Author Archive

On Time, On the Hour, and On the Money

Written by Shea Oakley

If you are an older traveler and airline enthusiast living along the so-called “Northeast Corridor” of the U.S. it is likely you have a story about the Air-Shuttle. When I use the term “Air-Shuttle” I’m not referring to those run today by Delta or American. For me this reference has always been synonymous with Eastern Air Lines, the airline that started the whole concept of an hourly guaranteed seat service between New York-La Guardia, and both Boston-Logan and Washington-National airports. The airline that “threw in the towel” only after over a quarter-century of dominance on those routes, and that only two years before its own demise as a pioneering American air carrier. At the time of the Shuttle’s sale to Donald Trump in 1989 there was perhaps no greater symbol of the decline of a once great company than its loss.

I am one of those “avgeek” denizens of the Northeast who has a few personal recollections of the Eastern Air-Shuttle to share.

Sorry, no tales about eventful LGA-DCA Connie flights through summer thunderstorms. The last back-up L-1049’s were retired less than a week after my birth in February 1968. The retirement took place on St. Valentine’s day that year and EAL had a brilliant advertising tagline touting the advent of all jet-powered service: “On Valentine’s day You can Kiss Connie Goodbye.” I do, however, have a Lockheed Electra story. It was July of 1977 and my dad and I were returning to our home in New Jersey from a whale-watching trip in Nova Scotia. At Logan we hoped to catch what I believe was the last La Guardia-bound Shuttle that night. I remember gazing at two aircraft from the concourse windows of Eastern’s exclusive terminal building at that airport. One of them was a newly stripped to bare metal DC-9-31. Beyond it, gloriously lit by airport floodlights, was a white EAL airplane with four turboprop engines incorporating the largest propeller blades I had ever seen. Apparently the load looked heavy that evening so Eastern, true to its perennial Air-Shuttle guaranteed seat policy, had trundled out the old bird (one of several still being used for back-up sections only). I was nine years-old and more than a little excited. The Electra looked so exotic to this child of the “Jet Age” and I wanted that ride so dearly that I could taste it. Alas, it was not to be. We were all accommodated on the ‘Nine and as we pushed back my dream plane sat there, forlornly alone on the ramp. Three months later the airline retired its last Electra’s, thus crushing my hope of ever having such an opportunity again. At age nine you don’t tell your parents you are heading out to the airport and catching every Air-Shuttle flight until you manage a ride on a Lockheed 188.

One day in 1981 I boarded flight 18256, once again from Boston to New York. My logbook confirms it was a Boeing 727, and my strong recollection was that it also was a 727-100, the airplane possibly was an equipment sub for the Shuttle-dedicated 727-200’s on strength at the time. The interior (and the “flight dynamics” that day) seemed to me a bit rough around the edges, generally projecting an aura of the aircraft in question having been perhaps an early, 1964-era, build “Three-Holer”. That said, the flight was on time and the service as good as the Shuttle framework allowed. It is interesting to me that some of those very early 727-100’s were still wearing the distinctive EAL “Falcon” logo while flying late into the 1980’s.

My last Shuttle trip was just before I left home to get an aviation management degree at college. I wanted my father, with whom I had enjoyed many trips in earlier years, to accompany me on one last journey before I “left the nest,” so to speak. Having decided on a day together in Washington D.C., we were on the first LGA-DCA flight that morning. This was during the late summer of 1986 and Eastern was in the process of renovating all of its Shuttle terminals. The recent Texas Air buyout struggle (which would ultimately lead to the ignominious end of EAL) seemed very far away as the smells and sounds of construction filled its section of National Airport when we deplaned that day. I remember that the 727 stretch back to La Guardia said “Air-Shuttle Plus” on the forward fuselage. This was part of a leftover marketing effort to become more competitive with the New York Air shuttle which had attained to a fairly large chunk of the market at Eastern’s expense. New York Air ironically had also belonged to Frank Lorenzo’s short-lived airline empire along with the airline that “earned its wings every day.”

