“Down-under” Airlines

Written by Charlie Dolan

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

                     Aeropelican APL PO 1971-1980 (to Ansett)

                        Ansett Airways AAA AN 1936-2002

                    Ansett Flying Boat Service 1952-1974

                      Ansett New South Wales 1990-1993

                    Compass Airlines YM CYM 1990-1993

                   East – West Airlines EW EWA 1947-1993

                              QANTAS QFA 1920-present

                McRobertson Miller Airlines MV 1927-1993

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

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An Ode to the Observation Decks at JFK

                                         (Photo by Mel Lawrence, Shea Oakley collection)

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

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

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

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

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

Article previously published on NYCaviation.com

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Airlines of the Atlantic

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

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

Air Atlanta Iceland  CC  ABD          1986 – present

Loftleidir         LL                               1944 – 1979

Eagle Air (Arnarflug) IS FEI 1970 – 1995

Greenlandair (Gronlandsfly)  GL GRL  1960 – 2002

Icelandair        FI  ICE                        1937 – present


Loftleidir         LL                               1944 – 1979

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

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

By Russell Goutierez

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mohawk Airline’s Gaslight Service

Written by Henry M. Holden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Not Another 727!

Written by Shea Oakley

As a child growing up in the 1970’s, our family lived in Northern New Jersey and often vacationed in Sarasota, Florida. This meant we had exactly two airline options if we wanted to fly directly into Sarasota/Bradenton Airport (SRQ) and avoid the much longer drive from Tampa International (TPA) to the North. Those options were Eastern and National.

In both case the equipment we flew was almost invariably the same no matter which of the three major NY area airports from which we departed: the Boeing 727. Very occasionally Eastern had a DC-9-31 on the route but the 727, in either -100 or -200 configuration, was the mainstay. As a budding airline enthusiast this felt almost intolerable. “A 727? Again?” was a question my dad got used to hearing, and often.

My “any other airplane but a 727” envy was most palpable when we chose to fly out of Kennedy International Airport. In those days the way you drove to your departure Unit Terminal Building (UTB) was via a sort of interior perimeter road that took you by every one of them until you reached your particular airline. Now this wasn’t much of a problem for me when we flew Eastern. Approaching the airport on the Van Wyck Expressway (which by the way, was (and still is) an oxymoron traffic wise) the EAL terminal was the first one you encountered. What really hurt was when we were heading South on National. Getting to the old “Sundrome” building meant driving by, among others, the Pan Am “Worldport” and the TWA “Flight Center.” I can remember looking at the 747’s and 707’s of Pan Am and the 747’s and L-1011’s of TWA parked on their gates wistfully wishing that we were jetting off to London or Los Angeles on one of these giants instead of getting ready to ride a 727 again. (Editor’s note: for a similar experience, ride the shuttle bus when the JFK Airtrain isn’t running. While the airport has changed a lot, the views between T1 and T4 are quite similar.)

Times do change however and so do perceptions. What at 8 years old was a “boring” airplane ride on Boeing’s “Three-Holer” has become, at 51, a precious memory from a time when life was simple and good and my family was together. Today, perched on a shelf in the office in the museum at which I work, are two highly detailed 1:200 scale models of 727-200s in the colors of, yes, Eastern and National respectively. That’s right, the two airline/airplane combinations that felt like a curse when I was a young kid are now among my most favorite. As for the carriers themselves I’d have to say that Eastern and National are today on the top of my list, as far as affection. As an adult I have become an avid airline memorabilia collector and much of my collection revolves around these two airlines and their operations during the 1970’s.

Yes, perceptions do change under the influence of wonderful adult memories of childhood. What I wouldn’t give today to leave from one of those now demolished terminals I so well remember on an EAL or NAL 727, destination Sarasota, just one more time.

