AI2024,Airliners International,Kansas City,Kansas City Municipal Airport,KCI,MKC,New Kansas City Terminal


By Marvin G. Goldman

The first airport in the Kansas City, MO metropolitan area was Richards Field which opened in 1922 at the border between Kansas City and Raytown, MO. It had limited commercial airline passenger service and was mainly utilized for air mail and military purposes.

As Richards Field proved inadequate for expanding commercial airline passenger operations, Kansas City built in 1927 a new airport in a sharp bend along the Missouri River close to downtown. Initially called “New Richards Airport,” its name soon became “Kansas City Municipal Airport” and was sometimes referred to as the “Downtown Airport.” The new airport received airport code “MKC,” presumably taken from “Municipal Kansas City.” A modern passenger terminal opened at this new airport in December

Another airport, called Fairfax Airport, was also established in the 1920s, located across the river from the Kansas City Municipal Airport. Some commercial airline flights operated from Fairfax in the late 1920s and into the 1930s, but it was mainly used for industrial purposes.

Kansas City Municipal Airport (MKC)

Aerial view showing Kansas City Municipal Airport (MKC) and its four runways at a sharp bend of the Missouri River with downtown Kansas City in the foreground. Fairfax Airport is on the other side of the river. Airline Issue by United Air Lines, no. 201, probably early 1930s. The scene on this postcard also appears in a colorized version published by Max Bernstein, Kansas City.
Passenger terminal at MKC that opened in December 1929, showing on the ramp Transcontinental Air Transport (T-A-T) Ford Trimotor 5-AT-5, NC9607.
Publisher (‘Pub’r’) Max Bernstein, no. 33548.
Upper view: Western Air Express Fokker F32, NC334N, at MKC;
Lower view: Administration building at Fairfax Airport across the river from MKC.
Linen finish card.
Pub’r Max Bernstein, Curteich no. 2A-H1029, 1932.

In October 1930 Transcontinental Air Transport, Western Air Express, and three other airlines merged to form Transcontinental and Western Air, later named TWA (Trans World Airlines). TWA established its headquarters in Kansas City and became the most prominent airline at MKC. It also established its maintenance and overhaul base nearby across the river at Fairfax Airport.

TWA Douglas DC-3 at MKC. Pub’r Max Bernstein, Curteich no. 2B-H1307, linen finish, 1942.
Night view at MKC with three TWA Douglas DC-3s. Pub’r Max Bernstein, Curteich no. 2B-H1308, linen finish, 1942.

The next most prominent airline at MKC after TWA was Mid-Continent Airlines, originally formed under the name Hanford Airlines in 1936. In 1938 the airline changed its name to Mid-Continent and moved its company headquarters to Kansas City’s Fairfax Airport. Mid-Continent merged into Braniff International Airways in 1952.

Mid-Continent Airlines Douglas DC-3 at MKC. Pub’r Max Bernstein, Curteich no. 7B- H400, linen finish, 1947.
American Airlines DC-3 at MKC. Pub’r R. B. Harness Greeting Card Co., Kansas City, no. 31716N.
Entrance to passenger terminal at MKC, late 1940s. Pub’r J. E. Tetirick, Kansas City, no. JT-3, ‘Mirro-Krome’ Card by H. S. Crocker Co., San Francisco, CA.
TWA Constellation at MKC, 1950s. Pub’r Smith Sales Co., Kansas City, no. 30384.
By 1955 TWA’s ramp area at MKC was crowded as seen in this group of TWA Lockheed Constellations and Martin aircraft. Pub’r Kansas Distributing Co., Junction City, Kansas, no. KC-8.
Braniff International Airways Lockheed L-049A Constellation, N2521B, at MKC, 1957. Pub’r Air Pictorial International, no. API 058. Braniff was another airline with a long history of service to Kansas City. The airline operated until 1982.
Braniff International Airways Convair 440-0, N3437, at MKC, October 1963.
Pub’r j j Postcards for Airliners International 2007 MCI, no. 1; Bob Woodling photo.
Frontier Airlines (the original Frontier) Douglas DC-3, N65276, and Central Airlines DC-3, N88794, at MKC, June 1962. Pub’r j j Postcards for Airliners International 2007 MCI, no. 5; Bob Woodling photo.
The original Frontier Airlines and Central served Kansas City for many years. Frontier purchased Central in 1967 and ceased operations in 1986.
A new airline using the same “Frontier Airlines” name was founded in 1994.
Continental Airlines Viscount 812 at MKC, April 1963.
Pub’r j j Postcards for Airliners International 2007 MCI, no. 2; Bob Woodling photo.
Continental operated from 1934 to 2012 when it merged into United Airlines.
Its first regularly scheduled service to Kansas City was in 1946.
TWA Boeing 707-331, N765TW, landing at MKC, January 1963.
Pub’r j j Postcards for Airliners International 2007 MCI, no. 7; Bob Woodling photo.
TWA eventually was acquired by American Airlines in 2012.

The Original “MCI” – Mid-Continent International Airport

In 1951 Kansas City suffered a great flood that severely damaged TWA’s maintenance and overhaul base and many other facilities at Fairfax Airport across the Missouri River from the downtown Kansas City Municipal Airport (MKC). Some facilities at MKC were also damaged. Moreover, the Kansas City, Missouri Municipality recognized that there was little room for any expansion of airline activity at the two airports. The Municipality started planning a new airport facility 15 miles (24 km.) northwest of downtown Kansas
City in Platte County, MO, away from the Missouri River.

The new airport opened in 1956. It was named Mid-Continent International Airport and received the IATA airport code MCI.

TWA moved its main overhaul base there, and Braniff established a hub at the new airport. However, the runways and terminals at each of MKC and MCI were too small to serve in the future as Kansas City’s main airport.

Most passengers still preferred to travel out of MKC because of its proximity to downtown. However, once jet aircraft started flying in and out of MKC, the jets had difficulty landing on the short runways, and taking off presented challenges because of the downtown skyscrapers. MKC was also congested. A 1963 report by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) described MKC as “one of the poorest major airports in the country for large jet aircraft” and asked that no more federal funds be disbursed for it.

The New MCI – Kansas City International Airport

As a result, Kansas City, with the encouragement of TWA, decided to convert the MCI site into a major, modern airport. This new airport, built on the MCI site and named Kansas City International Airport, was dedicated October 23, 1972 and officially opened for commercial service on November 11, 1973. The original IATA airport code MCI was retained for the new airport, so that’s how Kansas City International is MCI (rather than KCI).

After the new MCI opened, all airlines serving Kansas City moved their operations there, and Kansas City Municipal Airport (MKC) was converted to serve only general aviation. In October 1977 the name of Kansas City Municipal Airport was changed to Kansas City Downtown Airport, and the name was changed again in August 2002 to Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport (Wheeler was Kansas City’s mayor 1971-

Kansas City International Airport (MCI) aerial view, probably in the 1980s, showing its three novel circular terminals with openings adjacent to car parking areas for easy passenger access. MCI opened for commercial flights in November 1973, replacing MKC (Kansas City Municipal Airport) as Kansas City’s main airport.
Pub’r Paragon Products, Kansas City, no. 881784; Bob Cunningham photo.
Curbside entrance to one of the circular terminals of MCI, showing the proximity of the car parking area. From each entrance, it was only a very short walk to check-in and the desired gate.
Pub’r J. Tetirick, Kansas City, no. 621143; Bob Cunningham photo.
Frontier Airlines (the original Frontier in a later livery) Boeing 737-200, N7389F, at MCI on May 26, 1979, with the gate side of one of the circular terminals in the background.
Pub’r LeAllan Henneberg, Platte City, Missouri; Dan Donovan photo. Ex Allan Van Wickler collection.
Aerial view of MCI, in two similar but different postcards.
When the airport opened with three terminals, a fourth was contemplated as drawn here, but it was never built. The airport authorities also envisioned that SST supersonic aircraft would regularly use its mid-continent location, but that did not happen either. Here the postcard publisher apparently couldn’t decide the direction in which the ‘SST’ would land, so both directions were printed, each having the same postcard number.
Pub’r Holiday Productions, Independence, Missouri; printed by Dexter Press no. 60505-C.

New Terminal at MCI, 2023

With mandated new airport security procedures following the 9/11/2001 terror attacks, the design of MCI’s three circular terminals became increasingly inefficient because there was inadequate room and separation areas available for passenger security screening. Moreover, the other terminal facilities were becoming crowded and outdated.

In 2017 it was decided to build a single modern terminal to replace the three old terminals. The City broke ground on the project in March 2019. Old Terminal A was demolished to build the new terminal in its place. Terminals B and C continued in operation only until the opening of the new single terminal.

On February 28, 2023, the new $1.5 billion single terminal opened. Its spacious interior is filled with natural light, and features upgraded technology and amenities, beautiful local artwork, and convenient gate access. Security checkpoints have been consolidated into one area with flexible features. There are 40 gates and two concourses. Passageways and glass passenger boarding bridges provide expansive
views of the surrounding airfield. I do not have any postcards yet of the new MCI terminal, but it is featured in many photos, videos, and articles on the internet. For example, follow this link for photos by the architect.

NOTES: All postcards in this article are from the author’s collection. I estimate their rarity as follows: Uncommon: United Airlines aerial view of MKC; T-A-T Ford Trimotor at MKC; Mid-Continent Airlines DC-3 at MKC; group of TWA Constellations and Martins at MKC; and Frontier 737-200 at MCI. The rest are fairly common.

I hope to see you at Airliners International™ 2024 MCI, 26-29 June 2024, at the Hilton Kansas City Airport Hotel. You can see the outstanding new MCI terminal in person while attending the world’s largest airline history and collectibles show and convention, with nearly 200 vendor tables for buying, selling, and trading airline memorabilia (including postcards, of course), seminars, the annual meeting of the World Airline Historical Society, annual banquet, tours and more. Follow this link for more information:

Airliners International™ 2024 MCI will include an airline/airport postcard exhibit area. Please consider submitting an exhibit entry. Follow this this link for postcard entry guidelines.

Happy collecting. Marvin.

Continue Reading No Comments


The DC8 Discovery

By Phil Brooks

Note: All photos are courtesy of the author.

In the mid-1980s, Fred Erdman, from Springfield, OH, and one of the original World Airline Hobby Club members, told me there was a DC8 restaurant near the town of Hillsboro, OH. I flew over it (I don’t remember who the pilot was, but it wasn’t me) shortly after that in the spring of 1986, but it was several more years before I could visit it. It turns out the DC8 was actually northeast of Mowrystown, OH, but Hillsboro was used as a reference since it was the nearest town of any size. The actual location was at the intersection of US Hwy 62 and OH Route 321, where the two roads form a “Y”.

I told my friend Pete Crawford about it, and he learned there was an airstrip nearby. Pete got permission from Fred Kay, the strip’s owner, to land his flying club’s Cessna Cutlass there on January 3, 1988. We flew over from Eagle Creek Airpark (now KEYE) in Indianapolis.

Our party of three walked to the Highland South restaurant, and while I don’t remember eating a meal there, we did get access to the DC8, which was not in use at the time. I found this old newspaper article that mentions the owner had difficulty heating it, so it was mainly being used for private parties: follow this link to read the Cincinnati Enquirer DC8 article.

Fred recently told me that he carpeted his attic floor with the original Eastern blue carpet from the plane!

A shot looking at the interior of the ole DC8.
The flight deck with orange plush carpeting.
“Captain Phil” at the controls of the DC8 ready to fly you to your next dinner.
“Captain Phil” points out traffic to his “First Officer.”

The aircraft came south by road from the former Clinton County AFB in Wilmington, Ohio, where it was used as a “spares” source by Overseas National Airlines at their maintenance base, which is now Wilmington Air Park (ILN). 

The left (public) side was painted in different colors, maybe so it wouldn’t be confused with any specific airline. The “wings” were not original to the aircraft.

Here we see the left/port side of the DC8 with a red and blue cheatline.

It was far from any population center or major highway, so we were probably among the few airline enthusiasts to visit. Nice that they left the registration on the right side!  

