The Vickers VC-10: Swift, Silent, Serene

Written by Emma Rasmussen

BOAC Vickers VC10 on finals into Heathrow – April 1974 – http://www.airliners.net/photo/BOAC/Vickers-VC10-Srs1101/1412500/L/  Richard Vandervord (from Airliners.net via WikiCommons)

The airline industry of quieter engines, carbon fiber, advanced computers, and glass cockpits is a far cry from the industry that followed the Second World War. Instead, the airline industry consisted of piston-driven airliners, chrome fuselages, iconic cheatlines, and a whole lot of smoke. Enjoying economic superiority and unscathed infrastructure, the United States dominated this bygone aviation industry with the innovations that directly resulted from the war. However, the United States was not alone in recalibrating its focus on civilian aviation with newfound technology. Despite being on the mend from a tumultuous war, Britain was investing heavily in its civilian aviation sector and had successfully developed the first ever jet airliner. The sleek design of the De Havilland DH106 Comet and its quieter, more comfortable passenger experience became an attractive distinction from the noisy propellor aircraft of the era. British Overseas Airways Corporation (B.O.A.C) was keenly interested in introducing the aircraft to its fleet, and did so in 1954 with a voyage between London and Johannesburg.

Her Majesty’s pioneering aircraft, and the national prestige it attracted, was short-lived, much to the misfortune of De Havilland. Numerous hull-losses from structural failure and a flawed wing profile marred the image of Britain’s aviation industry, and the Comet subsequently lost public confidence. After design modifications to the aircraft, it quietly continued service for over a decade. Unfortunately, the British jetliner market never fully recovered as the world’s airlines opted for the American Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8. Aviation’s so-called “jet age” came into its own shortly thereafter, with the Americans once again dominating. The British aviation industry, now largely privatized, continued to develop future jet airliners in hopes of finding their own success.

One such result of their venture was the Vickers VC-10, a handsome airliner that was the visual epitome of 1960s optimism. Unexpectedly birthed from the Vickers Valiant, a high-altitude bomber and member of the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) “V Force,” the VC-10 began its life on paper as a potential tanker, military transport, and airliner. B.O.A.C heavily invested in the program, seeking an aircraft that could serve higher, hotter, and shorter airfields for their eastern routes. The development of the VC-10 was effectively an extension of the cancelled VC-7 project, which had been in progress during the 1950s. While the VC-10 was an entirely new aircraft, much of the technology used for the VC-7 was allocated towards the alternative project.

Vickers-Armstrongs Limited undertook the VC-10 in earnest upon learning of De Havilland’s proposal to update its ill-fated Comet. Additionally, Handley Page had offered to develop an airliner based on their RAF “V Force” contribution, the Victor. Amid mounting pressures, the Vickers VC-10 prevailed over the competing propositions, as it was the only firm willing to launch the airliner privately. In 1962 the VC-10 was rolled out of the Weybridge factory in Surrey, which then went on to endure two months of ground and taxi tests, and finally made the first flight.

The final design of the VC-10 featured a swept-wing with ample surface area, a T-shaped empennage, and four rear-mounted engines in a quad layout. The T-tail provided additional lift to aid the present design’s abilities, although it increased the aircraft’s risk for deep stalls. Vicker’s concept was unique, as only two other aircraft had a similar engine configuration. The Soviet Ilyushin IL-62 was slightly larger and more widely exported, but was plagued with safety implications. Lockheed had also developed an aircraft known as the JetStar business jet with this engine configuration. Though seemingly relegated to history and largely forgotten to the rest of the world, the VC-10 became a British icon and a favorite of the RAF.

Vicker’s choice of engine placement enabled a quieter cabin, and the powerful Rolls Royce Conways satisfied the higher, hotter, and shorter airfield requirements. B.O.A.C had previously lost faith in the British aviation industry due to the countless delays surrounding the Bristol Britannia and the bad press after several fatal Comet accidents. Naturally, they were reluctant to trust the VC-10. Amazingly, B.O.A.C was impressed with the design and placed an order for 35 aircraft with options for 20 additional aircraft. Airlines from developing nations such as East African Airways and Ghana Airways saw the benefit of having the VC-10 in their fleets, thus placing their orders shortly thereafter.

Entering service with B.O.A.C by the mid-1960s, the VC-10 attained higher load factors than its American competitors, the Boeing 707 and the Douglas DC-8. As a result, the aircraft earned a positive reputation with B.O.A.C. Additionally, the engine performance and overall design significantly increased the aircraft’s range and speed. The passenger cabin was defined by a six abreast seating layout and divided by a single aisle. Depending on the variant, the aircraft could accommodate a 100-150 passenger payload. While most argue that the fastest subsonic airliner was likely the American Convair 880/990, the VC-10 is famous for holding the world record for fastest subsonic transatlantic crossing ever. In 1979, a British Airways VC-10 departed New York for Glasgow-Prestwick, arriving in 5 hours and 1 minute. Only the supersonic Concorde crossed the Atlantic faster. Shea Oakley, an expert aviation historian and Executive Director Emeritus of the New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame, had his first ever flight on the VC-10. “The VC-10 sparked my lifelong passion for commercial flight” Shea expressed with a tinge of nostalgia.

