TACAN,VOR,VOR-DME,VORTAC

VOR Chasing: My Unusual Hobby

By Phil Brooks

Being a Private Pilot and Aircraft Dispatcher for several decades, I’ve always been interested in various aspects of aerial navigation.  In the mid-1990s, with GPS navigation on the horizon, I decided it was time to document the “brick and mortar” navaids.  My favorite is the VOR station- that stands for very high frequency, omni-directional range.

These short-range navigation facilities exist worldwide, and were developed by the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Administration in the late 1930s, and perfected during WWII. These beacons transmit a signal in 360 directions (radials) over a VHF frequency, in the range of 108-117.95 MHz. Pilots tune in that frequency and the receiver in the aircraft directs them to fly to or from that VOR. It also allows them to identify and intercept certain radials, for en-route navigation (on so-called Victor Airways below 18,000 feet above mean sea level, or on Jet Routes, above Flight Level 180) as well as instrument approach procedures. The intersection of two radials, from two different VORs, can also allow one to determine their present position.

I concentrate on those in the United States, so this article will focus on those maintained by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the successor to the CAA.  There are other aviation navaids, but VORs are large, easily identifiable structures, so they caught my eye first.

VORs basically come in two versions, one that looks sort of like a big bowling pin, and another, the Doppler variety, which is typically elevated above the surrounding terrain, when nearby structures might affect the signal, which is usable in “line of sight” only. Some are classified as VORTACs, because they have the military’s TACAN (Tactical Air Navigation) system built-in, which provides similar information. There are also VOR-DMEs, which provide distance to the station. More detailed information can be found on wikipedia.com. They can be identified in flight by the Morse code of their identifier, aurally broadcast on the same frequency.

Here is an example of the Doppler VOR:

Maverick Doppler VOR/DME (TTT) at Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport,
October 2019
Photo Courtesy: Phil Brooks.

The technology, the world standard for more than 50 years, is still in use, but GPS (also known as GNSS-Global Navigation Satellite System) now dominates aerial navigation.  The FAA is decommissioning most VORs over the next few years, but keeping what they call a Minimum Operational Network (MON), to provide basic conventional navigation service for operators to use if GNSS becomes unavailable.

The MON is intended to provide signal reception starting at above 5,000 feet Above Ground Level (AGL) over the continental United States, giving pilots the ability to navigate to a MON airport within 100 nautical miles and conduct an Instrument Approach without the use of GPS. This is planned to consist of 590 VORs, out of the almost 1,000 that existed in 2016, when de-commissioning began. So my hobby will continue for the indefinite future! While GPS is wonderful, it is vulnerable to some extent, and certainly has none of the “romance” or physical presence of the VOR system. Perhaps when the last VOR is de-commissioned, that will be my time to retire!

I appreciate both the history of the VOR system, because it was such an improvement over earlier systems of navigation, and, as a student of geography. My favorite VOR is the one nearest to my home, Brickyard (identifier: VHP), near Indianapolis, IN. I have dragged my wife Pam, even when we were dating, to a number of VORs, and she has a favorite too-Dove Creek (DVC) in southwest Colorado.

The author and the Dove Creek VORTAC (DVC) in southwest Colorado in February 2002.
Photo Courtesy: Phil Brooks

The first VOR in the U.S. was located at the Indianapolis municipal airport, now Indianapolis International (IND). This was the location of the CAA’s Technical Center at the time. Indianapolis VOR was moved about 7 miles northwest of the airport at some point, and the name was later changed from Indianapolis (IND) to Brickyard (a nickname for the nearby Indianapolis Motor Speedway) in the 1990s, to avoid confusion between the VOR and the airport, since they were no longer co-located.

They are mostly named for nearby towns or cities, but sometimes after people.  They also have three-letter codes, like airports.  Some unusual names are Crazy Woman (CZI) in Wyoming, and Gipper (GIJ) near South Bend, IN and Notre Dame University.

Here is an example of what a VOR/DME looks like on the St. Louis Aeronautical Sectional Aeronautical Chart showing the Samsville VOR:

St. Louis Sectional Chart with Samsville VOR
Image Courtesy: Phil Brooks via Public Domain.

Some are hard to find from the ground, because they are located on ridges or mountaintops, to provide an unobstructed signal.  Others are easy, located right on airports.  Their locations can be viewed on charts accessible via www.skyvector.com.  In the “old days” before smartphones, I went on a few “wild goose chases” where I was unable to locate a VOR from ground level, much to the frustration of my wife!  The Google Maps website (maps.google.com) has made it a lot easier to find them in advance of a search.  Some come up in a location search, but for others you must enter the latitude and longitude (available from www.airnav.com). 

When taking pictures of VORs, it’s important to stay on public property or get permission from the landowner.  I’ve met some nice people this way, but it sometimes takes a bit of explanation as to why I am interested!  I like that some people, even landowners, who receive payment for the use of their land, don’t know what those “bowling pins” are for.

I am a member of the Airline Dispatchers Federation (www.Dispatcher.org) and post a photo every month of a VOR, with clues as to its identity, for people to guess.  Check it out, you don’t need to be a Dispatcher to play!  The website can also be used to learn about the Dispatch profession, which I love.

Pictures of VORs from Captain’s Log readers around the world would be appreciated!

This article is dedicated to my wife, Pam, for putting up with many “VOR hunts,” and also to retired FAA technician Bill “Guido” Hyler, who has answered many of my VOR questions over the years.

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Aero Peru,Aerolineas Argentinas,APSA,AREA,AVENSA,AVIANCA,Cruziero,Panair do Brasil,South American airline badges

South America and Pan American

By Charles Dolan

As I was preparing my last article for the Captain’s Log, I was struck by the number of airlines in Central America which had connections with Pan American World Airways. The nineteen twenties and nineteen thirties saw the somewhat rapid and often chaotic development of air services in Central and South America. This area of the globe needed to move mail, people and cargo from many point As to many point Bs. The new opportunities were explored by local entrepreneurs and others from around the world. United States, German, French and Italian entities tried and failed or in some cases succeeded in establishing airlines in South America.

One name, Juan Terry Trippe, and one airline, Pan American World Airways feature prominently in this developing industry. PAA and Trippe, with the help of Charles Lindbergh, developed air routes along the east coast of the continent using both land and seaplanes. As new services were started, they went to these experts for technical and financial assistance. In other cases, such as the takeover of NYRBA by Panair do Brasil, the experts took over the competition.  The old sports saying “You can’t tell the players without the program” holds true if one wants to try to follow the development of South American airlines. The best program would be Airlines of Latin America since 1919 by R.E.G Davies with more information about Pan American itself in Gene Banning’s Airlines of Pan American Since 1927.