Today if I want to head North to Boston or South to our nation’s capital there is, of course, no Eastern Air-Shuttle to fly. There is little doubt in my mind that American or Delta’s contemporary shuttle operation will get me there with reasonable dispatch and bearable service. But they are still imitators as far as I am concerned. When someone uses the term “Air-Shuttle” I will always only remember the one that was “On Time, On the Hour, and On the Money.”

Note: All photos sourced from Wikipedia.com and WikiCommons

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A few more European carriers

Written by Charlie Dolan

Some very old and established carriers, operating under their original names , and several very small, short-lived charter carriers which had interesting insignia.

Iberia         IB        IBE        1927 – present   (two versions, metal and cloth)


KLM    Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij, N.V.
KL     KLM     1919 – present

Lion’s Air  (Switzerland)   1986 – present
Small charter carrier

L O T   Polskie Linie Lotnicze  LOT
LO   LOT   1929  – present

Martinair Holland     MP      MPH    1958 – present
Since 2011 a purely cargo airline, had been a large charter carrier

Martin’s Air Charter  – MAC  1958 – 1966

SUDFLUG    Suddeutsche Fluggesellschaft   1952 – 1968  (to Condor)

TASSA    Trabajeros Aereos del Sahara, S.A.   1961 – 1965 DC-6
Holiday charters

Transavia Holland  HV   TRA    1966 – present

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A Virtual Return to Europe

Written by Charlie Dolan

Over the years, my career has been dealing with international travel or shipping. I began on the border with Canada processing passengers and cargo entering the United States from Canada. Overtime assignments at Niagara Falls International Airport (KIAG) widened my horizons dealing with flights arriving from Europe and the Caribbean. I wish I had started my collection back in those days.

Until our twenty-fifth anniversary, my wife and I had limited our vacation travels to the United States, primarily in the northeast, visiting friends and relatives (VFR?). The big “escape” was when, on our honeymoon (and my reporting to my first duty station) we made a trip from Buffalo, NY to Vero Beach, FL to introduce my new bride to my grandmother. On the way to reporting to Fort Gordon, GA, I dropped Karen off at Jacksonville, FL (KJAX) so she could return to Buffalo and finish her last semester at Buffalo State College.

Fast forward twenty-five years and we began our water borne vacations. I had arranged a week in Bermuda shortly after Karen’s mother had passed away, flying both ways, but she indicated that a flying anniversary was not to be sufficient. Her sights were set on a cruise. To be honest, up to that point, my familiarity with ships had been limited to engine rooms, chain lockers and cargo holds. I was not thrilled with the idea of spending a week on board of a seagoing vessel.

Long story short, Karen prevailed and we became avid cruisers. We have fifteen deep-water cruises (one around the world) under our belts, and had just

discovered River Cruises. Last year we travelled from Vienna to Nuremberg on a river cruise and had a wonderful time.

Before the pandemic shut down the world, we had scheduled a cruise from Amsterdam to Vienna followed by a three-day stay in Prague. Naturally, we cancelled, but we still have a deposit on file for whenever the world gets back to “normal”, whatever that may be.

With that in mind, I am featuring insignia from European carriers including those of The Netherlands, Austria and the Czech Republic.

I hope you enjoy them..

Austrian Airlines OS AUA 1957 – present

Crossair LX CRX 1978 – 2002

CSA Czech Airlines OK CSA 1923 – present
Czechoslovak State Airlines

LTU International LT LTU 1955 – 2009 – Lufttransport Union to Air Berlin

Luxair LG LGL 1962 – present (beautiful wing)

Olympic OA OAL 1957 – 2009

SABENA SN SAB 1923 – 2001 ~ Societe Anonyme Belge d’Explotation de la Navigation Aerienne

Shannon Air 1960s
A small Irish charter airline utilizing DC- 6s and 7s

T A P Air Portugal TP TAP 1945 – present

SWISSAIR SR SWR 1931 – 2002

TEA HE TEA 1971 – 1991 – Trans European Airways (Belgium)

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Off to Europe

Written by Charlie Dolan

I think I goofed with my last submission. It seems that I referenced several carriers, which I had featured in an earlier article. To avoid another such error, I have moved to an entirely different area of our planet.  So, moving north and east, across an ocean, I will display a first article featuring the airlines of Europe.