The airliner’s success within the confines of Britain called for several variants, one of which being the Super VC-10. The aircraft became popular in B.O.A.C advertisements and was ostensibly not unlike the standard VC-10. However, the Super VC-10 had an updated wing, stretched fuselage, and an updated power plant. The Super VC-10 was in passenger service well into the 1980s, later undertaking RAF roles such as aerial refueling. B.O.A.C opened routes to South America utilizing the VC-10, though British Airways would become the successor to B.O.A.C and shut down these routes during the 1973 oil crisis. Unfortunately, the aircraft failed to break out of the apparent “British bubble,” not including a few orders from the African airlines. Nevertheless, it was a popular aircraft to fly for both the average passenger and crew member. Tony Yule, an airline veteran of 46 years and former VC-10 pilot for the RAF and B.O.A.C says as much. “It was a lovely, lovely aircraft to fly. So smooth, so quiet for the passengers. It was magic, it handled like a dream” said Tony. “If I hadn’t flown Concorde in the 80s and 90s, I would have said the most iconic aeroplane was the VC-10.”

During the 1970s, the RAF leased a single VC-10 to Rolls Royce as an engine test bed. Rolls Royce was seeking a platform to experiment with their latest engine, the RB.211. This engine was later used on more notable airliners, such as the Lockheed L-1011 Tristar and Boeing 757. There had been some consideration regarding the possibility of re-engining the VC-10. Instead of four Conway engines, the VC-10 would be updated with two RB.211 engines. The idea did not leave paper, and the aircraft was returned to the RAF. The airlines also considered hush-kitting the Conways as noise regulations evolved, but the costs were too high to justify the modifications.

By the 1980s, British Airways and the African airlines were phasing out their VC-10s in favor of other emerging airliners. The RAF purchased the retiring aircraft from the airlines, and retrofitted them to become aerial tankers or military transports. Like B.O.A.C, the RAF was attracted to the VC-10’s performance and had been operating them since the 1960s. The VC-10 would go on to serve in several missions. During the First Gulf War, several VC-10 tankers were stationed in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Oman. The VC-10 participated in enforcing no-fly zones while airstrikes were being carried out over Iraq in 1998. After the September 11th attacks in 2001, the VC-10 spent the remainder of its flying career in Afghanistan. In 2013, the RAF retired their VC-10 fleet in favor of modern aerial tankers and military transports.

Like many other British airliners from the early jet age, the VC-10 is often regarded as “underrated,” and unfortunately “left in the dust” by its American counterparts. In Britain, the VC-10 is considered a piece of aviation heritage, with several on display at local air museums. At Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome, a VC-10 is maintained and in taxiable  condition. A second VC-10, the last ever to fly, is a static display. A vestige of an antiquated era, the VC-10 remains symbolic of mid-century optimism, innovation, and excellence. The VC-10 leaves behind a legacy of speedy flights, quietude and comfort, and a lustrous reflection of 1960s aeronautical design.

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

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SUPER CONSTELLATION << The Star of Switzerland >>

Written by Shea Oakley

By Markus A. Jegerlehner
Self-published
ISBN 979-3-033-07429-3
167 Pages

This unusually large and beautifully assembled photo-book about the until recently Breitling-sponsored Super-Constellation, HB-RSC was obviously a labor of love for its author. Photographer, author and “Star of Switzerland” project contributor Jegerlehner’s text not only shows he knows the story of this Connie inside and out, but also clearly reflects his deep affection for, and devotion to, one of the very last flyable examples of the type.

His well-detailed history of this C-121-C/L-1049F, serial # 4175, takes us through the airplane’s years with the USAF and later the Mississippi Air Guard. It continues through its six years of use as a firebomber in the American West, and several short periods of ownership by people with big ambitions for the airplane, but insufficient cash. We then learn of it’s eventual “salvation,” initially by the U.S.-based Constellation Historical Society which then continued, and was brought to air-worthy fruition, by the Swiss-based Super Constellation Flyers Association, with financial backing from Breitling, the Swiss watch manufacturer. During its lifetime the airplane has been based everywhere from Mississippi to Germany (where it is is now undergoing a complete structural overhaul to put HB-RSC back into flying condition after losing its Swiss airworthiness certificate in 2017 due to some structural issues). During the previous several years the “Star of Switzerland” had been just that, one of the major stars of airshows all over Europe.

While the greatest strength of this book is found in its profuse selection of all-color photographs by the author (taken of the airplane from seemingly every angle, inside and out, on the ground and in the air) it is also a great source of information about Constellations in general, including a full type history as well as reproductions of cockpit checklists, and other technical details unique to this particular Connie.

In short, this is the kind of book which any fan of the Lockheed triple-tailed beauty from Burbank, and prop-liners in general, would be proud to display on the coffee table of their living room for fortunate aviation-minded houseguests to fully appreciate. The photos are not only well-taken but are also so numerous as to almost qualify Super Constellation <<Star of Switzerland>> as a full visual guide for aircraft modelers. Overall print and reproduction quality of this 9 ¼ X 13 ½ inch volume are excellent (to give you some idea of its size my home scanner couldn’t quite incorporate the entire cover for the above image!)As the book’s author and publisher, Jegerlehner obviously invested quite a bit of both his heart and his substance into making this book as impressive as it is.

So, if you are a devotee of both the Lockheed Constellation, and a valiant and successful effort to save one of the last of these legendary airplanes, this book is a must have.

Availability: Copies of this book can be ordered directly from the author’s website,fotojeger.ch, for US$68.00 each

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Seaboard & Western Airlines / Seaboard World Airlines Junior Wings

Written by Lane Kranz

Seaboard & Western Airlines was founded in 1946 to connect the eastern seaboard of the United States with Western Europe and the Middle East.  Over the years, Seaboard would establish itself as the preeminent carrier of cargo on the world’s richest trade routes; routes that would eventually give rise to 25 different airline competitors.  Among many “firsts”, Seaboard was the first airline to fly an all-cargo flight across the Atlantic, first airline to land and takeoff at Idlewild (now JFK), first airline to fly support for the Berlin Airlift, and the first airline to fly a Military Air Transport Service (MATS) charter.

