The Elegant Vickers VC-10 July, 2020 |
|Universally acclaimed as the most beautiful of the early jet airliners, and clearly a passenger favorite, the VC-10 entered service from London to Lagos in April of 1964.|
Unfortunately, the aircraft was another victim of the frequently disfunctional British aircraft development process, a constantly evolving proposed mission that resulted in the airliner being introduced long after competitors had captured most of the market. Like other British airliners, hot and high performance was superior, but operating economics were not. Ultimately only 55 of the model 1100 and 1150 models were assembled, with the final VC-10 1154 delivered to East African in February 1970.
Nevertheless, the airliner's impact was substantial, and popularity with passengers unmatched.
Following are a number of postcard views of the swift and silent VC-10.
Remembering Varig 1927-2006 |
|In May of 1927, VARIG was established in Porto Alegre, operating it's first flight with the Dornier "Atlantico" from Porto Alegre to Rio Grande on June 22 of that year. The airline gradually expanded with Junker F-13s, A-50s and an F-52, as well as a Dehavilland Dragon Rapide. It later standardized on the more modern Lockheed L-10 Electra in the latter 1930s.|
After the outbreak of WW II, the airline under the leadership of Ruben Martin Berta, began a period of continued growth and acquisition that lead to flights to the USA in 1955, the acquisition of REAL in 1961, and Panair Do Brasil in 1965.
Control of Cruzeiro was attained in 1975, and Varig was Brazil's airline to the world.
But political changes and deregulation in the 1990s started a decline in the fortunes of the once dominant Brazilian airline, which gradually led to its sad break up, sale and ultimate final demise in 2006.
The greatest of South American airlines is gone, but a very nice postcard history remains, as shared below.
Remembering South African Airways |
|The year was 1929, when Union Airways was formed, much like other pioneer airlines, as a mail carrier. By 1934 passenger services had been undertaken, but the airline was in distress. The South African government took over the operation, adding Southwest Airways a year later, forming the South African Airways which operated until 1940.|
Following the war, service was restarted with a fleet of Lockheed Lodestars, and soon thereafter, the Avro York was temporarily used to provide an air service to England. By 1946, DC-4s were introduced, and the airline emerged as a modern international airline.
A long history of excellence and professionalism followed, both domestically and internationally. But the political revolution that ended apartheid also gradually impacted the operations of South African, and today we most likely are about to witness the end of this great airline.
Following is a post card history of South African Airways.
A Selection of Korean Air Cards 4-2020 |
|After the end of World War II, Korean National was organized, serving Seoul and Pusan with Stinson Votagers.. It was subsequently shut down during the Korean war, but emerged in 1952 with a fleet of DC-3s and DC-4s. |
It was developing into an international airline when in 1962, it was acquired by the government, and reappeared as the Korean Air of today. After a somewhat turbulent history with some crashes and two airliners shot down, Korean Air has become one of the major world airlines.
For most of that time the airline has been generous with Postcards. Following is a selection of Korean airline issues.
The Vickers Vanguard. March, 2020 |
|The comfortable and powerful Vickers Vanguard was the honored guest that arrived after the party was over. After the Viscount's successful production, there was interest in more powerful and larger mid range aircraft, which could be used on shorter existing runways. Lockheed's offering, tailored to the requests of Eastern and American received launching orders in 1955, and rather quickly completed 129 sales. It entered service in January 1959.|
The Vanguard, matching BEA's specifications, would enter service almost 2 years later. By this time, the Electra tragedies had occurred, and the public's appetite for Propeller driven aircraft was waning. Only 44 Vanguards were sold to BEA and Trans Canada.
Unfortunate, as the Vanguard performed very well, and operated through the mid 1990s.
Following are some postcard views of this airliner that arrived a little too late.
Post Deregulation startups |
|The controversial Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, forever altered the landscape of American aviation. The legacy airlines, often rather bloated, had to deal with emerging new competition, inevitably at lower costs. New airlines emerged and often disappeared just as quickly under the pressure of powerful frequent flyer programs and mega hubs. As is usually the case, the better conceived and managed survived. Unfortunately, most did not. But the new opportunities brought innovation and lower prices to the marketplace, as the legislation intended.|
Following are some of the airlines that were launched into the post de-regulation arena.
Celebrating the Super 80 jan. 2020 |
|Douglas built tough airliners. From DC-3s to DC-8s, the Douglas airliners were rugged and reliable. The DC-9, introduced in 1965 was no exception, with original models from 1966 still operating today.|
By 1979 the little DC-9 had been stretched and updated 3 times, but then Douglas launched an extraordinary stretch equipped with Pratt & Whitney JT8D-217s. This was to become the DC-9 "Super 80", the most successful and popular of all DC-9s. Almost 1200 of the sleek Super 80s found homes with airlines from Start ups to the Giants.
But, as we enter the year 2020, the Super 80 has become a relic, as emphasized by the final flight of American's once huge MD 80 fleet.
The time seems appropriate for a postcard review of the many operators of this extraordinary airliner.