The right/starboard side of DC8 shows the true heritage of its original owner, Eastern Airlines.

I wonder how long it lasted there, before being broken up? The restaurant still exists; it’s now called “The Old Y.”

Here are a few overhead shots of the DC8 Restaurant and “the Old Y.”

Yes, this was my sweet 1979 Oldsmobile Delta 88 with the “B707” vanity plate.  
The USAir window sticker was from my employer at the time.

Continue Reading 1 Comment

Airliners International,AirlinersInternational,aviation,collectibles show,Convention,WAHS

AI2023 Banquet Speech: David C. Powell & Connor McCauley

By David C. Powell

Editor’s Note: This speech was given by David Powell and Connor McCauley on June 24, 2023, at the annual Airliners International 2023-DFW Banquet.

Connor McCauley and I are here to talk about the appreciation we feel for the friendships that have resulted from these shows, beyond the models, barf bags and postcards and other items. What we’re here appreciating tonight is the part when all the fun talk about planes goes beyond that, to personal long-term friendships. 

Connor (L) and David (R) speak about the airline hobby and the other wonderful things and people involved in making this convention work.

Like so many of you, I’ve loved planes and trains since I can remember. My Dad would take me and my younger brother to Philadelphia (PHL) to see DC-8s Viscounts, Electras, 707s, CV 580s, 880s and Caravelles, some of which would disappear behind their own black exhausts until liftoff.

On my 10th birthday, my Dad took my brother and me on our first flights: a United DC-8 from Philadelphia to New York-JFK to take part in New York Airways helicopter rides. Our return was on the iconic TWA Connie from JFK back to PHL. 

When I was 14, Dad “volunteered” me to work in a travel agency where I hand-wrote tickets. I was mesmerized by the domestic and international OAG books.  I collected timetables, had and built models, hung posters on my walls all the while I was thinking, “yeah, ha, right…. me and about 20 other people in the world go for this kind of stuff.”

I discovered this hobby group at age 32 through a truly strange connection – an advertisement in, of all things, an ATP decal catalog that spoke of an airline show in Indianapolis, IN. I was working for Conrail and they transferred me to Indianapolis.

When I registered, this gentleman, Phil Brooks calls me and asked “How come we haven’t heard from you before? Are you new?” We met that day and went into the office where he worked at American Trans Air. That was July 1, 1987. I joined the local Indy group that Phil had started. 

Clint Groves, owner of ATP passed away a few years ago- but, I am grateful to him nonetheless, for placing that advertisement.  

That simple connection led to the mind-blowing event that followed: Phil was running the convention along with our great friend Art Smit-Roeters as his co-chairman, Art just passed at 92 in March 2023. 

The Indianapolis convention was attended by 770 similarly-minded folks!! Holy Cow. A whole new world had just opened up for me. I was beyond words, I was overwhelmed! Can anyone relate to this?

Phil was my first Airliners contact and we became fast friends. We decided to take a trip together. Our first trip was to Central America. We landed and took off from Tegucigalpa. In Guatemala City, we intended to ride a Convair 580 but it had a nose gear problem. Phil then sees this plane and says, “I don’t know where it’s going but we’re riding it!” It was an Aerovias Dart Herald! We rode it to Flores, Guatemala and back. We rode trains coast to coast in Costa Rica (for $3) Then on a regularly scheduled SANSA DC-3, once landing while standing up behind the pilots! We also rode a CASA 212 Aviocar. 

On an overnight at our hotel in San Jose, Costa Rica, in the middle of the night, I hear mumbling. I didn’t know where I was. Then Phil broke into “Britt Airways announces the departure of Flight 132 with service to Danville and Chicago. Please have your ticket out and available.” Well, at breakfast the next morning, I remembered this and asked Phil, “Did you ever work for Britt?”  Phil said, “I never told you that! How did you know?” I replied, “Because you made a boarding announcement in your sleep!” After much laughter, Phil said, “I did? NEAT!”

We then went to the Paris Air show, and he took me to the place where Charles Lindbergh stepped off his plane. 

We dipped our toes in the Arctic Ocean together at Tuktyoktuk and flew an Air North DC-3 pancake flight from Whitehorse to Fairbanks and then took the 12-hour train ride to Anchorage. 

We also flew on the the milk run aboard an Alaska 737-200Combi aircraft. 

We flew the world’s shortest scheduled commercial flight in the Orkney Islands together, only 2 minutes! 

It was his idea to use discounted Northwest miles to go to Sydney, Australia and return with a Honolulu stopover after a last-minute fuel stop in Noumea! 

Spent a weekend riding the US Air/Trump 727 Shuttles together. It all had been amazing.

My interest in trains had an effect on him for sure. What great times we have had together, a thousand wonderful and fun and funny memories. And a few absolutely astounding coincidences too! Thank you, Phil!

While at a mini-show with Phil in Atlanta in 1989, I met John Doan. We also became fast friends. I watched as he got hired by Eastern ATLRR in Atlanta and he would non-rev on DC-9s to visit me in Indianapolis.

I encouraged him to come to a Seattle show (we flew together on an Eastern A-300) and enter a model of his in the contest. He won a prize! We attended the show that featured Tex Johnson as the guest speaker. John was working the night EAL shut down.

We traveled to San Juan and flew on a Latin America Pass Frequent Flyer promo to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, as well as to Quito, Ecuador and Bogota, Colombia.

John has been a great friend. He would have been here but, he just moved to Vancouver. He still LOVES DC-9s and Super-80s. He even taught a parrot to say: “Dee-cee-Nine!”

Phil introduced me to Bill Demarest who was then living in my native Philadelphia area. Bill introduced me to Joe Crawford in Seattle in 1990. Joe had just missed the Hartford, CT show as he was attending Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach, FL. He was handing out car rental coupons he was too young to use, and somehow got a group of us into the Admiral’s Club!

Joe and I started taking trips with lots of segments on American Airlines where he had status. We went to Panama and Belize and flew the SANSA DC-3 and a Trilsander together in Costa Rica as well. We once went to Edinburgh via Miami, New Orleans, and Dallas/Ft. Worth for the weekend!

In 1994, Joe suggested doing an incredible offer made by Chart House restaurants. Spend $25 in food at all 65 of their restaurants and they buy you two round trip tickets. Our first dinner was at Atlanta AI. 

Joe busted his left knee skiing at Mammoth Mountain on one trip. 

A group of us celebrated our 65th dinner during the Phoenix AI show at the Scottsdale Chart House. It was a truly amazing and magical night!

Joe got a medical waiver that day (knee) and joined the Rhode Island National Guard to fly C-130s!  Unforgettable celebratory night that all came together.

For the reward trip, in 1995 we flew Delta- Singapore-Swissair to New York JFK, San Francisco, South Korea, Taiwan, then Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Airport, Singapore, Phuket, Katmandu, Delhi, Bombay, Cairo, Rome, Switzerland and many more. The whole voyage took 28 days. 

A group of us got together one night at the CR Smith Museum celebrating Joe’s million miler passage in style! Amazing stories and loads of adventures! Too many to tell. Joe and I once went to Saba and climbed to the top of that mountain to have a view. He even once rented a plane and he flew us down the Hudson River flyway and circled the Statue of Liberty, plugged in a CD player with singing Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York! It was followed by a canoe ride on the Delaware River. Still my best day ever!  

We took a LOT of really fun and really great trips together!! It all made life really worth living!!! 

Valuable friendships happen here. It has been fun supporting Joe and watching him rise from instructor pilot to Kalitta, US Airways, Japan Air Lines and now flying the A321NEO at Hawaiian. Joe, you have been an amazing friend for 33 Years! 

There were 5 of us doing the lucrative Star Alliance promo that brought us together in Istanbul to get on that required THAI flight which flew three times per week from Munich.

I attended Tom Livesey’s wedding.

I was pallbearer at Joe’s dad’s funeral. 

We always had excellent and fun times with Scott O’Leary, and watched him go from college student to Aeroplan executive.

We miss Art, Paul K., Joe Yeager, and Jon Proctor. Jon published my article in May ’97 on my MGM Grand DC-8 trip roundtrip flight. Jon was a great guy; I even stayed at his place a few times. 

I could go on and on with trips and shared life experiences and long-term good friendships that have meant so much to me and so many. 

I wanted to share this sampling of these amazing experiences with you because I realize that NONE of them would have transpired if it weren’t for Clint, Phil, and this organization. None of these experiences!

WAHS has been a game-changer for me and I’m sure many of you. I don’t wish to think about what life would have been like if I’d never matched up with anyone here. Too much fun I would have missed. So, I am just mighty grateful.

Kind of a life lesson here: one simple act of sharing and inviting others can make a big difference.

I also think it’s good to stop for a moment to recognize all the great folks, who have, for years, sacrificed their time and energy to keep this organization and shows going and serving to facilitate not only the fun of the shows, but the extra great secondary benefit of the valuable friendships and enhanced life experiences that result from shows like this one. I’ve heard more than once attendees say, “I mostly go to these to see my friends again.” 

Many of us, like Connor, can relate to the joy of entering our first big annual show. There are hardly words to describe it all. It’s like coming home. It’s a feeling of, yes, I belong here, surrounded by like-minded aviation enthusiasts. These shows lead to friendships. 

Last year, while waiting in the check-in line at the Chicago show, I met this young man, Connor. It was his first show ever. He’s from a small town in Oklahoma. He didn’t know any aviation buffs there, so he started making aviation YouTube videos at age 10 to share his enthusiasm and love of aviation. There are now more than 35,000 followers of Red River Aviation of his Instagram feed and Youtube channel. Here is the simple act of sharing in motion.

Connor and his travels so far.

As you can see, I love taking trips with folks; you really get to know someone that way. In January 2023, Connor and I rode Amtrak from Oklahoma City to Ft Worth. We then took a Boeing 787 Dreamliner to Miami, and a Delta 757-300 to Atlanta. We had a blast. You could hardly meet a smarter, more enthusiastic, joyful, and kinder person than Connor. We have more fun trips planned!

Connor and David on one of their many trips together!

And now, here is Connor to share a few words.

Connor thanks Bill, Chris, the board and all involved, how we met at Chicago, and ends by saying: “This Was the Best Week In My LIFE!”

Continue Reading No Comments

Inaugural,Jon Proctor,L-1011,TWA

My TWA Inaugural L-1011 Flight

By Dennis Danesi

Way back in July 1972, I was heading with my parents to Los Angeles to visit Disneyland. This was going to be my very first time flying on an airplane and I was thrilled to learn that we were flying aboard a TWA 747. I was already in love with aviation as my Dad would take me to Chicago O’Hare Airport all the time to see the planes and walk around the terminals (back when you could do that) and he would even ask a Pilot or Flight Attendant to take me onboard an airplane for a few minutes just to see the passenger cabin and cockpit.

However, as things usually go, we received a call from our Travel Agent telling us that we were no longer going to be flying on a 747. TWA put this new aircraft on the route and we were going to be on their inaugural L-1011 flight. I was NOT happy at all, what was this L-1011 thing and why can’t we fly a 747?!?!  

When we arrived at the airport that day, I remember the news media being there. On board, they gave us beach towels as a remembrance of this inaugural flight.

 An old Instamatic shot looking out the window of our TWA L1011.
A nose-in shot of the L1011 prior to our departure from Chicago O’Hare. 

I remember the Captain visiting the cabin and greeting passengers, including myself!!

Here is our Captain greeting me with a hearty handshake and smiles all around.
A quick peek into the flight deck and our Flight Engineer looks my way.
Looking forward in the passenger cabin from our seat vantage point. Note: the big screen for inflight entertainment.
Here is a neat view of the L1011’s wing.

Here is the crazy part, I have always wondered which TWA aircraft I was on for my first flight as a kid.

Fast forward to a couple of years ago.  I was starting a page on Facebook for Past US Aircraft and Liveries (US Airlines Past Liveries and Aircraft | Facebook) and was searching for photos. I came across the photo below and the caption Mr. Jon Proctor wrote. Needless to say, I was blown away.  My family and I were on that exact aircraft when Mr. Proctor took the photo so many years ago.  I only wish I had known sooner to share this with him.  His photos are amazing and I am glad that I found his site.

