Above the Weather

Above the Weather

Up, Up, and Away

T. W.A. had been experimenting with high-altitude flying for most of the 1930s, ever since ex-Naval Lieutenant D. W. “Tommy” Tomlinson started serious work in 1934 with the Northrop Gamma (see page 27). During the two years 1935­1936, he was estimated to have done more flying (with oxygen equipment) at altitudes above 30,000 feet than all other pilots, military and civil, combined. His experience— in practical terms exclusive to T. W.A.—led to the conclusion that 95% of all weather problems occurred below 16,000 feet, so that an aircraft that flew at 20,000 feet would be much smoother in flight, and faster.

Improved Comfort Level

The full benefit that such an innovation brought to the airline clientele is sometimes forgotten. Unpressurized DC-3s, which were flying 85% of the airline mileage in the United States by 1940, were a great improvement over the old Fords; but they still had to fly at low altitudes and through weather that was too often very turbulent, mainly because of low
clouds that could not be avoided. The term “air pocket” was used to describe sudden, sometimes violent, changes of alti­tude, in which the aircraft would drop suddenly, and so would the passengers, except for their stomachs. Air sickness, rare today, was a common occurrence in the 1930s.

T. W.A. Does It Again

The introduction of the Boeing 307 Stratoliner, described on the opposite page, was the first commercial aircraft to incorporate cabin pressurization to eliminate the discomfort of low altitude flying. Even though the differential against sea level pressure was only 2-1/2 lb/square inch, this was enough to enable the 307 to cruise at 20,000 feet “above the weather.” Although on the transcontinental route, two stops still had to be made, and sometimes three, when T. W.A. inau­gurated the service on 8 July 1940, it cut the coast-to-coast time to less than 14 hours, some four hours quicker than the DC-3’s. One of the economies for the airline was a marked decline in the budget allocated for the purchase of sick-bags, and, in those days, sick-cups.

Above the Weather

While Tommy Tomlinson was exploring the realms of higher altitude and higher speed, the last veteran of a bygone age saw brief service with T. W.A. In 1935, a Ford Tri-Motor, fitted with floats, was delivered from New England and Western Transportation (and ex­Eastern Air Transport) on 26 April 1933. NC-410H (msn 5-AT-69) operated a shuttle service in the New York Harbor area, carrying passengers from outlying points. The aircraft was sold to Colombia’s SCADTA on 11 February 1936.


This photograph illustrates very well the much-promoted claim that the Stratoliner could fly “above the weather."


Above the Weather

Atlantic Number One

Подпись: 250Подпись: 250Подпись:Подпись:Подпись: 150Подпись: 100Подпись:Подпись: 200Подпись: 150Подпись:Подпись: 50Подпись:

Confident Start

T. W.A. had entered the North Atlantic airways artery in 1946, to face two incumbent airlines from the United States, and, by 1948, seven national airlines from Europe. The United States contingent, comprising Pan American, American Overseas (A. O.A.), and T. W.A., was dominant, carrying about 60% of the total annual passengers, which, by 1950, had exceeded 300,000. In that year, thanks to the popularity of the Constel­lation, T. W.A. had almost overtaken Juan Trippe’s Pan Am, with 66,000 V. 69.000 passengers. But no sooner had Howard Hughes changed the name to Trans World Airlines, he was confronted with the merger of Pan American and A. O.A., which accounted for 40,000 passengers. This enabled Pan Am to maintain its lead, although T. W.A. was comfortably in second place until 1958.

Obstacles to Progress

When the Jet Age began, however (and as described on page 69) T. W.A. was not prepared for the North Atlantic onslaught. Financial stringency had obliged it to concentrate on the domestic network, while awaiting the long-range Boeing 707s, and a year’s delay cost it dearly. The British B. O.A. C., which had really started the Jet Age, temporarily, with the

Comet in 1952, got into its stride, and pushed T. W.A. into third place for several years. One reason was that both Pan American and B. O.A. C. operated the splendid Boeing 377 Stratocruisers which had great appeal for the trans-ocean air traveller, with its luxury amenities that included a downstairs cocktail bar. And in addition to the Boeing 707, B. O.A. C. had also introduced the Bristol Britannia turboprop ‘Whispering Giant’ to provide added capacity.

T. W.A. Takes the Lead

But during the 1960s, with new ownership and management T. W.A. began to reassert itself. It built up the Boeing 707 fleet energetically, and eventually 133 aircraft—almost as many as Pan Am. By 1969, it had overtaken the hitherto unas­sailable Pan Am, and continued to maintain at least parity throughout the 1970s. Indeed, many regular trans-Atlantic travellers habitually expressed a preference for the T. W.A. operation and service standards, a reputation that was main­tained until in more recent times British Airways gradually claimed ascendancy, and Pan American’s demise was accom­panied by T. W.A. owner Carl Icahn’s sale of the coveted London routes in 1991 and 1992.

This chart shows the change of leadership on the North Atlantic
air route during the 1960s.



___ London






Santa Maria


Tel Aviv











Dar e? Salaam




Ozark’s DC-3 Replacements

Ozark's DC-3 ReplacementsOzark's DC-3 ReplacementsTime to Move On

When Ozark received some new route awards on 9 December 1958, in the decisions in the Seven States Area Case, the time seemed ripe to supplement the old DC-3s with modern feeder airliners. A selection committee chose the Dutch 40- seat Fokker F-27, powered by Rolls-Royce Dart turboprop engines, and put them into service on 4 January 1960. With traffic growing healthily, more ‘DC-3 Replacements’ were required, and the first Convair 240 piston-engined 40-seater went into service on 14 August 1962.

Aircraft Exchange

The Convairs did not stay long. In an ingenious solution to equipment problems, Ozark and Mohawk Airlines filed jointly with the C. A.B. for approval of an exchange of air­craft: Ozark took eight of Mohawk’s Martins for four of its Convairs, thus standardizing both fleets. The C. A.B. acted swiftly, and the first Martin 404 entered Ozark service on 1 December 1964.