Remembering Northeast December 2019 |
|Northeast Airlines was actually created by two railroads, expanding into the airline business. Boston & Maine Airways, founded in 1931, and Central Vermont Airways, formed in 1933, served New England routes which were operated under contract by National Airways, a company which, incidentally, was created by a group including Amelia Earhart.|
The combined airlines were renamed Northeast in November 1940, operating DC-3s and L-10 Electras through New England as well as Montreal, Halifax and Charlottetown in Canada.
Northeast actually originated the Air Shuttle between Boston and New York in 1946 using DC-4s on the hour.
The year 1956 saw the inauguration of their first flights to Washington DC and Florida using newly acquired DC-6s, but despite its success, Northeast had to struggle to keep that authority for a number of years. Later route strengthening efforts failed, even including a short lived southern trans continental route in 1969.
A brief fling with Howard Hughes in control from 1962 to 1964 bore little fruit, and by 1965 the airline was acquired by Storer Broadcasting. It was then that the airline launched its bold and appealing "Yellowbirds", which really elevated the airline's perception in the marketplace, but couldn't fully cure Northeast's chronic lack of profitability. The airline, however, was a perfect fit for Delta, which was essentially absent from the Northeast.
In 1972 the successful merger with Delta brought an end to the Yellowbirds, but those bright yellow and white airliners will always be a pleasant memory.
Following are some postcard views of Northeast's aircraft from 1940 through 1972.
Boeing's mighty mini, The 747 SP 11/2019 |
|After the successful introduction of the Boeing 747, and the consequent growth in international traffic, there evolved a demand for a longer range aircraft, to some degree a political demand for an aircraft to fly non stop to more distant capitals, ie. new York to Tehran.|
Simultaneously, Douglas and Lockheed were exploiting the huge gap in capacity between the 707s and 747s, a market that Boeing was forfeiting.
Ultimately, a judgement was made that a reduced size 747 could fill both of those roles. With some refinements to vertical and horizontal stabilizers, plus a modified shorter fuselage, the SP was born with launch orders from Pan Am and Iran Air.
Boeing's engineers were correct in that the SP opened new horizons of non stop flight, but they were completely wrong that such an aircraft could compete with the tri engine competitors.
By the early 1980s longer range 747 200Bs could match the range of the SP, thus the small niche occupied by the SP was eliminated.
Only 45 SPs were built,but for a few short years the SP was the crown Jewell of the industry.
Following are some postcard views of the ground breaking 747SP.
The ATRs Part 2, October 2019 |
|The ATR-42 was, indeed a hit, but the 72 model was a home run, with well over 1000 in service, and production continuing, albeit at a modest pace. The cards following reflect the broad assortment of operators that are flying or have flown the 72.||2168 Visits|
The ATRS Part 1 Sept. 2019 |
|They're not very pretty. They sort of remind one of an updated Handley Page Herald. The announcement of the new European built commuter aircraft in 1981 barely evoked a yawn. The combination of Aerospatiale and Aeritalia had never built nor marketed an airliner.|
By the time of the announcement, 713 F-27s had been built, and the updated F-50 model was forthcoming. DeHavilland of Canada had announced the DHC-8, a versatile derivative of the DHC-7 that would be available in a number of sizes. It wouldn't appear to be the best market opportunity for a fledgling company.
But, by August of 1984 the first ATR-42 took to the air. Aircraft #5 entered service with Cimber Air in December 1985. Other European regionals also gave it a shot, and to the surprise of many, The ATR-42 delivered. So much so that 1545 of the unassuming turboprops and the derivative 72 models were delivered to operators, both large and small. Most are still in service today.
Following are postcard images of some of the many ATR-42s
A Postcard History of Air India 8/2019 |
|Air transportation in India began much the same as in the United States. Contracts were awarded to carry mail, which rather quickly followed with the transportation of adventurous passengers. In 1932, Mr. J. R. D. Tata began serving an air mail route from Karachi to Bombay and Madras. In the process of carrying 10.7 tons of mail 155 passengers were also transported. |
In 1938 the airline became Tata Air Services operating a 6 seat Miles Merlin. By 1948 the newly independent government acquired a 49%
interest in the airline, and it became Air India. The year 1953 saw the creation of Indian Airways to handle domestic services, leaving Air India to be the International entity, similar to England's designation of BEA and BOAC. It was 2011 before the airlines were unified into the great airline known as Air India. Following are postcards illustrating the aircraft from 1948 to the present.
The Accidental Airliner July 2019 |
|An enormously successful Commuter Airliner program was certainly not the objective when Ed Swearingen first mated a new pressurized fuselage to Beech Queen Air wings, and twin Bonanza landing gear. The result was the SA26 Merlin. Its original Lycoming Engines were quickly replaced by P&W PT6s, and shortly thereafter, Garrett TPE 331s, to create the Merlin IIs. The Merlin IIs were essentially seen as competitors to the King Air 90, and 87 of the IIs were built.|
In 1972 the Merlin III was introduced with new wings, nacelles and landing gear. This model was ultimately stretched to create the Merlin IV, and the Metro commuter liner version. Although initial sales were mostly for the Merlin IV, it's not entirely fair to refer to the airliner as an accident. More accurately an unexpectedly favorable development. The Metro simply clobbered the Beech 99 and Twin Otters that were in service at the time with speed and pressurization.