In addition to all-cargo flights, Seaboard flew passengers throughout its history.  Most of Seaboard’s passenger flying was done for other airlines under wet-lease contracts and for the U.S. government.  Seaboard operated a number of different aircraft types, including the DC-4, Lockheed Constellation, Canadair CL-44D, DC-8, 707, and 747.

On April 4th, 1961 the company’s name changed to Seaboard World Airlines.  On October 1, 1980 Seaboard World Airlines was absorbed by The Flying Tiger Line, Inc.  And, on December 16, 1988 The Flying Tiger Line, Inc. was absorbed by the Federal Express Corporation.

Seaboard earned the respect of the entire aviation community for its remarkable safety record: 33 years flying all over the globe, often with minimal support, without a single fatal accident.  In U.S. aviation history only Hawaiian Airlines, which started before World War II, compiled a longer record of no injuries or fatalities.

Junior Wings issued by Seaboard:  Above,  metal Future Pilot and Jr. Stewardess (both pre-1960) and plastic Junior Wing (post-1961) when the company name changed to Seaboard World.

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Well, it’s about time!

Written by Charlie Dolan

It took me only 47 years from the time I first saw a Boeing 747 in real time until I had my first flight on “The queen of the skies”.

My first flight was on my tenth birthday in 1954, I first soloed in 1965 in a Piper J-3 Cub and I have been hanging around airports for at least forty-five years as both an Army officer and a civilian. I’ve ridden in allsorts of flying machines, single engine, twin engine, push – pull Cessnas, tri-motors, military helicopters and a wide variety of two, three and four engine airliners. The one aircraft which eluded me was the Boeing 747. It seemed that no matter where I traveled, the 747 was going in the same direction at the same time as I.

I first saw a 747 in 1972 when a Pan American charter flight passed through Niagara Falls (NY) International Airport (KIAG). That same year, while at Fort Dix, NJ for a two week Army reserve active duty period, two other officers and I went up to JFKIA and got to go on board a Pan Am 747 which was at the gate for an evening departure. My Customs ID and badge made that tour possible.

I had been ON many 747s during my thirty-six year career with the U.S. Customs Service, but never when their main engines were running and the aircraft was not firmly planted on the ground. I have searched the 747 in many configurations, in passenger service, cargo operations and VIP transport versions. I knew its interior, exterior and all the areas below decks. But, I had never been off the ground in one.

That depressing situation changed on December first of this year. My wife and I had booked a river cruise on the Danube to visit the German and Austrian Christmas markets. We have been on many deep water cruises, but this was our first river cruise. Once I saw that we had been booked on a Lufthansa Boeing 747-400. I had to jump into action. I wanted Karen to see why that plane fascinated me so much that I wrote to Lufthansa’s Orlando station manager to see if it could be arranged for us to board a tad early so I could show her around the aircraft.

At check-in we were greeted by the assistant station manager and we were  allowed us to board with the families with children. I was able to stow our hand luggage quickly and give Karen a quick tour of the upper deck. I asked about a peek into the cockpit, but the purser indicated that the crew was occupied with pre-flight duties. Just after we returned to the lower level, the purser called us back and said that the captain would allow us to visit the “front office”. We had an enjoyable conversation with the two experienced pilots and thanked them for their time. Karen was allowed to take a photo of them – “as long as it wasn’t going to be on facebook”.

The flight to Frankfurt was comfortable and the landing was as smooth as any I have ever experienced. It was a tribute to both the aircraft and the crew. It was one more item checked off my “bucket list.

Early DLH cap badge

Pre war G

DLH wing Nec Soli Cedit “He yields not even to the Sun”

Post war DLH insignia pilot, f/e, navigator and radio operator.

DLH Ost (East Germany post war)

Interflug (after DLH Ost lost case to DLH)

Condor

German Cargo System

DLH Boeing 747-400

 

 

 

 

 

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EL AL Aircraft on Postcards

Written by Marvin Goldman

EL AL Israel Airlines was founded in November 1948, six months after the birth of the State of Israel.  The name ‘EL AL’ is taken from the Bible’s book of Hosea and means ‘to the above’ or more poetically ‘to the skies’.

To help identify the dates of postcard issuance and their aircraft images, I have provided information on dates of the aircraft types and different liveries utilized by EL AL over the years.  EL AL also issued many advertising postcards, and these will be the subject of a separate article.

The airline started scheduled service in July 1949 with two Douglas DC-4 aircraft acquired used from American Airlines, and soon thereafter it added a handful of smaller World War II surplus Curtiss C-46 Commandos acquired from the Israel Air Force.  EL AL did not issue any postcards of these two aircraft types during the years they were in service — 1949-1955.  However, two airport cards show EL AL DC-4s among other aircraft, one in London (see the first image below) and one at Ciampino Airport in Rome, and I also have a 1949 postcard produced by the photographer of Lod Airport (now Ben-Gurion Airport) showing three early EL AL crew members with a portion of a DC-4 in the background (second image below).

Also, in 1979 EL AL issued an eight-postcard set showing art drawings of its aircraft by Israeli artist Danny Shalom.  The set included a military C-54 (labeled a ‘DC-4’ and registered 4X-ACA) utilized on a special flight in September 1948 to bring Chaim Weizmann from Geneva to Israel to be sworn in as Israel’s first President, which aircraft was the first to bear the ‘EL AL’ name.  Another postcard in the set shows an EL AL C-46 (third image below).

EL AL Douglas DC-4 (either 4X-ACC or 4X-ACD) at London Airport, behind the BOAC B377 Stratocruiser. Postmarked 26 July 1951. Pub’r: Bridge House S20543.

EL AL DC-4 (either 4X-ACC or 4X-ACD) with early crew members including its first steward, Herb Kweller, in center, and stewardess Miriam Gold on right. Published by photographer of Lod Airport (now Ben-Gurion Airport), Tel Aviv, 1949.