Editor’s Note:  This is why we at the World Airline Historical Society keep the late Jon Proctor’s website alive, for great stories such as this. Do you have a story to share about a memorable flight or an aviation collectible? We want to hear from you! Leave your comments/contact information below or send us an email. We regret we are unable to publish all submissions.

Continue Reading 1 Comment

History,Safety cards

HISTORY OF SAFETY CARDS, Part 5: Maturing (1970s-1980s)

By Fons Schaefers


In the previous issue, we saw that in the mid-1960s safety cards became mandatory. This caused a proliferation of safety cards and parties being involved in their design and production. It set in motion some trends and developments that shaped the appearance of safety cards until this day. Let’s review them.


The first trend was that, now that safety cards were mandatory, all airlines applied them. This included smaller airlines such as regional and air taxi operators which before did not have them. The USA led, but many other countries followed suit. A US example is Texas International Airlines, a local airline operating Convair 600s and DC-9s. It earned its “international” nomer because it flew across the border to Mexico. Its 1970 Convair 600 card has a mix of drawings and text, in English on one side and Spanish on the other. A revision of the card 2.5 years later is identical except for the evacuation slide. This is now of the inflatable kind, but who noticed?

Texas International Convair 600, dated May 1, 1970, front. Dec. 1972 revision.

An early example from Europe is a card for the Fokker F.27. Although it does not say so, this card was in use with NLM. That stands for Nederlandse Luchtvaartmaatschappij – Netherlands Airlines, which started in 1966 and was affiliated to KLM. Initially, it flew domestic routes only with two F.27s leased from the Royal Netherlands Air Force, but gradually expanded into a regional carrier. It exists today as KLM Cityhopper. The card reproduced was its first card and dates back to about 1970. Its design did not follow the style in use by KLM at the day. Rather, it was copied from a sample made by Fokker, the aircraft manufacturer. Text prevailed, in Dutch and English on the front side, German and French on the back. The title however was only in English – on both sides.

NLM Fokker F.27, c. 1970, front.

A trend that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s was leasing of aircraft between airlines. There are many varieties of leasing. For the safety card collector, the most interesting one is where there is a mix of features on it from both the lessee (the airline that leases in) and the lessor (the airline that leases out). An example is the Aeroflot Ilyushin 62 that was leased out to Air India in the late 1980s. For the passengers, it should have the look of Air India, hence the Air India logo. All text is in three languages: Hindi, English and Russian, except that the header has three more languages: German, Polish and Greek, probably a remnant from the Aeroflot example. Note the distances to the ground from exit sills. Only Russian cards have this useful information.

Air India Ilyushin IL-62, header on front, top portion of back.

Safety cards also found their way on non-commercial transport aircraft. An example is the Gulfstream 1 operated by Pittsburgh National Bank from 1983 to 1985. This aircraft sat less than 20 passengers so there was no cabin staff on board. The card explains where passengers can find the refreshments and that cockpit jump-seat rides are allowed!

Pittsburgh National Bank Gulfstream G-159, front and back.

In some countries the introduction of safety cards was delayed. In the UK it remained common well into the 1970s to have safety information included in the company’s in-flight magazine instead of having a separate safety briefing card. See the British Eagle sample in the previous part, and the exit diagrams for the Britannia and the ample-exited Viscount below.

British Eagle exit layouts Britannia (top) and Viscount (bottom), from in-flight magazine.

But when indeed a separate safety card was used in Britain, the American rule prohibiting mixing aircraft types with different exit layouts was not always followed. This mid-1970s Dan-Air card showed both the 727-100 and the 727-200. Although seemingly of the same length, the -100 was actually significantly shorter and had a different exit layout. Some of you probably spotted the error for the 727-100: side exits aft of the wing! These were only on the -200, weren’t they? Actually, this was not an error. In the early 1970s Dan-Air obtained short body 727s from Japan Airlines and converted them into a high-density seating layout. For that, two extra, opposite exits were required by the British Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).Below photo, courtesy of I Spashett, shows G-BAEF’sleft side with the new exit just added, awaiting painting in Dan-Air colours. Reportedly, they could sit 153 passengers, but I doubt whether that figure is correct. An already very cramped layout on Seating Plans – DAN AIR REMEMBERED shows 144 seats. Perhaps the 153 figure included the crew?

Dan-Air 727-100/-200 card, front (back side is blank).
Dan-Air Boeing 727-100, G-BAEF, early 1973. Photo by I. Spashett.

In China, aviation safety was not a priority until well into the 1990s. It was common for airliners not to have any safety card on board, or the wrong one, stowed away in a hat rack, as the author experienced in 1989 when flying on a CAAC Hawker Siddeley Trident but finding a CAAC BAe 146 card. Another airline that did not take safety cards too serious was Aviaction from Germany. One side of its card shows the bare minimum of safety features, the other side presents the destinations of this holiday charter airline and a beach lady in bare minimums as well, clad only in sunscreen. Aviaction flew three Fokker F.28s between February 1971 and October 1973.

Aviaction Fokker F.28 card, front.
Aviaction Fokker F.28 card, back.

Pictorials and Pictograms

Another trend, developing slowly, was that of pictures replacing text. Already in the 1950s, airlines started to add illustrations to their text-based safety leaflets. Still, even two decades later, there were many safety cards where text prevailed with illustrations in a supportive role only. Gradually, this reversed into the opposite. Pictures became primary and text became supporting. There were several reasons for that. One is the adage of “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Another is the multitude of languages. Whilst for domestic US airlines, English was the dominant language. Airlines that flew internationally used many more languages. This took up much space. As we saw in the previous part, Pan Am in 1969 translated all text in eight languages and needed a booklet for this. It bundled all the illustrations on one fold-out sheet so that passengers could consult it alongside the text. A third reason is that the power of illustrations was recognized by the authorities and became formally recommended, as we will see below.

An early reverser was Lufthansa. Its 1973 Boeing 737 card combines texts in six languages with photos.

Lufthansa 737 card, 1973, page 2 out of 4.

The next year they introduced an illustrations-only format. At the top of the card they added an index using pictograms. These pictograms were explained by text appearing in no fewer than 13 languages. See the Boeing 707 example, dated June 1974. Lufthansa thus became a trend-setter.

Lufthansa Boeing 707, 1974, page 2 out of 4.

Not only was the concept of pictograms copied by many others, but often also Lufthansa’s unique drawing style itself was copied. See for instance Hungarian’s airline Malev with its 1988 card for their new 737. Until then their fleet was dominated by Soviet types.

Malev Boeing 737, c. 1988, interior page.

Other airlines used the pictograms concept but developed their own presentation style, such as British Airways, formed in 1974 out of a merger between BOAC and BEA. See their card for the “Super 737” which was just a first generation 737-200. These pictograms were widely copied by other airlines.

British Airways Boeing Super 737, top of front.

Some small airlines continued to use text based cards. In July 1989 I flew on a TWA affiliate CASA 212 from New York JFK to Atlantic City to visit the FAA Technical Centre. It was a hot day and take-off queues were long. As an alternative to air conditioning, the captain lowered the aft ramp to make us more comfortable. Its safety card, which does not show the ramp as it is not an emergency exit, is reproduced. It lists Jet Express as the operator, even though this small TWA Express carrier never operated jets, only the CASA 212.

TWA Express (Jet Express) CASA 212, front and back.

Some airlines, like American, Northwest and United preferred photographs over drawings. In the majority of cases however drawings prevailed. They have the advantage that essential actions and features can be emphasized, and backgrounds can be omitted. Compare the window exit opening presentation on an American Airlines 727 card with that of National Airlines. Which one is clearer?

American Airlines 727-023, window exit panel.      National Airlines Super B 727, window exit panel.

Inflatables Innovation

Aircraft escape chutes were invented in 1947. Ten year later, the first inflatable slides appeared. Another ten years later, the first wide-bodies were being developed. These were, initially, the Boeing 747 (four engines), the Douglas DC-10 and Lockheed Tristar (both with three engines) and, from Europe, the twin-engined Airbus A300. These aircraft sat higher off the ground so their slides had to be taller. Exits over the wing led to escape routes down the wings, with heights too high for jumping. So, special off-wing slides were made. On the first 747 cards, these were all nicely and clearly explained. Many initial operators used the same drawings, supplied by Boeing. I show panels from the Continental May 1970 card, which were identical to those of American, United or Wardair. Early 747s had separate life rafts, typically stowed in ceiling lofts, as shown by Continental. Wardair even showed a raft launching scheme. Later, the explanations got more terse, or disappeared completely, leaving only graphics, with passengers possibly puzzled as to their meaning.

Continental 747-124, dated May 1, 1970, page 2 out of 4;  over-wing door slide and life rafts panels.
Wardair 747, life raft panel.

Late in the 1960s, the combined slide/life raft was invented, called slide/raft. It just missed the first 747s, but all overseas DC-10 and Tristar cards show slide rafts. Nigeria Airways’ DC-10 card had the best explanation: “in case of ditching the slides are used as rafts.”

Nigeria Airways DC-10, slide raft panel.

Gradually, also 747s were so equipped and separate life rafts became rare on long haul aircraft. Short haul aircraft did not need them, but there were exceptions. In the mid-1980s, East West was an Australian Fokker F.28 operator that served Norfolk Island, which is in the Pacific about 1,400 km (870 miles) from Australia. For that route, it carried life rafts near the front doors, but the safety card explains that for launching they should be carried to the overwing exits. They never had to put this to practice.

East-West Fokker F.28 Mk 4000, front: top and life rafts panel.

Effectiveness and Dedicated Companies

Few, if any airlines, tested the effectiveness of their cards, be it text-based or illustrations-based. The same applied to the manufacturers of aircraft, with one exception. Douglas Aircraft Company, a leading manufacturer of airliners since the 1930s, in 1967 hired two psychologists to do research in passenger safety systems and the effects of panic in crashes. They studied passenger behavior and experimented with passenger education methods. The safety systems that they studied were those typically appearing on safety cards such as exits and their operation, seat belt use and oxygen systems. But they also improved exit signs and lighting in the cabin and placards. After six years, they left Douglas (which now was McDonnell Douglas) and started a company making safety cards. They named it Interaction Research Corporation (IRC). This name reflected their modus operandi, which was to develop safety cards by means of research. They had their cards reviewed by members of the public (‘naïve subjects’) for comprehensibility of its contents. Poor scores needed improving the contents until a satisfactory score was reached. The two psychologists were Beau Altman and Daniel Johnson. Daniel also sat in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) panel for cabin safety and was instrumental in developing the first set of guidelines for cabin safety cards, published by the SAE in August 1976 as Aerospace Recommended Practice (ARP) 1384.

IRC started in a garage in the Long Beach, California area, where Douglas was based, but later moved to the state of Washington – Boeing territory. Their registered trade mark (™) was Just in case. The same tagline had been used by Pan Am on their 1950 safety leaflets, then not trademarked. Incidentally, Pan Am was one of the users of IRC material so their safety cards carried the Just in case line again.

1950s Pan Am Boeing 377 leaflet, cover page   1979 IRC Pan Am Lockheed L-1011, cover page.

Neither Beau nor Daniel were artists, so they hired illustrators for drawing the pictorials. Unintentionally, they thus created a pool of professionals who later started on their own. This explains why today there are quite a few safety card making companies in the state of Washington. At one stage, Beau Altman had its own company. I reproduce the 1988 Air Ontario Convair 580 card. Note the tagline: For Your Safety, not trade marked.

Air Ontario Convair 580, 1988, cover page and copyright statement.

On the East Coast, male flight attendant and vivid collector of safety cards – probably holding the world record in number of unique samples – Carl Reese, was an artist himself and started in 1981 a one-man safety card producing company. He named it Cabin Safety Inc., trademark Cabin Safety. His garage was his own home in Lester, PA, near Philadelphia. After having lived for a while in nearby, quiet Cecilton, MD and renaming his company as Cabin Safety International, he emigrated to Calgary, Canada. Readers of the Captain’s Log will recognize his name, or may even have met and traded with him. He ran the Log’s safety card section in the 1980s and often visits Airliners InternationalTM conventions. An early safety card of his hand is for Altair’s Fokker F-28, drawn November 1981. Carl also tested his drawings on naïve subjects, but not at the same scale as IRC.