Many of the insignia in my collection look as if PAA had a lot to do with the creation and/or operation of these South American carriers. In some cases this is true, but in others, the only connection is the similarity of insignia. Did the latter carriers just like the look of the PAA brass, or did they want the customers to assume a closer connection? We might never know.

I have also included several carriers which did not have any connection, but I found their insignia interesting.

Aero Peru, Aerolineas Argentinas, APSA, Area,  C.A.U.S.A., Cruziero do Sul and NAB  were independent, having no PAA connection.  AVENSA was developed with PAA holding a 30 percent stake in the company. The PAA share of AVIANCA was 64 percent at its inception. Panair do Brasil was pretty much a Pan American Airways operation after the U.S. Post Office awarded it all of NYRBA’s mail contracts.

NAB, Navigasao Aerea Brasileira adopted the Pan American style wing for its pilot uniform.

Area, Aerovias Ecuatoriana, C. A. had an interesting connection with Pan American besides sharing the design of the cap badge. Area operated two Boeing 307 Stratoliners which had originally been operated by Pan American World Airways. An interesting “factoid” if ever there was one.

I hope you enjoy the images.

Aero Peru                PL  PLI          1973 – 1999
Empressa de Transporte Aereo del Peru S.A.
Aerolineas Argentinas    AR  ARG       1949 – present 
Aerolineas Argentinas AR ARG 1949 – present
APSA 1956 – 1971
Aerolineas Peruanas S.A.
AREA 1951 – 1954
Aerovias Ecuatorianas, C.A.
AVENSA 1943 – 2002
Aerovias Venezolanas, S.A.
AVIANCA 1919 – present
Aerovias del Continente Americano, S.A.
CAUSA 1936 – 1967
Compania Aeronautica Uraguaya, S.A.
Cruziero do Sul SC CRZ 1943 – 1975
Servicos Aereos Cruziero do Sul, Ltda.
N A B 1940 – 1961
Navegacao Aerea Brasileira
Panair do Brasil 1945 – 1965 (Cabin Cap Badge)
Panair do Brasil 1945 – 1965 (Cap Badge)

All Images courtesy of Author’s Collection.

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The History of Safety Cards, Part One: The Pioneer Years (1920s through 1945)

By Fons Schaefers

This new series of articles covers the development over the years of airliner safety cards and will span almost a century. Safety cards include all those pamphlets, cards and other paper material that an airline makes available on aircraft to inform passengers about safety features available to them. This ranges from do’s and dont’s for each flight, like donning the safety belt and switching off electronics, to equipment and procedures only to be used in an emergency such as an evacuation.


The first six articles chronologically review the development of safety cards whilst the next six (or so) deal with different themes. Currently, I am thinking about the following themes, but if readers have other suggestions, I am happy to adapt: appearance/artwork/contents catalog/efficacy/makers/ special user groups/spin-off cards/unique aircraft.


The history of safety cards parallels that of cabin safety. Its continuous changes are driven by technological improvements, accident lessons, associated regulatory developments and, overarching, the increasing social recognition of safety. In each article, I will sketch the evolution of cabin safety as background to the development of the cards.

1924 – 1934, EUROPE

Not long after passengers were first carried by airplanes, pamphlets addressing passenger safety features appeared. But what were those features? As compared to today’s, they were primitive and largely borrowed from the marine world. Fire extinguishers, first-aid kits and flare pistols were installed in airplanes because they were on ships and considered a token necessity. For overwater flights, life vests were added. Unique to airplanes were safety belts, but these, particularly in America, initially were only installed to prevent persons falling out of open cockpits and not necessarily to restrain them in case of heavy impacts. Emergency exits were prescribed in the very first of airplane design regulations, but this was limited to how many were needed: initially only two, and that included the passenger entrance door. Only later, the nascent regulations got more specific as to how large they needed to be, the ease of operation, marking, lighting, etc.

Although forerunners of today’s safety cards, early passenger safety pamphlets barely meet the definition of a safety card. Imperial Airways, the predecessor of BOAC and thus British Airways, issued them around 1930. I show two examples. The first, coded IA/F/30, so presumably from 1930, explains ‘the normal movements of an Aeroplane in flight,’ ‘how to travel with the greatest comfort’ and ‘the precautions which are taken against and the action to be taken in an emergency.’ In the latter category fall a no-smoking rule, a means of communication with the pilot (‘through the aperture in the front of the cabin’) and instructions how to wear the ‘lifebelt.’ For traveling with comfort, the pamphlet recommends passengers ‘to place cotton wool in their ears to deaden the noise caused by the engines’. Windows could be opened or shut as desired, it further says, without explaining why this was needed at times. Contemporary reports suggest it was to let in fresh air and to remove the stench created by passengers suffering from airsickness and perhaps using the cuspidors that the pamphlet says are provided.

The 1930 sample, reproduced below, has two penciled annotations: ‘The channel looks rough’ and
‘I think Lindberg was a wonder, don’t you?’ For those passengers not trained in sign language, writing on the pamphlet may well have been the only way to communicate during flight, as the engine noise made voices inaudible.

Imperial Airways – probably 1930

A 1931 edition of the Imperial pamphlet adds information about emergency exits (‘provided in the roof of the cabins,’ ‘clearly marked’). It is well possible that this pamphlet was not handed out on board but rather already available at sales offices as it also includes information on how to book, dress and obtain foreign money. Note the chauvinist message on the last page: ‘Imperial aircraft and engines are of British design and manufacture and are flown by British pilots.’

Imperial Airways – 1931

KLM, the Dutch flag airline that was the first in the world to celebrate its centennial (in 2019), in its pioneer years issued ‘travelers suggestions.’ I reproduce a German version, coded ’4-34 7500,’ presumably issued in April 1934 in a stock of 7500. Like the Imperial Airways sample, it starts with an explanation of how an aeroplane takes off, how high it flies (typically 400 meters, about 1,300 ft) and that engine power is reduced for landing. It mentions that windows can be opened but warns not to throw anything out. Airsickness, it continues in a propagandistic stance, is predominantly imaginary and can be prevented by ‘freeing oneself from nervous thoughts,’ using a map to follow the airplane’s track or reading a book or magazine. The life vest is explained but, unlike Imperial Airways, only by using text, not graphics. It mentions the emergency exit in the roof as an alternative to the entrance door. The door between cabin and cockpit can be used to communicate with the pilot in case of an emergency. Like with Imperial Airways, this was through a hole in the door. A feature that will amaze today’s passengers is that wires (‘Drahtberichte’) could be sent and received by
passengers via the radiotelegraphist. This service was introduced in June 1933, so still new when this leaflet was produced.

