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 The Boeing 307s were withdrawn from service on 24 December, and contracted to the War Depart­ment.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





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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.

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.

A New Era


unnonmrmnoomon поооооооооОооп’ОдооздппгГГкпопа

This picture epitomizes the beginning of the Jet Age. T. W.A.’s Boeing 707-131 N731TW is pictured on the ramp at San Francisco early in 1959, and parked next to a United Air Lines Douglas DC-7, symbol of a former era. The handsome airport building does not yet have the air bridge

connection, and the crew stands ready with the mobile staircase.

A New Era

Подпись: BOEING 707-33К (H)
Подпись: BOEING 707-331 BOEING 707-33IB (Д-Н)


A New Era

Подпись:Подпись:A New Era

‘ Nomed London Town and inaugurated Idlewild—Heathrow – Frankfurt service, 23 Nov 1959.


(All aircraft sold to Boeing Military Airplane Co.)

* Cockpit was destroyed by a bomb in Damascus 29 Aug 69. New nose section built by Boeing and trans­ported to Damascus ond installed. Reregistered as N28714 24 Dec 69 after threats to destroy tbe same aircraft were made.

BOEING 707-33IB (A)

(Except where noted, all sold to Boeing Military Airplane Co.) * Hijacked from Frankfurt, Germany 6 Sep 70.

* Flew JFK – O’Hare-Kansas City as T. W.A.’s last commercial 707 flight, 31 Oct 83.

BOEING 707-373C (H)

BOEING 707-338C (H)


This Boeing 707-33IB (Advanced) had the new ‘outlined’
TRANS WORLD marking, and a revised logo style on the tail.


185 seats • 600 mph


707-33 IB


A New EraA New Era

The 707 “Intercontinental” had a longer fuselage, larger improved wing, taller vertical fin, and a ventral fin below the tail. Note the ‘blow-in doors’ on the “Dyna-Fan” engine nacelles’ forward section.

Progressive Improvement

With the 707 series, Boeing became the world’s leader in airliner manufacturing. The classic Boeing 707 came in several forms. Initially, the -100 was a comfortable transcontinental air­liner, but was limited across the Atlantic, having to stop at Gander or Shannon in the westbound direction. Its Pratt & Whitney JT4A-9 straight jet engines were known, rather unkindly, as the “Ole Smokies.” The -300, with JT3Cs and a slightly longer fuselage, was much better, and the -300B with JT3D turbofans and improved wing better still. The -331B(A-H) (Advanced – Heavy) had a heavy-duty landing gear, allowing a gross take-off weight up to 335,000 lb. They had more range, more capacity, and were more profitable than previous versions. The greater power enabled the -300 to be able to cut about half a mile from the take-off distance required by the other Boeings.

T. W.A.’s Decision

Having demonstrated considerable ingenuity and initiative, not to mention technical confi­dence, in launching its transcontinental jet service with a single Boeing 707-131 on 20 March 1959 (page 67). T. W.A. did not rush immediately to match Pan American on the trans-Atlantic route. It elected to await the availability of the longer-ranged -331, and meanwhile concen­trated on expanding its domestic network so that T. W.A. Boeings were competing with Amer­ican’s at all the major cities. Ultimately, the -331s were deployed on the New York-London-Frankfurt route on 23 November 1959. T. W.A. had lost a whole year to its arch­rival Pan American, and with other problems of a non-technical or operational nature, the air­line had a long fight on its hands.

Engines Pratt & Whitney JT3D-3 (18,000 lb. thrust) x 4 Length 153 feet

MGT0W 335,0001b Span 146 feet

Range 4,000 miles Height 42 feet

A New Era

The Smaller Boeings

To meet a requirement for routes of lower traffic density, Boeing produced a shorter-bodied version, the 720, 8 feet shorter than the -100, but with the same wing. T. W.A. also had one Series -138, which was 10 feet shorter than the basic type, and designed for the Australian airline QANTAS, with extra tankage for maximum trans-Pacific range. T. W.A. operated a total of 133 Boeing 707s, and made good use of them all over the world.

•Transcontinental & Western Air

Подпись: і
Подпись: і і

•Transcontinental & Western Air


•Transcontinental & Western Air

Jack Frye had joined Hanshue
when Standard Airlines merged
with W. A.E. He became president
ofT. W.A., succeeding Robbins.