The development costs had depleted Swearingen 's funds, resulting in a buyout by Fairchild, which was better equipped to develop the airliner sales as well as corporate market.
The rest as they say, is history with over 600 metros sold, serving airlines world wide. Following are cards of Metroliners, and a few of its predecessors.
1933, Birth Of The Modern Airliner 6/19 |
|The year 1933 was the beginning of the airliner revolution that put an end to the wood and fabric contraptions that previously carried daring passengers on frequently harrowing flights.|
Boeing led the way in Feb. 1933 with the 247, a huge technological advancement, but inadvertently created their own competition by reserving the first 60 for United Airlines, leaving TWA and others, out in the cold.
TWA then solicited proposals for a comparable aircraft, which was very successfully met by Donald Douglas. The DC-1, essentially a prototype, was airborne by July 1933, and went into service with TWA on Sept 15, 1933. Production of the DC-2 began with an order for 20 from TWA.
Lockheed's L-10 Electra was flying by February 1934, and shortly thereafter entered service with Northwest. It also introduced the twin tail concept, soon to be adopted by the very successful Beech 18 as well as future Lockheed offerings.
In the end, Boeing's refusal to share production resulted in the sale of 198 DC-2s, and 149 L-10s, leaving only 15 additional 247s for Boeing.
Improvements and derivatives came quickly, but these three airliners essentially launched the industry. Following are some postcard views of these pioneers.
The Jaeger Airliner Cards May 2019 |
|While the USA had few vintage airline postcard publishers, Europe had a diverse group of publishers producing excellent cards from the 1950s to the present. Among the very early publishers was Editions Jaeger of Geneva Switzerland. Long a publisher of scenery and monument cards, Jaeger began issuing cards of airliners and the Geneva airport around 1950. The earliest cards appear to be airliners superimposed on scenes of Lake Geneva. But soon thereafter Jaeger began to issue excellent in flight images, apparently sourced from the airlines or the manufacturers. This continued until the early 1960s. |
Jaeger backs were not very informative, but some slight evolution occurred during the 10 years of publication. Several backs are illustrated which are not necessarily in chronological order.
A reborn Jaeger appeared around 1965, but apparently did not focus on airliners.
Once again Kuo Ching Fu has shared many of these cards from his personal collection (indicated by the KCF suffix) They are very much appreciated.
Remembering Northwest April 2019 |
|Northwest Orient, a name that described the powerful and prosperous Minnesota Airline that grew into a major global airline from a 1926 Air mail contract. The first passenger was carried in 1927. By 1928 the airline was flying Trimotors and extending service toward the west. |
By 1934, the airline had reached Seattle, and Northwest took delivery of the first Lockheed 10A Electra. The year 1939 brought the DC-3 to Northwest, and, in the post war years Northwest was a leader in route development and aircraft introduction. By late 1947 Northwest DC-4s were flying the "Northwest Passage" to Tokyo. Some 40 years later the first 747-400s were introduced. Ultimately, in 1986 Northwest nearly doubled in size with the acquisition of Republic Airlines
The growth continued until the early 2000s when a number of factors led major airlines into bankruptcy.
Afterwards, as the US airlines continued to coalesce, Northwest was finally absorbed in a colossal merger with Delta. In 2010 this great and innovative airline ceased to exist.
Enell & Hoff Airliner Cards Mar 2019 |
|As vintage publisher cards go, the early 1950s Enell series is among the most collectible. An excellent biography of George Enell by Tadd Kotick, as well as an illustrated list, may be found on Larry Myers Postcard Post.|
I've attempted to update the list, and provide images of the cards below. Cards of subjects other than airliners are omitted. The first image, is from a series of Enell photos that correspond to the postcards. Since the photos aren't numbered, I'm only speculating that this view might be the elusive card #3.
Prior to the Enell issues, in the 1940s, Official LaGuardia Airport photographer William Hoff issued a series of cards related to the airport. There were a number of reissues, in slightly different formats, and like the Enells, photo sets were sold including 12 airport or airliner views for $.25. I've included photos where I'm missing cards. This set which follows the Enell cards, is incomplete.
Naturally, I would very much appreciate scans of missing cards.
Airliners Nobody Wanted part 2 Feb 2019 |
|Boeing, since the advent of the 707, has been pretty consistent in the success of their offerings. But along the way there have been the occasional bust when airliners simply did not attract buyers. Most of these have been successful in service despite their low numbers.|
But then there was the 737-600. To the casual observer it was just another 500 without a winglet option and a much higher price tag. While obviously a serviceable aircraft, the airliner is comparatively inefficient.
Others that didn't sell, such as the 737-100, 757-300, and 767-400, have distinguished themselves with excellent service despite their paltry numbers. It's hard to believe only 55 757-300s were sold. No 767-400 and few 757-300s have been unloaded by their original buyers.
