Departed Wings – Frontier Horizon (FW)

Written by Jon Jamieson

1984-1985          Denver, Colorado

Denver, Colorado based Frontier Airlines faced some daunting challenges during the early 1980s as the result of airline deregulation. Prior to deregulation in 1978, Frontier had approximately 40% of the traffic share from Denver Stapleton Airport, however just five years later in 1983, the airline saw its Denver market share drop to just 7%.

Fearing continued competition from low-cost carriers, especially new Denver entrant, Southwest Airlines, Frontier formulated a plan to compete and maintain its Denver strong-hold. A new airline, Frontier Horizon, was devised as an innovative solution to improve revenue, cater to business class customers, and provide throughput from major markets into the Frontier system at Denver. The new airline would be a wholly owned subsidiary of Frontier Holdings, Inc. and operate as a non-union entity using a fleet of seven Boeing 727s purchased from American Airlines. With approximately $30 million in start-up costs funded, Frontier Horizon took to the air on January 9, 1984, with service from Denver Stapleton International Airport to Chicago-O’Hare, Washington-National and San Francisco.

Service to New York-La Guardia Airport was added in March 1984. Seen being pushed back from the gate in May 1984, is N1930.

Almost immediately Frontier Horizon ran into trouble. Protests were held by the unionized workforce picketing the infusion of money into the “new” airline, while legacy Frontier suffered employee concessions and operating reductions. Another issue was the operating name chosen by the new airline.

Chicago-O’Hare was one of the first airports to be served by Frontier Horizon. Seen pulling away from the gate in June 1984, is N1955.

Seattle based Horizon Airlines found heartache with the “Horizon” title and suggested it was too similar in nature to their name and filed a complaint. The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) agreed to the similarities, sided with Horizon Air and directed Frontier Holdings to rename the airline.

Seven Boeing 727-100s were used to start service from Denver to four major market cities including N1902, seen taxing at San Francisco International Airport.

Using a public competition, a new name of Frontier Discovery was selected, yet the new name would not be applied. Although the airline started additional flights to New York-La Guardia, it was soon realized that operating two “separate” airlines caused an already difficult situation to be worse financially for Frontier.

Seen landing at Denver Stapleton Airport in March 1985 after the sale to Skybus is N1973, wearing only Frontier titles.

In January 1985, the assets of Frontier Horizon were sold to a new operating company called Skybus Airlines.

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Airlines of Asia – Past and Present

Written by Charlie Dolan

Air Cambodge RC 1970 – 1975

 Air Lanka UL ALK 1998 – present

Air Viet Nam Hang Khong Viet Nam 1951 -1975

Bangkok Airways PG BKP 1968 – present

Bangladesh Biman Airlines BG BBC 1972 – present

  Cathay Pacific Airways CX CPA 1946 – present

China Airlines CI CAL 1959 – present

 Druk Air Royal Bhutan Airlines KB DRK 1981 – present

 Garuda Indonesia GA GIA 1949 – present

Metal crew wing used by Hang Kong Viet Nam, the former airline of North Vietnam.

Royal Brunei Airlines BI RBA 1975 – present

 

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Airport Junior Wings

Written by Lane Kranz

There is an emerging market in the world of junior wings—Airport Junior Wings!  While airlines rarely introduce new junior wings today, many airports around the country are adding junior wings to support their airport help desks and to give to young people on tours.

Many airports have issued junior wings going back over 50 years.  Often the name of the airport is a clear indicator of when a wing was issued.  For example, in New Orleans the MSY code was derived from Moisant Stock Yards.  It was named after daredevil aviator John Moisant who died in 1910 in an airplane crash on agricultural land where the airport is now located.  The airport was known as Moisant Field until 1959 when the name was changed to Moisant Int’l. Airport.  Just a few years later, in 1961, the name was changed to New Orleans Int’l.  And in 2001, to honor the 100th anniversary of Louis Armstrong’s birth, the name became Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

The trend of new airport junior wings is clearly positive, and we are seeing newly issued airport junior wings every quarter.  In fact, there are now nearly 150 known junior wings issued by airports.  Great news for wing collectors!

