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 John Schmidt (dc8schmidt@twc.com) | Home > 
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.
Album by John Schmidt. 1 - 35 of 35 Total. 6588 Visits.
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Aeronauts International 707-320
This is a very rare airline issue from Aeronauts. Aeronauts operated between 1972 and 1975, using an ex Northwest Electra,(N138US) and this 707-321. The Club had offices in Cleveland, Detroit and Pittsburgh.
The 707 shown is N726PA, a model 321 delivered to Pan Am in 1960, and sold to Aeronauts in 1972.

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American Travel Air 720
There are few photographs of American Travel Air. Operating in 1983, this 720 was an ex Aer Lingus Aircraft that flew for Ambassadair and American Trans Air prior to American Travel Air. In 1986 it was flying for Airfast

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Ambassadair 720
An excellent airline issue of the first Ambassadair 720, N8711E. Started by George Mickelsons after the shut down of Voyager 1000, Ambassadair operated until the launch of American Trans Air , which then took over Ambassadair Club flights.

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Bird Of The Sun DC-3
An Absolutely amazing livery on an ex TWA DC-3, operating for Bird Of The Sun. The Club operated from Jan 1977 through 1980, undertaking flights from Ft. Lauderdale to Caribbean and Central American Destinations.

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Club USA DC-8-30 #1
An absolutely splendid view of N1976P, one of the beautiful Bi-centennial DC-8s operated by ONA. Originally an Eastern aircraft, it was sold to ONA in 1973, and then  to Club USA in 1977. It later operated in Costa Rica and Sao Tome.
Club USA actually produced two printings of the card in the 3 years of operation.

"I actually have one of the p..."
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Enlarge photo 6
Emerald Shillelagh DC-7B
A rare airline issue from what became Shillelaghs. The club was based in Fairfax Virginia, and was the first of the Air Travel Clubs, launched by two DC Attorneys. The first trip was to Jamaica, and destinations expanded from there. N5050S shown above, was originally a National aircraft delivered in 1957, and obtained for Shillelaghs in 1964. Broken up in 1971.

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Emerald Shillelagh Electra
Almost 20 years later Shillelaghs was operating this ex Northwest Electra, N125US, which was delivered to Northwest in 1959, and sold to American Flyers in 1966, and then to Shillelaghs in 1971.

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Farmer's Union Convair 580
A unique travel club, which still exists is the North Dakota Farmers Union club. From Sept 11, 1972 -1975 they operated Convair 580 N73133, an Ex United 340, on club vacations. This excellent card was issued by the club. The aircraft was purchased by Aspen, and later operated for Kelowna.

Enlarge photo 9
Florida Air Travel Convair 880 #1 RN
The Florida Air Travel Association was formed in Orlando in 1977, operating only through November of 1978.
As might be inferred from the livery, N880JT was an ex Cathay Pacific airliner, which served from 1970-1976.  The aircraft was originally delivered to Japan Air Lines in 1962.
Broken up in Miami in 1985

Enlarge photo 10
Magic Carpet DC-7
The most famous of all the travel club airliners is Magic Carpet's DC-7C, N5903 which was featured in the film American Graffiti. Originally a Braniff airliner, N5903 was sold to Club America in 1969. After serving a stint as Grand Funk Railroad's transportation it was sold to Magic Carpet Air Travel Club in 1971 which lasted until 1975. The club also operated A Martin 404.

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Nomads DC-7B #2
The original Nomads aircraft still showing some of the original Eastern livery. Nomads was launched in 1965, and operated until 2011, when the Detroit area's economic decline substantially reduced their customer base.

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Nomads DC-7B #1
A 2nd Nomads issue of their original DC-7B, now in a distinctive Nomads livery. This aircraft went to Twentieth Century Air Travel Club in 1973, still wearing this livery.

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Nomads Electra #1
The year 1971 saw the arrival of Nomads' Electra, N836E, still wearing most of the livery of Air New Zealand , its previous operator.

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Nomads Electra #2
This is the 2nd Nomads issue of the Electra, Now wearing a full Nomads livery. It operated for 10 years, before being sold to Mandala.

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Nomads Electra #3 KCF
A rare Nomads issue by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu

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Nomads Convair 990 #2
The first Nomads card of their 990 appeared on an announcement celebrating their 10th anniversary.

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Nomads Convair 990 #1
A splendid Nomads issue of their Convair 990 N990E, delivered in August 1975. It came from Modernair, originally an American aircraft. At the time it was a huge advancement for the Air Travel clubs. Sold to Galaxy in 1983. One of my favorite 990 cards.