KLM 1934

The airplane pictured looks like the 3-engined Fokker F.VII/3m, a type already in use, albeit with a single engine, since 1924. The fuselage was made of a steel tubular framework covered with linen. The wings were of wood as was the interior furnishing.


There are indications that KLM issued similar instructions in its home language (Dutch) much earlier than 1934, possibly even as early as 1924. In 1969, at the occasion of their half-century existence, KLM published a celebration book1. In it is a small reproduction of a concise pamphlet, ranked as being from 1924, that sums up, in Dutch, the safety essentials of the day:

Smoking is dangerous, so not allowed


Do not throw anything out the window as that may
cause fatal accidents


To contact the pilot in case of an emergency, hand a
note through the door


Passengers are requested to use safety belts for take-off
off and landing


Do not open the door until the engine has stopped


Leave via emergency exit when door is blocked


It is dangerous to touch the emergency
exit during flight

It is not known whether this leaflet was permanently onboard or handed out to passengers before flight. I am not aware of any other contemporary safety pamphlets, but it may well be that other airlines issued them as well, particularly in Europe, where the advent of regular passenger air transport preceded that in America by almost a decade.


1 Vlucht KL-50, Leonard de Vries, 1969


1935, OXYGEN

In 1934, KLM replaced on the main routes the Fokkers with the aluminum, higher performance Douglas DC-2.
This type was able to climb well higher and thus cross the Alps on the route to Italy. And so it did, flying at altitudes of up to 5,000 meters (about 16,400 feet). It was equipped with neither a pressurized cabin nor supplemental oxygen.

One day in July, 1935, KLM’s DC-2 Gaai (Jay), originating from Milan-Taliedo on its way to Frankfurt, flew at 5,000 metres when it went into trouble, got trapped in a valley in the southern Alps and crashed.

It’s possible a contributing factor was the pilot suffering from lack of oxygen, though the accident report does not mention this. KLM stopped flying that route until it had installed supplemental oxygen provisions for both crew and passengers. By that time it employed stewardesses, whose tasks included handing out a leaflet to passengers when to use oxygen. It does not explain how to use oxygen. I assume that the how was explained at the time of boarding. The leaflet is in five languages (Dutch, German, Italian, English, French) and reproduced adjacently2. It may be the first subject-specific passenger safety pamphlet.

Worldwide, very few routes were being operated at the time with supplemental oxygen. Panagra’s trans-Andean route was probably the single exception before KLM introduced it. In the USA, the Rocky Mountains were negotiated without it. In those days the effects of oxygen at altitude were not well understood. Only towards the end of the decade, Ross McFarland and others published their scientific research, which led to the introduction of oxygen rules for US airlines in 19413. These only prescribed oxygen provisions for crew. Oxygen regulations for passengers came much later, as we will see in the next article.


2 source: Schiphol uitstappen!, Hilda Bongertman, 1935
3 CAB, Federal Register February 6, 1941


1943, MEMPHIS

The earliest mention of a US airline passenger safety pamphlet that I came across is in the 4 October 1943 edition of Aviation Week. It announces that Chicago and Southern Air Lines (which merged 10 years later with Delta) ponders about it, following a suggestion from a newspaper.

Based on that article, and searching for what likely triggered it, here is my version of the sequence of events.

1. In July 1943, an American DC-3 on its way from Louisville, KY to Memphis, TN via Nashville, TN, crashed in the dark near Trammel, KY. Of 20 occupants, only two survived. From their testimony, it appeared that the crash was survivable in the cabin, as opposed to the cockpit. The stewardess apparently had trouble opening the entrance door from the inside. She and most of the passengers were later found dead near that door. The culprit, it was determined, was a safety catch that had to be released before the door could be opened, although the door itself may have been distorted by the impact and therefore did not open. Only one passenger tried to open emergency exits (only the third attempt was successful) and survived. He stated that earlier in flight, he had explained the exit handle to another passenger, who was apparently unaware that he sat next to an emergency exit. That passenger did not survive. The other survivor could crawl out of the airplane via a hole in the front.


2. Late in October, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB, forerunner of the FAA) issued a rule that exits be marked as such and illuminated4. Such a rule did not exist at the time. In addition, it proposed a rule to ensure that exits could be opened by the operation of one handle only5.


3. Somewhat earlier, a Memphis newspaper ran an editorial ‘pointing out that passengers are not aware of the auxiliary exits and are unfamiliar with their operation.‘


4. Memphis-based Chicago and Southern Airlines picked this up and, according to the October 4 article, proposed exit marking and lighting improvements and ‘make further effort to tell passengers how to use them in event of emergency.’ The latter would include a pamphlet in the seat pocket.

I do not know whether Chicago and Southern actually did make such a pamphlet. Perhaps a reader knows? But if they did, it might well have been the first safety card by a US airline.


4CAB, Amendment 61-13, published in the Federal Register on October 28, 1943
5 CAB, Draft Release no. 43, issued November 8, 1943


1944, RAF

Toward the latter years of World War II, the British Royal Air Force had set up air transport services to ferry staff, mostly pilots, across the North Atlantic as well as to other destinations where they were needed for the war.

Equipment included the Dakota (the name that the British gave to the Douglas C-47) and the Consolidated Liberator. As most of these services went over water, the risk of a ditching was high. The RAF provided safety pamphlets to instruct passengers about the ditching and dinghy drill.

I reproduce leaflets for both types in full. The Dakota one is fairly large (36 * 72 cm/14.2 * 38.4 inch, unfolded), the Liberator’s is smaller (25 * 50 cm/ 10 * 20 inch, unfolded). Both show similar artwork, but the Dakota’s was made by ‘F.&C. LTD’ whereas the Liberator’s says ‘W.R.R. & Sons Ltd.’, so were made by different companies. Perhaps the artwork style was en vogue in those days. The codes on both pamphlets include the number 51, but I do not think that refers to the year they were made. Based on internet research about when there was a peak in military air transport using Dakotas and particularly Liberators, I conclude they stem from around 1944.

Both pamphlets have a lot of graphics, with text supporting it, rather than the opposite. The texts are identical, save for airplane type specific elements, so will have been specified by the Air Ministry that ordered the pamphlets. Both show the aircraft cabin with passengers. In the Liberator there are 18 males in a 2 abreast forward seating layout. The Dakota leaflet is less precise in number and has a mix of male and female passengers in a 2 abreast ‘armchair type’ forward facing seating layout, but it also shows the sideward facing ‘metal bucket’ seating.

The leaflets prescribe the ditching drill in quite some detail and in several steps. On the preparatory pages, the safety belt and the impact posture are shown, plus the flotation devices: the dinghy (life raft) and the individual life vest. The Royal Air Force called the latter a Mae West, after the full-bosomed American actress. According to a letter that she sent to the service, she was quite pleased that her name was used for this purpose.