Below are some examples of airport junior wings:

  • SBA – Santa Barbara Airport, newly issued
  • DEN – Denver Int’l. Airport, issued in the 90s
  • SAN – San Diego County Airports, issued in 2010s
  • SGF – Springfield, MO, issued in the 80s
  • PHX – Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, issued in the late 70s
  • IND – Indianapolis Airport Authority, issued in the 70s or 80s
  • MSY – New Orleans Int’l Airport, issued in the 70s or 80s
  • TPA – Tampa Int’l. Airport, newly issued
  • PRB – Paso Robles Airport, CA, issued in the 80s (above)

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Rooftop Dakota

Written by Henry M. Holden

It was not a good evening to fly. December 19, 1946, was a cold, snowy evening at Northolt Airport, London, when Railway Air Service’s G‑AGZA, c/n 12455, DC‑3 service to Glasgow Airport on behalf of Scottish Airways, taxied into position for take-off. It had a total of four crew and one passenger on board.

The snow storm had closed the airport to incoming traffic, and outbound traffic was subject to long delays. The plane had been waiting for more than an hour for clearance. The aircraft had been de-iced since it was a cold, snowy evening which had delayed the departure. While the Dakota was waiting the temperature dropped and snow began falling which froze on the wings. When G‑AGZA received clearance, the pilot ran the engines up to 45.5 inches of manifold pressure and 2,500 RPM.

Time to go! He released the brakes and the airplane lumbered down the runway, but the old warhorse did not want to make the trip. As the plane gathered speed air rushed over its wings, but the tail did not rise. Both pilots looked at each other, and at the instruments. Then, the tail began its slow, lethargic rise. The pilots relaxed. For a moment, they thought there was a problem.

The old Gooney Bird was having trouble getting off the ground. There was too much ice on her wings. She should not be flying but the pilot didn’t listen to her subtle signals. Eighty‑four knots and the pilot pulled back gently on the yoke. The Gooney Bird struggled to get off the ground, its Pratt & Whitney engines clawing at the air. She could remember this happening before, but in a war, when she was RAF Dakota KG240. Although struggling, she would fly again, even though the laws of aerodynamics said it was impossible.

Her wheels left the icy runway and she could feel them tucking away inside her. That helped a little, but not enough. Her propellers were biting at the air, hardly giving her 50 feet of altitude. She was just barely flying.

Suddenly there were houses in front of her and more ice on her wings. Her nose came up a little, but it was too late. The ice on the wings disturbed the air flow, which resulted in the aircraft not gaining any lift. It was however too late to abort take-off so the crew was forced to try to get the aircraft to climb. She hit the roof of the first house with a sickening, scraping noise, but her forward motion continued. She tore the roofs from three more houses before coming to rest. Metal and wood groaned under her weight. Then, there was silence.

People came rushing out of their homes. In the distance a baby was crying. The Gooney Bird had nested on top of the last house. Its wing tips were missing but the nose and tail remained undamaged. There were no injuries on the ground, only a frightened baby in its crib, looking up through tear‑filled eyes, at the belly of the plane. The four crew members and one passenger walked away from the plane, but instead of in Scotland, their destination, just minutes away from their point of departure.

It was quickly determined that the cause of the crash was the snow which had frozen to the aircraft’s wings while G-AGZA was waiting to take-off, resulting in the aircraft not gaining any lift and making an emergency landing on the roof of 46 Angus Drive. The house was subsequently nicknamed “Dakota Rest.”

The pilot was also assigned a cause factor for failing to abort take-off after noticing it had been snowing and his aircraft being covered in snow. The crash landing on the houses earned the Captain the nickname “Rooftop Johnson.”

The Dakota involved made its first flight in 1944 as Douglas C-47A 42-92633 military transport of the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) and had Douglas serial number 12455. It was transferred to the Royal Air Force (RAF) as KG420. KG420 was registered to Railway Air Services as a Dakota III in March 1946, with the British registration G-AGZA, powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 Twin Wasp engines.