Douglas had their own models that drew no interest as well, such as the DC-9-20 and 40 models.
Following is a postcard review of these unwanted airliners.
Airliners nobody wanted part 1 Jan/2019 |
|Some airliners just don't work out. In the 21st century Boeing and Airbus are fully attuned to the demands of the marketplace, and carefully select projects to meet those demands. Yet, somehow both geared up to produce airliners nobody wanted. Of the comparatively few aircraft that actually sold, some were being scrapped at the ripe age of 3 or 4 years old. The A-318, the final shrinkage of the A-320, managed to sell 80 aircraft before buyers were scrapping them for the value of their components.|
Failures were certainly not unprecedented. The long range A-340-200 and 500 models flamed out quickly, selling 28 and 37 respectively despite substantial promotion. In earlier years when marketing was less sophisticated some real bombs were produced. The Mercure and VFW-614 spring to mind as totally ignored offerings.
Following are some postcard memories of these unfortunate airliners.
The Revolutionary Caravelle 12 / 2018 |
|In 1953, SNCASE, was awarded a contract to develop 2 prototypes of their proposed short to medium range jet powered aircraft. Capitalizing on DeHavilland's experience developing the Comets, the proven Rolls Royce Avon engine, and a fortuitous market segment selection, the project developed smoothly, and by 1955 the first prototype took flight.|
The first orders were received in 1956. By April 1959 the tail mounted twin engine design entered service. While Boeing, Douglas, and DeHavilland battled over long haul jet orders, the Caravelle was unchallenged, and sold some 280 aircraft world wide.
The sleek Caravelle breathed life into the struggling French civil aircraft industry, and in fact helped to launch the Concorde years later.
Following are examples from most Caravelle operators, followed by a collection of assorted Caravelle cards.
Mystery cards, a numbered set 11/18 |
|I've always liked numbered sets, sort of like baseball cards. But for some reason I never acquired any of these unidentified, numbered black and white airliner cards until recently.|
I know of no one who is aware of the publisher of these cards, but would very much like to have any information about them . Of course, scans of any others not shown would be particularly appreciated.
For now Kuo Ching Fu has generously shared a number of examples to add to my solitary Standard Airlines card.
Hopefully some one can solve the mystery!
Nov. 15, 2018. It has been confirmed that these are Peter Black issues.
Remembering Capital Airlines 10/18 |
|It is still hard for me to think of Capital in the past tense. The story of Capital's rise and fall is thoroughly documented in George Cearly's excellent 1988 publication. But no book can fully convey the sense of pride felt as Capital led America into the jet age, or the sense of loss as Capital struggled to remain viable in its latter years.|
Capital successfully strengthened its system with new southern routes in the 50s , and clobbered their competition with the Viscounts, but a devastating series of crashes in the late 50s and persistant financial problems damaged their prospects, and stifled their recovery.
Capital aggressively tried to maintain its technological leadership with a Comet 4 purchase in 1956, but it failed to materialize due to delays and finances. Britannias and Electras were built for Capital, but financial issues never allowed their delivery. Finally an order for 7 Convair 880s was cancelled with the announcement of the merger with United.
Capital was gone, but the distinctive sound of those Rolls Royce Darts were heard for years to come, ghosts of Capital flying in United colors. Following are cards and photos, something of a scrapbook of Capital's evolution from 1930s to 1960s.
The Turboprop Convairs 9 / 2018 |
|By 1959, twin engined turboprop aircraft were entering the market, which effectively would obsolete the Convair twins. Meanwhile D Napier and son of England equipped and obtained certification for an Eland powered Convair which was designated the 540. This aircraft was leased to Allegheny for in service evaluation.|
Later, Canadair acquired the rights to produce the Convair, including 3 unsold 440s with the intent of producing the Eland equipped 540s in Canada. Thirteen were built, ten of which went to the RCAF, and two were sold to Quebecair.
While the Eland powered Convairs were less than successful, the concept resulted in two very successful re-engining programs using Rolls Royce and Allison engines. Fifty years later Convair turboprops are still flying.
Vintage Convair Props 8 / 2018 |
|On March 16, 1947 the Convair 240 pressurized twin engine airliner first flew. Designed to fulfill a requirement from American Airlines to replace their DC-3s, the 240 essentially obsoleted the competing Martin 202, and succeeding models dominated the twin engine market. The rugged Convair designs were literally reborn as turbine aircraft in the 1960s, and some are still operating today.|
Following is a selection of vintage cards showing many of the early Convair operators.
The Embraer Jets July 2018 |
|The ERJs, first conceived in 1989, and ultimately flying by 1995, were an unlikely major aircraft program from the Brazilian company which was launched with the creation of the EMB 110 Bandeirante in 1965.|
The succeeding EMB120 was a completely new design, successfully competing with the Saabs, and operating with major airline affiliates in many countries.
But the first pure jet, begun with a stretch of the 120 fuselage, and evolving through 3 different engine configurations became a mainstay of the world commuter jet fleets.