During this time, Laddie Hamilton, Ozark’s founder, resigned on 6 August 1959, and Joseph Fitzgerald took over as president, He too resigned on 30 July 1963, and Thomas L. Grace was appointed president on 18 February 1964. He was to guide Ozark into the Jet Age, was elected chairman of the board on 21 August 1970, but died on 21 July 1971, just before the death of founder Hamilton three months later.



Ozark's DC-3 Replacements





Remarks and Disposal



2 Jun 65

(FH) 7 Jui 67.



1 Oct 65

(FH) 29 Jul 67.



13 Apr 65

(FH) 30 Mar 67.



16 Mar 65

Ex-Charlotte Aircraft Corp. (FH) 4 Aug 67.



29 Dec 64

(FH) 2 Apr 68.



19 Dec 65

(FH) 12 Jun 67.



23 Sep 65

(FH) 17 Aug 67.



11 Mar 65

(FH) 29 Dec 67.



24 Aug 64

(FH) 7 Jul 67.



10 Aug 65

(FH) 14 Sep 67.



20 May 65

(FH) 3 Jun 67.



26 Oct 64

(FH) 11 Mar 67.



23 Aug 65

(FH) 17 Aug 67.



29 Dec 65

(FH) 7 Jul 67.



9 Jul 65

(FH) 12 Jan 67.

Notes: (FH) = Sold to Fairchild-Hiller Corp. All except N456A (ex-Charlotte Aircraft Corp.) were ex-Mohawk Airlines.




Ozark's DC-3 Replacements

Ozark's DC-3 ReplacementsOzark's DC-3 Replacements

Ozark's DC-3 Replacements

Ozark's DC-3 Replacements

Turbine Power

As mentioned on page 94, Ozark Air Lines moved with the times and began to retire its old DC-3s, trustworthy and reli­able though they were, simply because the Jet Age had arrived and the trunk airlines were all rushing to upgrade their fleets with Boeing 707s and Douglas DC-8s on their premier routes, and introducing ВАС One-Elevens and Douglas DC-9s on their secondary routes. The travelling public was beginning to look askance at any airliners that still had pro­pellers. The Local Service airlines, whose networks now reached beyond the boondocks into the big cities, had to ‘keep up with the Joneses.’ The answer was a compromise: turbine power (which the publicists could refer to as jet power) with jet engines that drove propellers, and called turboprops or propjets.

The Fokkers and Fairchilds

Of all the Rolls-Royce Dart-engined turboprop airliners, the Fokker F-27 had a head-start on the competitors, the Avro 748, the Handley Page Herald, and the Nihon YS-11. More than 600 of all types were sold world-wide. Ozark put them into service on 4 January 1960 and six years later, with bur­geoning traffic demand on all fronts, ordered the U. S. license – built development, the Fairchild-Hiller FH-227. Ozark had increased its capital by $12 million to finance this order, as well as one for more Douglas DC-9 jets, which went into service during the same year (see page 96). The first FH-227 schedule was on 19 December 1966.


Goodbye to Pistons

On 26 October 1968, the veteran Douglas DC-3 fleet was retired, and this included one of the earliest off the production line (as noted on page 93), originally a DST that had logged 65,000 hours in flying time. The last revenue service was from St. Louis to Kansas City, and from then onwards, the Ozark Air Lines fleet was all turbine-powered.



Rolls-Royce Dart


77 feet

(1,670 ehp) x 2


95 feet


405,000 lb.


28 feet


400 miles

The stretched FH-227featured three more cabin windows than the standard F-27 from which it was derived.



Rolls-Royce Dart


84 feet

(1,990 ehp) x 2


95 feet


45,500 lb.


28 feet


550 miles

Ozark's DC-3 Replacements

Fairchild F-27 (photo: Roger Bentley)

Ozark's DC-3 Replacements

Fairchild-Hiller FH-227B (photo: Roger Bentley)

Ozark's DC-3 Replacements

Ozark's DC-3 Replacements

One of Ozark’s DC-9-34s over the grid-patterned fields of the Midwest.


Minneapolis-St. Paul








New York


This series of maps dearly illustrates Ozark’s transition from local service to regional airline status.


Ozark's DC-3 Replacements



Las Vegas,

San Diego






Son Antonio


Ft. t-aua




Ozark's DC-3 ReplacementsOzark's DC-3 ReplacementsOzark's DC-3 Replacements




127 seats • 560 mph




Ozark's DC-3 Replacements





Remarks and Disposal

Series 15



25 May 66

First Ozark DC-9.



10 Jul 66

Merged with TWA, 26 Oct 86. Returned to lessor, 20 Apr 00.



7 Dec 72

Ex-Swissair, ex-Air Panama, ex-Douglas. Sold TIA, 28 Mar 74.



3 Nov 66

Ex-Standard Airways, ex-Ozark Air Lines.



1 Oct 68

Ex-Standard Airways, ex-Ozark Air Lines.



24 Aug 66

Sold to Douglas Aircraft, 29 Oct 74.



3 Jul 72

Ex-Saudia. Leased to and returned LAV, 8 Aug 75 to 15 Oct 76. Leased to and returned Southern Airways, 10 Sep 77 to 1 Jun 78.



31 Jul 67

Returned to lessor, 20 Apr 00.



1 Sep 67

Leased to and returned Air West, 12 Mar 68 to 16 Oct 68. Crashed after aborted take-off Sioux City, Iowa, 27 Dec 68.



10 Oct 67

Returned to lessor, 20 Apr 00.

Series 31



2 May 75




3 Apr 75




6 Feb 75




6 Jun 75

Crashed after hitting a snowplow during take-off, Sioux Falls, SD. 21 Dec 83. Sold to Aviations Sales Company Inc., Jun 84.



1 Apr 74




1 May 74




3 Jun 74




1 Mar 74




26 Feb 68

Retired 25 May 00.



19 Apr 68



10 May 68



14 Jul 69

Ex-Pacific Southwest Airl Lines.



25 Feb 69

Ex-Ozark Air Lines.