Copyright Henry M. Holden, 1997, 2013, 2019

For the complete story on the Douglas DC-3 see “Legacy of the DC-3″

 

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Airline Postcard Sells for Probable Record Price

Written by Marvin G. Goldman

On 23 March 2019, an Air Guinee Douglas DC-4 postcard sold on eBay for 805 British pounds, equal to approximately U.S. $1,050.  This is the highest sales price I have ever heard of for a single airline postcard.  I checked with two other leading airline postcard collectors — Bill Baird and Doug Bastin.  Bill said, “that is the highest price I’ve ever seen [for] an airline postcard so far”.  Doug observed, “As regards whether it is the highest price, probably yes for a card with no postal history content.

This raised my curiosity to find out what was so special about Air Guinee and this postcard in particular, and that led to my writing this brief article.

From 1895 to 1960 a federation of eight French colonial territories, including ‘French Guinea’, existed in what was then known as ‘French West Africa’.  Upon those territories gaining their separate independence in 1960, they considered forming, and several did establish, an airline consortium called ‘Air Afrique’.  However, the governments of Guinee (the former French Guinea) and Mali decided not to participate, and they formed their respective own national airlines.  Air Guinee was founded in 1960 by the Guinee government and existed until 2002.

Initially Air Guinee operated with aircraft and assistance obtained from the Soviet Union.  However, in mid-1963 Air Guinee purchased two Douglas DC-4s from Alaska Airlines, and that leads us to the airline postcard at hand.

The Air Guinee DC-4 postcard was listed on eBay on 16 March 2019 by eBay seller ‘kevins_models’ of Stockport, Cheshire, U.K., at a starting price of £1 (about $1.30) plus £6 shipping.  The seller stated:  “THIS IS ONE OF APPROX 200 CARDS I AM LISTING THIS WEEKEND.   THEY CAME FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION OF A COLLECTOR IN LONDON.  CARDS ARE MOSTLY FROM THE 1950s TO 1980s.  AIRLINE ISSUED CARDS SOME REALLY RARE ISSUE CARDS.”

Here is the front and back of the card as listed by the seller:

Air Guinee Douglas DC-4 Postcard, Airline Issue, probably 1963, sold on eBay for £805 (approximately $1,050), 23 March 2019. 

Back of preceding card. 

The aircraft on the postcard was described by the seller as a DC-6, but it appears to be an artist’s rendition of a DC-4.  Moreover, according to several sources, including a detailed Air Guinee fleet list on the website ‘aerobernie.bplaced.net’ (tab ‘Africa’, subtab ‘Guinee’), Air Guinee never utilized DC-6s.  That website does list the two DC-4s acquired by Air Guinee from Alaska Airlines in 1963, registered 3X-KRS and 3X-YUN, which were in Air Guinee’s fleet for three to four years.  The DC-4 on the postcard bears registration 3X-YKN, but that registration does not appear on any actual Air Guinee aircraft.  It is possible the postcard was produced before the aircraft was registered in Guinee and the number ultimately given to the aircraft was 3X-YUN rather than the ‘3X-YKN’ supplied to the artist of the postcard.

In any event the eBay auction attracted 16 bids from 10 different bidders, and the £1 starting price soared to the ultimate £805 (about $1,050).

It was Bill Baird who actually brought this postcard to my attention.  He added that he actually has one of these cards in his own collection!  He says he never thought much about it and doesn’t even remember how he acquired it.  Here are scans of the front and back of Bill’s postcard.

Air Guinee Douglas DC-4 Postcard, Airline Issue, probably 1963, William Baird collection.

Air Guinee Douglas DC-4 Postcard, Back, Airline Issue, probably 1963, William Baird collection.