That success led to the launching of the all new E-Jet family which entered production in 2002, and continues with over 1400 built.
All in all, an incredible success story for the once fledgling Brazilian industry. Following are cards showing a nice selection of ERJ operators.
Many thanks to Kuo-Ching Fu for sharing his comprehensive collection of ERJ cards.
Flying Colors - Braniff Airways 6 / 2018 |
|Paul Revere Braniff started his airline from Oklahoma City to Tulsa in 1928. Like many start ups it was a family undertaking and a struggle until their first mail contract in 1934. In 1935 the Lockeed L-10 Electra was added. Bowen Airlines was acquired in 1936, DC-2s in 1937 and DC-3s in 1939.|
Braniff survived the war years, and launched services to South America in 1946. By 1952 Mid Continent was added and Braniff was established as a major airline. Everything was normal and profitable until 1965 when Harding Lawrence was appointed President.
It was Lawrence that ended the "plain plane" and grew Braniff in all directions. The rest as they say, is history.
The Amazing Comets May 2018 |
|In 1945 the first jet airliner was conceived. DeHavilland undertook the enormous task of developing, and delivering a revolutionary airliner that was ultimately to transform air travel in little more than a decade. On July 27, 1949 a prototype took to the air. By May of 1952 the Comet 1 was in service from London to Johannesburg.|
The succeeding events are well known, but step by step the Comet design was refined to its final iteration, the sleek Comet 4s. The airliner was first (barely) on the North Atlantic, and introduced jet service over most of the world.
Following are cards showing the Comets that led the way, and by overcoming many technical issues, facilitated the rapid introduction of Jet airliners world wide.
60 years of Western airlines, April 2018 |
|Launched as a mail carrier with Douglas M-2s, Western pioneered the air route from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City on April 26, 1926. Occasional passengers were carried among the mail sacks until 1928, when the Fokker F-10 arrived, with an enclosed cabin for the benefit of those daring initial passengers.|
Western grew, acquiring Pacific Marine Airways, West Coast Air Transport and Standard Airlines by 1930. The depression was on, and the Postmaster General decided to merge Transcontinental Air transport with Western to create TWA. Only the original route remained to be operated by Western.
In 1934, Western divested itself of interest in TWA, creating a relationship with United which lasted for nearly a decade. After 1941, Western grew and prospered until the final merger with Delta in 1987. The oldest airline in America was no more.
Remembering TWA Mar. 2018 |
|How I miss TWA. Created in 1930 by the merger of Western Air Express and Transcontinental Air Transport it ultimately became Trans World Airlines. TWA pioneered "Skysleeper flights across the US, "Jetstream" Constellations on the polar route to Europe as well as the 1st trans-continental 747s. TWA became the first all jet American airline, and dominated Trans Atlantic travel for decades.|
During those years TWA was afflicted by corporate predators Howard Hughes and Carl Icahn, but continued to reaffirm its position until a sequence of events which included the loss of a Trans Atlantic 747, and the invasion of TWA's St. Louis hub by Southwest necessitated a final bankruptcy and sale.
Sadly, the 21st century brought an end and after 75 years TWA was merged into American.
A Look at Alaskan Airliners 2 / 2018 |
|More than anywhere in the US, the 49th state depended on air transportation. Beginning in the late 20s daring bush pilots operated in demanding conditions to serve the needs of Alaskans. By 1935 Pacific Alaska was formed as a subsidiary of Pan Am, operating Lockheed Electras on a route from Juneau to Fairbanks. Shortly thereafter Alaska Star, soon to become Alaska Airlines was formed, and by 1938 Pan Am began operating to Alaska from Seattle. Pan Am incorporated Pacific Alaska in 1941, operating Lockheed Lodestars and DC-3s. Other airlines grew from bush operators to scheduled airlines in the following decades, and a new bush industry has evolved providing fishing, sightseeing, and other tourism services.|
All the great names are gone, and Alaska has grown into a major Transcontinental airline, but aviation is as important as ever in the 49th state.
Following are the postcards I have of airliners that frequented the skies of Alaska. Also included are airline issues from many of the modern "bush" airlines supporting the tourism industry, provided by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.
Remembering the Avro/HS 748 1/2018 |
|In the late 1950s, the DC-3 replacement contest was still underway. Fokker's F-27 was near introduction, including planned US production by Fairchild. By the time Avro launched, the F-27 was clearly in the pilot's seat (so to speak).|
After first considering a similar design, Avro opted instead for a low wing aircraft designed to serve a niche market, specifically developing world markets where short field performance and self sufficiency were at a premium.
While the approach was self limiting to a degree, the 748 proved to be exactly as advertised, even resulting in its operation into Chicago's tiny Meigs Field. Ultimately the aircraft found broad acceptance in a wide variety of roles. Some 380 were produced, and operations continue in 2018.
Following are postcard views of this rugged and practical airliner. Also added are cards of its less than successful derivative, the ATP.
