Warmer Climes

Written by Charlie Dolan

I think I should have covered these carriers during the winter, but I was stuck in Canada during our cold weather. Oh well, nobody’s going anywhere these days, so the outside temperatures don’t really affect us. I decided to follow the alphabet again and will look at airlines based in the Caribbean and Central America.  Many of these airlines are no longer in operation, but they brought aviation to their countries and had both colorful histories and liveries. Several had more than one version of wings and cap badges.

Air Jamaica JM AJM 1968 – 2015

The carrier was assisted in its start-up by Air Canada, which provided equipment, aircraft service and training.  The lower wing has the AC maple leaf and was worn by Air Canada pilots seconded to Air Jamaica to train the JM pilots.  Air Jamaica wore white caps with the orange insignia and that gave a sharp look to the uniform.

Belize Airways Limited BAL 1977 – 1980

The carrier operated five Boeing 720 aircraft, which had started operational lives with United Air Lines. The BAL insignia is one of the most colorful in my collection.

BWIA BW BWA 1939 – 2006

Originally named British West Indian Airlines, it had a close association with B O A C. It’s last operating name was British West Indies Airlines. The wings and cap badge are designed to resemble the steel drums of the Caribbean.  This design was also incorporated in the livery of the aircraft.

Cayman Airways KX CAY 1968 – present

The insignia feature “Sir Turtle”, the tourism bureau’s logo for the island nation. Until he became the image of the air carrier, he did not sport a red scarf. I wonder if Charles Schultz and Snoopy objected to his use of this fashion accessory.

CUBANA CU CUB 1930 – present

The first two sets of insignia show the influence of Pan American Airways, which was instrumental in the formation of the carrier. After the Castro take-over the insignia were changed and began to take on a look similar to the eastern block countries.

C D A Compania Dominicana de Aviacion Dominicana DO DOA 1944 – 1999

Three variations of the carrier’s insignia. The first, in PAA style, shows the island of Hispaniola with Haiti to the west and the Dominican Republic to the east.

LANICA Lineas Aereas de Nicaragua NI 1946 – 1981

SAHSA Servicio Aereo de Honduras, S. A. SH SHA 1945 – 1994

 

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Musings from a Passenger’s Seat: Pleasant Memories During a Troubled Time (When memories are all you have)

Written by Lester Anderson

[All photography from Wikimedia Commons.]

I live about three minutes from touchdown at Newark Airport for a few approaches landing to the south. I know this because I follow the overhead aircraft on my phone with Flightradar24.  I enjoy seeing from what airport the aircraft was arriving, the type aircraft and its altitude and speed at that moment.  Since the virtual shutdown of air travel due to the COVID-19 virus I see almost no traffic overhead. A large percent of what I do see are freight carriers (UPS and FedEx both have major hubs at EWR) since passenger flights are rare the freight is much more likely to be on one of those carriers with their expanded schedules.

But I love flying (as a passenger, I am not a pilot). So, what is there to do? My solution is to think of the “good times” of travel in the past.  Besides the actual flights, a lot of my memories concern the airports from which I departed and at which I arrived.

I once attended to a dinner where one of the guests had just been “retired” from a position with a large bank. She said she had no regrets about being “reorganized out” because the bank gave her the opportunity to travel the world, stay at the best hotels, and eat at the finest restaurants.  In my case, I thank all my former employers for giving me an opportunity to enjoy my (over one and one half million miles) of business travel by taking the flights I wanted, with my careful watch (and working with corporate travel) to cost the company no more that standard routings would cost the firm. If I had to watch any travel expense, for me it was the hotel or restaurants, which I would gladly do to get the airplanes and airports I wanted.

I write these musings with the hope that while you may not have memories of these specific airports, they this will allow you to think back on your own enjoyable experiences in travel.   Some memories go back to the 1960’s, my high school days, but most are in the 70’s 80’s and 90’s.

The East:

I grew up near Newark airport and was a frequent visitor. In those days there was only one terminal, and flight announcements were not posted on a board – they were announced over a PA system.  Being curious, I looked around (and probably asked someone) and found the “closet” in which the woman (it was usually a woman’s voice) sat in front of a microphone announcing what gate a Braniff or Eastern flight was departing from, and the cities to which the flight would travel. Electronic displays today are probably more efficient, but there was something really nice about a real person giving you the instructions on how to start your trip.

Newark has grown.  I remember when there were working terminals A and B, with Terminal C mostly built, but not yet occupied, and the tarmac was not even finished—grass grew under the gate areas awaiting an airline to occupy it and need the gates.  When that happened and PEOPLExpress leased it, a lot of the existing terminal was torn down to build a much larger terminal facility as Terminal C.

In Washington DC, I recall visiting when they first opened the first Metro line to Washington National (now Reagan) and looking at the airport from the elevated train platform.  I realize it may not have been efficient, but the old DCA terminal was a beautiful building that brought me back to an era before my own time, where air travel was something that was very special.  The other DC area airport was Dulles where the mobile lounge was the way you left the terminal to either go directly to an aircraft or to go to another concourse. I never had the travel experience where the mobile lounge brought me directly to the airplane, but I used it as the way to get to a midfield concourse where my United gate was located.

On one business trip I remember landing in Cleveland in what I would consider an almost white out condition.  The snow covered the tarmac, and everything was white.  We landed safely (and with complete faith in the crew), and when I was met by the business associates, and trudged thru snow to the cab, I was told not to worry—it is only “lake effect snow”.  In New York such a snow event would have shut – or at least slowed down – much of the city. But everyone (including the taxi driver) took it all in stride and did not allow the lake effect snow to slow us down.

The South:

With the hub and spoke airline route system, if you went anywhere in the south, odds are you were going to change planes in Atlanta.  I did a lot of flying on Eastern, and they had two concourses, and there was a walkway (you walked under the aircraft gate and taxi area) to the next concourse. From what I read, while it has been closed off, they never filled it in so if ever needed in the future it can be reopened. A pleasant aircraft memory was at Eastern, for a period of time, DC9’s and 727’s would not use a tug to back out of the gate, but a power pushback using the aircraft’s engines.  I am sure it was used elsewhere but I remember it often at ATL. The airport’s five concourses were connected with an underground subway system that for the early years (at least a dozen) had a computer voice announcing what concourse you just arrived at and the next one coming up. The voice was a computer voice that was reminiscent of the science fiction movies of the 50’s and 60’s.  Fortunately, a more normal voice system was later installed.

Dothan Alabama was my first trip to Alabama (I was working for Sony and we had a videotape manufacturing plant there).  It was a small airport with only a few flights a day.  The policeman in charge locked the terminal between flights, and if you arrived early, there was a couch to sit on outside the door until he unlocked it and you could enter the terminal.  This was an early business flight of mine. Republic Airlines had a special fare that for $30 more you could upgrade to First Class. Corporate travel said if I reduced my expense report by $30 they would ticket me. Done deal! (Always good to be friends with Corporate Travel).

DFW was a favorite airport because of a hotel.  There was a Hyatt and it was in the middle of the airport itself.  You could ask at check in for a room that looked over the runway and if you didn’t mind a little (not a lot) of noise, it was great for those of us who loved planes.  I would bring my aircraft band radio and could tune in to listen to the tower while I was watching the planes.  And DFW was busy so you had a lot of action to watch and listen to during the stay.  And while it was not the cheapest area hotel, it was reasonable and it was worth it because you never had to worry about getting to the airport for your 6 AM flight home.

The Grand Hyatt at DFW Terminal D

Orlando (with the IATA code MCO because the airport started out as McCoy Air Force Base) in its early days was nothing like the complex it is today.  It was a smaller facility right next to the “Bee Line Expressway”.  The thing I remember most was that although you had to walk to the baggage claim area, which was manual (no luggage carousels), when you arrived your luggage was waiting for you.  I don’t know if the ground crew was far more efficient, or if the walk took longer than I remember.

New Orleans was an interesting airport.  It had the New Orleans “Mardi Gras” look because the first time I was there it was afternoon of that Mardi Gras Tuesday. I remember calling my office (using a pay phone and telephone credit card) to say I was at the airport and was told very forcefully to make sure I got on the plane (it was the last flight out that day).  Corporate travel (with whom I always made friends at every job), told the department secretary to tell me that if I missed the plane, the closest hotel room they could find was over 100 miles away – so make sure I got on the plane.