Doug Bastin, who like me had never seen this postcard before, initially wondered whether the Air Guinee DC-4 postcard might possibly be a fake.  He thought it strange that the postcard said ‘Printed in the U.S.A.’ whereas the airline in its early years was closely tied to Soviet assistance.  But then he saw on the postcard listing that seller was selling numerous older airline postcards that he acquired from a London collector and that they all seemed to be legitimate.  Moreover, I note that the U.S.A. reference isn’t so strange because Guinee’s initial relationship with the Soviets concluded in 1962-63, and Air Guinee acquired its two main DC-4s in 1963 from Alaska Airlines.  Also, the back of the same card in Bill Baird’s collection, shown above, has a handwritten greeting written in French by a person living in Conakry, the capital of Guinee.

Seller’s March 2019 eBay listings included a different Air Guinee DC-4 postcard claimed to be from the same London collection and also never seen before by me, Doug Bastin or Bill Baird.  This card shows the aircraft on the ground with the crew in front, and it sold on the same day for $550 — also an exceptionally high price, above or close to any previous high price for an airline postcard.  This other Air Guinee postcard attracted 14 bids from 11 different bidders, not all of whom were the same as those that bid on the top-selling card.  The same person, however, identified by eBay only as ‘c***_’, was the top bidder on both cards.

Here is the seller’s image of this other Air Guinee DC-4 card:

So what drove up the prices on these two Air Guinee DC-4 postcards?  First, the cards appear to be very rare. They are airline issues from an African national airline that produced very few cards and no longer exists.  The DC-4 is an old prop aircraft popular with collectors.  The aircraft type served with the airline only 2-3 years.  And, perhaps most importantly, there were many collectors bidding on the cards, including more than one in each case who was willing to pay an extremely high amount for the prize.  As to the record-setting card, two different collectors bid over $1,000 (and a third collector bid nearly $300).  The second card, showing the DC-4 on the ground with crew, had two different collectors bid $550 each (the earlier bid won; and a third collector bid over $200).

If you have any comments or more information about these two Air Guinee postcards or how they came to be sold for these top prices, I would be glad to hear from you.  I may reached through the ‘Contact Us’ tab at the bottom of the World Airline Historical Society, Inc. website home page at wahsonline.com.

Who knows?  Maybe you will find one of these postcards at Airliners International 2019 Atlanta !

Marvin G. Goldman

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Several More Carriers of Africa

Written by Charlie Dolan

I have several more air carriers from the African continent, which I had not featured before, as well as a recently acquired metal cap badge of Royal Air Maroc. In many cases, I have either the wing or hat badge of the airline rather than a full set of insignia.  In the case of South African Airlines, several different sets of insignia were issued over the course of many years and represent eras during and after the country’s membership in the British Commonwealth. Several of the SAA variants include the insignia worn by engineer staff. The dates which I have indicated are approximations, if anyone has more accurate information, please share with me.

GI GIB 1960 – 2002

Royal Air Maroc AT RAM 1957 – present

Royal Swazi National Airways ZC RSN 1978 – 1999

South African Airways SA SAA 1934 – present

Commonwealth era cap badge 

1961 – 1971 set

1971 – 1997 set

1997 – present insignia

Uganda Airlines QU UGA 1977 – 2001

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The Last Scheduled DC-3 Service on Planet Earth

Written by Henry M. Holden

To get a ride on the last scheduled DC-3 airline service on planet Earth, you must travel to Yellowknife Airport, located at 62 degrees, 26 minutes, 32 seconds North by 114 degrees, 23 minutes, 51 seconds West. That will put you just 318 miles south of the Arctic Circle.

The DC-3s are operated by locally-based Buffalo Airways which also operates other scheduled passenger, charter passenger, charter Cargo, fire-fighting and fuel services. Buffalo Airways’ main base is at Yellowknife Airport (CYZF) with two other bases at Hay River Airport (CYHY) and Red Deer Regional Airport (CYQF) in the Canadian Northwest Territories.

Yellowknife (the name comes from the hunting knives forged from the naturally occurring copper used by the local Dene people), is the only city and the capital of the Northwest Territories and has a population of approximately 19,000. The second largest town in the Northwest Territories is Hay River, With a population of approximately 3,600. The total population of the Northwest Territories is about 45,000 in an area that is double the size of the state of Texas.