Cabin Safety Inc. Altair Fokker F28 card, 1981, exit locations panel with copyright statement.

Whereas IRC mainly served large airlines and heavier equipment, Carl’s clientele primarily consisted of smaller airlines and private operators, with associated lighter aircraft. Where Pan Am used IRC, Pan Am Express (formerly Ransome Airlines) used Cabin Safety. Its ATR42 flew routes both in the USA and, before the wall fell, between West Germany and Berlin. For the latter, Carl made a version with German as primary language.

1989 Cabin Safety International Pan Am Express ATR 42 (Internal German service), cover page.

Regulatory Actions

The 1970s’ spike in survivable, yet fatal accidents caused concern with the US congress. Its members, coming from all of the US states for meetings in Washington, D.C., were frequent flyers and could well relate to it. The House of Representatives organized a series of hearings aimed at improving cabin safety, occurring almost annually between 1976 and 1990. In July 1977, the focus was on passenger education. Witnesses interviewed included a survivor of the 1974 Pago Pago crash and Beau Altman and Daniel Johnson. For those interested, search for: Aviation Safety: Aircraft Passenger Education, the Missing Link in Air Safety : Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Investigations and Review of the Committee on Public Works and Transportation, U.S. House of Representatives, Ninety-fifth Congress, First Session, July 12, 13, and 14, 1977. Coincidently or not, the FAA had published just a few weeks before its first set of guidelines for briefing cards: FAA Advisory Circular (AC) No. 121-24. These guidelines augmented the requirements in force since the previous decade. The entire AC can be found on page 118 of the NTSB 1985 Special Study on Airlines Passenger Safety Education (

Both the SAE ARP and the FAA AC set standards for what to present in the cards. Both said that ‘the primary method of presentation should be pictorial’. This accelerated the trend of going away from text and use graphs instead. The list of subjects to be explained does not contain any surprises:

  • exits/slides/oxygen/seatbelts/brace positions/individual flotation devices.

Additionally, for extended overwater operations:

  • exit awareness and location/life preservers/life rafts, slide rafts/emergency locator transmitters (ELT)/survival equipment.

Note that both the exit awareness and location and the ELT guidance was limited to the overwater operations section. This is strange as they would equally apply to overland flights. This was corrected in later updates. The AC also addressed the briefings by flight attendants to passengers, including handicapped passengers. Both the ARP and the AC exist today, updated with many subjects added since the original version, as we will see in the next part of this series.

FAA AC 121-24, front page.


Comparing 1970s and 1980s cards to the ARP and AC reveals some interesting facts.

In many cases, airlines covered more subjects than the minimum prescribed. Often, emergency equipment and their locations were displayed even though not prescribed. This also applied to equipment that should not be used on board, such as radios, television sets and cigarette lighters. It was not uncommon to show passengers the crash axe in the rear of the cabin, as Avianca did on their 707. Would they still do that today? Remember, these are the 1970s and 1980s.

Avianca 707, top of interior pages.

Some 1970s cards still had the emergency landing preparation instructions that were en vogue in the 1950s, instructing passengers to remove glasses, sharp objects and much more. See the sample taken from the Libyan Arab Airlines (LAA) Caravelle leaflet. Libyan Arab Airlines was the new name of Kingdom of Libya Airlines, following the coup in late 1969 by Muammar Gadaffi which ended the monarchy. This leaflet likely dates from 1970 or soon after.

Libyan Arab Airlines Caravelle, cover and 2 out of 8 interior pages.

The 1970s saw the phrase “Do not remove from the aircraft,” “Leave on board,” or similar messages gradually appear on more and more safety cards. It is believed that smaller airlines, with lower budgets, started with this, possibly in an attempt to stop having to replenish whole loads of cards after each flight. Larger airlines then took up this practice as well and today it will be hard to find a card without such a text. It is believed that IRC, whose business was to sell cards to airlines, initially only used the phrase when their customers so specified. Cabin Safety had it from their start in 1981.

Both card makers diligently met all the recommendation of the ARP and AC. The only item they typically added that was neither on the ARP nor the AC were instructions for the stowage of hand luggage and the seat back table.

Some airlines that had long stretches over water were late with including instructions for evacuation on water and the use of life rafts. Lufthansa did not have separate water evacuation panels, but showed the use of life rafts or slide rafts where so equipped. The original Laker Airways, which was British and became famous for their no-frills, very cheap “Skytrain” flights between London and New York from 1977 until 1982,only showed life vests and nothing else that would facilitate a ditching evacuation.

Laker Airways DC-10, cover page.

(The later US Laker Airways also used DC-10s and had cards made by IRC, with ditching instructions). Conversely, British Island Airways, which flew the high-winged Dart Herald only a short sector over water between England and the European continent in the 1970s, did show on their cards how to evacuate on water: via the roof of the aircraft and with ropes attached to the wings to hold onto once outside!

British Island Airways, Dart Herald, cover and back pages.

In the next part, I will cover the trends in safety cards in the period 1990 to now.

Fons Schaefers / August 2023


Continue Reading 1 Comment

Airliners International,airlines,American Airlines,Central Airlines,Continental,CR Smith Museum,Delta,DFW,Eastern Air Lines,Fort Worth,Frontier,Houston,Houston Hobby,Jefferson County Airlport,Love Field,Meacham Field,postcards,Rio Airways,Southwest,Spirit,Texas,Trans-Texas


By Marvin G. Goldman

A warm welcome to Texas. I hope you enjoy our postcard trip through the skies of the Lone Star State as well as the Airliners International™ 2023 show and convention at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

This postcard shows a Trans-Texas Airways Douglas DC-3, airline issue late 1940s, with ‘linen’ finish.

Let’s start with postcards of airlines that served Texas and are now history, followed by leading airlines that continue to operate in Texas skies.

Braniff Airways Douglas DC-3 over Dallas, early 1940s, airline issue. Braniff Airways was incorporated in 1930. Originally based in Oklahoma, it moved its operation and maintenance base to Dallas Love Field in 1934 and its administrative headquarters to Dallas in 1942.
Braniff International Airways Convair 340, N3423, in service with Braniff during 1953-1967 (with an American Airlines Convair in the background), at Greater Fort Worth International Airport, Amon Carter Field. Braniff Airways changed its name to Braniff International Airways in 1948 and to Braniff International in 1965.
Of course, we cannot leave Braniff without noting one of its iconic “Flying Colors” aircraft. Here is Braniff International’s famous “747 Braniff Place,” Boeing 747-100, N601BN, airline-issued oversize postcard, 9 x 23 mm.  The aircraft, based at Dallas/Fort Worth airport, served in Braniff’s fleet from 1971 until the airline’s demise in 1982.
Eastern Air Lines Douglas DC-2, NC13735, over Houston, Texas. Airline issue, 1936-37.  This postcard was republished in slightly different colors by Curteich in 1937 as no. 7A-H1739. Eastern’s predecessors started service in 1926, adopting the Eastern Air Lines name in 1934. In 1936 Eastern extended its route network to Texas by acquiring Wedell-Williams Air Service. Eastern continued as an airline until 1991.
Eastern Air Lines Douglas DC-3 at Houston Municipal Airport (renamed Hobby Airport in 1967), probably in 1940s. Pub’r Bluebonnet News, Houston; printer Colourpicture H-12, 16910.
Central Airlines was a local service airline headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, and operated in Texas and nearby states from 1949 until 1967 when it was acquired by the original Frontier Airlines. This postcard shows a Central DC-3 in a 1959 painting by Charles Hubbell to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the airline. Publisher John Stryker, Western Fotocolor, Fort Worth, Texas, no. 29462.
Frontier Airlines Convair 580, airline issue. On June 1, 1964, Frontier became the first airline to fly the Convair 580. This is the original Frontier Airlines that operated from 1950 to 1986.
Rio Airways de Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 Twin Otter at Dallas/Fort Worth airport. Published by jjPostcards as part of a set of eight new postcards of aircraft at DFW presented to full convention registrants at Airliners International 2023 DFW.
Rio Airways was a regional airline headquartered in Killeen, Texas, that operated from 1967 to 1987 in several Texas cities and eventually in neighboring states. At times it served at DFW under the Delta Connection brand and then as Braniff Express.
 Trans-Texas Airways Douglas DC-3 “Starliner” flying over San Jacinto Monument, located about 16 miles east of Houston, Texas. A/I about 1949, printer Colourpicture, Boston, no. P1496, photo by Jim Thomas, Houston. Founded in the early 1940s, Trans-Texas changed its name to Texas International Airlines in 1969, and in 1982 it merged with Continental Airlines.
Continental Airlines Boeing 727-200, N29730, in service with Continental 1973 – 1995, airline-issued postcard featuring nonstop service to Houston, one of its major airport hubs.
Continental Airlines Boeing 777-200 at Houston International Airport, issued for the Airliners International show in 2002. Photo by Duane L. Young, and sponsored by jjPostcards—The World of Aviation Postcards.  Continental merged with United in 2010.

Now let’s turn to some of the leading airlines currently serving Texas. We start with American Airlines which has the longest continuous operating history in Texas and maintains its headquarters in Fort Worth near Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

American Airlines Douglas DC-3 at Fort Worth’s municipal airport, Meacham Field, probably in early 1937.  Airline issue A-245-C. Predecessor airlines of American started operations in Texas in the 1920s, and American has grown its hub at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to be the second largest in the U.S. (after Delta’s Atlanta hub). At DFW airport American has had a market share of up to 86% of all passengers.
American Airlines Convair 240 at El Paso International Airport, 1948 to 1950s. 
Publisher Petley 653.
American Airlines Boeing 707 and 727-100 at Dallas Love Field, probably in the 1970s. Pub’r All-Tom Corporation, Arlington TX, Dexter Press D-21998-C. 
(I hope that Braniff BAC-1-11 knows where it’s headed.)
American Airlines MD-80s converging on its DFW airport hub, 1990s. 
Pub’r The Texas Postcard Co., Plano TX D-150, 711.
Delta Air Lines started operating in Texas, from Dallas, in 1929. This postcard shows a Delta Convair at Jefferson County Airport serving Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas, in the 1960s. Pub’r Edwards News Co., Port Arthur & Beaumont, printer Curteichcolor.
Delta Air Lines Boeing 777-200, introduced in 1995. Airline issue, 2000.
United Airlines “Houston” destination postcard. When Continental Airlines merged with United in 2010, United acquired Continental’s huge hub in Houston and then expanded it further. United is the largest airline at Houston, carrying over 70% of its passenger traffic.
Note: skyline pictured is actually Dallas, not Houston, TX.
Dallas, Houston, and other Texas airports are also served, of course, by many non-U.S. airlines. One of the earlier international entrants was KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Here is a KLM Douglas DC-8 at Houston (Hobby) International, 1960s. Pub’r H.S. Crocker MW-6.
Spirit Airlines Airbus A321, issued by Airbus Deutschland GmbH, no. 148. Low-cost Spirit serves over 20 destinations from Dallas/Fort Worth airport alone.
Frontier Airlines 737-200, N237TR, which entered service from Dallas-Fort Worth to Denver on September 24, 1999. Airline issue. The current low-cost Frontier Airlines started service in 1994 and now flies to some 20 destinations from Dallas alone.

We close with the airline that, along with American, is most associated with Texas skies – Southwest Airlines, also headquartered in Dallas. Southwest commenced operations in 1971 from its base at Love Field, Dallas. At first, it was an intrastate Texas airline, but in 1979 it started expanding to other states and eventually to international destinations as well. Today Southwest is the third largest airline in the U.S. (behind American and Delta) in terms of passengers carried.

Southwest Airlines 737-300, N352SW, in special “Lone Star One” livery designed in 1990 for Southwest’s 20th anniversary, here with a special passenger. Al Canales collection.
Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-300 on final approach to Dallas Love Field.
Al Canales collection.