Christmas & New Years Cards 12 / 2017 |
|The Christmas season brings many treasures both tangible and intangible. Occasionally airlines join in by issuing cards for the holidays, and these are the few that I have, with kind additions from Hubert Jansen, and Terry Hale. |
In addition to these, Kuo-Ching Fu has shared his amazing collection of Airline Holiday cards for all to enjoy.
Here's hoping this Christmas brings blessings of peace for all and the New Year brings good fortune as well as many postcard treasures!
Stratocruiser, Queen of the props 11-17 |
|In 1945, the C-97 freighter, derived from the WWII B-29, took flight. The heavy freighter, and later tanker, served the military for decades, with over 800 built.|
A civilian adaptation was developed by 1947, and 50 aircraft were authorized for production without benefit of any orders. Given the failure of the Stratoliner, it was a bold move.
However, Pan American promptly ordered 20, introducing the airliner in April, 1949. Although a maintenance headache, the luxurious Stratocruiser was a serious competitive advantage, in effect forcing United and American to match the airliner on competitive routes.
The Stratocruiser became the emblem of Pan Am's world-wide dominance in the 1950s, and, though homely by comparison to the sleek Constellations and DC-6s, it has remained the symbol of that elegant and exciting period of air travel.
The Commuters, pt 2 Oct 2017 |
|As local service airlines became large Regional airlines the need for commuter replacements continued and many more airlines appeared in the 70s. |
Ultimately, however, code sharing arrangements undeniably worked for the consumer. An independent could not successfully compete against a Major airline affiliated company. Code sharing could be a bonanza for a commuter, but loss of a code share usually was a death sentence. Independents slowly strangled and one by one, the great commuter industry disappeared.
Throughout the country are airports that once had scheduled airline service, but now handle only private aircraft. It would seem that a 70 mile drive down an interstate is a poor substitute for local air service, but that is frequently the case.
The Rise of the Commuters Oct. 2017 |
|The air taxis, later to be designated as "Commuters" began to appear in the early 1950s, offering basic transportation in unserved or underserved markets. They grew as certificated airlines sought to eliminate unprofitable segments, and in markets where frequency trumped comfort. Certainly by 1970 Commuters were a growing component of the air transportation system.|
Following are cards of Commuters formed before 1970 that survived regulatory uncertainties, and often bad publicity to provide reliable air service to small markets.
The Star-Crossed Martin Airliners 9 / 17 |
|By 1946 the race was on for a DC-3 replacement. Convair and Martin both had twin engine proposals on the table. Martin promised an earlier delivery, albeit an unpressurised airliner. The pressurized 240 offering was approximately a year behind. Pennsylvania Central had ordered 50 of the proposed Martin 202 "Executives" and Colonial added 20 to the order book. Northwest, TWA and even LAN Chile added to an order book totaling 270 Martin aircraft. But by 1947, certification delays and an economic downturn dissolved the order book. Only Northwest, and later TWA among American Trunk airlines took delivery of 202s.|
Adding to the collapse in confidence were numerous operational issues including structural failures and unexplained loss of control of several Northwest aircraft. Ultimately Northwest pilots refused to fly the aircraft, resulting in its removal from service in 1951. Only 46 202s were delivered.
Nevertheless Martin aggressively marketed the improved 404 version, even claiming that the model would be suitable for conversion to jets. Only Eastern and TWA took the bait, along with two for the Coast Guard. A total of 103 404s were built as Convair's rugged, reliable 240s and340s racked up over 1000 orders.
The Martin production quietly died, but second hand Martins fared reasonably well, operating into the 1970s.
Only a few airline issued Martin cards were produced, but following are all of the postcard views of Martins I have acquired.
The Vickers Issued Postcards. 8 / 2017 |
|Vickers Aircraft enjoyed some success with the Viking, but the Viscount revolutionized air travel. Alone in the marketplace for turbine powered airliners, Vickers capitalized on the success stories of Viscount operators, and marketed them in many ways including postcards. Postcard advertisements extolled the accomplishments both real and projected of the Viscount and later the Vanguard.|
The Vickers airliner cards were beautifully presented, with excellent images of the aircraft, and frequently a success story on the back.
Following are the few I have been able to collect, accompanied by a number of remarkable contributions by Kuo-Ching Fu.
First listed are the early art cards featuring some of the earliest purchasers. Then the later 1950s issues with identification on the bottom.
Included are 2 data cards which are presumed to be Vickers Issue, and a sampling of Vickers post card advertisements.
Finally, there are several Airline Issues prepared by Vickers. Additions to any of these categories would be much appreciated!
The Convair Jets 7 / 2017 |
|There was nothing like the thrill of watching one of the Convairs departing with a massive cloud of black smoke slowly dissipating in its wake. The sleek Convair jets were the fastest of the new American jetliners, but never really found the niche that they hoped to occupy. Quickly obsoleted by more efficient tri jets, the 880s disappeared from their original buyers fleets, and never really had any significant secondary operators. The 990s lived on for some time with some upgrades, but they too are now a distant memory.|
Following are cards featuring the fabulous Convair Jets!