The Midwest:

In Chicago there are two airports.  O’Hare was the big one and the one into which I mostly flew.   I did use United a lot, and they had two concourses connected by an underground walkway.  I remember it was an almost psychedelic experience because it was lit by a ceiling full of multi-color neon lights, and there was an ethereal, almost science fiction alien music being played as you walked (actually you did not walk, it was a moving walkway). Midway was a smaller airport (with lots of history) and was just being brought back into mainline service.  O’Hare was further out and Midway was in the middle of the city, but I recall the taxi rides were similar in cost and time to the office.

Denver Stapleton was an older airport being replaced by a much larger new one (DIA) much further out.  Like any major construction projects there were delays after delays in completion. When it finally opened I booked a business trip to the west coast with a Denver connection that had a three hour time interval between flights.  I was able to visit all the terminals and see the new airport that day and continue my journey arriving maybe an hour after I would have if I booked the normal flights. I often changed planes at DIA and was amazed that even in the snow (enough snow that I would think it would shut down or greatly delay NY airports) things went on as if it was bright and sunny out.  My flights that I was sure would be delayed due to snow went out on time.

The West:

When you land in Las Vegas you are greeted with a large open area by the gates that has a large bank of slot machines, and people (at all times of day) playing the slots.  I must admit I am not a gambler, and all of my visits were due to visiting trade shows.  The biggest ones were Comdex (a computer trade show) and CES (Consumer Electronics).  In both cases (in those trade shows heydays) there were over 100,000 attendees and hotel space was at a premium.  So were cabs.  When you wheeled your checked luggage (or your carry-on) to the taxi loading area, there was a queue of hundreds of people waiting for a cab. It was very efficient because when you finally got to the front of the line the dispatcher had about 20-30 “slots” they would assign you one.  The cabs would then come up and load whoever was waiting in the slots (for trade shows it was usually one person unless colleagues going to the same hotel wanted to share a cab).  Considering the crowds, it was a very efficient system and it normally took you only about 30 minutes to get into a cab. They told us the city imported hundreds of cabs and drivers during the times of these shows.

LAX (Los Angeles) was the major airport for the area. Landing there you often could see aircraft landing on parallel runways as you were landing.  The thing I remember most of the airport was the restaurant (Currently called Encounter) that is the space age shaped icon that is the main symbol of the airport in most all photos.  When I was visiting it had a very Star Trek motif.  Besides a nice meal (overlooking the airport) while visiting, I also used the restaurant as a meeting place to interview potential employees.  You never had to explain twice where you were meeting them.

In the days before 9/11 security restrictions on terminal airside access I would also use meeting rooms at the Ionosphere Club (Eastern), President’s Club (Continental) or the Red Carpet Club (United) as a great places for potential employee interviews.  I could fly into an airport, do 2 or 3 interviews, then fly back and never leave the airport.  The cost for renting the meeting room was less than a taxi ride into the city.

SNA—John Wayne Airport was a nice alternative to LAX if you were going South of Los Angles.  It was a convenient terminal (before it started growing, car rental was a convenient elevator trip down to a basement level.)  My favorite memory was takeoffs.  SNA is the middle of a highly populated area so there was a noise abatement takeoff requirement.  The pilot would rev up the engines with the brakes on,  release the brakes and you barrel down the runway, to a very steep take off, then the pilot dramatically reduced power and you quietly flew at a couple of thousand feet for a few minutes until you got over the ocean where the pilot could increase engine power to resume the take off and start to accelerate and climb.

Long Beach was a cute little airport that looked like a movie set from the 1940’s.  But it worked very well (at least going to a hub for a connection, not a trans-con flight) and the thing I remember was it was maybe a 5 minute walk from the gate to outside the terminal and the car rentals were right in front of you in the parking lot.

Going to the Bay Area you had a choice of SFO, Oakland or San Jose.  But SFO was by far the busiest. Before they built the consolidated car rental terminal, you took a bus that brought you to the various car lots.  It also brought visitors to a Hilton hotel on the airport grounds, and I remember one bus ride where passengers just boarding the bus said they had to go to the hotel, but the driver had to tell them that hotel had been torn down a few months before. He suggested they should go back in the terminal and call their travel agent to find out where their reservation was now going to be honored. My memory of Oakland was an early business trip where I had a business meeting in Oakland that ran long. I mentioned I may not make my SFO flight since that was an hour away.  They said “give me your ticket and let us check” and 10 minutes later they had me rebooked (making the same hub connection back to Newark) from Oakland—a 10 minute drive from their office. San Jose Airport had a special memory. I was waiting at the gate on a flight delay. By chance (to kill time) I called a former boss to congratulate him because he had started a new job with a new company.  Over the phone he offered me a job—which I did accept the next day!

Honolulu and the Hawaiian Islands I first visited with my wife on vacation.  We had a 9 day, 3 island “Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays with American Express” package. I remember we did as much packing and airport travel as we did sightseeing, but Hawaii is beautiful.  In those days (1982) you showed up at the Hawaiian Airlines counter, and were given a seat on the next available flight (they ran at least every hour).  Your luggage went on the next plane out (not necessarily yours) because I recall landing at each island, and all the luggage was already on the tarmac awaiting the tourists to pick them up and go to the car rental counters. One thing I recall is we had travel vouchers not airline tickets and turned them in for every flight (as we did for car rentals and hotels).

International:

Orly in Paris and Gatwick in London were, at the times I traveled, secondary airports and as such were not very crowded.  Since my only need for the airport was the airplane and the taxi, that was no problem.  I am sorry I do not have more memories of the airports themselves.

Luton Airport is about an hour outside of London and was the airport nearest to the office of a company for which I worked. I flew from Luton to Hanover Germany on a charter for a trade show.  The thing I remember most what that at Luton there was no permanent signage for each airline.  Large video screens would light up at each gate with the airline logo and name and the flight number.  It seemed like a nice way for an airport to more efficiently use gate space and not leave gates unused for hours at time.

I visited Melbourne flying Continental DC-10’s.  The 20+ hour trip  started in LAX, we flew to Honolulu, deplaned (although it was after midnight the President’s club was open) then re-boarded (a different aircraft but same flight number) to Auckland New Zealand, where we deplaned (but did not go out of arrival security) then re-boarded to go to Melbourne. (Nice pick up of miles as well as a lot of fun). The return (because I think Continental only had one or two flights a day), you had a location to wait near the gate area, then they brought out pedestals and signs, and in about 10 minutes had a very professional looking check in and gate set up. The return home flights had the same routing in reverse order.

I was able to visit Moscow managing our company’s sponsored trade show. I did fulfill a longtime ambition of departing from the famous JFK Pan Am Worldport terminal. This was 1990 and a very strange and exciting time to visit the USSR. (I was there the week Mikhail Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize).  Arriving at Sheremetyevo Airport you went into a room the size of phone booth to show your passport and visa to a uniformed guard thru a window.  On the return journey I got to the airport three hours early.  Which was good because there was no such thing as a line.  Everyone was pushing in a group to get thru security (which I was told was less for checking for guns than for people trying to smuggle out artifacts). I made it thru with maybe only 25 minutes before my Pan Am flight. I saw a Duty Free shop and wanted to get two bottles of Stolichnaya Vodka to bring home. I got them, and brought them on the 747 (upper deck on a 747-100 on Pan Am had chair side storage bins).  I then carefully  carried the glass bottles thru the NYC Pan Am Worldport and thru customs and brought them home.  Just to find out how much I saved, the next day I went to the local liquor store – the identical bottles, bottled in USSR, were 50 cents cheaper in NJ!.  So much for Duty Free Shops.

I hope these memories either brought a smile to your face or brought back similar memories of travel experiences you had in the past.

I must admit I was not into photographing airports (and especially on business trips since there were no such things as cell phone cameras) so other than a few photos from the Aviation Hall of Fame of New Jersey collection, I have no photos to share.  Looking on the web for public domain or royalty free photos did find some of the airports, but the images are from today, not the terminals of thirty or more years ago.  But hopefully you have some images in your own memory that will serve you in remembering.