It is a pleasure to study these nice pamphlets and see them as precursors to the many civilian safety cards that would follow.

In the next article in this series, I will focus on the period 1946 – 1950s, in which ditchings continue to be seen as a serious menace the effects of which can be mitigated, at least to some extent, by means of safety cards.






Photographs courtesy of the author’s collection.

November 2021
Email: f.schaefers@planet.nl

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airlines,Jetstream,Sierra Expressway,Sierra West Airlines,Sierra West Express

The Expressway

By David Birkley

Sierra West Airlines was founded by Dan Brumlik and Scott Bekemeyer as a commuter airline that would compete with congested Northern California’s highways and existing carriers with a focus on low fares and frequent service. Utilizing Oakland International Airport as a hub offered easy connections to other airlines like Shuttle by United, Southwest, and others.

Headquarters and HUB operations were to be located at the Oakland International Airport. Sierra West Express chose the reliable 19 passenger British Aerospace Jetstream 3200s with plans to serve 12 cities in Northern California and Southern Oregon with a predicted start date of May 1995. Seven beautifully painted J3200s with updated interiors joined the small airline. Aircraft and support came from British Aerospace and JSX Capital of Sterling, VA. 

The airline received its certificate on August 11, 1995, as Sierra Expressway. With much fanfare, service began on August 18 from Oakland to Eureka/Arcata, Monterey, Sacramento, CA, and to Medford, OR. Service to Redding, CA started in October.  Monterey was dropped in December and new service to South Lake Tahoe was started.

Photo Courtesy: Author’s Collection

The airline attempted to follow the success of ValuJet and Southwest Airlines by offering ticketless, no interline or baggage agreements, and peak and off-peak pricing structure. Low-cost walk-up fares were offered with few restrictions. You could purchase a roundtrip ticket Oakland-Medford for $218 which was less than one-third of the competing airlines. The airline offered two fares Off-Peak (6:00A-8:00A and 7:00P-12:00A) and Peak (8:00A-7:00P).

Once at the airport, one could expect friendly and enthusiastic service at check-in. When complete you were given a heavy thick plastic boarding pass with a story on it why you should be flying. No seat selection was offered onboard. Each out-station staff included a station manager and a small staff of ticket and ramp agents. Stations were also crew bases with three captains and three first officers. The airline employed over 250 personnel in December 1995: pilots, mechanics, and airport staff plus, administration.  

Item Courtesy: Author’s Collection

However, after the brief expansion in late 1995 and a slow reduction in service in early 1996 the airline continued to lose money and load factors hovered around 30%. As hard as the management team tried with enthusiasm, low fares and promotions were not enough.  The airline never achieved its predicted load factors of 50%, and other unforeseen expenses had eaten away at the airline’s operating capital. No choice was left but to close the doors on Friday, February 16, 1996.

Item courtesy: Author’s Collection

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Aerospatiale,aircraft,airlines,Corvette,SN.601

The Aerospatiale SN.601 Corvette

By Robert G. Waldvogel

As one of the first generation of regional jets that flew some two decades before those produced by Canadair, Embraer, and Dornier in the 1990s, the Aerospatiale SN.601 Corvette straddled the line between the business and regional markets and was consequently the smallest to have served commercially.

Its seed was planted when the French government, continuing its strategy of re-establishing the country’s post-war aviation industry began with piston airliners such as the Breguet Deux Ponts, the Sud-Est Armagnac, and the Sud-Ouest Bretagne requested that aircraft manufacturers submit proposals for a compact twin-turbofan liaison/trainer.  Then-separate Sud-Aviation and Nord-Aviation elected to jointly develop an executive jet designated the SN.600 Diplomate in January of 1968 when French indigenous SNECMA designed a suitable power plant for it, the M49 Larzac.

Displayed for the first time in model form at that year’s Hanover Air Show, it featured what became the standard business jet configuration—a low wing, a narrow fuselage, a forward, left door, swept aerodynamic surfaces, and two aft-mounted turbofans.  It most closely resembled the Cessna Citation 500.  It also had very early and very small-capacity regional jet application.

Predicted sales, which later proved unrealistically inflated, were expected to number some 400 from worldwide operators over and above the initial 60 expected from the French military.

Reflecting its joint Sud- and Nord-Aviation company origins, the aircraft, with its “SN” designation, first took to the sky in prototype form on July 16, 1970, but the lengthy development of its intended M49 powerplant necessitated the use of two 2,200 thrust-pound Pratt and Whitney Canada JT15D-1s instead.  While its maiden flight was successful, its test program did not continue in this vein.  During stall trials eight months later, on March 22, 1971, it crashed, ending in its demise.

A protracted period of redesign, before which Sud- and Nord-Aviation merged to form Aerospatiale, resulted in a 5.5-foot longer fuselage, giving the now re-designated SN.601 Corvette 100 a 45.4-foot overall length; a 42-foot wingspan, to which tip fuel tanks could be optionally installed to increase range; two 2,300 thrust-pound JT15D-4 turbofans; and a 13,450-pound gross weight.  Range, with its maximum payload, was just over 1,000 miles.

So-configured, the second and third prototypes respectively flew on December 20, 1972 and March 7, 1973.  The first production example followed suit eight months later, on November 9, 1973, and French certification was received another six months after that, on May 28, 1974.

The type’s problem-plagued program was hardly helped by competition, particularly on its executive side.  The similarly-configured, French-designed Falcon 20, distributed through Pan American Falcon Jets, enjoyed a brand name recognition advantage and was able to penetrate the coveted US market.

Attempts to conclude similar agreements were unsuccessful, specifically with Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV), Piper Aircraft, and its own Atlanta-based US Corvette Incorporated North American aircraft completion, sales, and distribution center.  Although its final one, with Oklahoma-based Air Center, Inc., seemed more promising, it never received a single production-standard aircraft out of the intended seventy.

As the third most expensive business jet after the Cessna Citation 500 and the Learjet 24, it was subjected to cost overruns and the French government gave serious thought to canceling the program.

After receiving only 24 orders, Aerospatiale did just that.  A report produced by the government’s Court of Audit stated that the company’s management lacked an adequate understanding of the risks involved in the face of competition from comparable US, British, and other French designs, saying, “It is certain that the Corvette program is, and will remain, a major commercial and financial disaster.”

In its regional jet role, it found limited application by third-level carriers seeking to offer point-to-point, hub-bypassing service on routes too thin to support larger aircraft.