I hope you enjoy them. Some were early carriers, some were small and short-lived and others have a long and storied history.

Aer Lingus – Irish International Airlines
EI – EIN  1936 – present

Aer Turas 1962 – 2003

Air France
AF – AFR  1933 – present

Air Holland        HD – HLN
1985 – 2004

Air Malta           KM – AMC
1973 – present

Alisarda (Italy) IG – ISS
1966 – 1991

Alitalia               AZ – AZA
1946 – present

Calair (Germany)  charter operator
1970 – 1972

Cargolux   CV – CLK
1970 – present

German Wings  4U – GWI
1997 – 2020

 

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Musings from a Passenger’s Seatback Pocket IV

Aircraft Safety Cards
Jet Aircraft – Part 2
Eastern

Written by Lester Anderson

Eastern

As I explained in a Propeller Aircraft Safety Card Article, Eastern was my favorite airline. Part of the reason was because when they first opened airline clubs to the general public for a fee, I was an early participant in being a member. That started with a one-year membership paid to upgrade to a 5-year membership and finally to a lifetime membership, all within a 12-month period. Business travel without a membership in an airline club to confirm and change flights (or rebook due to a flight cancellation) can be a nightmare. I paid considerably more (but it was worth it) for memberships in the Delta Crown Room Club and the United Red Carpet Club during my peak business travel years.  I am very grateful my Eastern Ionosphere Club membership evolved into a Continental Presidents Club membership, and now is a United Club membership.

But back to Eastern, the fact that I am in the NY metro area and my personal and business travel was often on the east coast, Eastern was a natural.

My collection probably had more Eastern safety cards, most all removed from aircraft on which I flew.

The Eastern 720 emergency card is a little unusual because it is more a “what to do in case of a water landing” card rather than a general “on land” emergency card. This card most probably came from a “gate visit” at Idlewild (Kennedy) airport.

I flew many an Eastern DC-9, mainly to and from Atlanta. I was one of the people who really enjoyed the 3-2 seating in economy.

 

This 727 card, dated 6/65 is an early version for Eastern. I flew on one about a year after the “Whisperjet” introduction, and I remember the mid-cabin galley. I also remember sitting across from it and being amazed that instead of the little bottles of liquor, there were full size bottles mounted on the cabin wall, with an automatic dispenser of one portion for each drink. That has nothing to do with flying directly, but one of those things that were of interest at the time and that I remember from my youth.

While I enjoyed the memories of these cards (and the many flights on which I flew), it also brought up some mysteries for me. My favorite Eastern aircraft was the L-1011, on which I flew many times. Yet I have no card.  Nor do I have one for the L-1011 on Delta on which I also frequently flew (alas, I flew neither TWA or Pan Am TriStars). I cannot believe I did not take at least one, but they are nowhere to be found. I also think of the many New York Air MD-80 flights I took, and the Delta DC-8 flights that have great memories, but no cards. Maybe there is a black hole that remotely collects cards that are marked “Please Do Not Remove This Card From The Aircraft” – which might explain it all.

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Musings from a Passenger’s Seatback Pocket III

Aircraft Safety Cards and Seating Diagrams
Propeller Aircraft – Part 2
Eastern; Continental; United; BOAC

Written by Lester Anderson

Jet Aircraft – Part 1
United; TWA; Mohawk; American

For those of you who have not yet seen the Prop Aircraft articles on safety cards, these images are from cards I collected since the 1960s. Some from aircraft on which I actually flew. Some from being a teenager interested in airplanes and asking a gate agent if I could go on board to look at the airplane. In those days, security was minimal and if you asked nicely, you were usually given permission.

All the images seen in these articles are from a collection donated to the Aviation Hall of Fame and Museum of New Jersey. Since both I and the museum have the images, at my suggestion the museum (always in need of money) sold them on eBay and added about $3,500 to its financial resources. I bring this up because as I write this, the Aviation Hall of Fame, and virtually every other museum and cultural organization is suffering from the worst financial disaster in history with the Corona Virus. May I humbly recommend that if you enjoy these articles, please contribute to the charity of your choice.