•Transcontinental & Western Air

Frye since Standard’s foundation.
He continued to serve as Jack’s
right-hand man for several years.

•Transcontinental & Western Air

Richard Robbins, acting as
umpire between W. A.E. and T. A.T.,
was president of P. A.I. C., the
catalyst to the merger.

•Transcontinental & Western Air

Charles Lindbergh was ТА. T. ’s

technical consultant and unoffi­cial chief pilot. He continued to advise T. W. A. for the next decade.


iblc—veterans of the air with thou – omb of flying hours on their records.

•Transcontinental & Western Air


The Competition


American Airways

If the T. W.A. Shotgun Marriage was difficult to negotiate, the industrial sparring that resulted in the creation of American Airways was, even without coercion from the Postmaster General, labyrinthine. The airline itself cannot trace every individual component that comprised the eventual amalga­mation of three groups, themselves the result of mergers and take-overs. Universal Aviation Corporation (the real core of the route system). Southern Air Transport, and Colonial Airways Corporation completed their multi-merger to form American Airways on 25 January 1930.

United Air Lines

The Boeing airplane company had always taken a keen interest in air transport, and had been one of the very first Post Office contractors, with a foreign air mail route from Seattle to Victoria, B. C., in 1919. It had won the best air mail contract in 1926, with the coveted “Columbia” San Fran – cisco-Chicago trunk route and with its own Boeing Air Transport, to which it supplied the aircraft. With the Pratt & Whitney engine company, it formed the United Aircraft and Transport Corporation on 1 February 1929, at the same time absorbing various aircraft and aviation-related manufacturing companies. Acquiring Pacific Air Trans­port, Varney Air Lines, and National Air Transport (winning the latter after a bitter boardroom battle on 7 May 1930), the lines started to operate as United Air Lines, a name that was was formally incorporated on 1 July 1931.

Giants of Their Time

In the developing U. S. airline world during its heady forma­tive years, some men, who had started at the bottom rung, climbed the corporate ladder to become leaders, and were to influence substantially the course of airline development. C. R. Smith, who was American’s president for twenty or more years and who was head of military air transport during the Second World War. had started as an accountant with one of Southern Air Transport’s ancestors. W. R. “Pat” Patter­son, who led United, had started in similar fashion with Pacific Air Transport. Jack Frye, who was to direct T. W.A.’s fortunes from its beginnings until after the War. had started Standard Air Lines, but stayed with Western Air Express when American Airways bought Standard on 15 July 1930. T. W.A. was now one of the most important airlines in the United States, and became known, even in official circles at the C. A.B., as one of the ‘Big Four.’


During the early 1930s, before the advent of the modem airliner, the Introduced in the early 1930s, the Pilgrim 100A was quickly

competition was still using biplanes, such as this Boeing superseded in American Airlines service by the introduction of

B-80A with United Air Lines. modern airliners such as the DC-2.


^New York ^Philadelphia Washington


•Transcontinental & Western Air

San Francisco


Kansas City




Los Angeles



9" AP [Dallas


Ъ Miami


Postmaster-General Walter Brown’s grand plan came to fruition in 1930. Three transcontinental airlines, together with Eastern, came to be known as ‘The Big Four. ’ Northwest Airlines did not complete its coast-to-coast service until 1944.


•Transcontinental & Western Air•Transcontinental & Western Air•Transcontinental & Western Air