The Canadian Regionals 6 / 2017 |
|Far more than the US, rural Canada needed air transportation. Numerous independent and government operated entities filled this need using an assortment of bush aircraft. From this fragmented group several airlines coalesced and with the aid of growing populations, charter opportunities, and DEW Line contracts, grew into entities resembling the CAB designated Local Service Airlines in the US.|
Ultimately 6 were designated as "Regional" Airlines by the Canadian Government, providing service to smaller communities and feeding the 2 major scheduled airlines. From the 1960s through the 80s they grew in size and scope, but ultimately all were merged into Candian Pacific / Canadian. Ironically Canadian Pacific was acquired by the most successful regional, Pacific Western.
The names are all gone, but theirs was a legacy of growth and innovation, often in difficult circumstances.
Following are cards from the Regionals, and some of their predecessors.
Flying Boxes, The Shorts Airliners 5 /17 |
|In 1959 Shorts moved forward with a concept for a multirole STOL transport suitable for use in developing countries as well as Europe. By 1962 a prototype flew, equipped with Continental piston engines. These were discarded in favor of Turbomeca Astazous, and later, Garrett TPE 331s. The first orders were from Aer Alpi of Italy, and Emerald Air in the UK and the Skyvan entered service in 1966.|
The little shoebox with wings and a drop tail had little passenger appeal, but was quite practical as a light freighter for military as well as civilian operations.
By 1973 the 330 design was completed and presented at Farnborough. Not aesthetically pleasing , but quite practical, the 330 was the first cabin class commuter, providing relief to long suffering commuter passengers. The first orders were from Command and Time Air, and the airliner was well received.
In 1980 a final "stretch" of the Skyvan was announced, resulting in the somewhat more aerodynamic looking 360 model.
Production of the Shorts commuters continued until 1991 with nearly 400 completed. Presented are some postcard views of these "flying boxes".
The Supplemental Airlines 4/2017 |
|After the war, surplus aircraft spawned an explosion of Airlines operating services outside the realm of the "certificated" scheduled Airlines. Basically offering charters for both freight and passengers, but strictly limited in terms of frequencies the airlines marketed on the basis of low cost. Often safety was the victim of low costs.|
In the early 1960s the CAB undertook a process of eliminating high risk operations, and sanctioning Airlines that met the criteria to become an official "supplemental" Carrier. Of the hundreds that once existed 13 became official "Supplemental" Airlines.
The demand for military charters, and the initiation of publicly sold "advanced booking Charters" in the late 1960s and 70s resulted in an explosion of growth for the Supplementals, but the end of the Viet-Nam war and the advent of deregulation ultimately eroded the market niche, and gradually the Supplementals fell.
These are some post card reminders of that era.
The Universal Airliner. 3 / 2017 |
|I think we're still looking for the "DC-3 replacement." No airliner has had as many stated attempts to replace it as the DC-3, still operating 80 years after its birth. Scandias, Vikings, Martins, Convairs Heralds, Ambassadors, as well as Fokkers, Metros, Beechcrafts, and others to some degree replaced the DC-3. But no airliner served as universally as the DC-3 from Transcontinental "Sleeper" flights to 60 mile hops. The C-47 transported much of the war effort, and later served to launch many successful airlines. There are a lot of DC-3 postcards. Following are some of my favorites.||10534 Visits|
The Whispering Giant 2 / 2017 |
|Ah, The Britannia! A most elegant and exotic aircraft which compared to the DC-7s and Constellations of the time truly did whisper.|
The Britannia, conceived in 1950, fell victim to the malady that affected most British Airliners, a prolonged and dysfunctional development program.
The first test flight was an omen, as over sensitive controls led to wild pitching of the aircraft, the cockpit filled with smoke, and the landing gear malfunctioned, fully deploying only seconds before landing.
There were numerous engine issues, resulting in the crash of the 2nd prototype. Nevertheless, fueled by an order for 25 aircraft by BOAC, designs were finalized and production launched.
During the first 8 months of trials, 16 in flight engine failures occurred and 49 unscheduled engine removals were required. Sales prospects dimmed as delays continued.
But the Britannia entered service in 1957, much to the delight of passengers, and relief of BOAC management. Sadly, important orders from American trunk airlines, Capital and Northeast failed to materialize, due to their financial issues. But the Britannia flew, and led the world in speed and comfort until the arrival of the pure jets.
As production wound down in 1960 and 1961, the Canadair licensed Britannia derivative aircraft was ramping up, lasting ultimately until 1965. The CL-44 was not without its own development problems, from total electrical failures to engines shaking loose, but by 1960 it became the ideal freighter, as well as a high capacity long haul passenger airliner. The Britannia program, conceived in 1950 concluded 16 years later with the last CL-44 delivery to Loftleidir.
This is a selection of Airline issued and publisher cards, which illustrate many of the "Whispering Giant" operators.