Air Alpes, for example, which took delivery of two Corvette 100s in 1974 and another two in 1975, operated routes on its own behalf from Paris and those, such as Lyons-Brussels, on Air France’s, its aircraft appearing in its livery on one side and its own on its other.  Accommodating a dozen passengers, they featured two rows of single seats next to the five oval windows on either side, divided by a central aisle.  The cockpit count was two, but there were no flight attendants in the cabin.

Other operators included Air Alsace, Air Champagne, and TAT Touraine Air Transport in France, and Sterling Airways in Denmark.  Airbus Industrie used five aircraft as corporate shuttles between 1981 and 2009.

Although an 18-passenger, Corvette 200, with a 6.7-foot fuselage stretch, was proposed, it never proceeded beyond the concept stage, since its original 100 series ceased production in 1977 after 40 aircraft had been built, ending France’s second-worst commercial airliner program after that of the 150-passenger Dassault-Breguet Mercure 100, whose production run was only 12, including two prototypes.

Plagued by prototype accident; along, corrective development period; a change in power plant type; costly operation; failure to establish a North American distribution venue; strong competition; management ignorance; and capacity that proved inadequate, the Aerospatiale SN.601 Corvette nevertheless served as an example of one of the three regional jet origins: an all-new design, the conversion of an existing turboprop one, or the use of a business jet platform.

Air France/Air Alsace SN 601-100, F-BVPF seen at Basel-Mulhouse (BSL) in April 1976.
Note the lack of wingtip tanks.
Photo Courtesy: Eduard Marmet

TAT – Touraine Air Transport
Aerospatiale SN-601 Corvette 100, F-BTTT seen on May 31, 1978, at Basel-Mulhouse (BSL).
Once again note the lack of wingtip tanks.
Photo Courtesy: Eduard Marmet

Aero Vision SN 601 Corvette, F-GPLA seen at Hamburg, Germany on October 10, 2007.
Photo Courtesy: Christian Muller

Uni Air SN 601 Corvette, F-PVPG seen at Faro, Portugal on November 30, 1987.
Photo Courtesy: Pedro Aragao

Sterling Airways Aerospatiale Sn-610 Corvette, OY-SBT seen at Copenhagen, Denmark on September 22, 1984.
Photo Courtesy: Dirk Grothe | Aviation Photography

Sterling Airways Aerospatiale Sn-610 Corvette, OY-SBR seen at Copenhagen, Denmark on September 22, 1984.
Photo Courtesy: Dirk Grothe | Aviation Photography

Former Sterling Airways Aerospatiale SN-610 Corvette, OY-SBR seen at The Fly Museum in Stauning, Denmark on August 27, 2018.
Photo Courtesy: Dirk Grothe | Aviation Photography

Flight deck of former Sterling Airways Aerospatiale SN-610 Corvette, OY-SBR seen at The Fly Museum in Stauning, Denmark on August 27, 2018.
Photo Courtesy: Dirk Grothe | Aviation Photography

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Frontier Airlines,junior wings,Midwest Airlines,Midwest Express,Republic Airways,YX

Junior Wings of Midwest Express

By Lane Kranz

Midwest Express started operations on June 11, 1984, with three DC-9-10s.  The airline later added DC-9-30s and MD-80s.  In 2002, the airline simplified its name to Midwest Airlines and 717s replaced older generation aircraft.  The airline was known for quality service, 2×2 leather seating, and warm chocolate chip cookies.  Financial troubles began post-9/11 and a series of ownership changes occurred.  Midwest Airlines flew its final flight in 2010 as it was absorbed into Frontier Airlines and Republic Airways Holdings.  Its YX code is still used by Republic Airways.

Pictured Above:  (Left) Midwest Express first junior wing with block lettering.  (Center) Midwest Express second issue junior wing with script lettering.  (Right) Midwest Airlines final junior wing reflecting the name change and new corporate logo.

All aircraft pictures courtesy of Joe Hamilton collection.

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F-27,Fokker,Friendship

The Fokker F.27 Friendship

By Robert G. Waldvogel

Fokker designed the F.27 Friendship as a high-performance and capacity, next-generation Douglas DC-3 replacement.

Having undertaken a refurbishment of that very aircraft after World War II, it converted military C-47s into civil sector-applicable airliners, whose experience enabled it to combine the high wing of its own F.VIIb/3m Tri-motor with the all-metal construction of its Ford counterpart.

The resulting F.27-200, the culmination of design features that the majority of surveyed carriers believed necessary in such an aircraft, offered a circular-section fuselage with a forward baggage and cargo compartment, oval passenger windows, and an aft, left boarding door, giving it a 77-foot, 3.5-inch overall length. The pressurized cabin had a 40-passenger capacity in a four-abreast arrangement.

The high, straight wing, with a 95.2-foot span and a 753.5-square-foot area, initially featured double-slotted trailing edge Fowler flaps, but later reverted to single ones, to provide short-field capability, enabling it to serve the small, ill-equipped airports that would, to a significant extent, comprise its operational realm.

Power, generated by two 2,020-hp Rolls Royce RDa.7Dart 528 engines, endowed it with a 45,000-pound gross weight, a 300-mph speed, and a maximum, 10,300-pound payload range of 1,285 miles.

Two static and two flight test airframes were constructed after receipt of Dutch government backing. The first prototype, powered by lower-rated, 1,540-hp RDa.6 Dart 507s and the originally intended double-slotted high-lift devices, took to the sky on November 24, 1955. It was not initially pressurized.

The three-foot longer second aircraft, accommodating 36, offered 1,720-hp RDa.6 Dart 511s.

The initial F.27-100 production version, first flying on March 23, 1958, was inaugurated into service by Aer Lingus nine months later, on December 15.

Integral to the program’s success was the April 1956 license-manufacture agreement with the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Company in the US, which later became Fairchild-Hiller. Because most of the US local service carriers operated antiquated DC-3s, the agreement was seen as an opportunity to replace a significant number of aircraft.

The resulting Fairchild F-27, which first flew from Hagerstown, Maryland, on April 12, 1958, incorporated a lengthened nose for weather radar installation, an increased fuel capacity, and seating for 40, all of which were subsequently applied to its Fokker counterpart.

After it was granted its FAA type certificate on July 16, it was placed into service by West Coast Airlines two months later, on September 27 actually beating the Fokker F.27-100 into service!

Aside from the subsequent, already described, hot-and-high F.27-200, there were several other variants, including the F.27-300 with a port-side cargo door and a strengthened cabin floor; the F-27B, the Fairchild equivalent of it; the F.27-400, a combi version; and the F.27-500, the first to feature a fuselage stretch.

The latter, sparked by Air France’s Postale de Nuit night airmail service and thus equipped with an in-cabin sorting system, retained the F.27-300’s cargo door, but introduced a 4.11-foot longer fuselage for 48 passengers and 2,230-hp RDa.7 Dart 532s. It first flew on November 15, 1967.