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Nomads 727-100
An excellent in flight card of Nomads' 1st 727 N727M, delivered in 1981. It was originally a Lufthansa aircraft, and operated until sold to Itapemirim of Brazil in 1993.

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Nomads 727-200 #1
In 1993, Nomads replaced the 727-100 with a 221 model, obtained from Pan American. It was reassigned the N727M registration and served for almost 20 Years.

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Nomads 727-200 #2
This was the final Nomads issue of N727M. The flags on the fuselage tell the story of trips throughout the world, but in 2011, Nomads shut down after 46 years of operations.

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Sportsman Air Travel Club DC-3 #1
An outstanding and very rare card, showing their 1st DC-3 as well as the interior.
 It is assumed from the card that flights were undertaken to fishing / hunting areas, as well as sporting venues.

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Sportsman Air Travel Club DC-3 #2
The Sportsman Air Travel Club was based in Dallas, Texas. Created in 1973 with an ex Interstate Airmotive DC-3, The club operated an additional DC-3 plus a Martin 404.

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Stardusters DC-7C
Stardusters Travel Club was formed in 1973, taking delivery of an Ex Scandinavian DC-7C. They operated until 1976, but little information is available on their operations. Card is a Movifoto issue.

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Sunfari Convair 880 #1 RN
Sunfari was established in Seattle in 1972, using this beautiful ex Japan Airlines 880, N5866. It operated through the mid 1970s, and was WFU in Miami in 1978.
The aircraft had a brief rebirth with Rainbow Air in 1983, but was scrapped in Orlando in 1984.

"This card kindly shared by R..."
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Enlarge photo 25
Voyager 1000 DC-7C
Voyager 1000 was actually a very successful predecessor to Ambassadair. It operated only from 1966-1973, when its certificate was revoked for ambitious promotions that the CAB interpreted as marketing flights to the public. This beautiful DC-7C card clearly displays its Alitalia Heritage.

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Voyager 1000 Electra
Voyager operated 3 Electras between 1971 and 1973. This is the only card I have seen showing their Electra. I have not seen any cards of the 720 which operated for 3 years as well.

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Ports Of Call Convair 990 #2
Denver Ports of Call became the largest club by far, operating an amazing 7 Convair 990s between 1975 and 1984. However, the only Ports of Call issue was this oversized 990 art card.

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Ports Of Call 707-120B
Ports of Call operated a total of 12 707s, including N701PC, shown on the above Aviation World Issue,an ex American 123B model delivered in 1980.

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Ports Of Call 727-100
N721PC was the only 727 operated by Ports of Call. It was an ex Pan American 100 series operated from 1981 to 1986 when Ports of call abandoned the Club to Ambassadair, and launched the short lived charter airline Skyworld.

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Skyworld 707-320B #1TH
This is a freshly hush kitted 707 of the short lived charter airline Skyworld, which evolved from Ports of Call. Card courtesy of Terry Hale.

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Skylarks 720
The Atlanta Skylarks were launched in 1966 with an Ex Delta DC-7B. This ex United 720 joined the club in 1973, operating until 1984 when the license was taken over by ex Capitol International officers, Alvin Pittman and Orien Dickerson.
The airline became Independent Air, successfully operating International charters until a fatal crash in 1989 which crippled and ultimately killed the airline.

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Independent Air 707-320B #2
An excellent card of Independent's 707 N7231T which sadly, went down in the Azores.

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Tradewinds Air Travel Club DC-3
This was a Dothan Al. based operation which flew people to long forgotten Tradewinds Treasure Inn Resort in Melbourne, Fl. One saved money by joining the club, but it isn't clear whether the flights operated to other destinations.
I believe this aircraft flew for Delta, Braniff, United, TWA, and Wisconsin Central (North Central) before purchase by Lou Herring of Indialantic, Fl. in 1967 apparently to operate this travel club. It retains the North Central treatment by the cockpit windows.

Enlarge photo 34
World Samplers L-1649GS
World Samplers, of Dallas existed only for a short time (2 years), but issued 2 excellent postcards. This extraordinarily rare L-1649, (N 7321C, Ex TWA Star of Euphrates), was provided by courtesy of Greg Smith.

Enlarge photo 35
World Samplers DC-3
The World Samplers also employed this DC-3, Ex Piedmont Kanawha River Pacemaker, for hunting and fishing trips, as well as flights to sports events.

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