The challenge in this land is getting around the Canadian north, which can often be a hit-and-miss affair, especially in winter, The emptiness of this vast, featureless land, coupled with unpredictable and often ferocious weather conditions that have swallowed pilots, passengers and their aircraft whole, never to be seen or heard from again, is always a worrisome factor. One pilot disappeared on a routine winter flight in 1964. His remains and those of his passengers were only discovered in 2003, almost 40 years later.

Traveling at 170 miles per hour, Buffalo Airways’ DC-3s can haul 7,000 pounds of freight or 28 passengers to destinations throughout the Canadian North. About one half of its passengers are repeat customers.

Buffalo Airways has been operating its legendary DC-3 aircraft with their trademark green livery since 1970. Most of Buffalo Airways’ warbird airliners date back to WWII and include 13 DC-3s, a couple of DC-4s, and Curtiss C-46s, two Lockheed Electras (the company’s only two turboprops,) and two Canadair CL—25 fire bombers.

Today it is the only airline in the world to fly, a seven day a week, scheduled DC-3 services between Yellowknife and the Hay River Airports. The flight takes approximately 45 minutes.

This DC-3 registered as C-GPNR was C/N 12222 Skytrain USAAF in 1942 and diverted to the World War II Lend Lease Plan and re-designated Dakota Mk III and carried registration KG602. The aircraft took part in the Normandy Invasion in the 575 Squadron RAF, based in Broadwell, UK. (Henry M. Holden)

According to Mickey McBryan, the current general manager and son of the legendary Buffalo Joe McBryan, the founder, and current president of Buffalo Airways, the name came from one of Joe’s first flying jobs, counting buffalo. Mickey says his father made the first flight to Hay River around 1970 and has since made the flight over 7,500 times. Buffalo Airways has been the subject of the popular Canadian reality television series, Ice Pilots NWT a 13-episode real life documentary series about an unorthodox airline in the Canadian North.

Yellowknife-based Buffalo Airways flies WWII-era propeller ‘planes — big old aircraft built by “Rosie the Riveter” that have remained virtually unchanged over the years. Rookie pilots defy bone-chilling temperatures to fly cargo and passengers through blizzards, breakdowns, and transatlantic journeys. It is an impossible job in a merciless place.

Yellowknife is one of the best places in the world from which to view the “Northern Lights” (Author’s collection)

Every pilot starts at the bottom — as a “rampie.” They work the ramp in minus 10 degrees Celsius, and if they have what it takes, they will eventually sit in the right seat of a DC-3, and sometime in the future they will move to the left seat.

The climate demands courage, character and mental toughness. The pilots of Buffalo Airways have those traits, if they don’t, they leave. Mc Bryan says they have about a 95 percent pilot turnover rate.

The real meat and potatoes of the Buffalo Airways business is the freight. Three DC-3s are reserved for passenger service, and the others for freight. Depending on the load, they may use a DC-3 or a DC-4.

The trip in a DC-3 in Canada’s North West Territory is one filled with moving rivers of ice called glacier’s that are hundreds of miles long. These glaciers present jagged ice which is impossible to land on without destroying the aircraft. (Henry M. Holden)

Grocery stores and other merchants depend on Buffalo Airways to get supplies to them all year long, and winter is the biggest challenge.

They have hauled everything from dogsleds and dogs to the Stanley Cup, ice hockey’s top prize. The challenge has been and always will be the weather. In winter, temperatures can go to -40 degree, Celsius and winds can gust to 40 mph, and there is a lot of snow

Each spring, the mile-long ice bridge over the Mackenzie River breaks up and flows out to the Beauford Sea, severing the only “road” leading from southern Canada to Yellowknife. For more than four weeks, and another month each autumn, the city of Yellowknife remains cut  off from the rest of the world. The only access to the city and its outlining settlements during those periods is by air and Buffalo Airways.

The pilots and passengers of Buffalo Airways may not think much about the fact that they are travelling in a virtual time machine .Its designers had no idea it would out last all of them, and it is still going 75 years later.