Fairchild-Hiller’s own version, The FH-227, with an even greater, six-foot fuselage stretch, was powered by Dart 532-7s and increased the F.27-500’s maximum passenger capacity from 56 to 60. It had a 43,500-pound gross weight. Later versions of the FH-227 had an increase in gross weight to 45,500 pounds.

Despite the difficulty foreign aircraft manufacturers usually had in making inroads into the US market, Fokker, because of its optimum payload and performance turboprop design, and its Fairchild agreement, was very successful.

US local service F.27 operators included West Coast, Piedmont, Bonanza, Pacific, and Ozark. Trans-Pacific Airlines, which was later renamed Aloha and competed with Hawaiian Airlines on virtually the same inter-island network, replaced its piston Convair 340s with Fairchild F-27 turboprops in the summer of 1959, increasing its traffic share from 30 to 43 percent in the process.

Fairchild Hiller’s Longer-fuselage FH-227 initial operators included Mohawk, Northeast, Ozark, Piedmont and Paraense-Brazil.

As the western world’s best-selling turboprop twin in its class, the aircraft achieved an impressive production run—586 Fokker F.27s, 128 Fairchild F-27s, and 78 Fairchild-Hiller FH-227s.

Fokker F.27-200 Friendship
Seen in the colors of Mesaba/Northwest Airlink at Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN in April 1990.
Gary C. Orlando Photo.
The Stretched Fokker F.27-500 series
Seen here in the colors of Midstate Airlines.
Pictured landing at Chicago O’Hare Airport, IL August of 1984.
Ronald Kluk Photo.
The Fairchild F-27F, N384BA.
This particular aircraft was originally delivered to Scott Paper Company as a corporate version.
Seen here in Moline, IL flown by Britt Airways but wearing the Scott Paper colors.
Gary C. Orlando Photo.
The ultimate fuselage stretch: The Fairchild-Hiller FH-227
Ozark Air Lines FH-227, N4216.
Photo Courtesy Fairchild Hiller Gary C. Orlando Collection.

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Chicago,O'Hare

Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in Postcards

By Marvin G. Goldman

By the end of World War II in 1945, Chicago’s main airport, Midway, was barely coping with accelerating passenger numbers and no significant room for facility expansion. The City had no alternative but to select an entirely new location to meet future needs for additional capacity. In 1945 it selected Orchard Field, northwest of downtown Chicago. The site had been home to a Douglas Aircraft C-54 assembly plant during the war and had four intersecting runways.

In 1949 the Chicago City Council renamed Orchard Field as “Chicago-O’Hare Field,” in honor of naval aviator Lt. Cmdr. Edward H. “Butch” O’Hare, a Chicago native and Medal of Honor recipient. The original airport code “ORD,” taken from the Orchard Field name, was retained.

O’Hare became the first major airport in the U.S. to be planned and constructed after World War II. Development took several years, and it was only in 1955 that O’Hare officially opened to scheduled commercial airline service. Growth was slow at first, as Midway Airport, being close to downtown Chicago, was much more popular at that time. However, with the arrival of the “jet age” in 1958-1959, and the resultant need for longer runways that Midway Airport didn’t have and lacked room to build, O’Hare took off on its path to becoming America’s busiest airport.

I am aware of only two postcards of O’Hare issued prior to 1959:

1956-issued postcard of O’Hare. Publisher Aero Distributing, Chicago, no. CK211, Curteichcolor no. 6C-K1430. This shows the original terminal building and control tower. The word “International” on the front has already been added to the airport’s name. Three propliner aircraft are on the right side. The back of this card states that O’Hare is the “world’s largest airport” – an interesting claim because even a year later O’Hare only handled 36weekday departures versus Midway’s 414.
United Airlines Douglas DC-6B, N37581, at Chicago O’Hare Far North West Side, Pub’r Aero Dist’g no. CK-249, Curteichcolor no. 7C-K2639, issued 1957. Later versions of this postcard were issued, one with a border and another in a dual view with Chicago’s skyline. United established its presence at O’Hare early on, and developed a major hub there.

In 1959 pure jets started flying into O’Hare.  The early model pure jets, Boeing 707s and Douglas DC-8s, could not fly into Midway Airport because of Midway’s shorter runways.  My own first flight, on 17 December 1959, was aboard a new Continental Airlines 707 which flew from Los Angeles to Chicago O’Hare with a stop in Denver.

TWA and American Airlines 707s parked at O’Hare, in 1959 or 1960 (my card is postmarked September 10, 1960). Also on the ramp is a helicopter of Chicago Helicopter Airways. Behind the aircraft, you can see the observation deck with spectators enjoying the panoramic view of the airport. Pub’r Cameo Greeting Cards, Chicago, no. P30884.

Most postcards of O’Hare were issued during the 1960s, the early jet-age years. By July 1962 all scheduled operations at Midway airport were transferred to O’Hare. In that year O’Hare served 10 million passengers and claimed to be the “World’s Busiest Airport.” By 1965 that number doubled to 20 million, and by 1968 it rose to 30 million. Here is a selection of postcards from that decade:

In January 1962 O’Hare Airport completed a major construction project with the opening of new Terminals 2 and 3. This postcard shows one of those terminals and interior views. Pub’r Aero Dist’g, Curteich no. 2DK-1176, 1962. Each terminal included separate levels for arrivals and departures, innovative at the time. In the small images on this card, you can see two United Airlines Sud-Est Caravelle aircraft, introduced in July 1961.
Aerial view of O’Hare, 1962. Pub’r Aero Distr’g no. CK-294, Curteichcolor 2-DK-1176. Here you can see Terminals 2 and 3 in the background, separated by a round building under construction that would become a restaurant rotunda upon its opening in 1963. The ramp features a mix of prop and jet aircraft, and several jetways are already in use.

O’Hare (through United Airlines) and San Francisco International (through Pan Am) each claim to have been the first airport to use jetways.