United

My first airplane flight was from LGA to PHL on a Northeast DC-6B. The return flight was PHL to EWR on a United Caravelle. And just as they say about your first love, the Caravelle has a special place in my heart. (As an item of trivia, although this “seat card” was a mere piece of paper, neither card stock nor laminated, it brought into the museum the highest price of any of the seat cards, $420)

The Early Boeing 720 Emergency cards were also single sheets of paper, neither card stock nor laminated. Note that although a swept wing jet, the over wing window exits still used a rope for egress.

TWA

I am very happy I had in my collection a TWA Convair 880 emergency card. The Aviation Hall of Fame has a former TWA Convair 880 cockpit, galley, and part of the first-class cabin on display and now they have an authentic TWA emergency card as well.

 

 

Mohawk

This BAC One-Eleven I flew on (on a “weekends unlimited excursion”) from Albany to Newark. I am told that the flight crew referred to the BAC-111 as a “roman candle” because although it had engines in the back, the only door exits in the entire aircraft were at the front of the cabin.

American Airlines

I only flew a 720 once, and that was a 45 minute “flightseeing tour” on TWA for a fare of $5 from Idlewild airport. These cards came from a gate visit or possibly from a weekend open house at Newark Airport.

Stay tuned for the next (and last) chapter of these cards—devoted to some of the jets of Eastern Airlines.
Lester Anderson

 

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Musings from a Passenger’s Seatback Pocket II

Aircraft Safety Cards and Seating Charts
Propeller Aircraft – Part 2
Eastern; Continental; United; BOAC

Written by Lester Anderson

Eastern

I admit without any hesitation that Eastern was my favorite airline. Part of that was due to the fact that when they first opened airline clubs to the general public for a fee, around 1974, I was an early participant in being a member. I started with a one-year membership ($25) then was upgraded to a 5-year membership ($99 more) then to a lifetime membership, ($300 more) all within a 12-month period. The fact that I live in the NY metro area and that my personal and business travel was often on the east coast made Eastern a natural in terms of flight frequency, and also gave me the advantage of being able to stop in an Ionosphere Club, often at both origin and destination airports.

Continental

This Continental seating chart is most probably a ticket counter advertisement as opposed to an in-aircraft safety card (because it does not show emergency exit locations or operation).

 

United

Another major player at Newark (although not nearly what they are today) was United. I did fly on the United Vickers Viscount. The thing I remember most about the flight, other than it was a great one) was I could sit over the wings and see the operation of the props.  The engines run at a constant rotation in flight, with the forward thrust controlled by the pitch or angle of the propeller blade.  On the United Viscount, there were markings on the prop and the hub of the propeller and you could see visually (as well hear and feel) as the plane react to the  pilot’s commands for more or less (or reverse) thrust.

 

Newark airport, which had a great observation deck, was an ideal spot to look at the Viscounts, the D-6’s and DC-7’s that were still very much in use (for shorter flights) from Newark Airport. If I recall, most of the EWR flights that were coast to coast were one stop or more.  Nonstop flights were mainly from Idlewild (later JFK).

 

BOAC

This came from a travel agent.  About 3 miles from my house was an accommodating travel agency who would give me a copy of the old Official Airline Guide every so often.  I believe the OAG came out twice a month and were (for those who remember phone books) about the size of a major city phone book.  It fit nicely in my bicycle basket and gave me great reading pleasure.

If I recall this was a promotional brochure from BOAC that the travel agency gave out.  My guess is they knew I liked airplanes (I was getting the OAG) so they put this aside for me.

I never flew a Britannia, but I did see them from the International Arrivals Building observation deck at Idlewild, in New York.

Because of my interest in airplanes, while working at my college radio station, I put myself on PR lists for any airlines I could.  I recall getting a release about a charity event that BOAC was sponsoring.  The thing I recall was a stern message to the radio stations that the airline was to be called B O A C (four letters) not a called a word formed by the letters (pronounced like “Bowack”).

