Category From props to jets



he 1950s was an incredible decade to be living in America. With World War II fading into distant memory, the country entered a prosperous and momen­tous era with a clear emphasis on the future. Military supersonic flight was now a matter of routine and visions of manned space travel entered the public con­sciousness for the very first time, but the most revolu­tionary aspect of all this futurism was the turbine engine. Just mentioning the word “jet” conjured up visions of great speed and power or snow-white con­trails seen against a stratospheric blue sky, and the mass public seemed suddenly swept up in the great expecta­tions of the new futuristic Jet Age.

Before World War II, the mere thought of an airline passenger purchasing a ticket and boarding a jet – powered airliner to fly to some exotic far-off locale at nearly 600 mph would have been pure science fiction. Then, in May 1952, Britain’s elegant de Havilland Comet 1 boarded its first passengers and took to the European skies. Although the commercial Jet Age didn’t begin in earnest until 1959, the die had been cast and airline passengers were soon flying at speeds and alti­tudes once strictly the domain of record-breaking mili­tary test pilots, little more than a decade earlier. A major
difference, however, is that these lucky passengers were dining on four-star cuisine surrounded by sublime lux­ury while flying at speeds approaching Mach 1!

This book celebrates the magical years from 1952 to 1962 with an in-depth look at the amazing machines that made commercial jet flight possible, as seen from the perspective of the propeller-driven aircraft that were in worldwide service prior to the introduction of the jets. The span of time from the zenith of piston-powered luxury airliners to the world’s first intercontinental jet­liners was only five short years, but this paradigm shift in powerplants, speed, and luxury revolutionized air travel forever.

So fasten your seatbelt, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride as authors Jon Proctor, Mike Machat, and Craig Kodera take you along for literary flights in the world’s most luxurious propliners and pioneering first – generation jetliners, using magnificent original color photography from their respective collections coupled with industry-wide photos and memorabilia. It will be a memorable journey steeped in airline nostalgia and history, and will probably make you long once again for this incredible era in aviation that is, sadly, now gone forever.


Distilled water, injected into the Pratt & Whitney JT3C turbojets to augment thrust, produces heavy black smoke as a brand-new American Airlines 707 Jet Flagship lifts off the runway for another transcontinental flight in 1959.

(Charlie Atterbury)


Lockheed 1049 Super G Constellation

Meanwhile, over in Burbank, the folks at Lockheed were crafting their own “perfect” airliner of the times, known as the 1049 G Super Constellation, or simply, Super-G.

When one thinks of the Connie, one of the strongest details associated with any airplane comes to mind remembering the G model’s optional and removable wingtip tanks. Lockheed certainly had a penchant for these types of auxiliary fuel tanks, and the Super-G was the best application of this technology ever used on a passenger airplane. Combined with a radar nose and the stretched fuselage of the earlier 1049, the Super-G pack­age was by far the quintessential Constellation in terms of both style and practical design.

The G model’s gross weight climbed to 137,500 pounds, which included 609 gallons of fuel housed in each of the wing tanks. Range, even at this weight, was a few hundred miles more than the DC-7B, giving the Connie a small leg up on its Douglas competition. The amount of fuel carried in the G airplane was an amazing two-thirds again as much as the original Model 49 from just 10 years prior. This is the type of refinement of

Lockheed 1049 Super G Constellation

Not to be confused with today’s Southwest Airlines, Southwest Airways was later renamed Pacific Air Lines and served local towns on the West Coast until it merged into Air West in 1968. It began operations in 1946. One of Southwest’s original DC-3s is seen taxiing at Santa Maria, California. (William T. Larkins)

Lockheed 1049 Super G Constellation

Two local-service carriers are represented in this picture taken at Kansas City in June 1962. Frontier would later acquire Central in a merger. Both airplanes are converted C-47 transports with original cargo door installations. (Bob Woodling)