The area does not have permanent roads, and the only way people can be resupplied in winter is by Buffalo Airways. At some point during the winter, Yellowknife is literally cut off from civilization. The pilots of Buffalo Airways’ job is to bring food, fuel, medicines and freight from civilization to remote, isolated settlements around the Arctic Circle.

Reprinted with permission from World Airnews October 2010

 

Since publication of this piece in 2010, the ensuing years brought challenges to the company. On 30 November 2015, Transport Canada suspended Buffalo Airway’s Air Operator Certificate, citing the airline’s poor safety record. This prohibited Buffalo Airways from operating commercial air services, until it could prove that it can meet all safety regulations on a consistent basis. Service was maintained using chartered aircraft. On 12 January 2016, the license was reinstated. On 1 April 2019, on their website under Air Charters it said, “All scheduled passenger service has been temporarily postponed until further notice. Sorry for any inconvenience.”

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Departed Wings: Altair Airlines (AK)

Written by Jon Jamieson

                                  1966-1982                               Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Altair Airlines was established as a commuter carrier based at Philadelphia airport and started operations on November 4, 1966. Early service connected Philadelphia with Scranton, Harrisburg, and Allentown using the nine-passenger Beech Queenair aircraft. The name Altair, was curious and was derived from the bright star “Altairus” located in the constellation “Aquila” or Eagle for which the airlines logo was created.

One of the Beech 99s caught departing the ramp for another regional flight in 1971.

By 1970, Altair had expanded operations across to adjoining states, was serving twelve cities, and had acquired the Beech 99 turboprop. At times, facing competition from rival Allegheny Commuter in many of its markets, Altair was able to maintain profitability and service. With the watchful eye of the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), a new 32-seat limit was placed on commuter aircraft in 1972. Altair, in an effort to increase loads, looked to the French designed Nord 262 turboprop, with a capacity of twenty-seven seats to meet the CAB recommendation.

The French built Nord 262 served Altair through the late 1970s and is seen taxiing at Washington National Airport in 1981.

The first Nord 262 was delivered in 1975 and was used with the Beech 99s to continue flying over 100,000 passengers yearly. On the heels of deregulation in 1978, many airlines realized an opportunity to enter new markets and Altair was no exception. The airline placed an order for ten of the 74-seat Fokker F-28 jets with plans of route extension to Florida and the Eastern Seaboard.

The Fokker F-28 allowed Altair to expand to further markets including Florida. Parked on the ramp at Tampa International Airport in 1982, is N504.

The first F-28 “Starjet” service started on October 15, 1980 and routes expanded as far south as Tampa and Sarasota, Florida. After only a year in service and on the heels of the PATCO strike in 1981, Altair started to suffer financially. An attempt was made to establish a hub-and-spoke system from Philadelphia and Altair purchased three Douglas DC-9s from Air Canada for the service. Although the airline had become “pure-jet” by mid-1981, continuing financial loses as well as fierce completion with both Piedmont and USAir at Philadelphia, forced the privately held Altair into a downward spiral. With over $34 million in losses, the airline filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on November 9, 1982 and suspended all operations.

Still painted in the airlines colors, the Douglas DC-9 only saw service for a few months and is parked awaiting disposition at Philadelphia International Airport in early 1983.

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Musings from a Passenger’s Seat: Interesting Images from the Past

Written by Lester Anderson

IDL to IDL

On August 18 1962 two wonderful things occurred. One was Peter Paul and Mary released their first hit If I had a hammer (although I had nothing to do with that).  The other was my flight from Idlewild to Idlewild. It was on TWA and was called a “Flightseeing Tour”.  The cost was $5.00 and it was 45 minute flight around the New York Metropolitan area on a Boeing 720B.  In my case it was N795TW.  I recall there were multiple flights, but I remember my friends and I had the first one in the morning.