Originally posted on NYCaviation.com

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The Ongoing Mystique of the Boeing SST

Written by Shea Oakley

Last year I shelled out the most money I have ever paid for an airliner model in a lifetime of collecting. It is a five-foot-long 1/50th scale needle-nosed monster with working variable sweep wings, flaps and spoilers in Eastern Air Lines colors. On its tail is a 1960s-modern logo depicting an arrow-shaped form with what look like circular shockwaves arcing off behind it. The letters in the logo read simply “Boeing SST.” For several months she underwent a light restoration by an outside party that fixed a few egregious physical flaws it has acquired over the past 50+ years without destroying its originality (but sadly also some erased some small flap use instruction decals printed directly on those control surfaces)

Half a century is a long time in human terms, and I suspect many of my readers have no idea what a “Boeing SST” is. For the sake of brevity (because this is not, primarily, a historical article) let me just say that Concorde, the Anglo-French supersonic jet that even the youngest airline enthusiast at least knows existed, was supposed to have a much faster, much larger American competitor. She was known as the Boeing 2707 (for Mach 2.7 707) and would have been made from heat-resistant Titanium, been 300 feet long and carried up to 350 passengers at 1,800 MPH. Cruising altitude was to be about 70,000 feet. The airplane was originally going to have a “swing-wing” (think “B-1”) that would be swept back to allow this giant to assume the shape of a dart when at cruise speed and fold out to allow subsonic aircraft characteristics on take-off and landing.

The massive project was largely U.S. government-funded and airlines all over the world ponied up a million-dollar deposit for each of the over 120 aircraft they had optioned to buy. Unfortunately not even Boeing could make the variable sweep design work. It was simply too heavy with all the hardware involved to make those wings “waggle” and the company ended up with a slightly smaller fixed delta-wing configuration with a separate tail plane as its final design. Then concerns over sonic booms, airport noise, operating economics, along with a few socio-political issues of the time conspired to kill the whole project when the Senate voted against continued funding of the 2707 in 1971. A billion taxpayer dollars had been spent at that point and just about all they had to show for it was a wooden mock-up (and some big “ticket office” type models like mine).

So that was that. The beautiful Concorde flew passengers just over a quarter-century as a technological masterpiece and an economic disaster. Only 16 were built and the widespread “Supersonic Age” in air transport everyone expected back then never came to be. Some of us are still waiting for it.

This brings me back to my new ridiculously expensive model (which, by the way appears to have been Boeing factory-built) and my point. There is a cohort of airline enthusiasts who are about 50 and over who were starry-eyed little “avgeeks” when it looked like the Boeing SST was going to make it into full-scale production. We read about and saw dramatic drawings of the airplane and figured that when we were a bit older we were going to get to fly in her. To say the prospect of traveling aboard such a stupendously large and fast vehicle was an exciting idea for us to dream about is a major understatement. Since nothing close to it in scale has been considered since (The promising “Boom” SST currently under development will carry about 55 passengers) we are still enamored with the 2707, all these years later.

I’ve noticed that every time an original item of any kind related this airplane goes up for auction on eBay it tends to sell quickly and for a high price. There is a reason for this. The kids who were waiting for the airplane, and never forgot her, are now 50-60 years old. They have often reached the pinnacle of their professions, either in aviation or elsewhere, and they have disposable cash. Some of that money is being spent to enable continuing happy memories of a now distant childhood when it seemed like flying commercially in a gigantic Titanium dart at nearly three times the speed of sound was just around the corner.

That is the ongoing mystique, and legacy, of the Boeing SST.

Postscript: The year before acquiring the Eastern 2707, I was also able to find a United Boeing SST display model, this one built by California models makers PacMin, of the same scale, minus the working wings and control surfaces. I’ve included a photo of it as well for this article.

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40 years of airline deregulation – The (relative) calm before the storm (part 1)

Written by David Keller

The Airline Deregulation Act was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter on October 24, 1978.  This piece of legislation had a wide-ranging impact, and the airline industry in the US would never be the same.

Some of the major changes were:

  • Airlines would find it much easier to add and drop routes. This would allow carriers to enter highly coveted markets, while at the same time, subjecting them to new competition on their own lucrative services.
  • Intrastate carriers would no longer be bound by state lines, as they could be certified to operate routes outside of their home states.
  • Supplemental airlines could offer regularly scheduled services as opposed to only charters.
  • Small carriers (primarily those seen as commuter airlines) would have the opportunity to operate larger aircraft, and potentially compete with the established carriers.
  • New airlines could be formed to provide additional competition, and potentially lower the cost of air travel, thus bolstering the industry in general.
  • Mergers would be approved at a much higher rate than in the past, which opened the door to carriers expanding through acquisition.