Lockheed 1049 Super G Constellation

Toward the end of its working life, an American Airlines DC-7B arrives at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, shortly before sunset on December 29, 1960. Boeing 707s and 720s were already quickly replacing Douglas propliners across America’s system. (Jon Proctor)




3u Appmiatum


Lockheed 1049 Super G Constellation

Certificate provided to Eastern passen­gers during the DC-7B’s first year of service stated, "In appreciation and recognition of your flight on Eastern Air Lines’ new DC-7B luxury airliner, the ‘Golden Falcon.’" (Mike Machat Collection)


Lockheed 1049 Super G ConstellationLockheed 1049 Super G ConstellationLockheed 1049 Super G ConstellationLockheed 1049 Super G ConstellationLockheed 1049 Super G ConstellationLockheed 1049 Super G Constellation

Lockheed 1049 Super G Constellation

design and growth-of-concept that we have referred to, and the manufacturers had really hit their strides with both the 1049G and DC-7B.

A total of 102 1049Gs were produced, with more than half being delivered to overseas carriers such as

Lockheed 1049 Super G Constellation

This July 1956 photo shows the passenger’s-eye view while boarding a brand-new Eastern Air Lines DC-7B Golden Falcon preparing to depart from Miami International Airport for New York’s Idlewild Airport.

(Sykes Machat photo)

KLM and Air France. In January 1955, Northwest Orient Airlines began transpacific service using G mod­els to fly to Tokyo from Seattle via Honolulu and later, to Anchorage over the great circle route. On the other side of the globe, Lufthansa was having marvelous suc­cess with “The Senator Service” with its twice-weekly flights to the United States. Lufthansa configured its Super-Gs in a deluxe 32-seat cabin layout and this ser­vice was later extended to the airline’s South American routes. For air passengers, this was undoubtedly the best time in the world to be flying aboard a new airliner from Douglas or Lockheed.

Lockheed Constellation 649 through 749

By May 1945, Lockheed had begun updating the basic Constellation design, with a weight increase as the number-one attribute of this “new” airplane. Over the ensuing years Lockheed basically pioneered the use of step-increases in overall weight capabilities, thus allowing expanded roles for the airframe in a larger market. Through the redesign effort the “new type” Constellation, as Eastern Airlines referred to it (649/749), was actually a 50-percent-change baseline airplane. Now that the Wright 3350 “BD-1 ” version of the engine was available at 300 bhp more than the orig­inal installed in the 049s, the airplane could be enhanced noticeably. Faster airspeed and greater pay – load performance, plus better inside soundproofing (to match the DC-6), better heating, ventilation, and cooling set the new-series Constellations apart from the originals.

One of the more interesting aspects to the added utility of the 649/749 series was the use of an external
cargo-carrying pod, which was slung under the center – line of the fuselage at mid-wing. This was known as the “Speedpak” and could carry 8,000 pounds of additional cargo. Lockheed sold 75 Speedpaks, mainly to Eastern, KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines), and TWA, for use on 049, 649, and 749 airframes. (As an aside, Eastern paid $850,000 for each 649 it purchased —quite a hefty amount in 1948!)

The first of the 749s went to Air France in April 1947. The 749 had additional 565-gallon fuel tanks installed in the outboard wings, which increased its range by 1,000 miles while allowing it to carry the same payload as the 649. This was the overwater version of the Constellation that became the gold standard of the short bodies, which allowed it to find wide acceptance with far-flung overseas airlines such as BOAC, Qantas, and South African. The 749/749A was also the model of the Constellation that remained in service the longest, on routes both around the world and in the United States.

Air France also provided its passengers flying between Paris and New York the unique Golden Parisian service on 749 sleeper aircraft. The usual 24-passenger sleeper seating eventually gave way to a
16-passenger layout, which provided the kind of legroom one could only find on a ship, or in one’s own living room! Such was intercontinental air travel during the early postwar years.