For those of us at a window it was a great photo opportunity but also since there were 2 other people in the row, you did not hog the window since most people on the airplane were just interesting in looking outside.  We were not one of the very few first on the plane who got to sit in the first rows (First class), but we got some great seats just behind the wing.   This is picture I took then had enlarged to 8×10 and had it on my bedroom wall for a few years.  As you can see it was a shot of a cloverleaf highway interchange, but we have so many in our area it could have been NY or NJ or Connecticut. I had wondered why part of the photo seemed blurred until I realized that the blur was because I was shooting thru the exhaust of the jet engine.

Newark Airport Spotting

In the mid 1970s there were two bridges that went from Route 1 on the west to the Port of Elizabeth on the east.  The wonderful thing about this for us “spotters” was that only one bridge was finished.  For reasons I have never found, the northern most bridge ended once it went over the NJ Turnpike.  No access to the port.  But the great thing was you could get on the bridge from the east and park.  And why was this wonderful?  You were just under the final approach to runway 4 at Newark Airport.  I found this and took a of great pictures and by the time I went back to the bridge for another photo session, was closed off (maybe to finish construction).    It was not just me on the bridge.  At least a dozen cars and trucks where there.  Workmen having their lunch while watching the landings.  Others just standing outside their cars observing this magnificent view. And a few of us snapping pictures.   Two regrets I have—as I was driving down to the airport, I head on the news that the president had just landed at Newark, so I missed seeing and photographing Air Force One by about 20 minutes.  The other was my ignorance of film.  I normally shot high speed color (400 speed) negatives.  I now understand more about grain and clarity of photographs, and wish I had a finer grain film since I was shooting in daylight and could have easily shot with a slower film. But in those days my  largest view of the photos was a 8×10 print, and unless you looked with a magnifying glass, you did not really see that much grain.  Here are a few of the shots of that day.

A sad note–today, you cannot take pictures without getting in trouble – even from the parking lots at the NY airports.  And I am sure today someone taking a photo at a time the President’s plane was landing would cause a major alarm to ring somewhere in the security system.

Delta in First

In 1976 I was teaching and volunteered to attend a teacher’s convention in Miami.  Since my aunt and uncle lived in Winter Haven Florida, I went down early to visit them, and probably more interesting, visit Kennedy Space Center.   Since I had an allowance for flight cost, I decided that I wanted to take some pictures from the front of the wing of a four engine jet.  At that time Delta flew DC-8s and I was able to book a flight with a connection in ATL that gave me a First Class seat ATL-MCO.  (As a side note, MCO – Orlando -has that code because the airport was originally McCoy Air Force Base.  And in 1976 there were still a number of military planes there and not nearly as many civilian airplanes coming into a fairly small terminal.

I called Delta to make the reservation once I had researched what I wanted in flights and hoped for in fares.  (Back in those days you actually called the airline and spoke to a company reservations agent).  I don’t recall if there was seat selection, but I did say I wanted to try to make sure I got a window because  of the photos I wanted to take.  I remember being asked if I was a professional photographer and I honestly replied no (even though I did have a MA in Media).  I do wonder if I might have gotten a few extra benefits if I had said yes.

These photos are nothing specifically of significance, but they were enjoyable to take and look at over the years.  My wife has always said of my vacation photos, that at least 50% of the pictures were of the exterior of the planes we flew on, or the wings as we were flying.  And (while I would disagree) she would say that a wing was a wing and why did I need to take a photo of each one.  But I did.

Apollo 18 Saturn V

As you can see from the VAB photo, it was the bicentennial with that logo on the building as well as the flag.  The visit was very enjoyable for many reasons.  The company contracted to provide the bus tours of the Kennedy Space Center was TWA, and the busses were so marked, so I can validly claim I was on a TWA bus.  I have many photos of the early space efforts, but the most impressive thing was what was promoted as the only $110,000,000 (110 Million Dollar) museum exhibit.  A real Saturn V launch vehicle.  When the then planned and scheduled Apollo 18 and 19 flights were cancelled, they had the launch rockets built and delivered.  At Kennedy Space Center, they put it on display, on the ground, so you could get a really close up view of the magnificent machine.  And take detailed pictures that the average aviation/space enthusiast could only have dreamed of in those days of the past where we all viewed every launch with excitement.