27 Mar 69



21 Apr 69

Leased to Allegheny Airlines, 18 Feb /4 to 14 Feb /6.



8 Dec 69



11 Dec 69



25 Jun 70



4 Dec 73

Series 32



3 Feb 77




13 Jul 77




28 Jul 77




15 Jun 77




20 Dec 78




6 Mar 79




5 Jun 79




11 Dec 79



19 May 81



Ozark's DC-3 ReplacementsOzark's DC-3 ReplacementsOzark's DC-3 Replacements

Boeing 307B Stratoliner

Boeing 307B Stratoliner33 seats • 220 mph



———- E———

Подпись: Engines Wright GR-1820 Cyclone (900 hp) x 4 Length 74 feet NIGT0W 42,000 lb. Span 107 feet Range 1,250 miles Height 21 feet Подпись:Подпись:

The 307 was T. W.A.’s first aircraft to incorporate the use of white in its bare metal color scheme.

Boeing Fights Back

T. W.A.’s introduction of the Douglas DC-2 in 1934 had been a severe blow to the Boeing Com­pany. But it was still a driving force in the military field, and its B-17 Flying Fortress bomber —named because of its impressive array of defensive armament—ensured its survival. Boeing engineers and designers adapted the B-17 as an airliner by substituting a commercially accept­able fuselage but keeping the same wing, tail, and four engines. The result was the innovative Boeing 307 Stratoliner.

The First Pressurized Airliner

The fuselage was the most notable advance in design and construction since Jack Northrop’s monocoque replacement of the steel framework. The fuselage of the Boeing 307 Stratoliner was hermetically sealed so that, by maintaining the same pressure inside the cabin as at low altitudes—at the equivalent of 8,000-10,000 feet—the 307 could climb to higher altitudes without discomfort to the passengers or crew. It was advertised as “flying above the weather” and the term pressurization soon came into use. The name Stratoliner neatly conveyed the idea of reaching for the stratosphere, which in 1940 was perceived by the flying public as almost like flying into space.

An Eventful Life

Although T. W.A. and Pan American both put it into service in 1940, the Stratoliner’s airline life was commercially short. The aircraft’s fuel capacity was limited, to the extent that it did not have trans-ocean range, at least with an acceptable payload. But Boeing was a little unlucky, in that before improvements could be made, as is normal with all great airliners, the outbreak of the Second World War disrupted both demand and production. Only ten were built, of which T. W.A. had five. It entered service on the transcontinental route on 8 July 1940. As explained in the following pages, it suffered the ignominy of having its pressurization system removed so that the weight saving permitted a payload to be carried across the Atlantic. The 307 was a

Подпись: Registration MSN Delivery Date Remarks 41-20137 3050 1 Dec 42 Ех-USAAF C-54-DO (41-20137). Leased to T.W.A. Dec 42-9 Jon 43. This was the first C-54 built. 41-32939 3114 8 Sep 42 Ех-USAAF C-54-DO (41-32939). Crashed, Paramaribo, 15 Jan 43 Подпись:Подпись:

Howard’s End

The Origins

Howard Hughes was eventually to surrender his ownership of T. W.A. in 1961, but the seeds of the denouement were planted as early as 1945. These lay dormant for many years, but the $30 million debenture loan that Equitable Life Insur­ance made at that time to T. W.A. (of which Hughes had a 67% stock holding) was to have far-reaching repercussions. In 1946, Equitable had increased the loan to $40 million, as T. W.A. entered its major route expansion program in the post-war recovery years. Early in 1947, when the airline was faced with big losses, Howard Hughes, through his Tool Company, put $10 million cash into T. W.A., in exchange for convertible notes and the power to name the majority of T. W.A. ’s directors. This was when veteran Jack Frye and Paul Richter resigned (see page 64), as Hughes Tool Company effectively took complete control of T. W.A. In 1948, Hughes exercised his convertibility option, raising his stock holding to 73%, a move that was approved by the Civil Aeronautics Board in 1950.

Signs of Distress

Things went well operationally for T. W.A. during the next few years, with the Constellations setting a merry pace both in the United States and across the Atlantic. But when, on 4 January 1956, president Ralph Damon died, he was not replaced for many months. Hughes had lost his reliable and capable adjutant, and not until 23 January 1957 was Carter Burgess installed as president. He never met Hughes, who held him responsible for a decline in the airline’s fortunes, and he resigned (or was forced out) on 31 December 1957, to be replaced, on 15 July 1958, by Charles Thomas.

With the advent of the Jet Age, Hughes’s T. W.A. was heavily committed. It had ordered eight Boeing 707-120s in February 1956, 30 Convair 880s in June 1956, and 25 more Boeing 707s in May 1957. The total of 63 big jets was a com­mitment of $300 million—a considerable sum in the 1950s. T. W.A. then made a one-for-one common stock offering, underwritten by the Hughes Tool Company, raising the equity capital to $43 million, of which Toolco had $35 million (rais­ing its equity to 77%).

But this was not enough. T. W.A. could not meet its pay­roll for the first quarter of 1958, and in April, Hughes was obliged to borrow $12 million from Irving Trust and the Bank of America. At this stage. Equitable Life, which had been one of the original backers in 1945, insisted on a long-term financing plan, to cover the $300 million jet procurement plan, which it had underwritten in 1957. Hughes held the lenders at bay by paying off the $12 million. Then, in July 1959, to cover the cost of the jet order, Toolco accepted the obligation, and leased the aircraft to T. W.A. on a day-to-day payment arrangement. To relieve the financial pressure fur­ther, an aircraft exchange was made with Pan American, trad­ing away six Boeing 707-120s for -320 series; and the Convair order for 30 aircraft was reduced to 20. In Septem­ber, 21 old aircraft were sold, with 27 more on option.

T. W.A. had managed to launch a domestic jet service on 20 March 1959—with only one aircraft (see page 64)—and, belatedly, started trans-Atlantic jet service on 23 November 1959; but the former initiative had been lost, and the airline was in serious financial straits.