Wide-Bodied Era

Подпись: Fleet Number Reg. MSN Delivery Date Remarks and Disposal Series 131 17101 N93101 19667 18 Aug 70 Sold to Boeing, 4 Mar 75. Converted to 747-131(F) for Iranian Air Force. 17102 N93102 19668 31 Dec 69 City of Paris. Sold to Boeing, 14 Nov 75. Converted to 747-131(F) for Iranian Air Force. 17103 N93103 19669 8 Oct 70 Sold to Boeing, 2 Dec 75. Converted to 747-131(F) for Iranian Air Force. 17104 N93104 19670 20 Feb 70 Leased to Tower Air, 10 Dec 90 to 15 Apr 91. Sold to Jet-Away Aviation Services, 30 Jun 97. 17105 N93105 19671 7 Mar 70 Stored Kansas City, Dec 96. 17106 N93106 19672 3 Apr 70 Sold to JBB Leasing Inc., 22 Dec 89, leased back and returned, 25 Mar 92. 17107 N93107 19673 29 Apr 70 Sold to Pacific Aircorp 747 Inc., 1 Nov 93, leased back. 17108 N93108 19674 7 May 70 Star of Madrid. Sold to Pacific Aircorp 747 Inc., 1 Nov 93, leased back. 17109 N93109 19675 23 May 70 Sold to CIT Leasing Corporation, 7 Mar 95, leased back. 17115 N93115 20320 20 May 71 Leased from First Chicago Leasing Corp., 20 May 70 to 1 Jun 86. Coverted to 747-131(F) for Evergreen Inti. Airlines. 17116 N53116 20321 21 May 71 Leased from GATX Leasing Corporation, 21 May 71 to 1 Jun 86. Leased again from 1 May 87. Bought 15 Dec 93. Sold to CIT Leasing Corporation, 7 Mar 95, leased back. 17117 N93117 20322 24 May 71 Leased from GATX Leasing Corporation, 25 May 71 to 1 Jun 86. Leased from Citicorp North America Inc., 5 Dec 88, returned 30 Nov 92. Series 125/131 (Eastern Air Lines, not taken up) 17113 N93113 20080 22 Oct 70 Sold to Boeing, 31 Mar 75. Converted to 747-131(F) for Iranian Air Force. 17114 N93114 20081 2 Nov 70 Sold to Boeing, 3 Nov 75. Converted to 747-131(F) for Iranian Air Force. 17118 N93118 20082 2 Sep 71 Sold to Boeing, 13 Nov 75. Converted to 747-131(F) for Iranian Air Force. 17119 N93119 20083 27 Oct 71 Sold to Boeing, 15 Dec 75 for conversion to 747-131(F) for Iranian Air Force. Bought from Boeing, 16 Dec 76. Crashed into Atlantic Ocean off Long Island, NY., 17 Jul 96. Series 131 17110 N53110 19676 10 Aug 70 WFU Feb 98. 17111 N53111 19677 26 Sep 70 Sold to Boeing, 15 Oct 75. Converted to 747-131(F) for Iranian Air Force. 17112 N53112 19678 4 Oct 70 Sold to Boeing, 14 Mar 75. Converted to 747-131(F) for Iranian Air Force. Series 136 17125 N17125 20271 25 Mar 81 1 Ex-B0AC/BA. Sold to JBB Leasing Inc., 26 Dec 89, 17126 N126TW 20273 30 Mar 81 J leased back and returned, 28 Mar 91. Series 143 17128 N17010 19729 12 Jul 96 Ex-Alitalia, Hav/aii Express, Flying Tiger Line, People Express/Continental Air Lines. Re-registered N128TW. Series 156 17133 N133TW 19957 1 May 80 Ex-Iberia. 17134 N134TW 19958 17 Feb 81 Ex-Iberia. Stored, Jan 97. Series 238B 17307 N3071W 20009 30 May 96 Ex-Qantas, Air New Zealand, Air Lanka. Stored Marana, AZ., Jan 97. Sold to First Security Bank, 30 May 97, leased back. Подпись:

The Big Boeing

Just as it had done in 1955, when Pan American ordered 45 jet airliners, to launch the Jet Age in earnest, Juan Trippe did it again in 1965, by persuading the Seattle manufacturer to build the Boeing 747, another airliner that was twice as big as its predecessor. Paradoxically, Pan Am was to acquire too many 747s too quickly, but having been persuaded, Boeing went on to build more than a thousand “Jumbo Jets”—and is still building them 35 years later, an amazing tribute to a great design.

On 2 September 1966 T. W.A. placed a large order for Boeing aircraft and this included 12 747s. At the time, like most large airlines, confidence was high. During that summer, service had been resumed to Bangkok, and extended to Hong Kong. On 6 April 1967 the last Constellation was retired from domestic service and on 11 May the very last of that famous airliner was withdrawn from overseas routes. T. W.A. was the first major U. S. domestic airline to become all-jet. In the same year, riding high, it acquired the Hilton Hotel chain on 9 May, and placed another multi-million dollar Boeing order on 18 October, to augment the 747 fleet to 34. T. W.A.’s Jumbo Jets entered service on 25 February 1970, on the premier transcontinental route, Los Angeles – New York, and on 18 March on the world’s most prestigious intercontinental route, New York-London.