EL AL Curtiss C-46 Commando, 4X-ALC, with Yemenite Jews awaiting airlift to Israel. Art by Danny Shalom. Airline Issue, 1979. (Aircraft utilized on the airlift actually bore substitute titles, such as ‘Near East Air Transport’).

The earliest postcards issued by EL AL itself featured its Lockheed Constellation aircraft which served the airline from 1951 to 1961. Here is the first postcard issued by EL AL itself.

EL AL Lockheed L149 Constellation, in Test Flight as N90827 in Southern California, March 1951, later registered 4X-AKA. EL AL New York Office Issue, 1951.

EL AL issued two other Constellation postcards in the early 1950s.  Each is a graphic art card showing an aircraft with a map of Israel in the background.  Here is one of them.

Saw one postmarked 3 April 1957

In addition, an EL AL Constellation is shown on airport postcards at Zurich (at least four different cards), Rome and Johannesburg – Palmietfontein.

EL AL Lockheed 149 Constellation, 4X-AKA, at Zurich. Pub’r WBZ, Zurich, no. VF19.

In December 1957 EL AL introduced the new jet-prop Bristol Britannia, becoming the first airline outside England to do so. Simultaneously EL AL launched a broad advertising campaign, which included the following rare detachable group of six Britannia postcards.

EL AL Bristol Britannia. Airline New York Office Issue, 1957. This is a composite card, 10” x 28” (26 x 79 cm.), consisting of six detachable 4-1/4” x 7” (11 x 23 cm.) postcards (5 vertical; 1 horizontal), each described on the back as ‘a piece of the plane’.

EL AL Bristol Britannia, ‘Fly Britannia’. Airline Issue, probably by Paris Office, about 1958. Pub’r Carisse.

The Britannia’s reign was short-lived, with the last departing EL AL’s fleet in early 1967.  The pure jet era supplanted the front-line role of the Britannias soon after the Britannias entered service.  EL AL’s pure jet era began with its acquisition of Boeing 707s in 1961 and Boeing 720B’s in 1962. Since 1961, EL AL has acquired only Boeing aircraft.

EL AL Boeing 707-420, in original livery. Airline Issue, early 1960s. There are three versions of this postcard, each with a different imprint on the back, and a similar postcard with clouds only partially covering the bottom.

EL AL Boeing 720B, in second 707/720 livery adopted by 1966. Airline issue.

EL AL Boeing 707-320B, 4X-ATT, at Paris-Orly, in third 707/720 livery adopted in 1971. Pub’r SWAT, no. 4.

In 1971 EL AL introduced the Boeing 747-200 ‘jumbo jet’ to its fleet, eventually operating eleven -200s with Israeli ‘4X’ registrations and one -100 series freighter . The 747 series (including the 747-400 model first acquired in 1994) served as the flagship of EL AL’s fleet from 1971 to early 2001 (when EL AL’s first 777s entered service), with the last 747-200 exiting the fleet in 1999 and the last 747-400 in November 2019.

EL AL Boeing 747-200B, 4X-AXA, its first 747. Airline issue, 3.8 x 9.2 in. (9.6 x 23.3 cm). 4X-AXA was delivered with three upper deck windows (usually associated with the original -100 series); however it was indeed a -200B series, and additional upper deck windows were added soon after delivery. This postcard also exists in standard size in English and French text versions, and a variation exists with the aircraft pointing upwards. With the 747-200, EL AL introduced a new classic livery for its fleet, designed by noted Israeli artist Dan Reisinger, which remained as EL AL’s standard livery for 28 years – until 1999.

EL AL Boeing 747-200B, 4X-AXB, at Tel Aviv – Ben-Gurion Airport. ‘Welcome to Israel’ card with McCrory group. Pub’r Palphot 25312SC, 1988. The aircraft bears EL AL’s 40th anniversary logo to the right of its titles.

During 1980-89 EL AL operated four different 737-200s on short-haul routes.

EL AL Boeing 737-200, 4X-ABN, June 1984. Pub’r Blue Air no. BA 04. A Czech airline enthusiast published many airline postcards under the name ‘Blue Air’, featuring EL AL aircraft. EL AL itself issued only one 737-200 postcard, showing a side aerial view.

In 1983 and 1987 respectively, EL AL introduced Boeing 767s and 757s to its fleet, featuring more modern cockpits and improved fuel efficiency.  EL AL operated six 767-200s at varying times between 1983 and 2013; ten 757-200s between 1987 and 2013, and seven 767-300ERs between 2004 and March 2019.

EL AL Boeing 767-200ER, 4X-EAA. Airline Issue, about 1983. The Hebrew writing on top says: ‘Boeing 767 – EL AL in a New Direction’.

EL AL 757-200, 4X-EBT, in livery of its affiliate Sun d’Or. Airline Issue, about 2005. The Hebrew text says ‘To fly on vacation super-assured’.

EL AL 767-300ER, 4X-EAP, landing at Tel Aviv – Ben-Gurion Airport, 1 June 2006. Pub’r Blue Air BA-42. EL AL did not issue any postcard showing a 767-300. Its New York Office issued a postcard in 2015 promoting Boston-Tel Aviv nonstop service with 767-300ERs; however, that postcard showed a 767-200ER.

In 1994 EL AL acquired the first of eight Boeing 747-400s for its fleet. With this aircraft type, EL AL changed the colors of its livery ‘EL AL’ titles from black and gold to light blue and dark blue.

El Al Boeing 747-400, 4X-ELA, in the type’s original livery. Available only as the last postcard in EL AL-issued ‘Israel’ and ‘Holy Land’ postcard booklets (the other cards in the booklets show Israeli scenes).