The most immediate impact of the legislation was that the established airlines were able to take advantage of their new freedom to add routes, largely by applying for “dormant” routes, as well as one other route they could add each year without needing to receive CAB approval.  Since these companies had fleets, employees and the required certifications, they would be the first to take advantage of the new opportunities.

But the approach taken by the airlines varied widely, from extremely conservative additions to wildly over-ambitious route expansions.  And many carriers had similar ideas for expansion, with Florida, Texas and Arizona being the most popular destinations for new service.

Western Airlines was probably the most conservative trunk carrier in the country.  They were the last of the trunks to introduce pure jet service in 1960, and also the last to offer widebody service, finally introducing the DC-10 in 1973.  It was one of the few not to order the Boeing 747.

So it should come as no surprise that the airline did not jump headlong into the uncharted waters of the deregulated environment.  While most carriers promoted the start of some new services by early 1979, Western took a more measured approach.  By the end of 1979, Milwaukee, Spokane and Washington D.C. had all been added from the airline’s traditional eastern terminus in Minneapolis/St. Paul.  This meant Western had become a transcontinental carrier, offering direct (2 stop) service between the East Coast and Seattle.

Another carrier to move with caution was Continental Airlines.  By the December 15, timetable, Continental was promoting service from Washington/Dulles to Houston (starting January 2, 1979).  Continental also joined the transcontinental ranks, with direct service from Dulles to Los Angeles (albeit with 4 stops).

By the end of 1979, Continental had added routes to New York City, as well as to Western Mexico.  Additionally, long-delayed service from Hawaii to the South Pacific had also been inaugurated.

Pan Am’s many attempts over the years to acquire a domestic airline to feed its globe-spanning international network had largely been thwarted by other carriers claiming that such a combination would provide an unsurmountable advantage over other airlines, many of which had little or no international routes.  Deregulation provided the opportunity for Pan Am to build its own domestic network, but given the fact that the carrier’s fleet was primarily built for long-haul intercontinental services (with the exception of the 727 fleet working the Internal German Services), acquisition was seen as the most viable path to that end, rather than individual route acquisitions.  In the meantime, the carrier’s timetable dated October 28, 1979, does show a few domestic segments added, namely connecting New York with Miami and San Francisco.

National Airlines was focused on expanding its footprint in the trans-Atlantic market, and only made a few tentative moves in the domestic arena.  The March 3, 1979 timetable shows that Seattle was added with a route to Houston, with service to Los Angeles forthcoming on April 1.  Also on that date, National started operating between Miami and San Juan with 3 daily round trips.

The fact that National attracted interest as a takeover target may have also resulted in a more conservative strategy, given the bidding war that ensued.  The airline’s services remained essentially unchanged for the remainder of the year, as illustrated by the (condensed) route map on their September 5, 1979 timetable.

TWA’s initial route additions were also relatively meek, as the January 9, 1979 timetable shows new service between St. Louis and Minneapolis/St. Paul, and from Palm Springs to Phoenix, continuing to Chicago.  (At this point, Chicago was still considered TWA’s primary domestic hub.  It would be a few years before TWA would decide that they couldn’t compete with the likes of American and United at O’Hare.)

However, by the end of 1979, TWA had added routes from a number of new cities to St. Louis, and had also greatly expanded its footprint in Florida.  As the December 15, 1979 issue illustrates, 3 new Florida destinations were added, and service to Florida was inaugurated from 7 cities in the northeastern US; Boston, Cincinnati, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York and Washington.  While TWA operated 37 weekly flights to Florida in the winter of 1978/79, by the following winter, that number had risen to 276!

Eastern Airlines enjoyed a number of new route awards prior to the passage of the Airline Deregulation Act, and the timetable dated September 6, 1978 shows the carrier focused on bolstering its strongest markets, Atlanta, Miami, New York and San Juan.  The December 13, 1978 issue, which was the first after Deregulation, shows a similar strategy, although with an increasing emphasis on secondary markets in Houston, Central Florida and St. Louis (which was becoming an east-west hub).

By the end of 1979, Eastern had tied Albuquerque, Phoenix and Tucson to its primary hub in Atlanta, and added Reno to St. Louis service.  However, the Los Angeles to Orlando service started the prior winter had disappeared from the schedule.