Pacific Interlude

For several years, the Civil Aeronautics Board had been wrestling with two important issues, the trans-Pacific and the associated Hawaii Route Cases. The U. S.trans-Pacific traffic had hitherto been shared between Pan American and North­west to Asia, Pan Am only to Australasia, and Pan Am, North­west, and United to Hawaii. Now, other airlines wanted a piece of this lucrative cake, and T. W.A. was one of them. President Johnson signed the Pacific Route Case on 19 December 1968 and the Hawaii Case on 4 January 1969, just before he left office. The incoming President Nixon promptly amended the choice of airlines and routes, but T. W.A. never­theless received its share, and opened service on 1 August 1969. This enabled the airline to complete a round-the-world service, with Boeing 707s, on 31 October 1971.

The route was not as successful as expected because of strong competition and the consequent excessive capacity offered. Accordingly, T. W.A. and Pan American entered into a route standardization agi’eement on 16 October 1974, and T. W.A. suspended its Pacific route on 2 March 1975.

Capacity Sharing

The Pacific agreement with Pan Am was symptomatic of a problem that had resulted from the enormous increase in the capacity offered world-wide by the influx of the 360-seat 747s, augmented by the 270-seat Douglas DC-10 and Lock­heed L-1011 tri-jets. The problem was also acute in the U. S.A., where, for example, three airlines all offered a 9 a. m. departure from New York to Los Angeles—all at a disastrous 35% or so load factor.

On the initiative of Mel Brenner, T. W.A.’s advocate for common sense in a strictly regulated environment which was supposed to encourage competition, the C. A.B. and the Justice Department agreed, on 21 December 1970, to a capacity scheduling agreement, so that the airlines could continue to compete without cutting each other’s throats. This sensible T. W.A. initiative was appreciated on all sides, and was a har­binger of an even more liberal approach to the problem, one that was solved by the Airline Deregulation Act, signed by President Carter on 24 October 1978. T. W.A. would, in years to come, face fresh challenges, fierce competition, and threats to its very existence.(p. 90)

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)

Into the 21st Century

Picking up the Pieces

T. W. A. set about the task of recovery, after the departure of Carl Icahn. In July 1993, William Howard had been named chairman and C. E.O., but he resigned in January 1994, to be replaced by Donald F. Craib, Jr. Some sense of purpose returned to the air­line when Jeffrey H. Erickson was elected president in April. He had airline credentials, having started as a Pan American engineer, moved on to various airlines, and had launched the low-fare new entrant, Reno Air, in July 1992. He took action to restore confidence. Service was started from St. Louis to some mid-west points, as well as to Sacramento and Ontario. Inter­national service was restored to Saudi Arabia, where T. W.A.’s tradition went back a long way, having served Dhahran, on the Gulf, from July 1946 to May 1971. Now the terminus was Riyadh, the handsome capital, which has one of the world’s most beautiful terminal buildings. But service to Geneva and Zurich was terminated, and the Los Angeles-Paris Polar route was suspended, as these routes were just not paying their way.

The employees responded, as best they could, support­ing from their pay packets the $223,000 per month lease pay­ments for a new McDonnell Douglas MD-83 (#9408) appropriately named Wings of Pride. Delivery was made at a proud ceremony on 2 September 1994.

But Pride is often accompanied by a Fall. By October, T. W.A. was asking its major creditors to “forgive” almost half of its $1.8 billion debt, in exchange for more equity. This would increase the creditors’ stake in the airline from 55% (the legacy of Carl Icahn) to 70%. But the creditors were wary, and in no hurry. T. W.A. was once again forced into a corner.

Chapter Eleven Again

When John Cahill was elected chairman of the board on 28 Feb­ruary 1995, the prospects were grim, and on 30 June, T. W.A. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for a second time. However, there was a silver lining. In August, the three unions agreed to $130 million per year savings in wages and through increased productivity, at the same time reducing their ownership in the airline from 45% to 30%. The wary creditors accepted the 70% shareholding in exchange for debt.

In February 1996, T. W.A. ordered 20 Boeing 757-200s, with options for another 10. They were to replace the Lock­heed TriStars, which were becoming costly to maintain. The 757s had a common cockpit with the 767, another cost saving; and in the long term it was the beginning of a program of reducing the average age of the fleet.