In 1999, on EL AL’s 50th anniversary and the acquisition of its fourth  747-400 (4X-ELD), EL AL introduced an all-new livery with dark blue and silver ‘ribbons’ and lettering on a white base.

EL AL 747-400, 4X-ELD, featuring the airline’s new dark blue and silver ribbons livery. Airline Issue no. 60-301420/99, 1999. A similar card, showing the aircraft over clouds, was issued in 2005 (no. 60-301420/05. EL AL’s New York Office issued another variation showing modified ‘EL AL’ titles introduced on its aircraft in 2006.

In early 2001, to modernize its long-haul route aircraft, EL AL started to acquire Boeing 777-200ERs, with the number rising to six.

EL AL 777-200ER, 4X-ECA. Airline Issue by New York Office, about 2010.

For short-haul routes, EL AL turned to Boeing 737 New Generation aircraft, starting in 1999. These included two 737-700 (in fleet 1999 – 2016), fifteen 737-800 (acquired between 1999 and 2018 and still current), and eight 737-900ER (acquired between 2013 and 2016 and still current).  I am not aware of any 737 New Generation postcards issued by EL AL.  Here are two publisher-issued cards.

EL AL Boeing 737-700, 4X-EKD, at Geneva, 2000. Pub’r Air Hobby #375.

EL AL 737-800, 4X-EKA, at Zurich, March 1999. Photo by Aviatrade, Pub’r Blue Air BA-11.

EL AL’s long-haul fleet renewal started in 2017 with the arrival of the first of 16 Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliners’ ordered.  By the end of 2019, 13 Boeing 787-9s and one 787-8 had joined its fleet.  Three more 787-8s are on order and expected to be received by March 2020.

EL AL Boeing 787-9 ‘Dreamliner’. Computer art postcard. Issued 2018 by EL AL’s New York Office.

EL AL 787-9, 4X-EDF, landing at Paris-CDG, 2018. Photo by Daniel Dane. Pub’r World Collector’s Cards #WCC-1154. This is the first aircraft to be painted in an EL AL ‘retro’ livery; it is similar to the original 1961 livery of EL AL’s first three 707s.

On 3 November 2019 EL AL operated its last 747-400 flight — Rome to Tel Aviv with 4X-ELC.  EL AL marked the occasion with many souvenirs, including a five-card ‘747 Farewell’ postcard set.  Only 500 sets were printed, and all were distributed to the passengers who filled the aircraft and others close to the airline.  Here is one of the postcards from the set.

EL AL Boeing 747-400, 4X-ELD, heading for takeoff runway at Tel Aviv – Ben-Gurion Airport. Photo by Yochai Mossi. Part of a five-card ‘747 Farewell’ postcard set issued by EL AL on 2 November 2019.

I hope you enjoyed this article on the postcards of EL AL aircraft, and until next time, Happy Collecting!

Marvin G. Goldman

Notes:  Originals of all the postcards illustrated are in the author’s collection except for the fourth card shown (an EL AL Constellation on a test flight in Southern California) which is in the collection of Greg Smith.   My estimate of their availability: Rare postcards–the DC-4 crew, Constellation on test flight, Constellation at Zurich, and Britannia six-card composite; Uncommon–DC-4 at London, Constellation on map, Britannia and globe, 747-200 ‘Welcome to Israel’, Sun d’Or 757, 747-400 original livery in booklet, and 747-400 ‘Farewell’ card; the rest are fairly common.


References
:

  1. EL AL’s website, elal.com, and Facebook page ELALIsraelAirlinesUSA.
  2. Website israelairlinemuseum.org.

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Gemini Jets 1/400 scale Boeing 737-300, Western Airlines Final (Bud Lite) Livery

Written by George Andritsakis

Western Airlines.  America’s Senior Airline.  The Only Way to Fly.  It helped make Los Angeles the big-time metropolis that it is (San Francisco, at the time, was far bigger, and was also the West Coast Terminus for the Transcontinental Air Mail).  It put Salt Lake City on the map as a viable airline hub, not just another backwoods destination.  Movie Stars flew them all over the West Coast.  Champagne and Hunt Breakfast Flights.  Swizzle Sticks and Wally Bird.  The airline that got me utterly HOOKED on this wild and insane industry.  Western was never a giant, but it managed giant feats for an airline its size, and with its geographical handicaps (thanks to a laggard Civil Aeronautics Board, Western’s Route System grew very slowly).  Once deregulation hit, the airline found itself struggling to survive.  Only a drastic redrawing of is system centered around the principal hub of Salt Lake City and a secondary hub in Los Angeles could save Western from an early grave.  That same new management also decided that the recently ordered Boeing 767-200’s just didn’t fit the new route structure, so the order, instead of being cancelled and valuable deposit money being lost, was converted to an order for a mix of Boeing 737-200’s and the still in development 737-300.  This move turned out to be the best thing for Western, and the rest is history.

Ever since I was a kid, I had always kept an eye out for any model with the iconic “Flying W” livery on it.  Any scale, any size, didn’t matter.  I had to have it.  Over the years, the 1/400 scale industry has exploded, and there have been a few Western Airlines releases over the years,  but usually it was in the Indian Head livery of the 1950’s and 1960’s, or the red and white “Flying W” livery introduced in 1972.  Very few offerings of the final bare metal “Bud Lite” scheme.  In fact, Gemini Jets released the DC-10-10 in said livery, and Aeroclassics also released a 737-300 and 727-200 as well, all of which have a spot in my collection.  But when Gemini Jets announced in Summer 2019 that they were releasing a 737-300 of N306WA, the 8th 737-300 delivered to Western, I never got the memo.  In fact, I never knew about the model until I walked into The Airplane Shop in Las Vegas just the other day!  So, I did what anyone in my predicament would do.  I bought the model and brought it home for review.