Close-up of jetways, completed rotunda restaurant, and Terminals 2 and 3 at O’Hare, probably 1963. Pub’rHandleman Co., Chicago, no. P59106.
Aerial view of O’Hare, now called “The Aviation Crossroads of the World,” showing aircraft lining up for takeoff on its 11,600 ft. runway that opened in August 1960 – the longest civilian aircraft runway in the U.S. at the time. Pub’rCameo Greeting Cards, Chicago, Dexter Press no. 67044-B, Penrod Studio photo, about 1963.
Eastern Air Lines Lockheed L-188 Electras parked near the control tower at O’Hare. Pub’r Standard Map Dist., Chicago, no. SM-134.
Northwest Airlines L-188 Electra and Boeing 707, Continental Airlines707, and in the background an Air France 707, at Chicago O’Hare, Pub’r Cameo, Dexter Press no. DT-67051-B, Penrod Studio photo. In the background are 16 fuel tanks connected to hydrants at the aircraft parking stations, eliminating the need to transport fuel to airplanes by truck – another innovation at O’Hare.
United Airlines Sud-Est Caravelle and Douglas DC-8 at Chicago O’Hare. Pub’r Cameo, Dexter Press no. DT-67054-B. Penrod Studio photo.
Waiting Room Lobby, Terminal 2, Chicago O’Hare, postmarked 24 January 1964. Pub’r Cameo, Dexter Press no. 67043-B, Penrod Studio Photo. Note the many telephone booths. The seats, “Tandem Sling Seats” designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1962, were first introduced at O’Hare and became an iconic standard at numerous airports.

Very few postcards on Chicago O’Hare have been published from the 1970s to date. Here are some examples:

United Boeing 747-100, N4727U, taxiing on the bridge over expressway at Chicago O’Hare, about 1972. Pub’r Illinois Dist., Aurora IL, no. J12199, Phil Valdez photo. This bridge, which opened in December 1966 to improve aircraft maneuvering efficiency, was the first airport taxiway bridge spanning a public roadway.
Aerial view of Chicago O’Hare showing its newer control tower that opened in May 1971 and behind it the airport hotel that debuted in February 1973. At right is an American Airlines concourse. Oversize card, 4-1/2” x 6-1/2”. Pub’r Photoscapes, Glencoe IL no. CHI 284, Kanna Wang photo.
The expansion of O’Hare in the 1960s and early 1970s can be seen in this 1975 aerial view postcard. Note the numerous concourses and vast land area. Pub’r Aero Dist’g, Evanston IL, no. E-48, Curteichcolor no. 5ED-373.
United Airlines’ new Terminal 1 concourse at Chicago O’Hare that opened in 1987. Pub’r Postcard Factory, Markham, Ontario, Canada, no. 643925, P. Pearson photo. The new Terminal 1 was built on the site of the original O’Hare Terminal 1 and was dubbed “The Terminal for Tomorrow.”
United Airlines’ new Terminal 1 underground walkway that opened in 1987. It was created by artist Michael Hayden and called ‘The Sky’s the Limit’. Pub’r Pitt Souvenirs, Northbrook IL, no. PSK 3019, photo by Daryl R. Doulder.

Note: All the postcards shown are in the author’s collection. They are all fairly common.

Since 1990, Chicago O’Hare International Airport has continuously been expanding to meet the demands of growing passenger volume. In 1990 American Airlines, the second-largest carrier at O’Hare next to United, completed a large renovation and expansion of its facilities in Terminal 3; and in 1993 a newer international terminal, Terminal 5, opened.

In 2005 the airport embarked on an “O’Hare Modernization Plan,” a $6 billion airfield reconfiguration designed to transform O’Hare from an air traffic bottleneck into a more modern airport with fewer ‘”system-impact delays.”. Sixteen years later, in September 2021, O’Hare celebrated the completion of this project which included four new runways, the extension of two other runways, two new air traffic control towers (South and North), and the replacement of intersecting runways with parallel runways.

Yet more plans are underway at O’Hare. In 2018, a year when O’Hare handled over 84 million passengers, with about 2,400 daily flights to over 200 scheduled destinations, the airport adopted its latest master plan, called “O’Hare 21.” This plan includes, most significantly, a Terminal Area Plan whose centerpiece is a new O’Hare Global Terminal, to replace Terminal 2 and be a gateway to the airport. The Plan also intends to integrate domestic and international terminal operations, allowing airlines in each of the three major airline alliances (Oneworld, Skyteam, and Star Alliance) to consolidate operations in one terminal. Other features include increasing gate capacity by 25%, improving baggage and security services, and near-term expansion of Terminals 3 and 5.

References

  • flychicago.com. Chicago Department of Aviation site, tab “O’Hare History.”
  • wikipedia.org. “O’Hare International Airport.”
  • chicagotribune.com/news. “O’Hare International Airport timeline: From farm to global terminal,” by Kori Rumore (September 9, 2021).
  • Spiselman, Anne, “Chicago O’Hare and Its Next 25 Years,” Airways Magazine, March/April 2019, pp. 78-87.

With all the new developments and activity at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, I hope to see you at Airliners International™ 2022 Chicago, June 23-25, 2022, at the Hilton Rosemount/Chicago O’Hare Hotel. This is the world’s largest airline history and airline collectibles show and convention, with nearly 200 vendor tables for buying, selling, and swapping airline memorabilia (including, of course, airline postcards), seminars, the annual meeting of the World Airline Historical Society, annual banquet, tours and more. You might want to enter the Postcard Contest at the show. More information on AI2022 is available at airlinersinternational.org. Follow this link for Postcard Contest Rules.

Until then, Happy Collecting,

Marvin

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In the Air with Garuda Indonesian Airways: 1951 – 1956

By Arthur Smit-Roeters

For over five years I had the opportunity to fly as a steward on board a De Havilland DH114 Heron, in addition to Catalina flying boats, C-47s/DC-3s, and Convair 240s/340s. 100 flying hours a month were the norm.

What was it like to fly on board a De Havilland 114 Heron 1? I will relate a little story of one of my many adventures on the Heron.

Pictured below is a DH114 Heron 1B (fixed gear), the aircraft I served on in the 1950s.

Garuda Indonesian Airways De Havilland Heron 1B, PK-GHB c/n 14015
Photo: Arthur Smit-Roeters Collection.

A Snake on Board

In the early 1950s, I was assigned to fly as a steward on board a chartered 14 passenger Garuda Indonesian Airways De Havilland Heron 1B1, with the Vice President of Indonesia, Dr. Mohamed Hatta on board. Because the plane was not air-conditioned and flew at lower altitudes, the cabin temperature stayed warm and became unbearably hot on the ground in the sweltering equatorial heat and high humidity. The plane was not designed to carry a steward and was not equipped with a galley. One could hardly stand up straight in the cabin and less so in the tail section where the improvised galley was located.

After our takeoff, I was going to prepare snacks and noticed a beautiful green-colored rope with a red argyle pattern hanging over two cold-drink containers. When I reached out to pick it up, the rope curled up and the end showed a snake’s head with a nervous split tongue. It was ready to bite me. The vivid colors indicated that the “rope” was a very poisonous snake. I could not jump up or sideways due to the confined space but, I did step back at high speed and slammed the cabin door shut. Dr. Hatta and his entourage were told about the extra passenger.