Perry Flint, of Air Transport World, was encouraging: “Somehow, T. W.A. survived its near-death experiences and the long-awaited obituary never appeared… is in better shape than at any time in this decade.. . (it) has a sense of purpose, rising pride in its product, and a confidence bom of having survived the worst that man and nature could throw at it.”

The Cruel Hand of Fate

On 17 July 1996, Flight TW800, a Boeing 747, disintegrated at the eastern end of Long Island, still on its initial climb out of New York’s JFK Airport. The direct cause was the explo­sion of the center fuel tank, but the cause is not known for certain. After four years of research, the official explanation was that it might have been an inducted spark into low-ten­sion wiring, but most aviation folk are skeptical.

In an interesting, though unfortunate, parallel, this dis­aster, which killed more than 200 people, occurred just when T. W.A.’s financial situation was improving; and was a tragic repetition of a similar situation in December 1988, when the Pan American 747 exploded at Lockerbie, Scotland, just when the airline was striving to recover its North Atlantic market share. In both cases, the effect on the travelling public’s perception was detrimental — to put it mildly.

Firm Hands at the Wheel

T. W.A. was undeterred. On 17 September it announced the acquisition of ten more MD-83s, making 15 in the fleet. Gerald Gitner became chairman and C. E.O., while Erickson retired. Gitner was joined, on 3 December 1997, by William (Bill) Compton, who became president and chief operating officer (C. O.O.). Bill was a veteran T. W.A. pilot, who had joined T. W.A. at the age of 21, had risen in the ranks to become the elected leader of the pilots’ union, ALPA, and had the distinction of having been furloughed three times. During T. W.A.’s turbulent years, the term distinction was indeed the operative word.

In 1995, the debt to Carl Icahn had been re-structured. T. W.A. agreed to pay off the debt by making available to Carl’s airline ticket agency the right to sell tickets. The arrangement was for eight years, and the airline will be relieved of the obligation in September 2003.

The Largest Order

The year 1998 ended on a high note. In December, T. W.A. announced orders for 100 new airliners. The order comprised 50 111-seat Boeing 717-200s (formerly McDonnell Douglas

MD-95s) and 50 106-seat Airbus A318s. Both aircraft are at the lower stratum of jet airliner size, and will fulfill the need for the sparser traffic-generating routes, with considerably lower operating costs that those of the aircraft they replace. This was the first order for the A318 and one of the first for the 717, and T. W.A. was able to negotiate a good price, taking advantage of what is known in the industry as “launch eco­nomics.” T. W.A. also indicated its intention to order 25 more Airbuses, unspecified variants of the Airbus A320 family.

This acquisition — valued at around $4 billion, the largest in T. W.A.’s history — was marred slightly by the beginning of a “sick-out” by some flight attendants on Christ­mas Eve. They made a rapid recovery on the day after Christ­mas, by order of Judge Nina Gershon. But confidence was maintained in financial quarters in March 1999, when Boeing arranged $2.4 billion of financing to protect 82 unfilled T. W.A. orders, including the 717s.

Historical Precedent

In May 1999, Bill Compton was appointed C. E.O. as well as holding the office of president. Many years had passed since T. W.A. had been directed from the top from someone who had risen from within the ranks. As a pilot — he still kept his license current by taking the left-hand seat on an MD-83 flight deck from time to time — he enjoyed the respect of the flying crews. In his first months as CEO, he oversaw agree­ment on new contracts for all union-represented employees with pay increases that were mirrored by wage boosts pro­vided to non-union workers as well. Although T. W.A. still trailed other major airlines’ pay scales, it marked the first time in 15 years that T. W.A. workers had been given more pay rather than more concessions in a contract.

Trans World Airlines moves into the twenty-first century in good spirits, even though its finances are still precarious. It has the best on-time record in the industry (“worst to first in three years.”) Its once old, almost time-expired, fleet (one Boeing 747 was retired with more than 101,000 hours flying time behind it) is being replaced by new aircraft, and the aver­age fleet age is rapidly decreasing. Its loyal staff have increased productivity and the management is keeping its head. In the year 2000, T. W.A. celebrates its 75th anniversary, with a pilot up front, just as, in the great years of the past, with Jack Frye and Howard Hughes, the pilots built the airline to greatness. Bill Compton can inspire the re-creation of those great days again, and rejuvenate this great airline to its former standing as a pio­neer and leader of the United States air transport industry.