You had to stand back to get the “tail–on” photo of the 5 first stage engines, since each engine had a diameter of 12.2 feet.  Looking at the photo I am surprised I was able to get back far enough.  The rest of the rocket was just as interesting.  Looking at the plumbing and control wiring on the second and third stages gave me an amazement of the engineer designing something that complex and designing it to survive the rigors of take off and operation in the vacuum of space.

The Saturn V was moved from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the launch pad by a mobile launch platform that transported the rocket and the launch tower.  It moved at 2 miles per hour, each tread weighed a ton, and the muffler (and there were 2) was the size of a Ford Pinto (a popular car at the time).   As I type this, I have just seen the IMAX film Apollo 11 and there is a scene where the Apollo 11 Saturn V is Seen (and heard)  being moved by this mobile launch platform.

Today at Kennedy Space Center. the Saturn V is today in its own building suspended about 30 feet above the visitors.  It is magnificent to look at.  But I really appreciate the ability to look and photograph it close up back in 1976.  As a side note, when they put out the display, to see all the components the “rings” that closed the spaces between the stages were not there.  On my visit 2 years ago, I asked about it since they are not part of the current display and the guides said that no one know what happed to those pieces. There is another Saturn V at the Houston Space Center.  I have not had the honor of visiting that but I think it would be interesting to compare the two exhibits today.

Miami

And since all good things must come to an end, I did leave Winter Haven to go to the convention in Miami.  And to keep everything in the transportation loop universal, here is a photo of the Amtrak train that took me from Winter Haven to Miami.

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BOAC and How It All Began for Me

Written by Shea Oakley

 

On June 15th, 1968 my parents boarded a BOAC Super VC-10 for a trip from Kennedy International to Bermuda. I was with them, and four months old at the time. The aircraft registration was G-ASGJ, the same airplane that appears briefly in this old commercial (along with the bulkhead-mounted BOAC bassinet in which they kept me throughout the two-hour flight to “BDA”)

You might be wondering how I know the exact ship which was involved in jetting us to that charming British isle nearly 50 years ago. The answer comes in the form of a little tan package offered to my father on board the flight. Inside it was a small set of metal wings, a description of the Super VC-10 and, most important of all, a slim 4 X 6 inch hard cover booklet. It was Navy Blue with gold lettering on the cover which read “BOAC JUNIOR JET CLUB LOG BOOK.” My dad filled out our contact information on the inside of that cover under my name and handed it to the stewardess. She then conveyed it to the “flight deck” (the VC-10 was far too regal an aircraft to describe that area as a “cockpit”) where the captain filled in a horizontal line of 6 small boxes describing details of the flight. In the 7th box he signed his name.

My father had no way of knowing it at the time, but by taking that package on an early summer day in 1968 he was launching his son’s lifelong love affair with commercial aviation.

Once I was old enough to hand my little log book to the flight attendant myself I was often invited up to the cockpit of whatever airliner we happened to be flying to present it to the captain personally. You might imagine what that meant to young boy. I was hooked very early on (as attested by a Polaroid I still have showing me at 22 months old holding a friction-powered toy Eastern 727 model high above our pantry floor.)

I went through four of those BOAC, and later British Airways, log books through age 16 and then shifted to a generic passenger log book when I felt I was no longer a “junior” anything. I still maintain one in fact. This means I have logged virtually every commercial flight I’ve been on in the past half-century. These books are probably my most cherished physical possessions. I don’t mind admitting that I keep them in a fireproof box at home.

Today I am a trained aviation manager and the director of an aviation museum. I’m deeply involved in the airline/airliner enthusiast community as well. Commercial flight, and everything it encompasses, has become both a passion and a vocation for me. I literally thank God that my dad (who passed away in 2005) thought the Junior Jet Club might be something neat in which to involve his infant son.

In my life since that day, at least as far as aviation goes, it has made all the difference.

(First published on NYCaviation.com)

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