All photography from From Wikimedia Commons.

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TWA – Trans World Airlines on Postcards

Written by Marvin G. Goldman

TWA served as one of the foremost airlines in the United States, tracing its origin to 1925 when Western Air Express was founded, and operating until acquired by American Airlines in 2001.

TWA itself was formed in 1930 from a combination of Western Air Express and Transcontinental Air Transport (T.A.T.)-Maddux, and was originally known as Transcontinental & Western Air.  Briefly, during 1925 to 1930 TWA’s three main predecessors evolved as follows:

— Western Air Express, formed on 13 July 1925, developed a substantial airline network spanning the western U.S. from 1926 to 1930.

Western Air Express Fokker F-32, NC334N, at Glendale Central Airport, California, 1930.  Real photo postcard by Talbot, no. 28.  Ex Deke Billings collection.  The Fokker F-32 was the largest airliner of its day and the first four-engine transport in the U.S.  Western Air Express operated the only two F-32s utilized in passenger service, and the aircraft type had a very short life, only carrying passengers in 1930-31.

— Maddux Air Lines, founded in 1927, developed a significant network in California plus service to Phoenix, Arizona and Agua Caliente, Mexico.

Maddux Air Lines Ford 4-AT Tri-Motor, NC4532, and Route Map. Airline Issue. Ex Deke Billings collection.

— Transcontinental Air Transport (T.A.T.), established in 1929 and backed by railroad interests, started a transcontinental Air-Rail service on 7 July 1929, operating western and eastern portions by air, with passengers transferring to rail service for the central part of the journey.

Transcontinental Air Transport (T.A.T.) Ford Tri-Motors at Port Columbus Airport, Ohio, 8 July 1929, at the inauguration ceremony for the eastern link of their Air-Rail transcontinental service. One of a set of postcards issued by Port Columbus Airport for their 75th anniversary in 2004. T.A.T operated a western segment from Glendale, California to Clovis, New Mexico, where passengers would transfer to rail service to Columbus, Ohio, and then resume with T.A.T. aircraft to New York. The Air-Rail arrangement continued into 1930, but thereafter T.A.T.’s aircraft operated the entire transcontinental route.

— T.A.T.-Maddux arose from the merger of Maddux with T.A.T. on 16 November 1929.

T.A.T.-Maddux Curtiss Condor CO at Port Columbus, Ohio, 1930. Pub’r W. E. Ayers Co., Columbus. Printed by Curteich, no. 2268-30. The Curtiss Condor was the last large biplane built in the U.S.  T.A.T.-Maddux utilized it to supplement its Ford Tri-Motors.

Under pressure from then Postmaster General Walter Folger Brown, who controlled the awarding of valuable airmail routes and wanted to promote a single transcontinental airline, in a ‘Shotgun Marriage’ the aircraft and other assets of Western Air Express and T.A.T.-Maddux were transferred on 24 July 1930 to a single company, named Transcontinental & Western Air (TWA).

In August 1932, Jack Frye, then Vice President-Operations of TWA, sent a famous letter to Donald Douglas with specifications for a desired new, modern aircraft type.  This resulted in a single Douglas Aircraft DC-1 prototype, delivered to TWA on 1 December 1933.  The unique DC-1 served as publicity for TWA, and here are two postcards.

TWA Douglas DC-1 on display at Glendale Central Air Terminal, Glendale, California. Real photo postcard. Ex Allan Van Wickler collection.

Interior of TWA Douglas DC-1 in a staged scene. Airline Issue. The back of the card states: “QUIET PLEASE! One of the most marvelous achievements contributing to the advancement of air travel is the quiet passenger cabin of the TWA Douglas Luxury Airliner. Conversation may be carried on in normal tone of voice. The cabin is carefully insulated from the engine and propeller noise and vibration. Luxurious deep-cushioned chairs and a wide aisle contribute to absolute comfort.”

Based on the DC-1, Douglas and TWA decided to lengthen the aircraft by two feet, thereby raising the number of seats from 12 to 14. This and other improvements became the DC-2, with the first being delivered to TWA on 18 May 1934, followed by 30 more. The DC-2 represented a tremendous improvement over all other airline types then in operation, and it transformed airline service.

TWA Douglas DC-2, NC13728, delivered to TWA on 21 August 1934. Airline issue. Ex Allan Van Wickler collection.

 

TWA Douglas DC-2 Cockpit. Pub’r C. R. Schneider Co., New York NY. Probably airline issue.

The DC-2 was followed by the even more advanced Douglas DC-3, including a sleeper version called the DC-3 DST (Douglas Sleeper Transport).  The DC-3 exceeded all expectations and became one of the most famous aircraft types in history.  TWA introduced DC-3s to its fleet (initially with the DST version) on 1 June 1937, in transcontinental service.

 

TWA Douglas DC-3 DST at Burbank, California, Airport. Airline issue. My card is postmarked 18 November 1938.

TWA Douglas DC-3 DST, NC17312, at New York. The back of the card states: “TWA’s luxury Skysleepers let you dream your way across the nation. You can leave New York in the evening–and breakfast in Los Angeles the next day, flying the route that’s shortest, fastest, coast-to-coast.”

In May 1940 TWA introduced the four-engine Boeing 307 into service. The Boeing 307 was the first commercial aircraft with a pressurized cabin, allowing it to fly up to 20,000 ft. (6000m), above the often more turbulent weather of lower altitudes. Only 10 examples were delivered — five to TWA and five to Pan American. The aircraft type had a short life due to the intervention of World War II and the post-war development of the Douglas DC-4 and Lockheed Constellation.

TWA Boeing 307 ‘Stratoliner’. Airline issue, 1940.

Interior of TWA Boeing 307. Airline issue, probably 1940. The aircraft seated 33 passengers who enjoyed a pressurized cabin for the first time in commercial service.

On 5 July 1945 TWA received authority to operate trans-Atlantic routes for the first time, breaking the monopoly of Pan American. In February 1946 it started adding to its fleet the first two main post-WWII commercial aircraft types — the pressurized Lockheed Constellation, particularly sponsored by TWA, and as backup the unpressurized Douglas DC-4. Each included some models converted from their initial military types.

TWA Lockheed 049 Constellation. Airline issue. This is a fold over card with a postcard back.  Inside is a Captain’s flight report with details about the specific flight, to be passed around to the passengers.  (This is the predecessor of today’s moving maps and information on the screen at each person’s seat). The inside text offers to make a duplicate for mailing if desired. My card’s message is dated 26 September 1946.

TWA Douglas DC-4 over Cairo. Airline issue, probably late 1940s or early 1950s. Pub’r Umberto Boeri Editore, Rome. Painting by the Italian artist, Manlio D’Ercoli. One of a set of at least five TWA-issued destination cards by this artist, including two other DC-4 cards (Athens and Geneva) and two Constellation cards (Shannon and Rome). The Cairo card is the least common of the set.

TWA changed its full official name to ‘Trans World Airlines’ on 17 May 1950.  Meanwhile, the airline continued to sponsor and introduce newer and faster versions of the Constellation.  This culminated with its introduction of the Lockheed 1649A Constellation in January 1957, considered by many as the most beautiful airliner ever built.  Although this was still solely a propeller aircraft, TWA called it the ‘Jetstream Starliner’, knowing that pure jet aircraft were already in production and would soon enter service.

TWA Lockheed 1649A Constellation. Airline issue. I acquired this postcard from the seat pocket of this aircraft type while on a TWA flight from Rome, Italy to Bombay, India in July 1960.

For short-haul service in the 1950s, TWA introduced Martin 202s in 1950 and Martin 404s in 1951. These aircraft types served for about a decade.

TWA Martin 404 at Wichita Municipal Airport, Kansas. Pub’r Newfer Color Card Co., Wichita, no. 83207; printed by Dexter Press.  With the Martin 404, TWA introduced its ‘white top’ livery.

TWA entered the pure jet era when it received its first Boeing 707 on 17 March 1959, and the type immediately became its leading aircraft. Its 707 service was launched on 20 March 1959, on its transcontinental New York-San Francisco route.  707s served in TWA’s fleet until October 1983.