Into the 21st Century
Into the 21st Century


BMW Rolls-Royce BR715 (18,500 lb) x 2


124 feet


114,000 lb


93 feet


1,650 miles


29 feet


Farewell Jo a Workhorse

On 30 September 2000, T. W.A. retired its last Boeing 727. The fleet of tri-jets had paid its dues. In addition to its extensive scheduled work, it had been on hand for specialized charters, for clients who included the St. Louis Rams football team (for whom one aircraft was specially painted); sixteen baseball teams; and one named Shepherd One, which took the Pope on tour. But its time had come, to be replaced by a more modern, more efficient aircraft.

Last of Another Fine Line

The McDonnell Douglas MD-80, the largest of the original DC-9 line, had supplemented the Boeing 727 for several years. It carried almost as many passengers (142 v. 145) but burned much less fuel (954 v. 1,214 gallons per hour). Now, to meet the demand for a smaller, even more fuel-efficient partner, to serve routes of lower traffic density, another fine aircraft was added to the T. W.A. fleet.

The Boeing 717 is the renamed ultimate development of Donald Douglas’s original twin – jet, the DC-9-10, which first flew on 25 February 1965. The 717’s first designation was the MB-95, and it first flew on 2 September 1998, by which time the McDonnell Douglas Corpo­ration had been acquired by the Boeing Company, which promptly found a slot in its traditional numbering series. It was first ordered by Valujet (now AirTran) and T. W.A. ordered 50. The first one entered service on 2 March 2000, between St. Louis and Dallas/Fort Worth.

The Boeing 717 has the standard DC-9 fuselage cross-section, and is slightly longer than the DC-9-30, but with the MD-50 wing and an MD-87 extended vertical stabilizer. The flight deck is digitally equipped, with the new “glass cockpit.” Its BMW Rolls-Royce BR715 engines are more fuel efficient, have less exhaust emission, and are significantly quieter than any of the previous members of the famous Douglas twin-engined series. As indicated in the fleet list, deliveries will continue until the Summer of 2003.

T. W.A. can thus claim to have been part of this great family of Douglas airliners, from the first (see page 77) to the last, with almost every sub-series in between.


Into the 21st Century

Into the 21st CenturyПодпись:Подпись:

Speed at All Costs

Up to the Limit

The progress of air transport, since its establishment as an industry in the 1920s, had been char­acterized by an emphasis on speed. In 1950, the jet-powered de Havilland Comet almost dou­bled the speed, at 500 mph, of the best piston-engined airliners, and in 1958 the Boeing 707 (and later the Douglas DC-8) took this to 600 mph. By this time, there were thoughts of a supersonic airliner as a longer-term successor to the Big Jets, as they were called; but the air­lines still sought higher speeds from the currently-available technology. Theoretically, the designers felt that, even if they could not penetrate the sound barrier, they could come close to it, so that, with an airliner that could approach 650 mph, this would be worth a significant saving of time on a long-distance route, and give the operating airline a competitive advantage.

No Room (or Three

The post-war piston-engined rivalry between Douglas and Lockheed had now given way to a Jet Age rivalry between Boeing and Douglas. Throughout airline history, a third contestant had never been able to make its mark; and economic studies have demonstrated that the full bene­fits of competition on any route are invariably achieved by two competitors, not necessarily three. And all too often, the third contestant cannot achieve an adequate share of the market. Similarly, a third manufacturer can end up with financial losses because of insufficient sales. No doubt, this consideration was in Lockheed’s mind when it decided not to build a rival to the 707 or DC-8, but turned to a prop-jet (turboprop) airliner, the Model 188 Electra.

The Convair Challenge

The Consolidated-Vultee, or Convair, company of San Diego, flush with its huge success in building the Liberator bomber and other military aircraft, had entered the commercial market after the War with its short-haul “DC-3 Replacement,” the Convair 240/340/440. In the mid – 1950s, the company decided to enter the Big Jet market. Its entry, the Convair 880 (see next page) was similar in design to the 707 and the DC-8, in that its engines were suspended in pods under a swept wing. Its speed was marginally faster than those of its rivals. This caught the interest of American Airlines, which ordered an even faster version, the Convair 990. The latter’s speed, however, was not significantly greater.

Speed at All Costs




Delivery Date

Disposal Date

Remarks and Disposal



29 Oct 64

18 Apr 78

Stored Dec 73 Kansas City. Sold to American Jet Industries.