 


I hope you enjoyed this Prop series of articles.   The next series of articles consist of Jet aircraft.  
Lester Anderson

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Musings from a Passenger’s Seatback Pocket I

Aircraft Safety Cards
Propeller Aircraft – Part 1
Northeast; Mohawk; American; Braniff; Northwest; TWA

Written by Lester Anderson

There are many people (often politicians) who seek forgiveness for past actions calling them “youthful indiscretions.” I seek such absolution for my activities starting in the 1960’s, not for sex or drugs (or rock and roll), but because my youthful indiscretion is that, whenever I could, I would take (I prefer “borrow” to steal) the emergency card from an airplane.

Many of the cards in this image collection are from aircraft I flew. But back in the more innocent 60’s, as a teenager interested in airplanes, you could go to a gate and ask the gate agent if you could board the aircraft to “take a look around.” Permission was usually granted. Pan Am was the most careful—they let you on board but gave you a protective covering for your shoes so you would not get their carpeting dirty. There were also “airport days” at Newark Airport where, on a weekend Saturday, families could go onboard aircraft and tour them because in that decade not a lot of people traveled on airplanes for pleasure. It was often a mainly business travel experience.

This is the first of a series of articles which display the cards. I hope you enjoy them.

NOTE: For those of you younger than I am (and many probably are), note that in the days of propeller powered aircraft, and a few early jets, the over wing exits did not have a slide—they had a rope  The emergency card told you where to find and how to release the rope so you could climb down.  And unlike today’s safety videos that explain how to put oxygen masks on children, there is no mention on how to get a child down the rope for an emergency exit!

Northeast

My first airplane flight was on a Northeast DC-6B. It had the kind of emergency card I treasured because it had the seating chart for the aircraft clearly displayed. Note that this card (like many others) were two sided, with English on the front and the identical information in Spanish on the back.

Mohawk

Since my home base was NYC and Newark was the closest airport I saw a lot of Mohawk activity.  Plus they had a “weekends unlimited” fare of $25 to take as many flights as you could cram into a weekend (which two friends and I did).

American

These were most probably from a weekend open house at Newark Airport.  American was a prominent carrier there and displayed many aircraft for those wonderful family walk through days.

 

Braniff

I did not fly on this Braniff airplane, but I “took Braniff to school” every day.  Each airline sold flight bags at the ticket counter at Newark, and the Braniff one was the ideal shape to fit school books plus a loose leaf notebook—so Braniff served me well to carry books through junior and senior high (and it fit in the school locker nicely).

 

Northwest

My first trip to Newark Airport was in 1961 to pick up my grandmother who flew in from Minneapolis on a Northwest Orient DC-7C.  She lived in Brainerd, so she bought her ticket at the North Central ticket counter in the Brainerd airport.  I have the ticket passenger coupon and that flight cost her $53.95 plus tax. The seat card came later from asking to tour the plane at the gate.

Another frequent sight at Newark was the Northwest Electra.  This was the time just after the upgrade of the Electra to fix the whirl-mode accident problem.  Northwest called the aircraft Electra II.  Eastern called them the Super Electra. (That card is the next article)

TWA

An aircraft I actually flew was a TWA 749 which had a combined seat card with the Super-G Constellation.

 

I hope you enjoyed either bringing back old memories or creating new ones with these cards.
Lester Anderson

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Warmer Climes

Written by Charlie Dolan

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

Air Jamaica JM AJM 1968 – 2015

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

Belize Airways Limited BAL 1977 – 1980

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

BWIA BW BWA 1939 – 2006

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

Cayman Airways KX CAY 1968 – present

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

CUBANA CU CUB 1930 – present

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

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

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

LANICA Lineas Aereas de Nicaragua NI 1946 – 1981

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

 

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

Written by Lester Anderson

[All photography from Wikimedia Commons.]

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

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

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

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

The East:

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

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

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

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

The South:

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

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

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

The Grand Hyatt at DFW Terminal D

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

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

The Midwest:

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

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

The West:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

International:

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

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

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

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

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

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

All photography from From Wikimedia Commons.

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