TWA Boeing 707-100. Pub’r H. S. Crocker Co., San Francisco, no. HSC-270. The earliest 707 engines spewed a lot of smoke on takeoff.

For short-haul routes in the early jet age years, TWA introduced Boeing 727s and Douglas DC-9s.

TWA Boeing 727-31H, N831TW, at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Ohio. Curteich no. 5DK-1973. Distributor, George R. Klein News Agency, Cleveland. Ex Allan Van Wickler collection. This aircraft was in TWA’s fleet from May 1965 to January 1992.

TWA Douglas DC-9-14, N1051T, its first DC-9, at New York LaGuardia Airport on a demonstration trip prior to delivery in 1965. Postcard produced by Airliners International 2010 New York, from a photo in the collection of Jon Proctor via Terry Waddington. Pub’r j.j.postcards, Bassersdorf, Switzerland.

In 1965 Boeing initiated development of the first wide body aircraft, the Boeing 747, which was twice the size of the 707.  TWA ordered 12 of them in 1966, and received its first one at the end of 1969.  The type, often called the ‘Jumbo Jet’ or ‘Queen of the Skies’ became the pride of TWA’s fleet, carrying its banner around the world.

TWA 747-100 and crew. Pub’r Kruger, no. 918/54, Printer Michel & Co., Frankfurt, Germany. 4 x 8-3/4” (10 x 22 cm.)

Douglas and Lockheed entered the wide body aircraft market with tri-jets — the DC-10 and L-1011 respectively.  Delta chose the L-1011, eventually operating over 40 at various times between 1972 and 1998.

TWA Lockheed L-1011. TWA Brussels office issue. This postcard shows TWA’s revised livery introduced in 1975, but with the ‘Trans World’ titles in solid red as introduced in 1980(rather than the 1975 version of white with a red border). This dates the postcard to 1980 or later.

Boeing then developed the long-haul, wide-body 767 which featured two engines, using less fuel than the three or four-engine wide bodies.  It also had a completely new flight deck design, requiring only two pilots instead of three or more and incorporating computer screens.  TWA introduced this successful aircraft type on 2 December 1982.  On 1 February 1985 a TWA 767 operated the first trans-Atlantic scheduled passenger service under the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s Extended Twin-Engine Operations (‘EROPS’, later known as ‘ETOPS’) which allowed twin-engine commercial aircraft to cross the ocean provided they operate within 120 minutes from an alternate airport (the maximum number of minutes has since been increased).

 

TWA Boeing 767-200. TWA Brussels office issue.

TWA paid close attention to its cargo operations and issued a few postcards advertising them.  Here is my favorite:

TWA Cargo Advertising Card, Airline issue. 6 x 9 (15 x 23cm.)

TWA’s Douglas DC-9 fleet for short-haul service expanded with successive larger models, culminating with the DC-9-82, subsequently called the MD-82 (entered TWA service in 1983) and the MD-83 (entered TWA service in 1987).  On 26 September 1986, the regional air carrier Ozark Air Lines, which also had a significant fleet of DC-9s and MD-80s, was merged into TWA.

Ozark Air Lines MD-82, N952U.  Airline issue.

From time to time TWA entered into arrangements with several commuter airlines that acted as feeders to its main operation.  Although operated by the local airline concerned, the flight and aircraft would be branded as ‘Trans World Express’.  Here is one postcard example:

Trans World Express Saab 340B, N749BA, operated by Metro Air Northeast. Pub’r Plane Views no. 85102024.

In September 1995 TWA unveiled its final livery, featuring “Trans World’ titles and a stylized world map.  Its final postcards show this livery.

TWA Boeing 767-200, N602TW, in color scheme adopted September 1995. Airline issue no. PAS-964, April 1996.

In 1985 TWA, while battling a takeover attempt by the notorious Frank Lorenzo and his company Texas Air Corporation, found itself taken over instead by corporate raider Carl Icahn. Icahn orchestrated the merger of Ozark Air Lines into TWA in 1986, burdening TWA with excessive debt. His subsequent maneuvers further contributed to financial difficulties for the airline.  TWA went through ‘chapter 11’ bankruptcy reorganization proceedings twice, in 1992 and 1995, but it never fully recovered.  In 2001 American Airlines acquired TWA, ending a remarkable 75-year span for one of the world’s pioneering and most highly respected airlines.

Notes:  Originals of all the postcards illustrated are in the author’s collection.  My estimate of their availability: Rare: the Western Air Express F-32 at Glendale, Maddux Ford Tri-Motor with route map, TWA DC-1 interior, DC-2 in flight and DC-2 cockpit, DC-3 at Burbank, and Constellation 049; Uncommon: the TAT-Maddux Curtiss Condor at Port Columbus; TWA DC-1 at Glendale, TWA DC-3 at night; Boeing 307 in flight and interior; DC-4 over Cairo, Martin 404 at Wichita, 747 and crew, 727 at Cleveland, L-1011 Brussels issue, and TWA Cargo cards.  The rest are fairly common.

References:

Davies, R. E. G., ‘TWA: An Airline and Its Aircraft’, illustrated by Mike Machat, 112 pages (Paladwr Press, 2000).

Cearley, George W., Jr., ‘TWA: A Pictorial and Illustrated History of Trans World Airlines 1925 – 1987’, 136 pages (self published, 1988).

Proctor, Jon, ‘TWA 1925 – 2001’, 64 pages (Airways Classics No. 6, 2012).  The late Jon Proctor had a career with TWA spanning 28 years, including in-flight management positions.  He is remembered as an outstanding airline historian and gentleman.  He is the first recipient of the new annual ‘Paul Colllins’ award for excellence in serving the airline history community, awarded to him earlier in 2020 by the World Airline Historical Society.

I hope you enjoyed this article on TWA and its postcards, and until next time,

Happy Collecting,

Marvin G. Goldman

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Canadian Carrier Crew Wings Part IV

Written by Charlie Dolan

With all this free time on my hands while under house arrest, I found a few more Canadian airlines which I have not shown in the past. Several were short lived or so small that little information is published about them. Here are the images of their insignia and the information I have collected.

                                                              Air Creebec YN CRQ 1982 – present

                                                           Conifair Aviation COF 1979 – 1997

Engaged in spruce bud worm spraying in Quebec using Lockheed Constellations and DC-4 and 6 tankers. It began charter and scheduled passenger service and later changed its name to Royal Airlines.

 Great Lakes Airways GX 1958 – 1987   Merged into Air Ontario

     Ilford Riverton Airways 1960 – 1986

                                                                  Quebec Aviation QR 1978

                Regionair  –  Had been known as Northern Wings. Acquired by Quebecair in 1965

 Voyageur Airways 1968 – present

 Westjet WS WJA 1994 – present

                                                      Worldways Canada WB 1974 – 1990

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A Few More Canadian Carriers

Written by Charlie Dolan

Now that I have had a chance to thoroughly clean, organize and paint my garage, I found time to rummage through my images of Canadian insignia. Some of these are from way back in time (Quebec Aviation Ltd.) or were so short lived (Air Niagara?) that there are no references to them in my usual sources. Or them I will have to rely on memory.

Air Niagara – This carrier came into Baltimore Int’l on a charter flight with a Convair 560. I was impressed that the wing insignia featured a plane resembling the Concorde. If you dream, dream big.

Air Niagara

Canada 3000 – They had a good run until the terrorist activities caused many carriers to fold their wings.

Canada 3000  2T  CMM  – 1988-2001  went bankrupt.

HMY / Harmony – The airline was founded by a gentleman who was dissatisfied with the services provided by other carriers.

HMY / Harmony      HQ     HMY         2002-2007

Intair  –  Provided charter and scheduled service with Convair 560 and Fokker 100 aircraft in eastern Canada. Intair was able to take over Nordair’s IATA code ND after Nordair was absorbed by Canadian Air Int’l.

Intair – ND INT 1989-1991

Nationair Canada – Nationair operated from Montreal’s Mirabel Airport with charter service worldwide. A fatal Hadj charter accident at Jeddah brought Nationair’s maintenance practices into question. A lengthy strike by cabin staff affected operations adversely and the negative publicity about the quality of service led to the end of the carrier.