Delta Air Lines’ timetable dated December 15, 1978 shows a rather conservative strategy as it inaugurated only 5 new routes, all of which were tied to a station where the carrier already had a significant presence.  DC-8-50s, which were on the verge of being phased out of the fleet, provided some of the capacity required to operate the additional flights.

The timetable from the end of the following year, dated December 15, 1979, shows Delta still operating all of those routes, with the Atlanta services up to 4-5 daily flights.  The carrier had also added routes to the West from both Atlanta and Dallas/Ft. Worth.

Northwest Orient Airlines added 3 new cities to its network with the timetable dated February 1, 1979, Orlando, St. Louis and Las Vegas.  St. Louis was connected to Chicago and Minneapolis/St. Paul, which were 2 of Northwest’s largest stations.  Orlando received service from Boston and Philadelphia (as did several other Florida cities).

But Las Vegas was something of a head-scratcher, with once daily service to San Francisco that continued to Minneapolis/St. Paul.  San Francisco was a minor station for Northwest with only 4 other daily flights, and the direct service to Minneapolis took more than twice as long as Western’s nonstop service.  As illustrated by the timetable dated December 18, 1979, service to Phoenix had also been inaugurated.

American Airlines took a more aggressive approach than most, and the timetable dated January 20, 1979 shows 9 new cities being added to its network.  Most of the new stations were tied into major hubs, either with nonstop or direct service.  Service was added connecting Dallas/Ft. Worth to Albuquerque, Miami, New Orleans, Reno and Tampa, while Chicago received service to Minneapolis/St. Paul.

A few new routes didn’t feed major hubs, as service was inaugurated to Las Vegas from Cleveland and Detroit, while the oddest of all was a trans-continental nonstop service from San Francisco to Miami.  Unsurprisingly, the San Francisco/Miami service was already discontinued by the end of year.

But the biggest eye-opener in the Deregulation route frenzy was Braniff International Airways, which inaugurated new service on 32 routes and opened 15 new stations with its December 15, 1978 timetable.  The centerfold of this issue boasts about the new service, and claims, “to begin service to so many cities at one time is unprecedented in the history of air transportation”.  (The map in the centerfold identifies Los Angeles as a new station, even though international service had been offered there for years.)

Braniff was right about its expansion being “unprecedented“.  These new route requests came with a “use it or lose it” condition, and as one of the smaller trunk carriers, Braniff’s fleet was stretched thin attempting to cover 64 additional segments.

Rather than pause and allow all of this growth to be properly assimilated into the system, Braniff continued to expand in 1979, both domestically (and more importantly) internationally.  The all-727 domestic fleet could not handle all of the new flights so DC-8s soon started operating domestic segments.  By summer, DC-8s were operating scheduled services to stations such as Denver, Memphis, Tampa and Orlando.  (The carrier would later be fined by the FAA for many hundreds of maintenance violations resulting from the demands placed on the fleet.)

Braniff ordered dozens of aircraft to support the new services, added through Concorde service from Dallas/Ft. Worth to both London and Paris (in cooperation with British Airways and Air France), created a trans-Atlantic hub in Boston (one of the cities added in December, 1978), and began operating trans-Pacific services as well.  The results were predictable, and the once profitable carrier quickly faced mounting losses and declining customer service.

Routes and employees were shed rapidly but the airline had already become a poster child for those who argued that some carriers wouldn’t know how to survive in a deregulated environment.  Although Braniff lasted until the spring of 1982, the foundation for its demise was laid within the first year of Deregulation.

Next: smaller airlines navigate the first year of Deregulation.

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Dance the Flight Away: Trans Caribbean Airways’ Golden Troubadour Service

Written by Russell Goutierez

The ads debuted in March 1959 and called Trans Caribbean Airways’ new Golden Troubadour flights “a unique experience in air travel.” That was arguably an ambitious claim given that O. Roy Chalk had founded TCA just 14 years before with $60,000 and two DC-4s, but the description was spot on.

                                               Marvin Goldman Collection

The $67.60 fare between New York City and TCA’s San Juan hub was a tidy sum in 1959; it rings up as nearly $600 in today’s dollars. Granted, this wasn’t five hours plus in some economy class sardine can with nothing more than a stale sandwich and a lame seat pocket magazine to pass the time. The airline promised passengers nothing less on these special DC-6 weekend trips than a “holiday on wings,” touting reserved seating, luxurious golden décor, “featherbed” comfort, and Caribbean hors d’oeuvres followed by a main course of Lobster Troubadour. And all of it would unfold in calm, smooth air thanks to “remarkable radar.”