NOTES: All postcards in this article are from the author’s collection unless otherwise noted.

Below is my estimate of the rarity of the above postcards:

  • Rare: Trans-Texas DC-3 with hostess, Braniff DC-3 over Dallas, and Eastern DC-2 over Houston;
  • Uncommon: Central Airlines, Trans-Texas DC-3 over San Jacinto Monument, Continental 727-200 Houston, American DC-3 at Meacham Field, American Convair 240 at El Paso, Delta Convair at Jefferson County Airport, and KLM DC-8 at Houston;
  • The rest are fairly common.

I hope to see you at Airliners International™ 2023 DFW, June 22-24, 2023, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, next to Terminal C at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. This is the world’s largest airline history and collectibles show and convention, with more than 200 vendor tables for buying, selling, and trading airline memorabilia (including, of course, airline and airport postcards), seminars, the annual meeting of the World Airline Historical Society, annual banquet, tours and more. 

Follow this link for more information on entering the postcard, model and photograph/slide contests.

Until then, Happy Collecting, Marvin

American Airlines postcard, artist Joseph Charles Parker, 5 x 7 in (12.7 x 17.8 cm).
Part of a set of historic posters in postcard form believed to have been issued several years ago by American Airlines’ C. R. Smith Museum, Dallas.

Continue Reading 1 Comment

airline seat designations

Seat 21J: A Century of Airline Seat Designations – Part 1 (1919-1960)

By Fons Schaefers


Anyone who flies regularly as a passenger, even when not necessarily keen on selecting his or her seat of preference, still has an idea of how airliner seats are identified. Seat rows are numbered from front to rear. Across each row, seats are given a letter. Thus, when the boarding pass says seat 21J, the passenger knows not to go and look in the forward section of the airplane but somewhere in the middle. And that it is on the right-hand side. At least, when seen in the direction of flight, because when boarding through a forward door, and walking down the aisle (or one of two aisles, as the case may be), this seat is actually on the left.

This way of identifying airliner seats is universal. But has it always been so? And if not, when was it introduced, and how were seats identified before? Let’s have a look at the history of airliner seat numbering. This article is about the period from the start of air transport to when the current system became common, around 1960. In the next part, I will focus on the years since then.


The very first instance of seat numbering likely dates back to the first year of air passenger transport in Europe, or to be more precise: in the United Kingdom in 1919. The Great War was just over and bombers made by the British aircraft manufacturer Handley Page were converted for passenger use. The company started an airline, named it Handley Page Transport Ltd., and offered flights from London Cricklewood across the Channel to Paris Le Bourget and Brussels-Evere, three times each per week. A single-sheet timetable describes the aircraft as “giant,” having the capacity to carry 12 passengers including the pilot and a mechanic. On the reverse side is a seating layout. Of the 10 passenger seats, two were at the front ahead of the cockpit and in the open air, two more were in a closed cabin behind the cockpit, and the remaining six were in an aft cabin, separated from the forward cabin by a freight hold.”The seats were numbered 1 to 10 from front to rear, left to right.

How passengers boarded is not directly clear. As with all period aircraft, it was a tail-dragger. On the ground, the aft cabin was close to the ground but the nose stood up high. The door in the aft cabin required only minor steps. The forward cabin and the open-air seats were inaccessible from the aft cabin and required boarding from outside. Likely, a tall ladder was used and only athletic passengers were allocated to these seats. In the forward closed-cabin, the plan marks a “door,” which I believe was in the fuselage bottom, accessible by the ladder.

Handley Page Transport timetable, 1919.

This early way of assigning numbers to seats was exceptional. Other airlines in the pioneering decade did not use seat numbers. I reproduce a cabin chart for the popular Fokker F VIIa as used by KLM in the mid-1920s. All eight passenger seats are identified as “A = Comfortable Passenger-seats.” There is no sign of seat numbering.

KLM Fokker F VIIa, KLM timetable, 1926/1927.


ln Great Britain in 1924, Imperial Airways was formed by a merger of Handley Page Transport and three other airlines. Handley Page continued building airplanes. In 1931, the Handley Page H.P.42 was introduced. Imperial used it in two versions, called the Western type and the Eastern type. The former was operated on the shorter routes in Europe (mostly London Croydon-Paris Le Bourget). The Eastern type was used on longer routes, such as from Cairo, Egypt to Karachi in what was then British India. Their seating capacities differed significantly: 38 on the Western type and only 18 on the Eastern type. In either variant, the passenger entrance door was at the extreme rear, on the left, and the seat numbering started there: left to right, rear to front.

Imperial Airways Handley Page HP 42, 1930.

At a later stage, the capacity of the Eastern type was increased with three double seats. These were placed at various locations across the cabin, but the original numbering was not changed. The result was that the additional seats were numbered out of sequence, creating a seemingly haphazard numbering pattern.

Imperial Airways Handley Page HP 42 Eastern type, 1932.

Later in the decade, when air transport in the USA had taken off and surpassed in volume that of Europe, the Douglas DC-3 was the aircraft type in use by the main airlines. Transcontinental & Western Airlines (TWA) was one of them. Their operations at the time were confined to the United States. Only after the war would it become an intercontinental airline and change its name to Trans World Airways). TWA published the seating layout shown below. Seats were sequentially numbered from left to right, front to rear. Number 13 was omitted, as it is regarded in Western culture as the “unlucky” number.

TWA Douglas DC-3, late 1930s.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines operated the DC-3 on what was then the longest air route, between Amsterdam, the Netherlands and Batavia, Netherlands East Indies (now Jakarta, Indonesia), taking five days and making 19 stops. Rather than fitting it with the normal DC-3 seating capacity of 21, only 12 seats were installed as seen in the below seat plans. One of these was non-saleable as it was for the steward. This was always a male, as KLM scheduled its stewardesses on the European routes only. The remaining 11 seats were numbered radiating from the passenger entrance door (located aft on the right side), so from right to left, and rear to front. Seating diagrams together with passenger names and their destination were made up for each flight and distributed to all on board. Current privacy rules and ethics did not exist then. I reproduce two plans, without the list of names. The first is for the flight starting in Batavia on May 6, 1939, and the second is for the flight departing Amsterdam on August 8, 1939. Note that in the latter the numbering sequence was reversed in the front row (seats 10 and 11). This may have been a typo, as the other plan did not have this anomaly.

KLM DC-3 cabin plan, May 6, 1939.
KLM DC-3 cabin plan, August 8, 1939.

The flight on August 8 would be one of the last on the route. With the outbreak of war in Europe a few weeks later, the route was initially truncated (starting at Naples instead of Amsterdam) and later terminated entirely.

Sequential numbering

While Douglas was the most successful manufacturer of airliners just before the war, Boeing tried to take its stake in the market with the Model 307, also known as the Stratoliner. It was unique in many respects: it was the first pressurized airliner and its cabin layout was asymmetrical, with four compartments seating six each on the right side, and a single row of nine seats on the left. Such a layout is reminiscent of European long-distance train coaches but has never since been repeated in air transport. Each of the compartments could be converted into sleeping mode, with four berths each: two upper and two lower. Even the airplane’s windows were asymmetrical, with two closely located windows per compartment on the right side and a more traditional lineup of nine windows on the left. Only 10 Stratoliners were built, five for TWA, three for Pan Am, and, a single ship for private use by Howard Hughes, then the owner of TWA. The prototype was lost early on and this delayed the entry into service which eventually took place in 1940. Within two years they went to war but most came back into civil service in 1945. TWA then used a more traditional cabin layout of 38 seats. Only one airframe, NC19903, survives, a former Pan Am aircraft preserved in flying condition at the National Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center adjacent to Washington-Dulles (IAD) airport. The hull of the Howard Hughes aircraft was converted years ago into a private houseboat and is now in the collection of the Florida Air Museum.

The unique cabin layout made for a unique way of seat numbers. I reproduce a cabin plan from a TWA ticket jacket, dating from about 1941. Left is forward. The numbering reflects the order of passenger comfort: the lowest numbers for compartment seats that could be converted into berths (1 to 17, with number 13 omitted), then the row of seats on the left (18-26), and finally the less popular middle seats in the four compartments (31-38). The first 16 numbers had the suffix U or L for upper or lower berth respectively. Note that in each compartment, the outboard seats were even-numbered and the inboard seats odd. The omission of the number 13 meant a reversal of the numbering direction in the fourth compartment.

TWA Boeing 307 Stratoliner, ticket jacket extract, c. 1941.

The practice of sequentially numbering all seats in airplane cabins continued after the war. In the second half of the 1940s, KLM used airplanes much larger than the DC-3, with seating capacities of up to 46. I show a Lockheed L-749 Constellation seat plan dating from a flight in September 1949. KLM still listed all the passenger names and destinations and distributed this to all on board.

KLM L-749 cabin plan, 1949.

With so many seats, it became difficult for the crew to remember their numbers when directing passengers to their seats. Iberia thought of a way to make this easier. They came up with odd numbers on the left side and even numbers on the right side. This was for window seats. For aisle seats, an A was added. The number 13 was omitted. This diagram is taken from their safety leaflet and also shows the location of the life raft, or “dingy” as it was translated by Iberia.

Iberia DC-3, safety leaflet, 2nd half 1940s.

The same numbering method was employed by Colonial Airlines, a New York La Guardia-based airline that primarily flew between the Northeast USA and adjacent parts of Canada, but also had two overseas routes: from New York and Washington to Bermuda. On those routes, they used the DC-4, for which the seating chart is shown below. Being five abreast, center seats were added, marked with a C. You may wonder whether the illustrator actually saw the airplane or had an egg-inspired mental picture of how it looked like.

Colonial Airlines DC-4 seating chart, probably on a boarding pass, circa 1950.

Iberia was apparently not entirely happy with their DC-3 numbering method. For the DC-4 they kept the left/odd and right/even style but discarded the letter A for the aisle seat and used numbers throughout. With more seats right of the aisle than left, this led to a situation where the numbers across the aisle progressively went out of sequence. As an example, the row with seats 39 and 41 on the left had seats 54, 56, and 58 on the right.

Iberia DC-4, safety leaflet, circa 1950.

On their Bristol 170s, which were symmetrical in seating, this worked out better. The nose is right.

Iberia Bristol 170, safety leaflet, 2nd half 1940s.

Pan American World Airways used the same method in their Boeing 377 Stratocruiser, which entered service in 1949. With equal numbers of seats on either side of the aisle, the numbering kept pace except for the aft section where there were no seats on the left in the boarding area. The layout also shows how the beds were numbered: U1 to U10 and L1 to L10. There was no U9 or L9.

Pan American Boeing 377 brochure, circa 1949.

On their boarding cards, Pan Am used a simplified presentation of the seat numbers, with a disproportionally wide aisle. “Double deck” referred to the lower deck lounge. This was not for use during take-off and landing, so its seats were not assigned and therefore remained unnumbered.

Pan American Boeing 377 boarding card, reverse side, 1951.

In the Soviet Union, Aeroflot applied the sequential numbering style on the Ilyushin Il-12 and Il-14. Note that the IL-12 has one more row than the IL-14, even though it is the smaller of the two types. The three-abreast layout shown here in a 1956 brochure was quite comfortable, as both types could seat up to 32 passengers in a four-abreast arrangement.

Aeroflot brochure extracts, 1956.

Compartment letters

In the 1940s and 1950s, several air services were performed with flying boats, in most cases of the Short Brothers & Harland make, a Northern Ireland company. The design of the boats was such that it lent itself ideally to cabin compartments. I reproduce two samples: a Solent and a Sandringham.

The Solent was used by Aquila Airways in the 1950s between Southampton, Madeira, and the Canary Islands. It had eight compartments, identified from front to rear, main deck to upper deck as A to H. Within each compartment seats were numbered from left to right, front to rear. An exception was compartment D which had seats facing sideways and called for a different way of numbering.

Aquila Airways, boarding pass reverse side, mid-1950s.