At the end of the year, the Convair 880s on order were set aside from the production line—a move that resulted in a multi-million dollar loss for General Dynamics, Convair’s parent corporation.


The lenders’ patience was finally exhausted. In March 1960, Irving Trust shut off all further credit to Hughes, and with the other lenders, worked out a long-term financing plan that would cover the emergency. But Toolco had to agree to guar­antee all the obligations, the most important of which was that, if a change of management occurred, Metropolitan Life and Equitable could demand a voting trust to vote Hughes’s stock. This was Howard’s Achilles Heel, for on 27 July, the president, Charles Thomas resigned, amid protests from the Hughes lawyers that this was a contrived arrangement. The axe fell on 31 October, the due date for Hughes to honor the debt to Irving Trust. He could not or would not pay.

The Voting Trust

On 31 December 1960, Howard Hughes signed a $319 million financing plan for the jet fleet, under which his stock was placed in a voting trust. The banks then agreed to finance the purchase. On 27 April, Ernest Breech, formerly chairman of Ford, became chairman of T. W.A., replacing Warren Lee Pier­son, and was accompanied by Charles Tillinghast as president. Clearly there was no love lost between the adversaries of what was to become a long-drawn-out legal battle, the like of which was almost unpredecented in the history’ of American busi­ness. The first salvo was an anti-trust suit filed against Howard Hughes and the Tool Company on 30 June 1961. In May 1963, a Federal District Court judged Toolco to be in default, and the damage claim was increased from $115 to $145 million dollars. On 10 July 1964, the Civil Aeronautics Board issued an order, permitting Toolco to resume control by purchasing Series A notes from Equitable Insurance, provided that it divested itself from control of Northeast Airlines. The Court of Appeals then reversed the C. A.B.’s decision on 7 December, stating that a public hearing was legally necessary. This was upheld on 8 March 1965 by the U. S. Supreme Court. This court also refused to hear an appeal by Toolco, as it held that the public hearing was essential to determine if Hughes’s efforts were in the public interest.

Howard Hughes finally capitulated. On 3 May 1966, the Hughes Tool Company sold its entire stake in the company, through a secondary offering to the general public, 6,584,937 shares of stock (77%) valued at $86 per share. Howard Hughes, already rich, had, in about 20 minutes, become much richer, by $566,304,582.

The Judgement

The controversy over Hughes’s enigmatic role in the whole affair dragged on for years, and raised several questions, which were expressed neatly by Fortune in May 1965:

1. What is the justification for preventing a man who owes 77% of a company, however unorthodox he happens to be, from voting his stock and controlling the business?

2. How far into the control of a large-scale business are big institutional lenders entitled to go to protect their loans?

3. What is the public interest in these matters, particu­larly the unique public interest that arises in a quasi-public utility such as an airline?

Another commentary was made by the British aviation writer, Richard Worcester, who paid tribute to Hughes:

This may lay the foundations of a new T. W.A. struc­ture that will enable it to survive and justify the dreams that Jack Fiye and Howard Hughes had for the airline before the war when they conceived the Constellation. Whatever Hughes has done or not done, he will always be a great son of American commercial aviation for brilliance in sponsoring an aircraft so prescient in conception that the delay in its fruition of several years due to the war did not prevent it from going on to become a great intrinsic source of U. S. world prestige and wealth.


Ozark Enterprise

As narrated on pages 82-87, Ozark Airlines, one of the more successful Local Service airlines, had started life as a one-route and almost one-plane operator. It would be classed as a Com­muter airline today. It grew steadily through DC-3s, twin turbo­props, and short-haul jets. In 1985, it was able to adopt a junior partner, when it made an agreement with Air Midwest, which took over some of the smaller routes, using Swearingen Metros. Ozark itself had been in to the small airplane field when, on 15 March 1972, it used two de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otters to operate between the Illinois state capi­tal, Springfield, and Chicago’s lakeside airport Meigs Field, next door to the downtown business district.


The Grand Canyon

A little-remembered feature of T. W.A. pioneering was its spe­cial connection to the Grand Canyon in the summer of 1935. A special arrangement was made whereby passengers on Flights 2 and 3 (Sky Queen and Sky Master, respectively) could trans­fer at Winslow to the Bach tri-motor planes of Grand Canyon Airlines. The operation was under the supervision of Miss Edith McManus, who was an established local trader in Indian artifacts and products. The round trip Winslow-Grand Canyon fare was $19.00. This must surely have been one of the earliest, if not the first, example of a local interline agreement between a trunk carrier and what today would be termed a commuter air­line. So that the clientele would not be too fatigued to enjoy the scenic view and stopover at the Canyon, T. W.A. also offered a no-charge overnight hotel break, including taxi fare to and from the airport, at Kansas City.

For a month or two during the summer of 1935, this unusual service appeared in the T. W.A. timetables, but it was not repeated in 1936, as T. W.A. itself stopped at the Canyon when the airstrip was improved; and subsequently, instead of stopping, the DC-2s overflew the Canyon (as close as they dared). The timetables, uniquely, marked this amenity with “OVER” instead of the conventional “arr.” or “dep.”


Short Cut to JFK

One such operation was started by a Piper aircraft distributor in Bridgeport, Connecticut, who provided connections to New York’s LaGuardia and JFK airports, thus avoiding a cir­cuitous and sometimes grid-locked road journey via the Whitestone or Throgs Neck bridges. The Piper Twinair serv­ice was advertised in the later 1960s as connecting with T. W.A. trans-Atlantic flights. Although not exactly a code­sharing operation, such an arrangement seems to have been a harbinger of things to come.


La я Vpnns Grand Canyon veya’3 National Park


I <00


200__________ .


Early Air Taxi Links

Early Air Taxi Links

Dignity and Impudence: an Ozark/Midwest Metro II lines up with a DC-9-30


Scheduled Air Taxi

During the 1960s, when air transport was spreading its wings near and far, the first diminutive airlines that were later to be termed Third Level, and later still Commuter, began to emerge. Not yet dignified by the Civil Aeronautics Board for certifica­tion as bona fide airlines, they were able to operate as air taxi services, under Part 135 of the F. A.A. regulations. Under popu­lar pressure from the public, which appreciated the convenience of a non-scheduled air taxi flight that seemed to depart every morning and/or evening at the same time every day, many such services started to operate regularly.