18 Mar 61

10 Apr 74

Stored Kansas City; Scrapped Dec 79.



13 Oct 61

18 Apr 78

Sold to American Jet Industries. Stored Jan 74.



11 Sep 63

24 Oct 73

Leased to Northeast Airlines, 21 Jan 61 to 11 Sep 63. Wfu Oct 73 stored Kansas City.



10 Aug 61

21 Jun 78

Sold to American Jet Industries.



12 Sep 63

18 Jul 78

Leased to Northeast Airlines, 30 Jan 61 to 12 Sep 63. Sold to American Jet Industries.



18 May 60

18 Apr 78

Sold to American Jet Industries.



29 Jul 63

18 Apr 78

Leased to Northeast Airlines, 10 Sep 63 to 19 Jan 68. Sold to American Jet Industries.



15 Feb 61

8 Aug 78

Sold to American Jet Industries.



2 Feb 61

Nov 72

Stored Kansas City; Scrapped May 22.



9 Jun 61

18 Apr 78

Sold to American Jet Industries.



2 Sep 61

18 Apr 78

Sold to American Jet Industries.



26 Aug 63

18 Apr 78

Leased to Northeast Airlines, 8 Dec 60 to Aug 63. Sold to American Jet Industries.



13 Sep 63

18 Apr 78

Leased to Northeast Airlines, 5 Dec 60 to 13 Sep 63. Sold to American Jet Industries.



29 Aug 63

18 Apr 78

Leased to Northeast Airlines, 30 Nov 60 to 29 Aug 63. Sold to American Jet Industries.



5 Jan 61

18 Apr 78

Sold to American Jet Industries.



12 Jan 61

8 Jan 74

Stored Kansas City.



20 Mar 61

13 Sep 65

Crashed during training flight at Kansas City (MCI).



8 Jan 61

21 Nov 67

Damaged beyond repair during landing at Covington.



6 Jan 61

15Jun 74

Stored Kansas City; scrapped Dec 79.



15 Mar 61

8 Jan 74

Stored Kansas City; scrapped Dec 79.



1 Jan 61

15 Jun 74

Operated last Convair 880 schedule service on 15 Jun 74. Withdrawn from use and stored Kansas City; scrapped Sep 79.



21 Jan 61

18 Apr 78

Sold to American Jet Industries.



6 May 61

16 Jan 74

Stored Kansas City.



26 Apr 61

18 Apr 78

Sold to American Jet Industries.



22 May 67

2 Feb 68

Leased from Hughes Tool Company from 22 May 67 to 2 Feb 68.



25 May 61

18 Apr 78

Sold to American Jet Industries.



9 Jul 61

14Jun 74

Stored Kansas City; scrapped Nov 79.

Speed at All Costs

A fine shot of N815TW inflight.

Curtiss Condor CO

18 seats • 120 mph


The Model 53 CO was an early attempt to create a passenger air­craft from a military bomber. More modern examples include the Boeing Stratocruiser (from the B-29/B-50), and the Russian Tupolev Tu-I14 (from the Tu-20 “Bear”).



Curtiss GV-1570 Conqueror (625 hp) x 2


17,900 lb.


500 miles


58 feet


92 feet


16 feet


Curtiss Condor COCurtiss Condor CO

Подпись: mmПодпись: Т.А.Т. 's Condors operated briefly between Columbus and Waynoka, but never went into regular service. Tommy Tomlinson called it an “aerodynamic monstrosity. ”Curtiss Condor COПодпись:

The Condor

The Curtiss Condor was the last large biplane built in the United States. T. A.T. put it into service early in 1929, and until the Douglas DC-2 came along, it supplemented the Fords on routes where the traffic demand was high. It was much bigger, weighing nine tons against the Ford’s six, and could carry more people with a more attractive cabin. But it was not much faster, and its life span with the United States airlines was only about three years. T. AT.’s Condor COs (also designated the Condor 18, the B-18 or the B-20) were N185H, N725K, and N726K (manufacturer’s serial numbers G-l, G-2, and G-4, respectively).

A later version, the T-32, went into service with Ameri­can Airlines and Eastern Air Lines in 1934 as a much-publi­cized sleeper transport; but by all accounts, the passengers did not get much sleep. The low-altitude flying tended to be a little rocky, and the segments were too short. In any case, the modern airliners would soon be outlasting the obsolescent Condor design. Biplanes were becoming a thing of the past.