NX  NXA     1986-1993

Odyssey International – This charter company was spun off from Soundair, a Canadian cargo carrier which had been operating since the late 1940s. After a very short period of operating, the mother company went bankrupt and Odyssey followed quickly

Odyssey International IL ODY 1988-1989

Quebec Airways Limited – Very little information about this airline, but impressive insignia.

This carrier used former military aircraft (C-46) carrying supplies to the DEW Line facilities in northern Canada. They also ran passenger flights to Cuba using Lockheed Constellations. The reason for the carrier’s demise was listed as “political”.

CDN World Wide Airways Inc

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Junior Wings – Non-Airline Issued Gift Shop, Toy, and Novelty Wings

By Lane Kranz

Most junior wings are issued directly by airlines, however there is a unique niche category among junior wing collectors commonly referred to as Non-Airline Issued Junior Wings.  This category includes novelty junior wings sold in gift shops and toy stores and even premiums found in cereal boxes.  During the golden age of aviation, airline jobs including Pilots and Stewardesses (later known as Flight Attendants), were held in high regard.  These jobs were (and to some extent still are) highly sought-after.  Those that held these positions were looked up to by children and often considered ‘dream jobs’.  Marketing capitalized on this demand and the result is a very unique and valuable piece of history.

 

Gift Shop Junior Stewardess

There are 5 known wings of this particular style.  All are the same size and format and contain “Jr. Flight Stewardess” with the individual airline logo.  All wings are gold except for Western, which is silver.  The 5 known wings are:  Eastern, Western, Continental, Braniff and Pan Am (not pictured).  Based on the logo, these wings are believed to be from the mid 1940s to early 1950s.  If you are aware of any additional wings, other than the 5 mentioned, please contact me at the link below.

Kellogg’s Cereal Premiums

Perhaps the best known non-airline issued junior wings were those found in Kellogg’s Cereal boxes.  Each Kellogg’s box contained the phrase, “wear the wings of the famous pilots”.   Kellogg’s issued 6 Junior Wings in the USA, including Eastern, TWA, National, Northwest, Continental, and United.  Additionally, it is believed that Kellogg’s issued at least 1 Junior Wing in Canada from Canadian Pacific Airlines and likely others.  Please contact me at the link below if you know of any additional Kellogg’s wings. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collector’s Buttons

Not much is known about the source of these buttons, however they are believed to be a gift shop or toy shop item.  All buttons are of identical size and feature the logo of 11 different US airlines and 1 Canadian airline.   All buttons contain “Jr. Flight Captain” except for Western Airlines which reads “Jr. Chief Pilot” and Pan Am which reads “Jr. Clipper Captain”.   If you have any additional information about these buttons, please contact me at the link below.  These buttons are believed to be from the early 1950s.

Big Wings

These large, brass wings are believed to be from a gift shop or toy store.  They feature a removable laminated center (about the size of a quarter) made of thin cardboard with a cellophane like covering.  There are 5 known airlines including:  Pan American, United, Western, Eastern, and TWA.  Based on the logo, these wings are believed to be from the late 1930s as Western Airlines was called Western Air Express until April 17, 1941.

Rings

Believe it or not, rings were a thing many decades ago.  Kids loved these!  There are multiple different styles, colors, and shapes.  These junior “rings” are believed to be from cereal boxes or candy machines.  Based on the logo, these are believed to be from the mid to late 1950s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Passing Through History with Flying Colors

Written by Emma Rasmussen

Douglas DC-8-62 of Braniff International painted in Alexander’s design at Miami Airport in August 1975

In an age of endless white airline liveries (often referred to as “Eurowhite” schemes), the vibrantly colored liveries of decades past offer a louder and far-less subdued glance at airline marketing. Forgotten airlines such as AirCal and Pacific Southwest Airlines sported bright pinks,purples, yellows, and oranges in their cheat-lines throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Today,airlines tip their hats to fans of nostalgia by painting individual aircraft in their fleets to replicate
these retro schemes. However, few current liveries can compare to the vivid ones that preceded them.

Prior to the Eurowhite liveries that dominate the airline industry today, these brilliant schemes were extremely popular. Braniff International Airways, based out of Dallas Love Field Airport was hardly an exception. In 1965, Braniff introduced their “jelly bean” liveries, an array of solid-fuselage schemes that ranged from yellow to lavender, turquoise, green, blue, orange and several more. Eight years after the “End of the Plain Plane” campaign that saw this complete overhaul of the airline’s fleet, lounges, and uniforms, avant-garde artist Alexander Calder was asked to design three visually-adventurous schemes for Braniff.

Alexander Calder was an artist best known for his “mobiles,” kinetic sculptures. Alternatively, he produced paintings and miniatures. In the early 1970s, Braniff was celebrating twenty-five years of travel to South America and desired a scheme to reflect this. Alexander Calder was approached by Gordon and Shortt Advertising Agency, and was enticed by the thought of his artwork flying around the world on the largest canvas— an airliner. Calder’s first aircraft was a Douglas DC-8-62, which was painted in strictly primary colors and dubbed “With Flying Colors.” His debut livery is his most famous and appeared at the 1975 Paris Air Show.

After his success with the Douglas DC-8, Calder designed another livery for Braniff. In 1976, the United States was celebrating its 200th year, which prompted the airline to request another celebratory livery. Calder painted an abstract version of the American flag, which was transposed onto a Boeing 727-200. This second and final work of Calder’s was dubbed “Flying Colors of the United States.” On both of his aircraft, Calder’s signature is proudly displayed instead of typical Braniff branding.

        Braniff Boeing 727 Alex Calder (N408BN) at San Francisco (1976) Bill Larkins

Later in 1976, Alexander Calder died and ultimately put an end to the “Flying Colors” series of airline schemes. “The Spirit of Mexico” was to be his third and final work, but his passing caused the project to be scrapped. A second 727 never received this livery. In 1982, negatively affected by the 1978 Airline Deregulation Act, Braniff International Airways ceased operations. This once highly-profitable and fast-growing US airline filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, leaving dozens of “jelly bean” airliners stranded and a colorful career behind

Notice: This article was originally published in Horizons, online student paper of Embry Riddle- Prescott.

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What if Pan Am had not purchased National Airlines in 1979?

Written By Joseph Wolf

Part I: The facts

Before the merger:

Pan American World Airways was America’s airline to the world for many years. Pan Am pioneered international air travel, first through Latin America in the late 1920s and early 1930s, then across the Pacific in 1935, and across the Atlantic in 1939. After World War II, Pan Am replaced the flying boats used on their initial trans oceanic flights with land planes, inaugurated around the world service, and steadily expanded the number of destinations they served, both in the US and abroad. The 1960’s were Pan Am’s apogee, as the lower operating costs and tremendous speed of Pan Am’s 707s and DC-8s enabled Pan Am to reduce the costs of international travel enough that it became possible for everyone, not just the very wealthy, to travel abroad.

However, Pan Am made a serious mistake in the late 1960s by ordering 25 Boeing 747s, based on the assumption that international travel would continue to grow at 15% per year indefinitely, and jet fuel prices would remain low. When the economy went into a recession just as the 747 was entering service, the costs of flying almost-empty 747s around the world caused Pan Am to hemorrhage money.

Another reason for Pan Am’s losses in the 1970s was that they had no routes within the continental US, and had to rely on feed from American, United, Eastern, and other domestic airlines. Pan Am had applied for routes within the continental US several times, but had consistently been rebuffed by the US Government.

For many years, Pan Am had wanted to buy National Airlines, which linked Pan Am’s main gateways of New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

National had been founded in 1934. National’s first route was from Tampa to Jacksonville, and National operated within Florida for the first years of its existence. During World War II, National’s aggressive president George Baker won a route up the East Coast to New York City and Washington DC, via important naval bases such as Savannah, Charleston, and Norfolk. After the war ended, National beat arch rival Eastern by offering the first flights between New York and Miami with modern DC-4s. In the 1950s, National’s routes were gradually extended westward to Houston, then in 1961, National became a transcontinental airline with a further extension to California.