In the 1950s Short Sandringhams, operated by TEAL of New Zealand and Australia’s Qantas, crossed the Tasman Sea between these two countries. Ansett Airlines used them to operate to such remote islands as Lord Howe Island. After many years, two of the Ansett’s went to Antilles Air Boats (AAB) of St Croix, US Virgin Islands. In 1976 and 1977, one came to England for some pleasure flights off Poole and Calshot, near Bournemouth and Southampton respectively (I was lucky enough to be on one of those). That Sandringham is now preserved in the Southampton Solent Sky Museum, in Ansett livery. There is a nice website with many details of the AAB operation (, including an Operations Manual (from which I copied the seating plan). It is dated 1965 so must have been drafted by Ansett, in spite of having AAB’s name on it. The seat numbering resembles Aquila’s: letters for compartments and numbers within each compartment. Note that there was a seat E.12a, but no E.13.

Antilles Air Boats, Sandringham seating plan extract from Operations Manual.

On land aircraft, compartments were also used and identified by letter for seat allocation purposes. An example is Air India, with its Lockheed Super Constellation, in service from 1954. Compartment identification started at the front. Within each compartment, numbers went from left to right, front to rear. Note that the economy class compartments were the first two (A and B), with the latter two (C and D) being first class with sleeper accommodation.

Air India boarding card, reverse side, mid-1950s.


Another way of assigning compartments and seats was by class. On their Super Constellations, Air France employed a variety of layouts. I show the 15 tourist/32 couchette/4 beds layout.

The tourist class seats had the letter T followed by a number. Similarly, couchette seats and the beds started with a C and L (bed = lit in French), respectively. Couchettes were seats that reclined to allow sleeping but were not as comfortable as the beds.

Air France Super Constellation reservation manual extract, 1957.


So many different ways of designating seats must have been confusing. With capacities increasing, airlines needed a way to bring more structure to matters. The solution existed in the grid pattern that each and every cabin presented. It only needed people to recognize it. The typical grid layout of airplane cabins was that of multiple rows along the length of the cabin and seats lined up in each row. A simple system of coordinates solved the seat designation puzzle. Two solutions evolved:

  • Longitudinally: rows assigned by letters; laterally: seats across assigned by numbers, or
  • Longitudinally: rows assigned by numbers; laterally: seats across assigned by letters.

In both cases, a combination of letters and numbers. This is generally known as an alphanumeric presentation. While this describes well the first solution, I propose using a new word for the second solution to distinguish it from the first and reflect the order of numbers before letters: “numeric-alpha.”


The earliest use of the alphanumeric method that I found was by KLM in 1950. The Lockheed Constellation plan that, ,as we saw earlier, in 1949 only showed numbers now has rows identified from A to M (row J omitted) with the seats across numbered 1 to 4.

KLM L-749 Constellation cabin plan, 1950.

The alphanumeric method was used by other airlines in the same decade as well, including BOAC, Indian Airlines, and Qantas. In most cases, the letters started at the front, but in at least one case (the Qantas Lockheed Electra II) it went from rear to front. The lettering followed the common alphabet (ABC) and, with 19 rows being the maximum of the period, reached the S in BOAC’s Britannia high-density layout. The numbering in all cases started on the left with 1, reaching 4, 5 or 6 on the right. I assume that BOAC’s Comet 4 (which started jet air transport in the Western world on October 4, 1958) had the same numbering method, but could not find evidence. Neither could I find anything about the 1952 Comet 1 cabin layout. I would very much appreciate hearing from readers if they have a numbered seat plan for the Comet 1.

Indian Airlines’ reverse sides of boarding cards for the Vickers Viscount 700 series show its characteristic forward opening, circular doors. The undated image on the left shows 44 seats and likely dates to 1957, the year it entered service. The one on the right is from a later date and has 48 seats.

Indian Airlines, 44-seat Vickers Viscount 700 series, circa 1957.
Indian Airlines, 48-seat Vickers Viscount 700 series.
BOAC Britannia seat plan showing rows A to S, 1959.
Qantas Lockheed Electra II technical drawing showing rows A to O, rear to front, 1962.


The earliest application I found of the numeric-alpha method was by United Airlines on their Boeing 377. This airplane type entered service in January 1950. This may well be the year United introduced this numbering system. A decade later it would become the world standard, but would they have realized that in 1950?

I found the seating diagram as it appeared on a period ticket envelope.

Boeing 377 United Airlines, ticket jacket, circa 1950.

Other early users of the numeric-alpha method were TWA (now standing for Trans World Airways) in 1954 on their Lockheed Constellations, Eastern Airlines, also on the Constellation, and, quite surprisingly, the Soviet Union airline, Aeroflot.

In 1956 Aeroflot introduced jet service and adopted the numeric-alpha way of seat numbering. The alpha element was in the Cyrillic script (aбв). I reproduce, from their winter 1957/58 timetable, the layouts of the Tupolev 104 (50 seats) and the improved Tupolev 104A (70 seats).

Tupolev 104 and 104A, Aeroflot timetable winter 1957/58.

The inferior -104 model was quickly taken out of service and replaced by a second upgrade, as reflected in the summer 1959 timetable which shows the new 100-seat Tupolev 104B next to the Tu-104A.

Tupolev 104A and 104B, Aeroflot timetable summer 1959.

More numeric-alpha examples, as well as non-conforming seat designations in the second (and final) part.


For this part, I used a variety of sources, including

  • • Timetables (, Björn Larsson,for KLM Fokker F VII A and Aeroflot, twice);
  • • Safety cards Iberia;
  • •;
  • •;
  • • Air France museum;
  • • SFO museum;
  • •

Fons Schaefers
April 2023

Continue Reading No Comments

Airliners International 2023,American Airlines,Amon Carter Field,Dallas,Delta Air Lines,DFW,Fort Worth,GSW,Love Field,Meacham Field,postcard contest,Southwest Airlines

Dallas – Fort Worth Airports on Postcards

By Marvin G. Goldman

In view of Airliners InternationalTM, the world’s largest airline history convention and airline collectibles show, to be held June 21-24, 2023, at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), this Captain’s Log “Postcard Corner” article describes the background and development of the major airports in Dallas/Fort Worth, illustrated by historic postcards.

The large cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, are located only slightly more than 30 miles (50 km) apart. Economically, it made sense to develop one major airport to serve both cities. However, numerous proposals from the 1920s on for such a combination all came to naught until 1968 when, at the insistence of the U.S. Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), the two cities agreed to jointly build a single major airport to serve the area encompassing both Dallas and Fort Worth. That airport became Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), located equidistant between Dallas and Fort Worth, and today the second-busiest airport in the world by passenger numbers.

Prior to the agreement to build DFW, Fort Worth and Dallas both competed to develop the dominant airport in the area for scheduled commercial flights.

Fort Worth – Meacham Field

In 1925 the City of Fort Worth purchased Barron Field, a World War I-era aviation training field, and named it “Fort Worth Municipal Airport.” In 1927 the airport was renamed Meacham Field after former Fort Worth Mayor Henry C. Meacham. American Airways (later to become American Airlines) established its base at Meacham Field in 1927, and the airport became the main airport for commercial airlines in the Fort Worth-Dallas area.

On April 4, 1937, Meacham Field dedicated a new terminal and control tower. The terminal was designed in the “Art Moderne” or new streamlined style, and it was the first air-conditioned passenger terminal in the U.S. Here is a selection of postcards showing Meacham Field and its new terminal.

American Airlines Douglas DC-2, NC14280, at Meacham Field, Fort Worth, Texas’ municipal airport,
with the newly built terminal and control tower in the background, probably in early 1937 before their completion.
Airline issue A-245-C.
Meacham Field, Fort Worth, Texas, probably in April 1937 when its new terminal and control tower were inaugurated.
On the ramp are two American Airlines Douglas DC-3s.
Publisher Graycraft Card Co., Danville VA, no. F-156.
Al Canales collection.
Aerial View of Meacham Field, Fort Worth, Texas, showing American Airlines and Braniff Airways aircraft, the terminal building and control tower that opened in 1937, and the large American Airlines hangar.
Other airlines utilizing Meacham were Central, Pioneer and Trans-Texas.
Real photo postcard.
Al Canales collection.
Closeup of the 1937 terminal building and control tower at Meacham Field, Fort Worth. The terminal was designed in the “Art Moderne” style, also known as “Streamline Moderne,” an austere outgrowth of the earlier Art Deco architectural style.
This was the first airport terminal in the U.S. with air conditioning.
Pub’r Atlas News Shop, Fort Worth; Printer E. C. Kropp Co., Milwaukee, nos. 65, 6945.

Greater Fort Worth Airport (Amon Carter Field; Greater Southwest Airport)

During the early 1940s, Fort Worth decided to develop a larger airport to handle rising air traffic and allow future expansion that was not possible at Meacham Field. The site selected for reconstruction was that of Arlington Municipal Airport. It was located at the eastern edge of Fort Worth and was almost equidistant between the centers of Fort Worth and Dallas. Fort Worth invited Dallas to jointly develop the site to serve both cities. However, as Dallas was developing its close-in airport Love Field and that airport was preferred by its residents, Dallas declined to participate. Ironically, this new Fort Worth site was located almost adjacent to what later became today’s Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

The new Fort Worth airport finally opened on April 25, 1953, and was named Greater Fort Worth International Airport at Amon Carter Field (Amon Carter was the Mayor of Fort Worth). Airlines then transferred from Meacham Field to the new airport, Since 1953, Meacham has been used by corporate aircraft, commuter flights, and for student pilot training.

In 1962 Fort Worth changed the name of its new airport to “Greater Southwest International Airport” as part of an effort to again entice the city of Dallas to join in further development of the airport. However, that overture was turned down as well.

Here are some postcards of Greater Fort Worth International Airport, also known as Amon Carter Field and, from 1962, as Greater Southwest International Airport.

“Copter-view” of Greater Fort Worth International Airport at Amon Carter Field, about 1956.
Postmarked July 9, 1958.
Photographed and published by John A. Stryker, Fort Worth, no. ART-6293-2.
Main lobby of the terminal building at Greater Fort Worth International Airport at Amon Carter Field.
It was furnished in “modern western style” and finished in fine marble from Portugal.
The bas-relief murals on the left wall depicted early Texas history and were covered with 18-karat gold leaf.
Photographed and published by John A. Stryker, Fort Worth; printer Colourpicture, Boston, no. P5928.
Postcard image from the internet.
Braniff International Airways Convair 340, N3423 (in service with Braniff during 1953-1967), and American Airlines Convair, at Greater Fort Worth International Airport, Amon Carter Field.
The reverse side states: “Looking from the south passenger loading concourse, one sees the east side of the main Airport Building and the north loading concourse….The main dining room of the terminal building and observation deck are on the left side with the air traffic control tower.” Photographed and published by John A. Stryker, Fort Worth; printed by Colourpicture, Boston, no. P6166.
Greater Fort Worth International Airport, Amon Carter Field, with American Airlines Convair 240, N94211, in the foreground.
I have seen one of these postcards postmarked January 1954.
Photographed and published by John A. Stryker, Fort Worth; printed by Colourpicture, no. P6167.

Love Field Municipal Airport, Dallas, Texas

While scheduled airline service and facilities at Fort Worth’s Meacham and then Amon Carter Fields grew relatively slowly, its neighboring larger city, Dallas, developed Love Field which grew faster because more passengers preferred its proximity to downtown Dallas.

Love Field originated in 1917 as the site of an aviation training base established by the U.S. Army Air Service during World War I. It was named after Lieutenant Moses L. Love, an early Army pilot who was killed during flight training at another site. In 1927 the City of Dallas purchased Love Field from the military to serve as its site for commercial air service which developed during the 1930s. After the end of World War II in 1945, Love Field grew expansively, reflecting significant increases in passenger traffic. By 1965 Love Field featured new terminals and a second parallel runway, effectively doubling its capacity, and its passenger numbers that year were, astoundingly, nearly 50 times those of Fort Worth’s airport.

Here is a selection of postcards featuring Dallas Love Field.