Подпись: Air Mail Scandal

The NlcNary-Watres Act

The spur to the spectacular growth of air transport in the United States in the early 1930s was the result of imaginative legislation, enacted after substantial persuasion by the Post­master General, Walter F. Brown. The Third Amendment to the Air Mail Act, named after its Congressional sponsors, was approved on 29 April 1930. Its far-reaching provisions gave permanence to the contracted operators, paid them according to space offered, not by the weight of mail carried, and gave Brown powers to extend or consolidate routes to improve the system. This encouraged the airlines to invest in larger aircraft, which were more economical to operate; and gave Brown almost unlimited authority to draw the airline map as he pleased.

The "Spoils Conferences"

Things went mainly according to Brown’s plan, which was to fashion a rational system of air routes that would not suffer from the excessive fragmentation he had observed in the railroad system. No single railroad, for example, ran from coast to coast. Brown’s pressure and advice to the incumbent air mail carriers resulted in three transcontinental airlines that followed different routes, but offered opportunities for competition between the main traffic-generating areas: California and the Northeast.

But to do this, he sometimes overstepped the mark in what was perceived to be selective manipulation of the exact intentions of the Air Mail Act, and even, it was alleged, a cer­tain degree of favoritism. This led to an investigation of the circumstances of a series of meetings that he had held with the airlines between 15 May and 9 June 1930, and which became known as the Spoils Conferences.

The Air Mail Scandal

Many of the small airlines felt that they had been by-passed deliberately; and although their case was not well docu­mented and of doubtful legality, it was intensively publi­cized—so effectively, in fact, that, responding to political pressure, the Senate set up a Special Committee. Its adverse report resulted in President Roosevelt taking the unprece­dented step, on 9 February 1934, of cancelling all the air mail contracts and asking the Army Air Corps to carry the mail. This it did, with remarkable success, bearing in mind the extreme difficulties of weather and inexperience with which it was faced. But some pilots were killed, mostly in training, and this led to a national outrage that forced Roosevelt to retract his decision.

A New Life

Подпись: Douglas 0-38 observation plane, used by the Army Air Corps in March 1934 to carry the mail. Подпись:Подпись:On 30 March 1934, the Post Office Department invited the airlines to submit new bids, and these were duly accepted by the new Postmaster General, James A. Farley, on 20 April. During the two months during which the Army carried the mail, the airlines struggled on the best they could. Drastic measures had to be taken, as the revenues from passengers and express were insignificant compared with the mail pay­ments—effectively a life-sustaining subsidy. In the case of T. W.A., President Richard W. Robbins sent a letter to all the staff, which began: “Effective February 28th, 1934, the entire personnel of T.& W. A. is furloughed.”

Curtiss Condor CO

Postmaster-General Walter Folger Brown was the czar of the U. S. air transport industry in the early 1930s. By awarding air mail contracts for specific routes (with­out which no airline could operate profitably), he laid the foundation for a nationwide airline network.

Boeing 747-131

342-433 seats • 590 mph

Boeing 747-131


*Pratt & Whitney JT9D-3 (43,500 lb) x 4 Length

232 feet


734,000 lb Span

196 feet


4,000 miles Height

63 feet

^Initially, later JT9D-7A (46,9501b)

Подпись: This Boeing 747, landing at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, carries the airline’s revised “outline” TRANS WORLD paint scheme, (photo: Roger Bentley) The Boeing 747, called the “Jumbo Jet” from the time it first went into service in 1970, has already served the airlines for three decades, and will probably still be in front-line flagship service for for many more years yet. This will be as long as all the generations of airliners before 1970, at least from the debut of the first DC-3. Its reign covers half of the proverbial three-score years and ten—quite a lifetime. When they started service, the 747s cost $21 mil­lion each. Now, a Series -400 would cost about $140 million.

In mixed class seating layout, it accommodates between 350 and 390 passengers; but in Japan, where a special short-haul version is used to connect the majoi centers of population, the airlines put in 530 seats, or the capacity of an average-sized London theater. Like all the trans-Atlantic jets, it makes a round-trip between Europe and the United States within 24 hours, and its productivity is thus about five times higher than that of an ocean liner such as the Queen Man. At least two of T. W.A.’s 747s were retired only after no less than 100,000 hours of flight time, a truly impressive record of aeronautical achievement.