National profited immensely from the “race to the moon” in the 1960s because they were the only airline with direct flights between Los Angeles (where much of the work on the Apollo space capsules took place), Houston (home of Johnson Space Center) and Cape Kennedy. National marketed itself, with great success, as a more glamorous alternative to stodgy rival Eastern Air Lines with slogans like “Airline of the Stars” and “Fly Me”, and emphasized their Florida home by painting their aircraft with orange and grapefruit colored stripes. In 1970, National was chosen over Pan Am and TWA for a Miami-London nonstop, becoming the US’s third transatlantic airline.

However, National’s fortunes declined in the 1970s. Like Pan Am (and many other airlines), National purchased too many wide bodied aircraft in anticipation of a traffic boom that never arrived. National’s president Bud Maytag, who had purchased a large stake in National from George Baker shortly before Baker’s death in 1963, took a hard line on controlling costs, which resulted in the airline being shut down by strikes nearly every year in the 1970s. After ailing Northeast Airlines, which had been awarded routes from Boston, New York City, and Washington to Florida in 1956 in competition with National and Eastern, was taken over by Delta Air Lines in 1972, Delta’s aggressive management and reputation for outstanding customer service caused Delta to take substantial market share from National. In the early 1970s, National and Northwest Airlines agreed to merge, but the merger was called off after quick approval from the US Government was not obtained.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National operated joint flights between New York City and South America with Pan Am and Pan American Grace Airways (Panagra) in the 1950s and 1960s, with National crews flying South America-bound aircraft from New York City to Miami, Pan Am crewing the aircraft from Miami to Panama City, and Panagra operating the rest of the way. In 1958, Pan Am and National agreed to forge even closer ties, when National agreed to give Pan Am the right to purchase enough stock to control National in exchange for Pan Am leasing 707s to National every winter. The transaction enabled National to become the first airline to fly jets within the United States. In the summer of 1960, the US Government disallowed the transaction. It was widely believed National’s management expected the transaction to be disallowed, and only agreed to it in order to be able to offer pure jet service more than a year before arch rival Eastern Air Lines could do so. Although this merger attempt was disallowed, Pan Am’s interest in acquiring National never went away.

The merger:

In 1969, financier Francisco (“Frank”) Lorenzo took over local service airline Texas International. Lorenzo and his aggressive management team suspended service to many of the smaller communities the airline served, and turned it into a regional airline serving Texas and neighboring states. Texas International also used low promotional fares to increase traffic and steal passengers from rival airlines.

In 1978, Texas International began purchasing stock in National, in hopes of taking the airline over. At the time, National’s stock price was just $17 per share, and the cost to buy all of the airline’s stock was less than the value of the airline’s fleet of relatively new 727-200s and DC-10s.

Once Texas International’s desire to merge with National became known, Pan Am realized that unless they acted quickly, they would lose the chance to merge with National. Pan Am proposed a merger with National, and offered $41 per share. Unlike Texas International, Pan Am’s interest in National was openly welcomed by National’s management.

A few weeks later, a third bidder for National emerged: Eastern Airlines. Although Eastern and National had been competitors for many years between the northeast and Florida, after deregulation National significantly reduced their flights in this area in order to focus on their more successful southern transcontinental routes from California and Nevada to Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. Eastern wanted to merge with National to obtain the southern transcontinental routes, as well as National’s profitable routes from Florida to Europe. Eastern offered to purchase National for $50 / share.

After several months of negotiations, Texas International agreed to support Pan Am’s bid for National, and sell to Pan Am the 23% of National stock Texas International had acquired, in exchange for Pan Am raising their offer for National’s stock to Eastern’s higher bid price. Pan Am and National officially merged in January, 1980.

The aftermath:

The merger of Pan Am and National was disastrous for Pan Am. As part of the process of combining the two airlines’ workforces, Pan Am agreed to increase the wages of National’s unionized employees to the much higher salaries earned by Pan Am’s staff, which meant that flights that were profitable at National’s low cost levels became unprofitable at Pan Am’s higher costs. Unrest in the Middle East caused oil prices to rise substantially in the late 1970s, which increased the costs of the merged Pan Am / National further. A substantial rise in interest rates in the late 1970s and early 1980s made the merged airline’s financial situation even more dire; Pan Am was heavily indebted before the merger because of the expenses to purchase the airline’s 747s, and borrowed even more to pay for National and a fleet of L-1011-500s that was intended to replace Pan Am’s 707s.

Pan Am also made a crucial strategic error as part of the merger process. After a large addition to Pan Am’s terminal at JFK opened in 1973, Pan Am leased several gates in the original 1960 “round” portion of the terminal to Allegheny, as part of a joint marketing campaign where passengers traveling between the Northeast and Europe, the Caribbean, South America, and Japan were encouraged to take Allegheny to New York City, then Pan Am the rest of the way. In the summer of 1979, Allegheny and Allegheny Commuter operated 30 flights to 10 cities from Pan Am’s Worldport.

National Airlines for many years operated out of a temporary terminal at JFK. In 1969, National opened a massive new terminal, called the “Sundrome”, which was much too big for National’s needs; in the spring of 1979, just 17 flights a day operated out of the Sundrome’s 12 gates. After the merger, the two airlines consolidated operations at Pan Am’s terminal, Pan Am ended its partnership with Allegheny (soon to be re named USAir) and sold the Sundrome to TWA, whose terminal at JFK was next to the Sundrome. USAir moved to TWA’s original terminal at JFK, and began encouraging Europe bound passengers to take USAir to New York City, then TWA, not Pan Am, the rest of the way. Effectively, Pan Am had chosen to relinquish to TWA high fare business travelers who worked for companies like Kodak, Eli Lilly, and US Steel based in cities on Allegheny / USAir’s routes, in exchange for low fare vacationers going to Florida on National’s old routes, while also giving TWA the opportunity to use the additional gates at the Sundrome to substantially expand TWA’s routes from New York City.

Another flaw in the Pan Am / National merger was that, although National served Pan Am’s main gateways of New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, the destinations on National’s route system that were not served by Pan Am were mainly leisure oriented cities like Tampa, Las Vegas, and New Orleans that in the 1970s generated few international travelers. The merged airline did not serve cities like Atlanta, Chicago, St Louis, Minneapolis, or Cincinnati that have large numbers of people who need to travel overseas on business; the only city in the US Midwest on the merged airline’s route system was Detroit, which was served by Pan Am but not National before the merger. The main rationale for the merger was that National’s domestic routes were supposed to feed Pan Am’s international flights, but a simple glance at the two airlines’ route systems would have shown how little feed National could provide.

While Pan Am struggled to integrate National, other airlines, ranging in size from TWA to new entrants like Air Florida, aggressively attacked the merged airline’s routes between the northeast and Florida with low fares that further increased Pan Am’s losses. Texas International used its profits from selling National stock to Pan Am toward the purchase of Continental Airlines, and the combined Texas International + Continental attacked Pan Am + National’s routes from Houston to Florida and California. Within four years after the merger, Pan Am had suspended most former National routes, and sold National’s fleet of DC-10s to American. Fortune Magazine subsequently named the Pan Am / National merger to its list of the seven worst mergers of the 1970s. The heavy debt from acquiring National did not go away after National’s routes were suspended by Pan Am, and was one of the main factors that led to Pan Am’s shutdown in 1991.

Part II: What If Texas International had acquired National?

It’s pretty clear that, in Pan Am’s haste to beat out Texas International for National, Pan Am didn’t step back and objectively look at how little feed National could provide Pan Am; nor did Pan Am consider the costs of merging the two airlines’ work forces. What would have happened if Pan Am had considered these risks, and chosen to step back and let Texas International purchase National?

A merged Texas International / National would have been formidable. Texas International had a strong presence in Houston, with routes to 19 cities. National flew to 10 cities from Houston, just one of which, New Orleans, was also served by Texas International. Many of the cities served by Texas International were business oriented destinations like Baltimore and St Louis, while National was strongest to Florida, which would have given the combined airline a good mix of business and leisure routes. The merged airline would have had a modern fleet; Texas International flew DC-9-10s and -30s, and National flew mainly DC-10s and 727-200s.

National was one of the two lowest cost airlines in the 1970s (along with Northwest) thanks to Bud Maytag’s years of confrontation with the airline’s unions. A merger with equally low cost Texas International would not have increased the combined airline’s labor costs the way National’s merger with high cost Pan Am did, so the merged airline would have had a very low cost structure.