Dedication of Love Field Lemmon Ave. Terminal, October 1940.
Printer Curteich, Chicago.
Love Field Municipal Airport, Dallas, Texas, with a Trans-Texas Airways Douglas DC-3 at left and an American Airlines Douglas DC-6 aircraft at right, probably late 1940s.
Pub’r Stellmacher & Son, Dallas, no. SC1900.
Love Field, Dallas, with American Airlines Douglas DC-7s. In the background is the newer terminal at Love Field which opened for airline service on January 20, 1958. The terminal had three one-story concourses, 26 ramp-level gates, and the world’s first airport moving walkways.
Airlines serving Love Field at that time included American, Braniff, Central, Continental, Delta, and Trans-Texas.
Airline and airport postcard collector Al Canales remarked in the Spring 2016 40th anniversary issue of the Captain’s Log, “[This is my] favorite postcard [of about 11,000 cards in my collection]. [It’s] not a rare one but one that brings back many happy memories of hours spent on that observation deck visible under the wing of the DC-7 doing what I truly enjoyed”.
Pub’r H.S. Crocker Co., Los Angeles, no, TPC-166; distributor Texas Post Card Co., Dallas.
View towards observation balcony of Love Field, Dallas, probably about 1960.
Ex-Allan Van Wickler collection.
Pub’r All-Tom Corp., Dallas-Ft. Worth; printer Colourpicture no. P44211.
View of the ramp and a taxiway at Dallas Love Field, probably in 1961.
Note the mix of propeller and jet aircraft types, and a Continental Airlines Viscount turboprop on the taxiway.
Pub’r Texas Post Card & Novelty Co., Dallas; printed by Dexter Press, West Nyack NY, in 1961, as no. 43446-B.
American Airlines 707 and 727 at Dallas Love Field. That Braniff BAC 1-11 in the upper right looks headed for a nosedive – an example of how some publishers add some pizzazz to their postcards.
Pub’r All-Tom Corporation, Arlington, Texas; printed by Dexter Press in 1967, no. D-21998-C.
Love Field Airport of “BIG D” refers to Dallas, probably in late 1960s. The back of this postcard states: “A spectacular view of one of the nation’s ten busiest airports and one of the world’s most modern airport facilities.”
Pub’r Mission Card Co., Dallas; printer Colourpicture, Boston, no. P74205.
Southwest Airlines started flying from Love Field in 1971, eventually becoming the dominant airline there.
The aircraft image on this postcard is Southwest’s 737-300, N352SW, which entered its fleet in late 1990 and was painted in the “Lone Star One” livery, Southwest’s homage to its home state of Texas.
Photo by Sackett and Associates; pub’r A-W, Dallas, no. D-132; printer John Hinde Curteich.

Transition to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)

By 1965 Fort Worth’s Greater Southwest Airport at Amon Carter Field (GSW) was severely underutilized, while passengers and airline scheduled service flocked to Dallas Love Field which was bursting at the seams with air traffic and had insufficient room for expansion. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) decided it would no longer assist in funding improvements at two separate airports so close together. At the insistence of the FAA and the Civil Aeronautics Board, the two cities agreed to set aside their rivalry and jointly develop and operate a single larger and more modern airport equidistant between them. The agreement also provided that all airlines would have to move from GSW and Love Field to the new airport. The site chosen was a huge swath of undeveloped land just north of the Greater Southwest Airport. This is the site that became Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport – DFW. Ground was broken for the construction of DFW airport in 1968, and scheduled flights at DFW commenced on January 13, 1974.

Meanwhile, passenger traffic continued to sharply decline at GSW, and by 1969 all scheduled flights there had ceased. GSW continued in use for general aviation, some charter flights, commuter and air taxi traffic, and crew training, while also serving as a diversionary airport for Love Field. However, upon the opening of DFW in January 1974, GSW was closed. In 1979 GSW was sold for redevelopment as an industrial and office park, and its airport facilities were soon demolished. Today the headquarters of American Airlines’ parent company, AMR Corporation, is located where GSW’s terminal once stood, and American Airlines’ C. R. Smith Museum is opposite the GSW site.

Love Field continued its prominence while DFW was under construction. However, when DFW opened in 1974, all airlines – with one notable exception – moved their operations to DFW. The exception was Southwest Airlines which refused to move and prevailed on that issue in a lawsuit brought by the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth and the DFW Airport Board. Subsequently, Southwest fought several legal battles to lift restrictions imposed by the “Wright Amendment” on its ability to fly to destinations outside Texas. Full success was achieved in 2006 by a federal law that served to repeal the Wright restrictions. Since then, Southwest has financed several expansions of its facilities at Love Field, and it remains the dominant airline by far at Love Field. Other airlines currently operating scheduled flights there include Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport – DFW

As mentioned above, DFW Airport opened to scheduled airline service on January 13, 1974, and all airlines except Southwest moved there from Love Field. With 27 square miles of land, DFW is the second largest airport in the U.S. by area (next to Denver); and with 72 million passengers in 2022, it is the second busiest airport in the world by passenger numbers (behind Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport – ATL). Presently, 28 airlines serve a total of about 260 destinations from DFW.

Commensurate with its growth in passenger numbers, DFW airport is continuously expanding its facilities. Most recently, DFW approved in 2021 a $2 billion project, to be completed by 2026, including the renovation and expansion of Terminal C serving American Airlines and the addition of gates at other terminals.

Here is a sampling of postcards showing DFW.

Aerial view of Terminal C at DFW with its many gates filled by American Airlines aircraft.
Pub’r The Texas Postcard Co., Plano, Texas, no. D-150, 711; photo by Raff Frano.

American Airlines utilizes DFW as its primary hub and its corporate headquarters and aviation museum are nearby.
In the upper center of this postcard, close to the control tower, is the Hyatt Regency Hotel, site of the Airliners InternationalTM airline history convention and airline collectibles show, June 21-24, 2023.
Aerial view of the vast expanse, half-moon terminals, and runways at DFW, with the Delta Air Lines’ gates in the foreground.
Published in 1981. Pub’r A.W. Distributors, Irving, Texas.
Braniff International Airways terminal at DFW, probably in the late 1970s. Note the standout orange Boeing 747 of Braniff, nicknamed the “Great Pumpkin” or “Fat Albert.” DFW was Braniff’s main hub until the demise of the airline in May 1982.
Pub’r Texas Postcard Co., Plano, Texas, no. /d-111; printer MCG, Kansas City, Missouri; photo by Gordon Smith.
DFW at night, with an American Airlines Douglas DC-10 at Terminal C, probably in the 1980s.
Pub’r Texas Postcard Co., Plano, Texas, no. D-102; Joe Towers photo.


All the postcards shown in this article are from the author’s collection unless otherwise noted. My estimate of rarity: Rare: the two aerial views of Meacham Field; Uncommon; American Airlines at Meacham Field; Love Field with Trans-Texas and American aircraft; Love Field with Continental Viscount; and DFW Braniff terminal. The rest are fairly common.


  • Cearley, Jr., George W. A Pictorial History of Airline Service at Dallas Love Field, 200 pp. (1989).
  • Friedenzohn, Daniel. “DFW: The Texas-Size Airport,” Airways (Oct. 2003, pp. 32-37).
  • (on Greater Fort Worth Airport).
  • Airport websites:;
  • Texas State Historical Association websites: field and airport.
  • Wikipedia articles on “Fort Worth Meacham International Airport,” “Greater Southwest International Airport,” “Dallas Love Field,” and “Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.”

Airliners International 2023 DFW

I hope to see you at Airliners International™ 2023 DFW, June 21-24, 2023, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, next to Terminal C at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. This is the world’s largest airline history and airline collectibles show and convention, with more than 200 vendor tables for buying, selling, and swapping airline memorabilia (including, of course, airline and airport postcards), seminars, the annual meeting of the World Airline Historical Society, annual banquet, tours and more.
I hope you’ll consider entering the Postcard Contest at the AI 2023 show. More information and contest rules are available by clicking this link:

Until then, Happy collecting. Marvin

American Airlines poster, artist Joseph Charles Parker, 5 x 7 in (12.7 x 17.8 cm).
Part of a set of historic posters in postcard form believed to have been issued several years ago by American Airlines’ C. R. Smith Museum, Dallas.

Continue Reading 4 Comments

Safety cards

HISTORY OF SAFETY CARDS, Part 4: 1960s – Mandated!

By Fons Schaefers


Until the early 1960s survivability of transport aircraft accidents was not an issue. The attitude towards accidents was that they were a fact of life. All funds for safety should be allotted to learning from them so as to prevent future accidents. Investigations focused on the causes of accidents, not on their consequences in terms of survivability. It took two pioneers a decade or more to teach the aviation world it was worthwhile to expand the focus to survival factors, also known as “passive safety.” They proved that many improvements could be made in making aircraft more crash-worthy.

Those pioneers were Hugh DeHaven (1895-1980) and Howard Hasbrook (1913-2000). In 1942, DeHaven started the crash injury project at Cornell University (New York). In 1953, this was split into an automobile section, which he further developed (and which inspired car safety belts and Ralph Nader’s “unsafe at any speed”), and an aviation section. The latter was run by Hasbrook, who in the 1950s and early 1960s did pioneering work in investigating survival factors of major aircraft accidents. One of his earliest investigations was that of the National Airlines DC-6 crash near Newark in February 1952. He was the first to make sketches of the crash kinematics illustrating how and why aircraft broke up. Curious? Then go to

Not only were his methods innovative and his findings unprecedented but he also spent much time and effort in advocating them to airframe manufacturers, airlines, and aviation authorities, not only in the US but also abroad. His recommendations were well ahead of their time. Already in 1952, he suggested passenger seats be tested dynamically. It would take more than four decades before this became mandatory, first in the USA and later worldwide.

His safety campaign was successful. In 1963, the FAA proposed rulemaking for a host of cabin safety measures, ranging from improved exit signs and markings to mandatory evacuation demonstrations by airlines, and passenger briefings. Of course, it was not only Hasbrook who triggered the FAA to come into action. Less than three years after the first jets entered service in the US, the first crash of a jet with survivability issues happened: a United Airlines DC-8 at Stapleton Airport in Denver, CO, on July 11, 1961. Hasbrook investigated the circumstances in the cabin, which were painfully shocking [1]. To understand what follows, I reproduce the exit plan of United’s safety leaflet next to a sketch of the accident’s wind-steered smoke and fire pattern. The safety leaflet is dated 6/61, so released just weeks before the crash.

[1] FAA CAMI AM 62-9, Evacuation pattern analysis of a survivable commercial aircraft crash

The crash itself was mild, but a fuel fire erupted, gradually entering the cabin. All passengers in the first class section, which was large and extended from the front back to the wing and included all four overwing exits, survived. In the tourist class section, however, 16 passengers died of smoke inhalation. In that section, there were only two exits, only one that could be opened. The aisle was narrow and the divider between the two classes reached from floor to ceiling, obscuring the view forward. There was no indication, such as a sign, that there were exits beyond it. No passenger briefing had been given, even not after it had become clear that the landing would not be normal.

Whether the tourist passengers had boarded aft and were thus unaware of the forward section and the exits there, is not reported but it would not surprise me.

This accident was the first of a jet that should have been survivable to all occupants. It provoked a lot of attention. Four months later, a survivable, yet fatal accident occurred with a Lockheed Constellation on a military charter with young army recruits, many of whom died. That accident got much less attention for reasons unknown. In any case, the time was ripe for improved cabin safety measures. Something had to be done to increase the chances of passengers who survive the impact to escape from an aircraft before a fire overtakes them. The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) came into action and, as said, in 1963 proposed a plethora of new cabin safety regulations. [3]

[2] FAA CAMI AM 70-16, Survival in emergency escape from passenger aircraft

[3]NPRM 63-42, Federal Register October 29, 1963

1965 – First Safety Card Rule

Although in 1962 Hasbrook recommended passengers be instructed in evacuation procedures prior to “any anticipated, unusual landing situation,” he did not go as far as asking for safety cards. Neither, in 1963, did the FAA. But, at a hearing in June 1964 on the proposed regulations, somebody suggested safety cards as an additional measure. By whom, I could not find, but I would not be surprised if it was one of those operators already voluntarily using them. United Airlines, perhaps?