That’s pretty impressive flair for a carrier trying to make a name in a new market, but TCA was aiming even higher. Creating a new definition of inflight entertainment, the airline invited customers to “…marvel as your flight cabin is transformed into a ‘heavenly’ night club. Song, melody, laughter are lavishly provided by internationally famous performers.” That’s special in and of itself, but they even removed forward cabin seats to create a dance floor! It’s fun to imagine what it must have been like to experience that kind of ambience on a long overwater flight.

Little information is available on how long TCA operated Golden Troubadour service, or whether it was considered a success. The airline eventually grew to operate 727s and DC-8s before American Airlines acquired it from Mr. Chalk in 1971.

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DC-3 Lands in Jersey Swamp

Written by Henry M. Holden

On January 7, 1938, an American Airlines DC-3, NC16015 c/n 1553, carrying five passengers, a crew of three, and 780 pounds of mail, dropped out of a pea soup fog and pouring rain shortly after 3 o’clock in the morning to a safe, mud cushioned landing in the Jersey meadows. Captain Usher Rousch made the landing after narrowly missing fences at the south end of Newark Airport. The plane settled down in a water-coursed gulley. The landing gear was smashed, one engine was damaged and Rousch suffered a gash over his right eye when his head struck the control panel. The passengers, mildly shaken, got out into the swamp with flight attendant Veronica Lally until the danger of an explosion was past. Then they re-entered the plane to await help. After a mile hike through the swamp the captain returned with rescue party of police, firemen, doctors and postal employees, who escorted the passengers back to the airport.

Captain Rousch, due in at 2:39 am. from Chicago, by way of Detroit and Buffalo, arrived on time, following the radio beam that ends at the airport. The fog was so dense; he could not see the field. Ground crews could hear the plane circling overhead. Miss Lally, a native of Janesville, Wis., and a graduate nurse of Mercy Hospital there, warned the passengers of possible trouble and fastened their safety belts. Then she served tea, crackers, and cheese, and Rousch jockeyed for a landing in the fog.

The passengers were Jack Ryan of Evanston, Ill., a motor boat salesman; A. Rush Watkins, Chicago dog-food manufacturer; W. E. Ogilvie, public relations man for stockyard interests, and Michael Lunder, of Boston, and Herbert Shapiro, of Dover, N. H., business men returning from a shoe manufacturers’ convention in Chicago.

After circling about twenty-five minutes, Rousch discovered a hole in the fog, got a glimpse of the ground and quickly shot down. As the wheels of the ship were about to touch the ground, however, the pilot saw that he had come down at the end of the field, with no space for taxing. Rousch pulled back on the yoke and the huge plane skimmed over the wire fences on either side of the State Highway, Route 25, and another fence around a parking lot. Contact with the fences would have meant almost certain disaster.

Soon Captain Rousch was ready for another try and eased the airplane as best he could into the marshes, about a mile south of the field, in the direction of Elizabeth. He immediately set out on foot for the airport, while his co-pilot, Stan Gerding, contacted radio communication with Theodore. A. Schmidt, night manager of the airline at the field, and notified him that everyone was safe. It took the pilot an hour to reach the field. The fifty men who manned rescue apparatus then headed for the plane, with Rousch leading. By 7 am. everyone was back at the airport. When the passengers had coffee and other stimulants, they praised highly the conduct of Captain Rousch and his copilot, and particularly Miss Lally. Airline officials said the plane would have to be dismantled and towed out of the marsh.

Note: The aircraft, built in October 1936, went into service with American Airlines on October 15, 1936, as Flagship Kentucky. It was successfully removed from the swamp and rebuilt. Registered N492, with Trans Alaskan Airlines, it then went to Bonanza Airlines as N492 in 1945. Bonanza Airlines merged with West Coast & Pacific, forming Air West on April 18, 1968. It was later registered as JA5100 to the Japanese

2

Civilian Aviation Bureau and Flight Inspection Bureau and scrapped in the Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan.

For the complete story of the Douglas DC-3 see: “The Legacy of the DC-3”

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