In the first year or two after the merger, Frank Lorenzo would probably have focused on integrating the airlines’ work forces and fleets, with National’s DC-10s taking over Houston-Mexico City from Texas International’s DC-9s, and National’s 727-200s taking over other major Texas International routes like Houston-Denver and Dallas-Las Vegas, while Texas International’s DC-9s could have been redeployed on some of National’s shorter routes like New Orleans – Mobile – Pensacola. Frank Lorenzo would have built Houston into a large hub, just as he did after purchasing Continental a few years later.

However, Frank Lorenzo would also almost certainly have done things outside Houston that would have had a major impact on the post-deregulation airline industry. At the onset of deregulation, Texas International was very aggressive at stimulating demand for air travel, and growing market share, by offering low fares. As mentioned earlier, after deregulation National reduced their presence on routes between the northeast and Florida. The merged airline would have aggressively lowered fares on these routes, to grow the northeast-Florida air travel market and take existing customers from Eastern and Delta, with National’s fleet of DC-10s.

After the two airlines were fully consolidated, it’s also likely that the merged airline would have looked to the very large market for air travel between Florida and Midwest cities like Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis, and St. Louis. People in the Midwest prefer Florida’s Gulf coast, and National had an underutilized terminal at Tampa capable of accommodating DC-10s that could easily have been used to offer low fare flights to Midwestern vacationers.

It’s also worth considering what the merged airline would have done with National’s Sundrome terminal at JFK. Even if the merged airline had aggressively rebuilt National’s presence in the New York City-Florida market, it would have only needed about 1/3 of the Sundrome’s gates. Perhaps they would have sold it to TWA, as Pan Am did, then subleased the few gates they needed from TWA, or even moved to United’s underutilized terminal. Another intriguing possibility, though, is that the merged airline might have used the Sundrome to build a low fare hub at JFK, just as jetBlue did at the Sundrome two decades later. Frank Lorenzo created a separate airline, New York Air, to offer low fare service from LaGuardia and Newark to cities in the Northeast and Midwest, and later Florida, but a shortage of slots and gates at LaGuardia limited New York Air’s growth. The empty gates at the Sundrome would have been an ideal resource for the merged airline and / or New York Air to offer low fare service from New York City to far more cities than New York Air was able to serve from LaGuardia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Given the creativity of Frank Lorenzo and his staff, it’s clear that if Texas International had taken over National, they would have made much better use of National than Pan Am did, and built it into a major airline with hubs in Houston, Miami, Tampa, and possibly JFK.

If Texas International had merged with National, the post-deregulation history of the US airline industry would have been different in several other ways, including:

  1. If Texas International had merged with National, they would probably not have attempted a hostile takeover of Continental in 1981, because National, not Continental, would have been the airline Texas International used to become a major carrier.
  2. National’s costs were much lower than Continental’s, so Frank Lorenzo would not have needed to use bankruptcy to break the merged airline’s unions and abrogate its labor contracts. One of the ugliest confrontations between airline management and unionized airline employees, the 1983 Continental Airlines pilot strike which led to the airline’s striking pilots being terminated by Lorenzo, would never have happened.
  3. Continental Airlines had agreed to merge with Western Airlines when Frank Lorenzo took over Continental. Without the interference from Texas International’s hostile takeover, a Continental + Western merger would have occurred. By the time of a Continental + Western merger, competition from the merged Texas International + National would have caused Continental to reduce their presence in Houston. However, both Continental and Western had very strong presences in Denver in 1981.
  4. Western was smaller than United, Continental, and Frontier at Denver. After their merger with Continental fell through, Western chose to shift their hub from Denver to Salt Lake City, where Western would be able to be the dominant airline. Had the Continental / Western merger gone through, the merged airline would have kept their hub in Denver, and Salt Lake City would not have become a hub unless another airline chose to build a hub there.
  5. As will be seen later in this article, a merged Texas International / National would have had a devastating impact on Eastern. When Eastern came up for sale, Texas International + National would not have purchased Eastern because of the overlap between Texas International + National and Eastern’s route systems. This, in turn, would have meant that the confrontations between Frank Lorenzo and Eastern’s unions would never have happened.
  6. Shortly before the merger negotiations, National signed a lease for half of Los Angeles’ planned Terminal 1, with PSA occupying the other half. The merged Pan Am / National remained in LAX’s international Terminal 2, with the gates intended for National in Terminal 1 ultimately being used by Air Cal, Muse Air, Southwest, and other low fare airlines. A merged Texas International / National would have moved to Terminal 1 when it opened in 1984, which in turn would have made it much more difficult for low fare airlines like Southwest to get gates in Los Angeles.

Part III: What about Eastern?

Railroad historian George Drury described the merger between New York Central and the Pennsylvania Railroad as being like “a late in life marriage to which each partner brings a house, a summer cottage, two cars, and several complete sets of china and glassware – plus car payments and mortgages on the houses”. A merger between Eastern and National would have been every bit as disastrous as the merger between the New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroad was. When Eastern bid for National, they were deeply in debt and had a large fleet of L-1011s that were too big for the airline’s routes. Eastern had also just made a multi billion dollar commitment for large fleets of A300s and 757-200s. A merger with National would have further increased Eastern’s crushing debt burden, and given Eastern a large fleet of DC-10s that they did not need. Eastern would also have been responsible for paying for National’s underutilized Sundrome, and National’s large overhaul base in Miami across the runway from Eastern’s maintenance complex. Eastern’s labor costs, like Pan Am’s, were among the highest in the airline industry, and increasing the salaries of National’s lower paid staff to Eastern’s higher compensation levels would have been a serious cash drain on a merged National + Eastern.

However, costly as a merger with National would have been for Eastern, the impact of a merged Texas International + National would have been nothing short of apocalyptic. As mentioned above, a merged Texas International + National would have aggressively cut fares and added flights not just on routes from Florida to the Northeast, but also on routes from Florida to the Midwest, and would also have added flights from the merged airline’s Houston hub to New York City and elsewhere in the northeast. Because Eastern was the dominant airline from the northeast and Midwest to Florida, and from the northeast to Houston, much of Texas International + National’s growth in these markets would have come at Eastern’s expense.

It’s clear that the Pan Am + National merger, followed by Pan Am’s abandonment of most of National’s routes, was the best case scenario for Eastern. Even with this best case scenario, Eastern’s heavy debt load and the impact of the recession that began in 1979 caused Eastern to be in serious financial trouble by the early 1980s. From 1980 to 1984, Eastern lost $380 Million ($1 Billion in today’s dollars), even more than Braniff lost in the three years before they shut down. Had Eastern been burdened with either the additional debt from a merger with National, or a loss of traffic from a merged Texas International + National, Eastern’s financial problems would have been much more desperate. Eastern narrowly averted default in 1983, and if their losses had been even 15% higher due to competition from a merged National + Texas International, or the debt from purchasing National, they could have been forced into bankruptcy.

PART IV: What would Pan Am have done had they not “gone National”?

Buying National Airlines was not the right solution to Pan Am’s need for domestic routes, but had Pan Am not bought National, they would have needed to address it somehow. One approach would have been for Pan Am to create a domestic US route system by purchasing 727-200s, establishing stations in interior US cities like Atlanta, St Louis, and Minneapolis, then flying the 727-200s from these cities to Pan Am’s coastal international gateways. This is the approach Pan Am took in the mid 1980s using National’s 727s after Pan Am abandoned most of National’s routes, but, as Pan Am discovered, it would have been very costly because Pan Am would have had to pay for gates, ticket counters, and employees to serve just a few flights a day at each interior city. Ultimately, the costs of establishing a domestic US feeder system would probably have been about as expensive as buying National was, and, when added to Pan Am’s heavy debt burden, would probably have sunk the airline just like the National merger did.

Another possibility would have been to merge with TWA. TWA and Pan Am had discussed merging several times in the past. After the most recent merger talks failed in 1974, the two airlines agreed instead to rationalize their international route systems. After the rationalization was completed, the only foreign cities where Pan Am and TWA competed against each other were London and Rome. The lack of overlap between the two airlines might have overcome the anti trust objections to past attempts to combine the airlines. Any remaining anti trust objections to a Pan Am + TWA merger could have been overcome by selling one of the two airlines’ London routes.