I’ve found most 737-300 models in 1/400 are terribly tail heavy, and therefore, tend to lean back on their tail when put on display.  The only ones I haven’t noticed this with are the original Dragon Wings mold (the New York Air example comes to mind).  In terms of the mold itself though, Gemini has the best one.  It is far more accurate and detailed that Dragon Wings was, or even Jet-X or Aeroclassics at that.  It also has a good heft to it as well and is solid metal through and through (unlike Dragon Wings).  The engines are (for once) properly sized and shaped to scale with the model, and the landing gear is correctly sized with the tires not oversized.  There’s quite a few molds out there that suffer from that (the original Gemini Jets 707’s for example).   The cockpit windows and window rows are properly placed and printed correctly as well (again, this seems to be a big issue with the 1/400 scale).  The livery is perfectly placed and in the exact shades it should be.  All in all, despite the tail-heavy tilting, it’s a fantastic model, worthy of being picked up by ANYONE into the classic airlines of yesterday.

My absolute favorite thing about Gemini Jets models is the packaging.  On the 1/400 models, you lift the top cover up to reveal the model, and the inside of the cover details the history of the aircraft type, and also includes pertinent information about the particular aircraft itself, such as delivery date, line number, etc.  It’s very cool packaging indeed, something I wish they would’ve done with the larger Gemini200 1/200 scale model line as well.  Ah well, maybe in the future?  Just something to think about, dear ADI (the folks who make Gemini Jets).

Speaking of the aircraft itself, N306WA was the 8th Boeing 737-800 delivered to Western Airlines, the 1,173rd Boeing 737 off the line, first flown on November 18, 1985; and delivered to Western just a few weeks later, on December 6.  She flew with Western for a little over a year when Western was fully merged with Delta Air Lines on April 1, 1987; where she flew faithfully and reliably until she was retired and withdrawn from use in May 2006 and met the scrappers torch in May 2007.  Delta’s 737-300’s were my favorite aircraft to fly on, and aside from a few examples, all of the former Western birds (and a pair of ex-Western Pacific logojets) stuck to the Salt Lake City hub during their tenure.

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SAFETY CARDS of Local Service Airlines – Part # 1

Written by Brian Barron

In this era of mega carriers, it is nice to look back at some of predecessor airlines that became part of today’s behemoths – American, Delta and United.

As has been well documented elsewhere in the Log, the Local Service Airlines were established by the CAB to operate services to more rural areas of the USA and provide feed to the national network carriers.  These airlines were the pre-cursors to the Essential Air Service (EAS) operators of today and were responsible for introducing commercial air service to much of the country.

For this article, we will focus on the Local Service Airlines of the Western U.S.A.  Safety cards from some of these airlines are among the most coveted in the collector community and are difficult to find.

Let’s start in the Northwest with West Coast Airlines.    West Coast, like most of the LSA’s started flying with a fleet of second hand DC-3 aircraft.

Here we have a car showing the window exit operations of the DC-3.  This card is believed to date from the early 1960’s [Carl Reese collection].   As the 60’s progressed, WCA acquired more modern aircraft including turboprop F-27’s and DC-9’s

This card is from West Coast Air’s small fleet of DC-9 10 Series aircraft.  This plastic card shows a large floorplan on the front with exit and oxygen illustrations on the back.  [Note the Jackie Kennedy look alike at the window].  This design would live on, as it was adopted by Air West which was the resulting carrier from the merger of WCA, Pacific Air Lines and Bonanza Air Lines in 1968.

Next we move down the coast to San Francisco based Pacific Air Lines.  Ironically, Pacific started life as Southwest Airways.  In 1958, they changed the name to better reflect their home region.  Pacific also started with the venerable DC-3.  By the early sixties they would graduate up to larger props such as the Martin 404 and Fairchild F-27.

Here we have a two sided card featuring the F-27 and the Martin 404 with one type on each side of the card.  This card dates prior to 1967. After 1967, it was mandatory that each aircraft type would have its own safety card.  These images were taken from the web, so I don’t know who the lucky owner is. J

Like WCA, Pacific Air Lines would join the jet age, but with larger Boeing 727’s.    The 727’s would prove to be too big for Pacific’s routes and were quickly sold off after the Air West merger.

Based on this card, we can assume maintenance was done by United Airlines as it is an exact replica of early United 727 design.  [Carl Reese collection].

Next, we move east to Las Vegas and the home of Bonanza Air Lines.  Bonanza started flying with a single engine Cessna, soon to be followed by the DC-3.

This DC-3 card is a simple Black and White cardboard affair, quite common with smaller DC-3 operators. [Image from the web]

Bonanza was one of the launch customers of the Fairchild F-27, the U.S. built version of the Fokker F-27. Bonanza would christen these planes the “Silver Dart” and these birds would become the backbone of their network.

We know of at least two different versions of cards for the “Silver Dart”.  This photo comes from a Bonanza Air Lines tribute web page and features black and white exit photographs

This example, from my collection, is a Nov 1967 two sided plastic card with graphic illustrations issued shortly before the 1968 merger.

Bonanza, like WCA operated DC-9-10’s and was even flying to Mexico at the time of the merger.  As far as I know, now one in the Safety Card community has the Bonanza DC-9 Safety Card, nor have we been able to uncover any pictures. If anyone reading this article can help, we would love to see what it looks like. This writer would also love to buy it, (if it’s for sale, of course. J )

Next we move east to Denver and the home of Frontier Airlines.   Frontier was one of the largest LSA’s and successfully made the transition to the jet-age.  It would survive until 1986, before being acquired by People Express and ultimately rolled into Frank Lorenzo’s Continental.