When the final rule was issued in March 1965, the FAA mandated printed safety cards for all US airlines per June 7, 1965. Here is the text of the regulation – focus on section (b):

As you can see, the requirements for the card were simple. They must show:

  • diagrams of the emergency exits;
  • methods of opening emergency exits;
  • other instructions necessary for use of emergency equipment.

These requirements were broadly worded. The first was generally interpreted as showing the location of the exits on an airplane plan. The second was met by illustrating how to open the exit. The third one was quite vague – does this include emergency equipment like fire extinguishers or first-aid kits? Not so if we look at the safety cards of the time. They showed oxygen masks, escape slides and for overwater operations, life vests and, occasionally, life rafts, but nothing more.

1965 Safety Cards

The new rule must have triggered several US airlines to issue a new range of safety cards. I will discuss some that directly resulted from it and some that were simply continuations of what was already there. Eastern Airlines issued new cards immediately, in June 1965. Eastern was one of the airlines that had separate cards for each aircraft type, as opposed to fleet cards. For an example see the DC-7 card in Lester Andersons’s July 2020 contribution below. Eastern’s Constellation card was a bit hybrid, as it showed three variants, each having a different exit layout. I reproduce the trio here, rotated 90 degrees to allow easier reading of the exit captions.

Eastern Airlines’ Constellation Safety Card

Ozark Air Lines had a fleet card labeled “OP-65,” which may have been in response to the new rule. It showed exit locations for three aircraft types: DC-3, Martin 404, and Fairchild F-27. This mix indeed uniquely reflects their 1965 fleet composition so it was likely released that year. But other than exit locations, nothing else was shown so it did not fully meet the new rule. On the reverse side, it said “occupied” in large letters, for passengers to reserve their seats during transit stops.

Delta Air Lines used fleet cards before the cabin safety card rule came into effect. I present the card used in the period 1962-1965, copied from the internet. It was called “Special Procedures for Emergencies.” This shows aircraft plans for the Convair 340/440, Douglas DC-6, DC-7/7B, DC-8, and Convair 880. Note the cockpit is on the right. The emergency exits consisted of either doors or window exits and were well indicated, with the means of opening explained in small panels.

This card survived the June 1965 regulatory change, as it already met it.

The single card was replaced about six months later by a leaflet with four vertical folds, like an accordion. It was issued in conjunction with the introduction of the new DC-9. In appearance, it was a complete makeover. The rather technical presentation was gone and replaced by a more attractive and modern look, making optimum use of the Delta logo. Other than that, it featured the same types as the previous card. I reproduce the front, but see also Brian Barron’s July 2017 entry.

Northwest Orient Airlines renewed its leaflets in September 1965. Northwest re-issued the “emergency water landings” leaflet in use since the early 1950s. While it indeed included diagrams of four different types showing exit locations, it lacked the method of opening them. This would rate it as not meeting the new rule. However, Northwest, while continuing this line of overwater leaflets, augmented them with a separate leaflet explaining the automatic oxygen system, exit locations, and opening method. Thus they met the new rule. On that leaflet, the Boeing 727 was added to the overwater types, but not the Lockheed Electra and DC-7C. Apparently, separate cards were made for those, non-automatic oxygen-equipped types (see Lester Anderson, July 2020).

Western Airlines changed its cards in December 1965. They were fleet cards, showing three types on one leaflet: Boeing 720B, Lockheed Electra II, and Douglas DC-6B. It had airplane plans, exit operation method panels, and more. I reproduce the plan for the Electra as that has some interesting features, which could easily have led to passenger confusion:

  • the main cabin entrance door, forward left, was not shown as an emergency exit. This was allowed under the period regulations;
  • the door on the left aft side is marked as “forward door exit,” even though it was well aft, being situated behind the wings.
Lockheed Electra II Emergency Exits

1967 – First Amendment to the Safety Card Rule

I could not find any cards dated 1966. That year however stands out as it saw a proposal by the FAA for already modifying the new briefing card rule. Two new requirements were presented for public consultation, which the FAA believed would improve passenger knowledge and avoid confusion:

  • each passenger over 12 years of age must be given one copy of the printed briefing card upon entering the airplane;
  • the cards must be pertinent to the type and model of airplane being used on the flight. 

The first proposal met with resistance from the airlines and was not adopted. The second, however, was well received and took effect on October 24, 1967:

This meant the end of fleet cards, at least in the USA.

Delta responded quickly and first issued type-specific cards in September 1967, one month before the rule deadline. They diligently made separate cards for each type and model, as the new regulation stipulated: one each for the DC-9-14, DC-9-32, DC-8-33, DC-8-51 (shown), CV-880, etc.

Delta DC-8-51 safety card

Five years later (8/72), they joined the two short DC-8 models (DC-8-33 and DC-8-51) on one card, as the exit locations and method of operation were identical. Yet, on the cover, a different type appeared. Delta later corrected that.

Which of these two appeared on the 1972 Delta DC-8-33/51 card? And what is it?

1968 and 1969 Safety Cards

The revised regulation led to an abundance of cards. Like Delta, the major carriers, aware of the upcoming rule, had already started re-issuing their cards in 1967. Scroll below to the articles by Barron and Anderson in this Captain’s Log safety card section to see some examples.

The next two years saw many more airlines introducing or revising them. Let me reproduce a selection to illustrate the artwork and methods of presentation.

in March 1968, Ozark Air Lines issued this Fairchild FH-227B card. On one side it has some technical data, plus text cautions about electronic devices, lighters, and a notification about flotation cushions. On the reverse side, there is graphic safety information showing exit locations and their operation.

Ozark FH-227B safety card-front
Ozark FH-227B safety card-back

Pacific Southwest Airlines introduced the Boeing 737 in September 1968, a brand new aircraft type. They had the safety cards prepared well in advance, as evidenced by the issue date: June 21, 1968. Emergency exit location, operation, and the slide were shown on one side; oxygen, bracing position, and flotation equipment were on the other. Note the rather primitive way of portraying the cabin.

PSA 737 safety card
PSA 737 safety card

Air West was formed in April 1968 by a merger of Pacific Air Lines (which started in 1941 as Southwest Airways, not to be confused with the later Southwest Airlines), Bonanza Air Lines, and West Coast Airlines. They all operated the Fairchild F-27. Their operating area covered the eight westernmost United States, so the new name, Air West, was apt. Air West’s December 1968 card was identical on either side, but for the language: English on one side, Spanish on the other. Safety information was limited to bracing position, flotation seat cushions, exit locations, and operation of the window exits plus the exit in the lavatory. The F-27 (both as built by Fokker and Fairchild) was probably unique in that one exit could only be accessed via the lavatory! For that purpose, its door needed to be secured open during take-off and landing. How the oppositely located integral stair-equipped entrance door opened was not shown. The illustrations were black on red, which would not have helped in conditions of poor lighting. When former TWA-owner Howard Hughes bought Air West in 1970, it became Hughes Airwest. In 1980 it was bought by Republic Airlines, which itself was absorbed by Northwest Airlines in 1986, which, in turn, was acquired by Delta Air Lines in 2008.

Air West F-27 safety card

In February 1969, TWA issued an extensive 18-page booklet for their 707 “Starstream” in five European languages. Large in size and print, and well-illustrated, not only are exit locations and their operation explained as well as oxygen, life vests, and rafts, but also seat belts, smoking, and portable radios and TVs. It had separate pages for infant life vest use and even how rescue is organized. The exit plan shows internal escape routes which are confusing in the overwing exit area. The longitudinal arrow lines are not connected between the two pairs of overwing exits. Was there a barrier? No, actually, there were seats between these exits. Probably TWA wanted to stress the importance of the overwing exits for passengers seated in the center cabin and omitted this detail.

TWA 707 Starstream safety card
TWA 707 Starstream safety card

Braniff had much simpler cards, two sides only, with “quick exit locations” on one side and exit operation (plus smoking, seat belts, oxygen, and bracing opposition) on the other side. On the April 1969 card, two variants of the 727 are shown: “cargo-passenger” and “all passenger.” Would this meet the regulatory qualification for same type and model? The cargo-passenger version shows the cargo compartment forward of the wing. The only exits available for passengers are those over the wing plus the tail exit, which is ranked as a “primary exit.” For the all-passenger version, that exit is a “secondary exit.”

Braniff 727 safety card
Braniff 727 safety card

Like TWA, Pan American issued a booklet for their Boeing 707. It covered the same subjects as TWA did, but was smaller and in three more languages (Portuguese, Chinese, and Japanese). I reproduce from their July 1969 edition the front page and the illustration page. The latter folds out so it can be read along the subject page of the selection.

Pan Am 707 safety card cover
Pan Am 707 safety card illustration page

Outside the USA

The new rules directly affected US carriers. But they also inspired other countries to adopt the same, or similar regulations. I highlight three airlines from three European countries.

In Switzerland, Swissair replaced its fleet leaflets with type-specific leaflets around 1965, so actually before the US did. I show the type-specific leaflet for the Convair Metropolitan, the name that the Swiss used for the Convair 440. It is undated but I estimate it to be from around 1965.

Convair Metropolitan safety card
Convair Metropolitan safety card

Sometime in the 1950s, KLM of the Netherlands introduced a generic leaflet with emergency preparation instructions in six languages and included illustrated life vest instructions. Unfortunately, I do not have a copy to show. It was not a fleet card as it lacked type-specific information, like aircraft diagrams, but was likely used on all types. Exit information was limited to one line:

    “The escape hatches are marked ‘Emergency exit’ and the method of opening them is clearly indicated.”

It must have been used well into the next decade. For the DC-8, DC-9 and “Super DC-8” (DC-8-63), introduced in 1960, 1966, and 1967 respectively, it was augmented with separate leaflets for oxygen use, in no fewer than 12 languages, reflecting KLM’s standing as a global airline serving passengers of many tongues. Here is a poor-quality internet reproduction of the top portion of the DC-9 oxygen card.

KLM’s DC-9 oxygen card

Later, and likely prompted by the developments in the USA, KLM replaced the generic leaflet and oxygen supplements by type-specific cards. That change was drastic. From nearly text-only, KLM went for a low-text, all-graphic presentation, quite possibly to avoid the burden of having to translate in so many different languages. The new cards showed exit locations and their operation plus the brace position, oxygen use, and life vests. None of the early cards had an issue date making it difficult to determine a year. My best guess is 1968. There were separate cards for two versions of the DC-8 as well as two versions of the DC-9, all uniquely coded. The DC-9 cards carried the striped KLM logo which lasted until 1972. The DC-8 cards did not have any logo, possibly because they regularly flew for partner airlines such as Garuda Indonesia and Viasa (Venezuela) and KLM wanted to avoid confusion on the part of the passengers. I reproduce two panels from the DC-9 series 10 card.

KLM DC-9 safety card

The UK was one of the few countries with a strong civil aviation industry and authority, which had its own agenda. It did not follow the US as closely as many other countries. Many of the cabin safety measures invented in the US took a long time before they landed in the UK. In Britain, the airlines presented passenger safety information in their traditional in-flight magazines until well into the 1970s without issuing separate cards. I show the 1968 example of British Eagle, one of the independent airlines of the time. On the front cover, there is a reference to the safety on board pages, in three languages. The instructions are extensive and clear, but in text only, except for pictures of life jacket use. Further down the magazine technical data appears for the airplane types, with exit diagrams. I reproduce those for the Britannia (top) and the abundantly-exited Viscount (bottom).

British Eagle Welcome Aboard

In the next part, I will review safety card developments in the 1970s and 1980s.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Fons Schaefers / January 2023


Continue Reading 1 Comment

47th Annual Airliners International™
Kansas City, MO
June 26-29, 2024

See you at the
World's Largest Airline Collectibles Show & Convention
at MCI in 2024!


World Airline Historical Society, Inc.
PO Box 13693, Tampa, FL 33616 USA
Contact Us


Copyright © 1978-2024 World Airline Historical Society, Inc.

Read our Privacy Policy