However, George Drury’s “late in life marriage” analogy would have applied just as much to a Pan Am + TWA merger as it did to an Eastern + National merger. A merged Pan Am + TWA would have created a global airline fed by a strong US domestic route system. The merged airline would also have inherited a very serious fleet problem, because both Pan Am and TWA had large numbers of obsolete 707s. Both airlines also had a vast network of reservations centers and ticket offices all over the world, headquarters buildings a few blocks from each other in Manhattan, and expensive separate terminals and hangars in cities like New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The merged airline would have needed to move quickly to eliminate duplicate facilities and lay off unneeded management personnel, or the costs of the excess employees and real estate would have become a serious cash drain. Had a merged TWA + Pan Am not aggressively reduced overhead and modernized the combined airline’s fleet, all the merger would have accomplished would have been to take two troubled mid sized airlines, and combine them into one gravely ill large airline.

A third course for Pan Am, which the airline seriously considered after it became apparent that the National merger was a failure, would have been to shrink the airline down to only its most profitable routes: Latin America, Japan, and Germany. Doing this would have resulted in ¾ of the airline’s employees being furloughed, and much of its fleet being grounded, and it’s unlikely that this would have been a long term solution for Pan Am’s problems.

The best course for Pan Am if Texas International had merged with National, though, would have been for Pan Am’s management to recognize that it would be very difficult to obtain a profitable domestic feeder system through a merger or by building one from scratch – and accept that Pan Am’s international routes would be under attack as US domestic airlines expanded overseas post-deregulation and fed their new international routes with the passengers from their domestic routes that they’d previously been providing Pan Am.

Once Pan Am’s management recognized this, the next step would have been to preserve the jobs of Pan Am’s employees, and the money Pan Am’s lenders and shareholders invested in the airline, by selling Pan Am’s routes and aircraft to US domestic airlines that wanted to expand overseas. The asset sales would have come with the requirement that the airlines purchasing Pan Am’s routes also had to take Pan Am’s employees – which United and Delta agreed to when they purchased Pan Am’s Pacific and Atlantic routes after Pan Am began selling assets in a last ditch effort to avoid liquidation.

Had Pan Am broken itself up, United would have been the logical buyer for Pan Am’s Pacific routes. Northwest was awarded Pan Am’s routes to Scotland and Scandinavia in 1977, and they would probably have also been interested in the remainder of Pan Am’s European route system. The ideal buyer for Pan Am’s Latin American routes is less clear. Braniff, the other US airline that flew to Latin America, was on the verge of shutting down. Eastern, the airline that took over Braniff’s Latin American routes, would also have been on the brink of insolvency due to competition from Texas International + National. Although Delta would have been damaged by competition from Texas International + National, they could still have purchased Pan Am’s Latin American routes, as, ironically, could have Texas International + National itself.

If Pan Am had broken the airline up, its shareholders would have been left with the Inter Continental hotel chain and the Pan Am building in New York City, plus the cash other airlines paid for Pan Am’s routes and aircraft; the airline would, in effect, have turned itself into a very profitable real estate investment trust. Pan Am’s employees would have had jobs at other airlines, where they could have worked until retirement. It would have been a bittersweet end to the world’s most experienced airline…..but a much happier ending than the fate that befell Pan Am’s employees and shareholders when the airline shut down and liquidated in 1991.

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Illustrated Airmail Envelopes

Written by Arthur Groten

It is no secret that I am enamored of all things related to commercial aviation. Back in May of 2013, I wrote about U.S envelopes preprinted to indicate airmail service. I ask your indulgence if I show some more, this time adding foreign ones. They speak for themselves and I will let them do that after a few brief comments.

The designs seem to fall into three basic categories: hand-drawn, those made by airline companies and those either generic or specific to a non-airline company.

Hand-drawn ones have a charm all their own. They are usually made for non-philatelic purposes, manifesting the sender’s imagination. They are direct descendants of the 19th century British pen and ink covers (whose artistry is usually quite a bit more evident). The 1939 cover was carried from Belgium on the first flight from France to the U.S. The use of an air etiquette to help define the shape of the drawing shows some design sense. First flight covers rarely have such flamboyance. (Figures 1a&b)

Cpl. Holmes, stationed at Hawaii, received a rather striking cover from New York. It even has a tied-on Christmas seal. (Figures 2a&b)


A charming pen drawing graced the upper left corner of a 1946 cover from Belgium; the sketch shows a Belgian factory and an American skyline. (Figure 3) Something seen from time to time is the usual red and blue airmail border being added by hand. That makes sense in this return card for which the sender wanted air service. (Figure 4)


Figures 5-8 show four generic envelope designs: U.S. 1931 (Figure 5), Denmark 1950 (Figure 6), Guatemala 1937 (Figure 7) and Mexico 1945 with extra pizzazz from the censor label (Figures 8a&b).





Envelopes produced for use by airlines tend to be a bit more eye-catching: Brazil Condor 1934 (Figure 9), Brazil Panair 1939 of which there are a number of varieties (Figure 10), Paraguay Panagra/Panair carried on first Pan American flight from Asuncion to Rio (Figure 11), Peru Lufthansa 1938 (Figure 12) and Indochina Air Orient 1930 (Figure 13).




Figure 14 is a rather interesting outlier. The Uruguay 1931 envelope specifies that there was an additional fee of 50¢ to Comisión Gral. De Aeronáutica (General Commission not specifying an airline) for air service. The image at the upper left is typical of the remarkable graphics seen in Uruguay at this time.

When I find another critical mass of these lovely envelopes, I will share them. AS always I’s love to hear from readers.

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Departed Wings – Presidential Airways (XV)

Written by Jon Jamieson

1985-1989
Washington-Dulles, D.C.

Hoping to establish a discount airline market from a Washington-Dulles base, former PEOPLExpress executive Harold J. “Hap” Paretti, founded Presidential Airways on March 20, 1985. The new airline was to be full-service with low fares providing jet service from Washington-Dulles to cities in the South and New England. With the challenge in securing at least $2 million in start-up capital and leasing several ex-Lufthansa Boeing 737-200, Presidential Airways took to the skies on October 10, 1985.

Presidential Airways first Boeing 737-200 N301XV “George Washington” seen deplaning passengers at Washington-Dulles International Airport in November 1985.

Initial service was centered on a Dulles “hub” with flights to Boston, Cincinnati, Hartford, Indianapolis, and Miami. Within a few months, United Airlines, itself having a large presence at Washington-Dulles announced a major East Coast expansion in direct competition with Presidential. The airline prevailed and continued to acquire additional Boeing 737s and expand its route structure whereby the summer of 1986, the airline was flying to eighteen destinations including Montréal, Canada.

By 1986, Presidential Airways was flying to seven cities in Florida, including Fort Lauderdale International Airport, where N323XV “John Tyler” a Boeing 737-214 taxis outbound for takeoff.

In June 1986, Presidential placed an order for five British Aerospace BAe 146 aircraft, with the intent of using the new plane on smaller, secondary cities not economical for the Boeing 737. The year 1986 also saw the introduction of “commuter” service, when Presidential purchased Colgan Airways to provide feeder services from Dulles under the banner “Presidential Express.” At its peak, during the fall of 1986, Presidential Airways was flying thirteen Boeing 737s and nine BAe 146s to nineteen cities with almost 300 weekly flights.

Still struggling with intense competition Presidential signed an agreement with Continental Airlines to become that carriers “Jet Express” feeder at Dulles in January 1987.

A British Aerospace BAe 146-200, N402XV “James Buchanan” taxis at Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport in February 1987.

The Continental agreement lasted less than a year, with the airline again resuming operations under its own name, before making an agreement with United Airlines in 1988 to flying connecting service. Still under intense competition and suffering financially, Presidential Airways filed for bankruptcy on October 26, 1989, and operations eventually ceased on December 4, 1989.

A small fleet of British Aerospace BAe J-31 Jetstreams provided feeder services for the airline. This example, N104XV sits on the ramp at Washington-Dulles International Airport in April 1988.

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