Early Air Taxi LinksEarly Air Taxi Links

Early Air Taxi Links


37 seats ® 325 mph



General Electric CT7-5A2


65 feet


(1,735 slip) x 2 28,000 lb



70 feet 22 feet


500 miles


Early Air Taxi Links

A Trans World Express Jetstream 31 circles over the Mississippi at St. Louis, with Busch Stadium on the left and the famous arch, the Gateway to the West, on the right.


Mad isoi




■M Ko^tSos’


q Montreal


Cedar Ra


Early Air Taxi Links



Early Air Taxi Links




NEW4$) YORKT e ladelphia




















Early Air Taxi Links

Trans States connects with T. W.A. at St. Louis and New York, which have become
connecting hubs for T. W.A. ’s main transcontinental route network.


Early Air Taxi LinksEarly Air Taxi Links

Подпись: More ConnectionsEarly Air Taxi Links

Early Air Taxi Links

Подпись:Подпись: Cape Girardeau I J CORPORATE Подпись:Подпись: REGDПодпись: Stoux City  Waterloo л -0.1 i Fort Wayne Lincol ' 4 л Подпись:Early Air Taxi LinksПодпись: LexingtonПодпись: Knoxville CHAUTAUQUA Подпись: A Corporate Airlines Jetstream 32Подпись:Early Air Taxi LinksEarly Air Taxi Links

BAe Jetstream

19 seats • 300 mph

Early Trans World Express Connections

Several early commuter airlines were connected with T. W.A. Air Midwest, founded by Gary Adamson in Wichita in 1987, had an extensive network throughout the Midwest, and was associated with Ozark Airlines from 1 My 1985. This operation became T. W. A.’s in 1987, when the fleet consisted of Metro IIs, SAAB 340s, and Embraer Brasilias. It was purchased by Trans States Airlines in November 1990 (see page 99).

Jet Express, founded at Atlantic City in 1968, using CASA aircraft, became a T. W.A. connector in February 1989, feeding traffic into New York. Metro Airlines Northeast, a division of the nation’s largest regional carrier at the time, head­quartered in South Burlington, Vermont, became a connector in July 1989, feeding traffic to T. W.A. from cities of the Northeast. Most of its routes passed to Trans States Airlines.

Virgin Islands Seaplane Shuttle became a TWE carrier on 1 June 1988 but ceased operationson 17 September 1989, when its fleet was destroyed by Hurricane Hugo.

Gulfstream International Airlines

A former Eastern Airlines captain, Tom Cooper, founded Gulf – stream International in November 1968. He began scheduled services in December 1990 in southern Florida, with Cessna 402s, flying to Haiti and the Bahamas, by which time the fleet had been upgraded to Beech 1900s. Service was expanded during the 1990s, also with Shorts 360s, under agreements with various airlines. Among other ventures, Gulfstream established a hub at San Juan on 1 November 1999, and T. W.A. is one of the beneficiaries of this important Caribbean focal point of sev­eral main routes from major cities of the U. S.

Fairchild Metro

19 seats • 320 mph

Early Air Taxi Links


Corporate Airlines

This airline was founded by Charles Howell IV in 1996 as Corporate Express Airlines. It started TWE partner service on 16 December 1999, with routes radiating from St. Louis for Trans World Express. Its fleet consists of nine Jetstream 32s.

Chautauqua Airlines

Joel Hall founded Chautauqua Airlines as an Allegheny Com­muter on 3 May 1973, based at Jamestown, New York, and serv­ing western New York State and Pennsylvania with Beech 99s, Shorts 330s, and SAAB 340s. It added a southern division at Orlando, Florida, in 1980, and it became a T. W.A. Express con­nector on 2 April 2000, centred on St. Louis. It is currently adding at least 15 50-seat Embraer EMB 145 s to its TWE fleet.

Подпись: Trans-World Express
Подпись: ATR-42 48 seats *310 mph

Early Air Taxi LinksПодпись: Engines P&W Canada PW120 Length 74 feet (2,000 shp) x 2 Span 81 feet MGTOW 36,800 lb Height 25 feet Range 800 miles Подпись:The New York Connection

One of T. W.A.’s feeder affiliates came and went, after a chequered history. It was founded in 1967 by J. Dawson Ran- some in Philadelphia, and with the Volpar Turboliner (an upgraded Beech 18) he built up an excellent commuter net­work in the northeast, concentrating on feeds into all the New York airports. By 1972, he had become a member of the Allegheny Commuter system, and with a succession of inno­vations, he built Ransome Airlines into the largest commuter airline in the world. This was achieved by the use of ever – larger aircraft: Twin Otters, Nord 262s, de Havilland Canada Dash Sevens, and finally 48-seat ATR-42s.

Ransome parted company with Allegheny in 1982, flirted with Delta for a year or two, and finally sold his airline to Pan American on 1 June 1986. Pan Am continued to oper­ate services as Pan Am Express to feed into its New York international base, and in June 1989 and May 1990 opened branches in California and Miami, respectively. But “the world’s most experienced airline” was itself in deep trouble, and folded on 4 December 1991.

At midnight on 3 December, Carl Icahn had purchased the operation, which then became Trans World Express (T. W.E.). Carl departed from the T. W.A. scene in 1993, and at a time when belts were tightening, all the T. W.E. landing slots were sold on 6 November 1995, effectively wiping out the former Ransome local commuter empire.

Pan Am Express became T. W.E., Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of T. W.A.

Early Air Taxi Links

Early Air Mail Experiment

As early as 1938, T. W.A. sought to improve air mail service times. A Kellett autogyro wore its colors during an air mail experiment in connecting service in Chicago.