First, we look at a DC-3 card from the mid 1960’s. [Carl Reese collection]

Convair 580 and Boeing 737 cards from the 70’s and 80’s are quite common.  However, Frontier operated a small fleet of 727-100 and 200 series aircraft.  Similar to what Pacific experienced, the 727’s proved to be too large for Frontier’s network.   The smaller 737-200, initially acquired as part of a Central Air Lines order, would prove to be the perfect jet for Frontier.

Here is a 727-200 cards from 1970.  There was a second version of similar design with the type as Boeing 727-291.

Frontier also operated smaller aircraft such as the Beechcraft 99 and the DeHavilland Twin Otter for service to very small communities.

This Twin Otter card is from 1976.   This card was small and square shaped, and used typical stock illustrations provided by De Havilland Canada

In the 1980’s, Frontier would try its luck again with a larger airplane, this time choosing the DC-9 Super 80 [MD-80].

The Super 80’s, like the 727’s before them, proved to be an odd fit to Frontier’s route structure, although the plane did look stunning in the Saul Bass “Circle F” livery.  Here we have a DC-9 Super 80 cards from 1982.  This was a typical two-fold color card produced by Interaction Research.

Finally, we move to Fort Worth, TX based Central Airlines.  Central would be acquired by and merged into Frontier in 1967.  As a result, safety cards are few as they disappeared prior to more stringent regulations regarding safety cards being put into law.  Here we have the cover of a Central DC-3 card [Carl Reese collection]

In the next article, we will cover the Local Service Airlines in the eastern USA.  Thank you for reading.

Until next time, keep your seat belts fastened.

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Atlantic Models 1/100 scale 747-100 in Columbia Airlines livery (Airport 1975)

Written by George Andritsakis

I have a confession to make.  I LOVE those cheesy 1970’s disaster flicks, especially the iconic Airport series.  Out of the 4 movies, Airport 1975 is my all-time favorite.  Not only does it have a star-studded cast of legendary Hollywood heavyweights (look up the cast, go on, I dare ya), the inflight and air-to-air scenery are some of the best aerial footage ever taken (in my not so humble opinion).  Oh, and did I mention the Boeing 747-100 stole the show?  I’ve never seen a more well done and gorgeous fictitious livery.  OK, I may be stretching that last one a bit, it’s nothing more than American Airlines’ classic Silverbird livery modified for Hollywood to depict the unfortunately fictitious Columbia Airlines, but still, the Queen wore it stunningly well.

A few years back Inflight200 made a line of models depicting airlines from the movies.  They had the Trans Global Boeing 707 from the original Airport, Columbia’s 747-100 (with damage above the cockpit depicted) from Airport 1975, the Stevens Corporation private Boeing 747-100 from the mainly underwater adventure Airport ’77, and the doomed Federation World Airways Concorde from The Concorde…Airport ’79.  I barely blinked and the 747’s were all sold out.  I couldn’t find one anywhere, for ANY price (lately, I’ve been seeing the Stevens 747 pop up on eBay for somewhat extortionist prices, but the Columbia bird eludes me to this very day).

So, about two years ago, I got fed up with waiting for the 1/200 scale model to come across my path, so I contacted the fine folks at Atlantic Models in Miami, Florida and asked about making me a custom 1/100 scale Columbia Airlines Boeing 747-100, minus the cockpit damage.  I also asked them to make the plane completely chromed out and shiny, which added to the cost, but oh was it worth it.  Not only did the finished result look incredibly phenomenal, but the model itself also looked like a larger scale than the 1/100 it was.  You could call it a “Super 1/100”!  It took just a tad over 6 months, but the folks at Atlantic kept me up to date and sent me photos during construction to keep me drooling until final delivery.

Ok, enough drooling and reminiscing, onto the review.  Atlantic Models does a fantastic job on large scale models from 1/200 on up.  Honestly, in this avgeek’s humble opinion, they far outperform Pacmin in every respect.  It’s no wonder airlines like Southwest and American call on them for all their large-scale model needs (don’t believe me?  Just check out the lobby to Southwest’s Headquarters at Dallas/Love Field, or American Airlines’ CR Smith Museum for some of the most amazing model airliners you’ll ever lay eyes on).  The model itself is a solid, single-piece model, meaning the wings and stabilizers do not detach like most large-scale models do (I requested it built this way), and therefore is HEAVY (27 lbs., or 12.24 kilograms to be exact).  Which is perfect for its intended use, as the centerpiece in my recently remodeled living room, to be placed on top of a giant vintage travel chest.

Now, when it comes to this particular aircraft and airline, the smaller 1/200 scale version from Inflight200 has the “cockpit damage” look right above the starboard side of the cockpit, depicting where the Twin Baron collided with the 747 on it’s descent into Salt Lake City, Utah in the movie.  I’m not a fan of that look, at least not the way it looks on the model.  In my eyes, it just looks too hokey and fake (I know, I know, it’s just a fictitious airline from a movie, get over it, George).  The BigBird 400 model does not have the damage and looks absolutely stunning as well (I’m trying to get my hands on this one as well, but it’s been well over 10 years since I’ve seen one for sale).

Since my 1/100 scale version was chromed out, it looks far more realistic than a lot of other non-chromed 1/100 models from airlines with buffed out, bare metal finishes, and I LOVE that.  When compared to some of my American Airlines models, the Columbia model pops out far more.  The chrome added to the cost, but oh man, it was worth it.  The model has since become a centerpiece in my house.