The Skies of France Editions PI 1 / 17 |
|The Editions PI airliner cards originated around 1954, were numbered, and carried the title "Dans le Ciel de France" or "Aeroports de Paris" as well as the airliner identification. Regrettably, I never made any attempt to collect them until around 2000.|
The series stopped at a little over 200, although Editions PI continued for many years afterwards,
These are all I have, obviously missing more than 150. Some of the later issues are among my favorite cards, particularly the Pan Am DC-8, and the great in flight card of the British European Vanguard. Cards are titled as "Dans le Ciel de France" unless otherwise noted.
Any additional identifications would surely be appreciated, and any scans would be particularly valued.
The Jumbo Postcards 12 / 16 |
|During, and shortly after World War II oversized black and white cards were published by the Jumbo Postcard Co. of San Antonio, describing various themes including airliners. Quite hard to find, and easily damaged, almost none are in excellent condition. I've acquired a few, including 2 mint cards, but would love to know about, and particularly have scans of others. Any contributions would be very much appreciated||7744 Visits|
The Beechcraft Airliners 11/2016 |
|In 1937, when the DC-3 was beginning to revolutionize commercial air travel, the twin engined Beechcraft 18 was starting a revolution of its own. Production started on the first of some 9,000 aircraft that became the ideal executive, light cargo or mini airliner from 1937-1969.|
By 1969, Beechcraft was solidly established in the corporate aircraft arena. But the rapidly expanding commuter airline market provided an opportunity to enter that market with a light turboprop airliner derived from the Queen Air. Some 240 99s were produced between 1968 and 1987. By 1984 the pressurized 1900 entered service, with significant numbers going to the trunk airlines code share fleets. a total of 686 1900s were delivered between 1984 and 2002.
Now the Beechcraft airliners are fading or have faded away. Following are some postcard reminders of the Beechcraft airliners.
Pan American, The Flying Clippers 10/16 |
|There was no other airline like Pan American. In 1927, Pan Am began making the world smaller, with a Fokker F-7 flying from Key West to Havana. Soon Pan Am was operating from Miami and Brownsville, connecting America to Latin American destinations. Then it was the Pacific, The Atlantic, and Around the world.|
Pan Am pioneered new routes and new Aircraft throughout its 64 year existence making international travel a practical proposition for many Americans.
The Fabulous Electras 9/2016 |
|The L-188 was a Lockheed design tailored to requirements put forth by American and Eastern Airlines. At the time, (1955) Capital was introducing the Viscount which was clobbering competitive airlines' piston powered flights. Even though deliveries of the Electra would not occur until 1959 most American airlines chose to wait for the Lockheed offering. |
It was launched in 1955 with orders for 35 from American and 40 from Eastern, soon followed by most of the other Trunk Lines + PSA.
The early enthusiasm died upon the loss of 3 aircraft to in flight structural failures. The issues were ultimately resolved, but the early surge of orders stopped at 170. Nevertheless the Electra served exceptionally in multiple roles. Many had long second lives as freighters. Now, the few remaining have been reduced to Airsprayers.
Remembering Trans Australia 8/2016 |
|Trans Australia was half of a bizzare twin airline policy in Australia, matching government owned Trans Australia with privately owned Ansett. Both Airlines had a nice postcard history. This is the TAA half.|
There is an excellent Trans Australia history site at www.taamuseum.org.au.
The Air Travel Clubs 7/2016 |
|The bottom rung of the Airline Industry were the Air Travel clubs. Using mostly antique surplus aircraft, they sprang up and blew away like dandelions. Not many lasted long enough to issue postcards, but some were successful, most notably Denver Ports of Call, and Nomads, which only recently perished after many years of successful operations.|
Nomads was by far the most prolific issuer of cards, totaling 9 during their long period of service.
The Super Great DC-8 6/2016 |
|My Favorite airliner, the nearly indestructible DC-8 filled an assortment of roles, luxury airliner, international charter specialist, and heavy cargoliner, with many in operation long after most 707's were put to rest. These are a few of my favorite DC-8 cards!||9230 Visits|
The IAWP Historical Cards 5/2016 |
|The IAWP historical cards were issued from 1984 - 1995, by Fred Erdman, and each individually numbered. Eschewed by most collectors, and known more for poor printing quality and obscure subjects than historical significance, they nevertheless provide some important images available nowhere else. Included in this set are some of my favorites, with a little history included.||7113 Visits|
Warbirds, The Mighty C-46 4/2016 |
|The C-46 was the pride of nobody's fleet, but a large number of war survivors populated most non-scheduled airline fleets in the 1950s. Even the American trunk lines found a home for C-46s, mostly as freighters, but a few in passenger service, such as Northeast. A few of these warbirds are still flying today.||4212 Visits|
The Local Service Airlines 3/2016 |
|In order to provide reliable air service to smaller towns the CAB created a category of subsidized airlines. Initially equipped with DC-3s, the 13 Local Service airlines gradually grew into thriving regional, and ultimately major airlines before their consumption by the already bloated trunk airlines. They're all gone now, their initial mission long ago undertaken by the Commuter airlines, and gradually abandoned once again as the "Code Share" commuters grow ever larger. But, the 13 Local Service airlines can be revisited through their legacy of postcards.||13626 Visits|