Early Air Taxi Links

Kellett autogyro, 1938

Going To The Fair

In 1964/65 TWA offered direct service from JFK Airport to the New York World’s Fair, through an arrangement with New York Airways, using Sikorsky S-61 helicopters.

Best Connections

During the 1980s, T. W.A. advertised “best connections” with New York Helicopter. International and transcontinental first class and Ambassador Class passengers could travel free between New York aiiports and downtown heliports and East 34th Street or the World Trade Center.

Подпись: One of Trans World Express’s ATR-42s at New York’s JFK International Airport in January 1995 (photo: Felix Usis III) Today, T. W.A. offers many “best connections” to many more places with larger aircraft through its Express Connec­tions throughout the northeastern States, (see also page 99)

War Effort

Wartime Service

When the Douglas DC-4 went into service, it was popularly thought to be a commercial version of the military C-54. But the C-54 was the production version of the original DC-4 that was the result of a joint specification by the “Big Four” air­lines and Pan American for a four-engined airliner. The com­bined order, placed on 26 January 1940, was 61 aircraft. The first one flew on 14 February 1942, only two months after the United States entered the Second World War.

The Stratoliner at War

On 1 April 1941, with war in Europe, and the United States supporting the Allies with Lend-Lease, T. W.A. established the Eagle Nest Flight Center at Albuquerque for training and engineering work. The Boeing 307s were withdrawn from service on 24 December, and contracted to the War Depart­ment. During February 1942, they were flown to Albuquerque for conversion (see page 47) and designated C-75s. T. W.A. cre­ated the Intercontinental Division (ICD), headed by Otis Bryan, and which operated separately from the domestic air­line network.

By the beginning of April 1942, T. W.A.’s ICD 307s were in Africa. On 26 February one had made its first long­distance flight across the South Atlantic (see map), with a cargo of 25,000 rounds of armor-piercing shells for the British Army in North Africa. On 20 April the first flight across the North Atlantic landed at Prestwick, Scotland, and from 22 April the South Atlantic crossings were made regu­larly. One flight, returning from Cairo, picked up Jimmy Doolittle, returning from his famous raid on Tokyo. On 10 July, the airfield was completed at Ascension Island, and by October the crossing was essentially a shuttle service. A thousand crossings were made in eighteen months—the equivalent of a round trip every day.

T. W.A. Tests the C-54

Pan American Airways was the airline with the flying boats and its aircraft were transferred to the U. S. Navy for wartime logistics work. Meanwhile, C-54s were delivered to the U. S. Army, which, however, was inexperienced in overseas and over-ocean flying and navigation. With its Boeing 307s already requisitioned for military service, T. W.A. was entrusted with the task of making special proving flights. Two aircraft were leased to T. W.A. in 1942 (see tabulation) and the airline had the honor of operating the first C-54 to be built.

Page 13 of 13 Pages April, 1943





AIRCRAFT Тутэе Number







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USAAF records show that T. W. A. was soon contributing to the war effort, with its Stratoliners flying across Africa. (National Archives, courtesy Tom Culbert)


War Effort


The T. W.A. Flying Fortresses

On 16 November 1943, a T. W.A. Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress (Boeing 299) was contracted by the USAAF to engage in a weather research program. Based at Kansas City, it flew to all corners of the world: Alaska, South America, South Africa, and across the Pacific. The title passed to T. W.A. on 3 July 1944, and Three Kind Words—as the aircraft was called—completed 32,000 miles of research flying before it was returned to the Air Force on 30 April 1946.

Another B-17G was also flown by T. W.A. after the end of hostilities. It was converted for executive use and used to fly a delegation to an IATA (International Air Transport Asso­ciation) Conference in Cairo on 29 October.

War Effort

War Effort

One of T. W.A. !s Stratoliners, in wartime uniform.

SST and the Second Line

Подпись: N1801T

French Initiative

In 1952, in England, de Havilland and B. O.A. C., with the Comet, had demonstrated that a well-matched airframe and engine could combine to produce an efficient jet airliner. But just as until then, the aviation sages had warned that jet propulsion could not be applied commercially, they then claimed that, in spite of the Comet, jet airliners would be totally uneconomic for short-haul work. The world’s first short-haul jet, the twin-engined Sud-Est 210 (later the Sud Aviation Caravelle), proved that this was not so. The 210 had the proven Rolls-Royce Avon engines, and even the Comet nose; and surprised the designers all over the world by putting the engines at the rear of the fuselage. There were many advantages: the wing was left clear of protuberances such as engines—the ‘clean’ wing; they were easily accessi­ble for maintenance; and their position substantially reduced the noise level in the cabin. Nevertheless, the idea was looked upon with skepticism, even scorn, in some aviation circles.

The First Short-Haul Jet

Sud-Est went ahead. The Caravelle made its maiden flight on 27 May 1955. Air France ordered twelve, and introduced it on the Paris-Istanbul route on 6 May 1959. By this time, 50 air­craft had been ordered, and eventually more than 250 were sold. In the United States, United Air Lines was the only cus­tomer and put it on the New York-Chicago route on 14 July 1961. T. W.A. ordered 20 Mark 10A “Nouvelle Caravelles” on 7 September, but cancelled the order in May 1962. The airline had already ordered ten Boeing 727s (see below and following pages.)

What Might Have Been

(the three drawings are on the same scale)

Boeing 2707

Supersonic Dreams

T. W. A.’s disregard for the 68-69-seat Caravelle—which would have given good service on much of the domestic route system where the traffic demand did not justify the larger jets—was in contrast with its enthusiasm for supersonic air­liners. To be fair, it was not alone, as most of the world was queuing up to put down names on the Concorde and U. S. SST order books. On 14 October 1963, T. W.A. advised the

U. S. government of its intention to buy six Boeing SSTs, and deposited $600,000 with the Federal Aviation Agency (F. A.A.). The order was even increased to ten on 14 Novem­ber 1963, and to 12 on 18 October 1967.

