C., along with a souvenir folder of non-postcard photos of those 18 views. So-called ‘linen’ postcards derived their name from the surface pattern of the card that resembled the crosshatched surface of linen fabric. They were popular mainly from 1930 to 1945, at which time postcards with a ‘chrome’ finish and more realistic photos became the dominant form of postcard.

Here are nine of those Capsco ‘linen’ postcards selected from the set.

The first hangar built at Washington National Airport. In front are Douglas DC-3s of the first three airlines serving the airport — American, Eastern and Pennsylvania Central.

American DC-3s in front of the row of more modern hangars built at Washington National Airport soon after its opening.

American Airlines DC-3 on the ramp with the administration/terminal building in the background.

Eastern Air Lines DC-3, with Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument seen across the Potomac River.

From the dining room and through the panoramic glass of the terminal waiting room, passengers could look out towards the aircraft activity and also see, as here, the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol building on the other side of the Potomac River.

Several ‘chrome’ finish postcards depict the original Washington National Airport (which had added in 1950 an extension to the main terminal at its south end).  Here is a selection of five postcards that show aircraft on the ramp with the administration/terminal building in the background.

Pennsylvania Central Airlines (‘PCA’) Douglas DC-3, NC49553, at Washington National Airport between 1945 and 1948, issued for Airliners International 2006 Washington. Pub’r j.j.postcards, Bassersdorf, Switzerland. This aircraft joined PCA’s fleet in March 1945, and PCA changed its name to Capital Airlines in April 1948.

Eastern Air Lines Lockheed Constellations at Washington National Airport. Dexter Press no. 51413, Pub’r Racon Wholesale, Washington D.C. Eastern was a large operator of Constellations, with 79 of different types serving during the period 1945 to 1968. On 30 April 1961 Eastern inaugurated its iconic ‘Air-Shuttle’ service between Washington National and New York-LaGuardia and Boston-Logan, with L1049 Constellation aircraft.

Capital Airlines Vickers Viscount turboprop at Washington Airport. Airline issue. In 1955 Capital became the first U.S. operator of the Viscount.

Eastern Air Lines Lockheed 188 Electra at Washington National Airport. Pub’r Capsco, Washington D.C., no. P61914. Eastern started adding Electra turboprops to its fleet in late 1958, and introduced them on its Air-Shuttle service in 1965. Also in 1958 the airport’s infrastructure expanded with the opening of its ‘North Terminal’.

Eastern Air Lines Boeing 727 and Lockheed Constellation at Washington National Airport. Pub’r: Capsco, no. P72871. Eastern was the launch airline for the 727 and placed it in service on the Philadelphia-Washington-Miami route on 1 February 1964.

Washington National Airport (‘DCA’) 5-View Card. Printed by John Hinde Curteich, Distr. L. B. Prince, Fairfax VA, D. Noble Photos, probably issued in the 1970s or 1980s. In 1970 facilities for TWA and Northwest airlines opened at Washington National. Examples of their aircraft appear in the lower left and center views respectively in this postcard. Delta, Pan Am, United, US Air and other airlines also started serving DCA.

  In 1987 U.S. federal control of Washington National Airport (along with Dulles, the more distant Washington airport that mainly serves longer-haul flights) was transferred to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, an independent interstate agency created by legislation of the State of Virginia and the District of Columbia, with the consent of Congress.

On 12 May 1997 a new modern and taller airport traffic control tower at Washington National was commissioned by the Federal Aviation Administration, and on 27 July 1997 the airport was transformed by the official opening of an entirely new modern north terminal (called Terminals B and C), featuring three levels, 35 aircraft gates and a beautiful ‘National Hall’ concourse with numerous shops and restaurants.

Aerial view of Washington National Airport and its new terminal, issued by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, Alexandria VA. Oversize card, 12.4 x 17.7 cms.

Control Tower and Interior at Washington National Airport. Distr. L. B. Prince Co., Fairfax VA, no. K25434, E. David Luna Photo.

On 6 February 1998 the airport name was changed from ‘Washington National’ to ‘Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport’, in honor of the 40th President of the U.S., who served from 1981 to 1989.  The airport code ‘DCA’ remained the same.

Front View of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, with Control Tower. Pub’r Shin Sung Souvenir Co., Washington D.C., no. 02642, E. David Luna Photo.

Four View Postcard of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Pub’r Shin Sung Souvenir Co., Washington D.C., no. 02638, E. David Luna Photo.

The original terminal at National Airport is now known as ‘Historic Terminal A’. Not only does it still exist, it has been restored during a period of over ten years, with renovation being completed in 2014. It is now used by three airlines, and it also has an area for historical displays.

Today Reagan Washington National Airport is served by eight airlines: American and jetBlue (in Terminals B and C), Alaska, Delta and United (Terminal B), and Air Canada, Frontier and Southwest (Historic Terminal A). The airport mainly operates as a ‘short-haul’ airport, with flights to destinations no further than 1,250 miles from Washington D.C. per a federally-instituted ‘Perimeter Rule’; however, exceptions to this rule have been granted by the federal government allowing flights to several major cities beyond the perimeter. Also, the largest aircraft types do not operate out of Reagan National because, due to its limited land area, the airport runways are relatively short, the longest being 6,869 ft. (2,094m).

Lastly, Reagan National is also subject to the ‘slot rule’ created by the Federal Aviation Administration at certain high-density airports to reduce congestion; this limits the number of landings and takeoffs per hour. In 2014 American Airlines, in order to obtain government approval for its merger with US Airways, was forced to sell 104 takeoff and landing slots at Reagan National. Almost all of those slots were acquired by Southwest and jetBlue Airlines.

Despite the limitations on number and distance of flights and size of aircraft, Reagan Washington National Airport today is one of the busiest in the U.S. In 2019 it served nearly 24 million passengers. As documented by postcards, the closest airport to the heart of the nation’s capital has come a long way from the sod airstrip at Hoover Field to the modern facility at Reagan National.

Notes:

All postcards shown are in the author’s collection. I estimate their rarity as follows: Rare: the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Air Service card; Uncommon: the scenic flights over Washington card, first two Washington National Airport cards, all cards in the 1940s ‘linen’ set, the card with two Eastern Constellations, the Capital Viscount card, and the oversize aerial view of the new terminal. The rest of the postcards are fairly common.

Be sure to attend Airliners International DCA 2018, where the convention and show will be held virtually next door to Reagan Washington National Airport. See you there !

References:

Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, Reagan National, website ‘flyreagan.com’. In the top search box, type ‘about the airport’ and in the list that appears click on the first item ‘About Reagan National Airport’.

Website: airfields-freeman.com, tab ‘Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields: Virginia: Arlington County’, by Paul Freeman (revised 18 Feb. 2018).

Website: http://famgus.se/Vykort/APC-WNA.html. This site shows all 18 of the early 1940’s Capsco ‘linen’ postcard set of Washington National Airport.

Szurvoy, Geza. ‘The American Airport’ (MBI Publishing Co., 2003).

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