The rest of the livery was perfectly applied by those magicians at Atlantic Models, and the model itself has no flaws on it and is proportionally accurate.  To keep with the accuracy and branding as close as I could to the actual film aircraft, this model also has the registration added (most 1/100 models sadly don’t).  The only real issue (a minor one, at that) is the top of the tail has some slight curving to it.  Not a whole lot, but it’s noticeable if you look for it.  Another thing, and most larger Boeing 747 models don’t have this either, are the HF Antennae on the wingtips were not included.  Other than that, again, the model is the absolute best and most gorgeous model I’ve ever had.  If you have the ability, funds, and room to do so, a custom-built model from Atlantic is a heck of a way to go.

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“The Wings of Man” at Walt Disney World

Written by Shea Oakley

Many visitors to the early days of Orlando’s Walt Disney World in the 1970s and 80s may remember a Tomorrowland ride called “If You Had Wings.” Like many of the attractions of that era, it was sponsored by a major American company, and this was no exception. If You Had Wings was a showcase for Eastern Air Lines, the “Official Airline of Walt Disney World from the park’s opening in 1971 through 1987.

If You Had Wings opened to the public in June 1972 and immediately became one of the most popular rides in the Magic Kingdom. Aside from the merits of the ride itself, its popularity was helped because it was one of the few free rides at the park in an era when visitors had to buy separate ticket books to access many of the park’s other attractions. If You Had Wings also had ice-cold air conditioning, a welcome respite from Central Florida’s often oppressive heat.

Since Disney World buffs rival airline history enthusiasts in terms of fervency and knowledge, there is still a fair amount of information about the ride available online today. Click here for a link to one of several home-movie films of the experience available on YouTube.

As someone who rode the attraction countless times from early boyhood through my teenage years and later became a commercial aviation historian, the connection for me between Eastern and the ride was notable in a number of ways.

Little changed throughout the 15-year existence of If You Had Wings. By the waning days of both the attraction and the airline in the late 1980s, it had become a time capsule of sorts, preserving the spirit of Eastern from the height of that airline’s early-70s “Wings of Man period.” The very name of the attraction reflects the long-used and famous advertising slogan in which Eastern promised a “commitment to a very old ideal. That flight should be as natural and comfortable as man first dreamed it to be. That man should be as home in the sky as he is on land.” Gender-inclusive this statement was not. Then again, when “The Wings of Man” was introduced in 1969, not much was.

A certain soaring and somewhat esoteric element of bird-like flight to colorful destinations was present in the sights and sounds of the entire experience. The stirring theme music used at the time in Eastern’s advertising was heard both in the airport lobby-style entrance as well as at the ride’s end. The attraction also heavily showcased the “The New Wings of the Wings of Man,” the Lockheed L-1011. Eastern was the launch customer for the L-1011, as well as several other historic airliners, and had put the tri-jet into service in April 1972, just two months before the ride opened. The L-1011 was marketed by Eastern as the “Whisperliner,” and its imagery was ubiquitous in If You Had Wings. Mock flight announcements for “Whisperliner Service” played as “passengers” waited in line to board their omnimover pods at the ride’s start.

The pods first passed through a globe with a large display model of the L-1011. Shortly thereafter, riders saw projected graphics of the Whisperliner in profile changing into what appeared to be seagulls. These animated birds reappeared from time to time throughout the eight-minute ride to provide visual continuity. At the ride’s end, much larger and more detailed images of Eastern L-1011’s appeared as the participants were told by a deep, yet reassuring voice, “You do have wings, you can do all these things, you can widen your world (a sub-slogan being used by the airline in 1972.) Eastern…we will be your wings.” The narration throughout was accompanied by a catchy Disney-created song called “If You Had Wings.”

Over the years, few changes were made to the attraction. The L-1011 model was eventually replaced with one of a Boeing 757, another aircraft that Eastern was the launch customer for. Then, in 1987, new owner Frank Lorenzo pulled the plug on Eastern’s “official airline” relationship with Disney, as part of his wholesale gutting of Eastern while he pillaged its assets. However by this point, the “Wings of Man” ad campaign and the optimistic idealism behind it had already been gone for nearly a decade. The slogan was replaced by “We Have to Earn Our Wings Every Day,” in 1978, and then by several other more forgettable ones until the great airline ceased to exist in early 1991.

The ride captured the spirit of a special time in the history of a special company, one I flew often during my formative years as an “avgeek.” That particular era in Eastern’s history has long captured my imagination . In a very physical sense, as long as I could hop on If You Had Wings, it was a spirit I could viscerally experience and re-experience. I miss both the ride and, more importantly, the airline it represented.

Top image by Dada1960 [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons.
Originally published on NYCaviation.com

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That “other” Canadian airline Canadian Pacific Air Lines / C P Air Canadian Airlines aka “Empress”

Written by Charlie Dolan.

While Air Canada managed to operate under only two names, “Trans Canada Airlines” and “Air Canada”, their chief rival in the northern skies had several names and operational eras. What began as an amalgamation of bush carriers became Canadian Pacific Air Lines in 1942. This identity worked well and lasted until 1968 when the carrier became “C P Air” and adopted the logo shared with CP Rail, CP Ships, CP Hotels and CP telecommunications. The airline was assigned the color orange in the corporate logo scheme and this color was attached to not only letterheads but to the aircraft in the fleet. They looked impressive to say the least. As an added bonus, they were impossible to miss in the pattern.

During the mid to late 1980s, the urge to merge hit the Canadian air carrier industry and CP Air merged with Nordair and Eastern Provincial Airways. Shortly after that, the carrier was bought by Pacific Western Airlines and became “Canadian Airlines”.

The carrier lasted until 2000, when it was absorbed by Air Canada, the dominant airline in the skies to our north.

Future articles will show the insignia of the carriers which became Canadian (Canadien) Airlines, but today we will concentrate on Canadian Pacific Air Lines, C P Air and Canadian Airlines.

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