Hedging its bets, T. W.A. also ordered four Anglo – French Concordes, and increased this to six on 1 April 1964. The supersonic aspirations were always a dream, and were never supported by economic considerations. The T. W.A. management could not now blame Howard Hughes for this diversion from the main stream of equipment development, but at least it had taken care of the less exotic side of the busi­ness, with less spectacular operations.

The Third Level

The awareness of the need for aircraft to serve smaller cities and feeding into the trunk routes was prevejfant during the 1960s. The high interest in the hub principle had not yet developed. Aircraft such as the Caravelle, Boeing 727, and DC-9 fulfilled these needs, and supplemented the Boeing 707s and Convair 880s, often overlapping in their applica­tion and deployment. The Boeing 727 could fly coast-to – coast with only one stop. But below this Second Level was an even lower level of air service, sometimes referred to as the Third Level, or Scheduled Air Taxi, or, later, the Com­muter. To protect this end of the travel market, T. W.A. made agreements in the early summer of 1965, with San Francisco Helicopter Airways (guaranteeing a break-even need) and with New York Airways (sharing financial support with Pan American). The following year, T. W.A. was associated with Piper Twinair, a small commuter airline in the New York area, which fed passengers into T. W.A.’s JFK terminal from neighboring communities.

Troubled Times

Carl Takes Over

On 14 June 1985, one of T. W.A.’s Boeing 727s was hijacked en route from Athens to Rome. Three months later, on 26 September, many T. W.A. veterans felt that their entire airline had been hijacked by Carl Icahn. On that day, he took over control (see page 91), accepted wage concessions already agreed by the unions, and appeared to compensate them in a profit-sharing plan, with the promise of setting up an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Though he seemed optimistic about the airline’s prospects under his control, there was a catch: there were few profits to share.

A Promising Start

Carl seemed to start well. T. W.A. moved strongly into the Caribbean, expanding service from New York and St. Louis to several resort destinations; and in the New Year, reaching agree­ment for a Piedmont Airlines feed into New York. On 26 Feb­ruary 1985, he asserted “to combine two losers, we hope to create one profitable carrier.” On 11 March 1986, he won a vic­tory in the courts, when Judge Howard F. Sachs ordered the machinists back to work during a strike by 5,700 flight atten­dants who had walked off the job less than a week earlier.

The Clouds Darken

But T. W.A.’s problems went deeper, and were exacerbated in the months to come. In April 1986 a terrorist bomb exploded in mid-air on an Athens-bound flight, killing 4 and wounding 9 passengers. Remembering the incident less than a year previ­ously, the European-bound travelling public edged away from, rather than up-and-awayed with T. W.A. With diminishing returns, Icahn extracted further concessions from the pilots. The 1987 figures were no better, and the October “Black Monday” stock market mini-crash led Icahn (who held 70 percent of the stock) to delay all the previous plans for privatization by a year.

This was eventually spelled out in September 1988. Icahn and other shareholders received $20 in cash per share. Carl’s amounted to $469 million, which was $25 million more than his original investment. He also received some preferred stock. The stock had previously been held by A. C.F. Industries, described as the cornerstone of Icahn’s empire. One description of this financial juggling was very simple; “a leveraged buyout that added $1 billion in debt.” Icahn himself described T. W.A. as “not one of my most stellar investments,” a statement that strongly suggested that his interest in becoming an airline emperor like Howard Hughes was waning. He proceeded to sell off much of the airline’s assets of equipment and routes.

In 1989, he sold eleven jet aircraft and five gates at Kansas City. Early in 1990 he agreed to sell the Chicago-London route to American Airlines for $ 195 million. He threatened to sell the domestic route system if the pilots did not agree to more con­cessions. He sold and then leased back ten more aircraft. By the summer of 1990, the situation had reached crisis level — $3 bil­lion debt, no less. The unions proposed a restructuring plan, for Icahn to swap most of his now 90 percent stake for money owed, and thus reduce the debt. He responded by proposing the termination of unprofitable routes (this could have been most of the system at that time) and announced a two-tier salaries plan. In October, 450 staff were furloughed, and service terminated at many points in the system.

Selling The Farm

Worse was yet to come. It was a time when other airlines were also facing disaster. On 11 November 1990, Icahn offered to buy Pan American — an almost ludicrous proposal. On 12 December, American Airlines offered $445 million for all T. W.A.’s routes to London. On 21 January 1991, Icahn announced the halving of all services to Europe and furloughed 2,500 employees. Some palliatives were derived from a long­term contract with Military Airlift Command (MAC) and the D. O.T. award of a route to Moscow and Leningrad. But this was immediately offset by the effect of the Gulf War, which seri­ously eroded txrans-Atlantic traffic for all airlines. T. W.A. had always depended upon European and Middle Eastern routes as its best money-earner. Now the political fates were weighted heavily against them.

“Cheer up” they said, “things could be worse. So I cheered up. And they were worse.” And so it went with T. W.A. On 14 March 1991, the blow came. The D. O.T. approved the sale of routes to American, but restricted the sale to New York-London, Los Angeles-London, and Boston-London. Icahn protested strongly: “This order could well become a disaster for T. W.A.”

This inspired financier Kirk Kerkorian to step into the ring; but his intervention only led to American agreeing to buy the three routes for the full price for the five that had been included in the original offer.

Goodbye to Heathrow

No single event in T. W.A.’s history could have epitomised its decline and fall from the heights of the world airline hierar­chy than its departure from London’s Heathrow Airport, the busiest international airport in the world, the biggest gateway to Europe, the jewel in every trans-Atlantic airline’s crown.

On 1 July 1991, the last T. W.A. flight, a Boeing 747, took off, accompanied by a multiple fire-truck hose salute. As the air­craft was permitted a sentimental fly-by, the Heathrow tower called “it was nice knowing you.” T. W.A. transferred its London terminus to Gatwick. The effect was a reprieve from imminent bankruptcy, but this was a case of merely putting off the evil day.

