Musings from a Passenger’s Seatback Pocket I

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

Written by Lester Anderson

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

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

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

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


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


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


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



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



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

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


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


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

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Comments (3)

  • Avatar

    David Sisson


    Thanks for sharing the prop safety cards! Too bad the Connie cards didn’t show the seating. Interesting that coach class was both 3-2 and 2-2. The BN DC-6 looks like the configuration of a DL DC-6 I rode on.


  • Avatar

    John Horton


    Great article on safety cards Great article on safety cards❗️

    I have been collecting safety card since 1981 with my oldest card being that of imperial airways of London, for an aircraft called an HP-42 .
    I am holding around 10,000+ safety cards in my personal collection.

    ( numbering them at this moment , paused on 8,900+ with A couple more file cabinets and several plastic bins to still count.

    A good majority of my safety cards are from 1970 and earlier. Some call them the golden oldies.

    You show the safety cards of American northwest TWA, I have those cards plus many more in those series. If you like I can offer some scans of cards that you may not have or know about being that I have safety cards from just about every country on the planet.

    Besides airlines I also do military if it is a transport, surveillance, communication support, freighter, air to air Tanker, etc.

    ( No bombers, no fighters, no combat aircraft no bombers, no fighters, no combat aircraft)

    I also do private and charter aircraft corporate executive and fractional timeshare ownership basically any aircraft they can haul customers or people and freight.

    However I do have a few safety cards from aircraft not meant to haul passengers such as safety cards off of Waters scoopers, super scoopers and Water Bombers )

    My overall collection of all airline memorabilia items My overall collection of all airline memorabilia items( not just safety cards ) Numbers in the tens of thousands of every item you can think of from aircraft parts like aircraft black box, satellite communication ELT, first aid kits, oxygen bottles And oxygen mask, life vests and to emergency exit hatches, one from a 707, and the other from a DC-9-80….., to name a few. I have had several publications done about my collection over the years the last one was done in a publication in the country of India in November 2019.

    However, safety cards are my passion 👍🏻

    Please let me know where I can Help with Safety Card Scans ( prop, Jet, Helicopter and Corp A/C )

    Awesome article, Thank You 👍🏻

    John Horton


  • Avatar

    Judy Revling-Hall


    Thanks for sharing your collection. I was a flight attendant for TWA, 1967-2020. Sad that so many of these airlines are gone now. The cards bring back many memories of the good old days of flying when life was simple and service was tops.


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