Everybody became very edgy. A fly, an additional stowaway the flight, made life in the cabin very interesting. Every time it landed on a person, that person made some extremely quick evasive movements as if the snake was on him. The perceived intruder must have moved around quickly because many people were literally sitting on the edge of their seats while swatting away at the imaginary snake, but Dr. Hatta kept his composure. In the meantime, I kept an eye on the door threshold in case the snake slithered into the cabin. That was not possible, but I needed to be sure.

Our captain changed course, back to Sepinggan (Balikpapan, BPN, Kalimantan) Airport. We landed uneventfully but, I was not brave enough to open the door to the galley. I reasoned the serpent could have grown into a dragon and I was not a dragon slayer. Meanwhile, the captain had radioed to local flight operations that we had a snake on board and asked for plane handlers to remove it.

As soon as the Heron came to a stop on the ramp, none of the ground personnel dared to open the door since the snake would probably strike at a ramp worker. After our uncomfortable flight of about 15 minutes, we were now confined for what seemed an eternity in this narrow hot aluminum tube and everybody was soaked with perspiration. A very brave person opened the outside door and emptied the contents of a fire extinguisher into the galley. The critter was stunned by this unwelcome treatment. Finally, somebody using a long stick and with enough courage, removed the incapacitated snake and we were then able to exit the plane. After our 15 minute flight, the outside air felt cool to the skin.

So there ends my adventure of a snake on the plane.

1 In 1952 Garuda Indonesian Airways ordered 14 Heron 1B aircraft to replace their 16-passenger Catalina flying boats. The Heron 1B was designed to carry 14-17 passengers, but GIA’s configuration was for 12.

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Airline,Airways,Flag,Pan Am,Pin

Pan American Airways: A Collector’s Guide to Pan Am Flag Pins

By Tiemen Spits

The flag pins were a private issue and were allowed by the Airline’s corporate office to adorn the Pan Am uniform. No clear policy existed about the usage of the pins; the popularity of it was purely driven by the flight personnel. Research shows that the use was multi-purpose.

  • As a destination pin: the flight attendant wore the flag of the country or state that was the final destination of the flight. For ease of use, we have divided the pins in three groups:
    • Country contains the pins from the different foreign countries,
    • USA State/Territory/Commonwealth contains the USA state and Commonwealth pins,
    • Special/other, for example Berlin and the Pan Am globe pins are found in this group.
  • As an indication of the country/state of origin of the flight attendants: this was not the original intention of the pins, but developed over time and was widely embraced in support of national pride of the individuals.
  • As an indication of the linguistic skills of the person wearing it: this is not to be confused with the language pin/badge.

The pins are a simple but elegant form: two flags crossed at the pole with the Pan Am stylized globe underneath. The flag on the left is always the flag of the USA, while the flag on the right varies with the country of origin. The example below is the flag pin of Guatemala.

USA-Guatemala Pin

From ex-Pan Am employees we learned that the pins started to show up in the mid to late 1980s. However, the existence of the Cuba pin indicates that the earliest use must be before 1963 when the Cuba travel restrictions were put in place. These were not lifted until the year after Pan Am’s bankruptcy in 1991.

There are a few pins that do not adhere to the general format described above. These include the Joint Venture pins, the EU pin, and the Pan Am logo pin.

Joint Venture (JV) Pins

The Joint Venture (JV) pins were issued to show the commitment of Pan Am to partnerships with Russia and Hungary with respectively Aeroflot and Malev airlines. The Russia/Aeroflot partnership was signed in 1988 and operated flights between New York Kennedy Airport and Moscow International Airport. The flights used the Pan Am 747’s and the cockpit and cabin crews were Pan Am, while three of the flight attendants were Aeroflot. They would also act as interpreters. The Malev partnership was signed in 1989 and committed to non-stop flights between New York and Budapest. Both joint ventures lasted until Pan Am’s demise in 1991.

The Pan Am logo pin is distinguished from the others by the fact it does not sport the blue ball/globe.

Pan Am Malev JV Pin

The European Union Pin

The European Union pin depicts the European Union logo which was designed in the mid-1950s when the European Economic Community (EEC) was formed.

Pan Am EU Pin

The Berlin Pin

The Berlin pin is a special issue to show that Pan Am was one of only three airlines to fly into West Berlin, Germany after Berlin was isolated at the end of World War II. Commercial flights into Berlin were limited during the Cold War. The only three airlines flying into Tegelhoff were British Airways, Air France, and Pan Am.

Pan Am Berlin Pin

The Flying Flag Pin

Instead of a static flag, the flag is designed actively flying in the wind. The pin is thicker, the wells are deeper, and the cloisonné has been deposited thicker. In my years of collecting I have only found one pin in this style: Indonesia.

Variant Versions of the Same Country Pin

Finally, there are country pins that exist in multiple variant issues due to a change of the national flag while the pins were in use at Pan Am. These pins are

  • Austria
    • Without any device in the horizontal white bar.
    • With the Austrian coat of arms in the horizontal white horizontal bar (variant version). Because the new Austrian coat of arms was officially approved/adopted in its current form in 1984, it is possible that this variant version started to appear in the same year.
  • Romania
    • With the communist device in the yellow vertical bar. (30 Dec. 1947 – 27 Dec. 1989).
    • Without any device in the yellow vertical bar (from 27 Dec. 1989 – end of use).

How to Use This Guide

To find whether a pin was issued for the country/region of interest, use this alphabetical index.  For easy identification we have divided the pins into three main groups:

  1. International destination pins
  2. USA State/Territory/Commonwealth pins
  3. Other pins

Within each group, the pins are listed in alphabetical order by their country/state/commonwealth’s name. Each pin’s image is accompanied by the country represented by the flag and a one-line note elaborating on the image when needed. The author is still looking for Honduras and Portugal and any other pin not shown in this collector’s guide.

International flag pins

USA flag pins

In the USA these pins present the state of origin or destination. According to some sources, pins existed for all 50 states; however, I have found no evidence of this. Below are the currently known state pins.

Miscellaneous Flag Pins

There are two pins in this group that deviate from the “standard” issue, namely the Pan Am logo and the Indonesia pins. The Pan Am logo pin does not have the globe in the center below the flags and the Indonesia pin is made thicker than the “normal” pin and the cloisonné wells are deeper. Also, the flag is not draped but waving.

Each pin is approximately 1” wide by 1 ¼” high, except for the Aeroflot pin, which is approximately 1 ½ “high.

As of March 2018 – a total of 77 pins have been identified. If you have additional information about the pin usage, personal experience with them, or want to trade, please contact me at terschellin49@gmail.com or leave a comment below. Happy collecting!

This article and all images originally appeared on www.halpostcards.com (copyright 2017-2021) and are used here with the author’s permission.

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