Chapter Eleven

The acquisition of Pan Ant Express on 4 December 1991 (see page 101) was a momentary diversion from far more serious considerations for T. W.A. On 31 January 1992, the airline filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Carl Icahn called it “pre-planned,” a euphemism that can be compared with second-hand cars being called “pre-owned.” T. W.A. was in a bad way. Its total debt of $1.7 billion was more than its net worth. By the summer it was losing $2 million a day. Opening a New York-Moscow service on 17 March did not exactly reverse the balance sheet.

For the employees, the month of August was Make or Break. On 14 August, the flight attendants agreed to take pay cuts; on 24 August (at 5 a. m.) the Machinists’ Union followed suit. On 26 August, the pilots agreed, with the condition that Icahn would lend the airline $200 million and forgive $170 mil­lion owed. In exchange for the collective concessions, amount­ing to about 15% in value, all workers had 45% of the equity of a reorganized T. W.A.

On 15 November 1992, Carl Icahn agreed to the terms, and in a key decision, on 6 December, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, the largest creditor, agreed also. Mis­souri Senator Jack Danforth described the events thus: “I don’t believe in my lifetime that I have seen people who believe so strongly in their company.” The confirmation and justification for all their sacrifices came on 8 January 1993, when Carl Icahn relinquished all control, interest, and direc­tion of T. W.A. Ten months later, on 3 November, T. W.A. emerged from bankruptcy.

This was a triumph for unqualified loyalty and dedica­tion. It was in striking contrast with what happened at East­ern Air Lines in Miami in 1990. When Eastern’s union leaders learned that Frank Lorenzo had finally said “enough is enough,” and closed down the airline, they celebrated with champagne and shouts of “we’ve won.” And 30,000 employ­ees lost their jobs and their living. In T. W.A.’s case, the employees remained loyal, made a deal, and kept their jobs. They made a major contribution towards the survival of one of the world’s great airlines. They really did win.


All aircraft listed are Boeing 757-231s, except the leased
aircraft (lessors indicated), which are 757-2Q8s

Boeing Takes Another Gamble

When Boeing announced the Boeing 757, almost simultane­ously announcing the 767, many airline observers thought that the Seattle manufacturer, already noted for its readiness to take chances (albeit successfully) had this time gone too far. The two aircraft appeared to be aimed at markets which, if not identical, seemed to overlap. Yet there was a method in their apparent madness. When the announcements were made, in the late 1970s, the airline industry was booming, world-wide. Airlines were being selective, with many choices available, and there was an advantage in having a range of types that could meet every particular need.

The 767 was a completely new design, but the 757, orig­inally to be a refined 727-300, was built on the same fuselage jigs as on those of previous Boeing winners, from the first 707, then the 727, and the 737. Certainly the wings and empennage
were new; but there were economies in the construction, and that permitted Boeing to sell at a very competitive price. Most important, the 757 and 767 had almost identical cockpits, which allowed a common pilot rating.

Troubled Times

Подпись: 178 seats • 570 mph Troubled Times

Perhaps the best application of this airliner to T. W.A.’s network was on 10 September 2000, when it opened nonstop service from Los Angeles to Washington’s downtown air­port, Reagan National (formerly National). Wide-bodied aircraft (such as the Boeing 767 or the Airbuses) are not allowed there. But the airport is only ten minutes on the local subway from the business district and political quarters of the nation’s capital, a huge advantage over service to Dulles Inter­national, which is at least an hour’s taxi ride from the center, and where public transport is usually conspicuous by its absence. With its narrow-bodied 757, T. W.A. has effectively cut an hour off the Los Angeles-Washington journey.

Post-War Reconstruction

Подпись:Post-War Reconstruction

Return of the Stratoliners

On 28 April 1944, the last Boeing 307 Stratoliner was returned to T. W.A. when Air Transport Command had received suffi­cient Douglas C-54s, which could carry more load and for a longer distance. During their military use, the 307s had been flown intensively and were badly in need of renovation. This was done at Albuquerque; and between 14 March and 24 April 1945, the fleet was re-certified for commercial use, and desig­nated SA-307B-ls, after thorough modification and inspection. Scheduled services were resumed on 1 April and, until 15 Feb­ruary 1946, they were the only four-engined landplanes in service by U. S. airlines.

Early Coach Class

The fate of all airliners is to be relegated from the front line when a new generation makes its appearance. In the case of T. W.A.’s Boeing 307s, they stayed in service and added one more claim for recognition in their eventful history. On 31 May 1949, the Stratoliner Coach Service began between New York and Chicago, via Pittsburgh. The fare was $29.40, a reduction of 30% from the regular fare of $44.10. No meals were served and reservations had to be paid for in advance. But it was one of the best of the such promotional fares, first launched by Cap­ital Airlines in 1948, in response to the growing popularity of bargain offers by the non-scheduled charter airlines.

Old 307s Never Die

As the Constellations took over all the overseas routes from the DC-4s; and the DC-4s supplemented the DC-3s on the domes­tic network, even the veteran ‘Gooney Birds’ were retired. Their departure was speeded by the pending arrival of the Martin 202 (see page 61), one of the airhners sometimes described as the “DC-3 Replacement,” about the same size as the Stratoliner, but more powerful, faster, and, with two fewer engines, more economical. The Boeing veterans were retired from May 1950, the last one on 1 July 1950. They were sold to the French airline, Aigle Azur, which operated them in var­ious roles in Europe, and when the French met with the grow­ing nationalism in their Indo-China colony, they flew troops to and from Saigon. They performed a variety of missions there, and during the Vietnam War, were used for United Nations liai­son work, flying between Saigon and Hanoi, under the title (if not the colors) of CIC (see caption to photograph.) All the T. W.A. 307s came to ignominious ends, but one of the Pan American planes is preserved (see page 45).

Some of the Stratoliners had an interesting fa te. After service with the French airline Aigle Azur, they were dispersed after the French colonial regime in Indo-China came to an end. Early in 1964, two of them passed to the Compagnie Interna­tionale de Transports Civils Aeriens (CIC). They provided a service between Saigon and Hanoi, on behalf of the International Control Commission, (photo courtesy Roger Bentley)