Lockheed Constellation 649 through 749

Подпись:Lockheed Constellation 649 through 749A cocktail lounge located at the front of the 749A Constellation passenger cabin provided a casual atmosphere for passengers awaiting dinner, or makeup of their sleeping berths, on TWA’s nonstop Ambassador Service from New York to London.

Purser Russ Robins and a hostess prepare to offer champagne to their guests. (TWA/Jon Proctor Collection)

Lockheed 188 Electra

The enigmatic Electra was offered to the airlines in two basic versions: 188A and 188C. The first and most popular model had a gross weight of 113,000 pounds and was the model of choice for the majority of domestic U. S. carriers. Engines were the Allison 501D-13 or -13A. The C-model airplane had a characteristically Lockheed increased gross weight of 116,000 pounds, a strategy remembered so well from the Constellation series of aircraft. Engine choice for this airframe was the 50ID-15 with its 300-shp (shaft horsepower) increase in power.

Lockheed 188 ElectraThis extra power was used to lift an additional 1,100 gallons of fuel, which boosted the range of the Electra beyond its originally planned 2,500 miles, all the way to 3,460. The В designation was an unofficial tag used internally by Lockheed to denote the Electra with nav­igator stations and extra lavatories destined for use by the international airlines.

Passenger capacity for the Electra was normally 66 to 80, with a high-density version available to seat 98. Maximum speed clocked-in at 448 mph at 12,000 feet while normal cruise was listed as 373 mph. Two propeller choices were available also, with the Aeroproducts being the most common and recognizable on the Electra, or the Hamilton Standard design, which was easily identified by its bowed-out shape and rounded tips (these were the propellers chosen for the P-З series of aircraft for the U. S. Navy). KLM chose the Ham – Standards, as did Capital Airlines, although the Capital aircraft were never actually delivered to the airline, because it had been absorbed into United Air Lines.

A combined total of 170 aircraft were built, the last of which was delivered to Garuda of Indonesia on January 15, 1961. Electras remained in airline service worldwide through the 1980s, and served as freighters for yet another decade, proving the longevity, prof­itability, and ultimate success of America’s only four – engine turboprop airliner.

de Havilland Comet 4

When de Havilland’s original Comet 1 fell victim to the edict that “being first is sometimes not being best”
after a series of design-related accidents occurring shortly after it entered service in 1952, the commercial Jet Age found itself temporarily on hold. Canada’s Avro Jetliner was also unable to deliver the goods at that time (see Chapter 1 sidebar, “Avro Jetliner: The Other First Jet,” page 17), but a subsequent redesign of the DH-106 airframe resulted in a new, improved, and much safer air­craft with even better performance than its progenitor.

First and foremost was the new airplane’s modified fuselage construction and ovaloid-shaped windows to forever avoid the ravages of pressurization-induced metal fatigue that plagued the original design. Then, with 10,000-pound-thrust Rolls-Royce Avon 502 engines replacing the original airplane’s 5,000-pound- thrust Ghost turbojets, a totally new Comet was born. Along with a higher gross weight of 162,000 pounds and fuselage lengthened to 112 feet, the Comet 3 proto­type more closely resembled the larger 78-passenger version of the original design initially ordered by Pan American. Further refinements such as the addition of two “slipper” auxiliary fuel tanks mounted on the wing outboard leading edges created the production Comet 4 series, which became the first truly intercontinental ver­sion of the proud British aircraft.

With a launch order for 19 Comet 4s placed in March 1955, BOAC marched steadily toward regaining the jet airliner crown, knowing full well that new com­petition from the recently announced Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 Jetliners in the United States was loom­ing. As we now know, it was a BOAC Comet 4 that indeed beat the United States to the punch by inaugu­rating commercial jetliner service across the North Atlantic on October 4, 1958, two weeks before the first Pan Am 707 carried passengers on that route. With further uprated Rolls-Royce 524 engines, the Comet 4 possessed a range of 3,225 miles and found a host of new interna­tional airline customers in the process.

Further variants of the now-successful design included a lighter-weight, 101- passenger short-haul version called the Comet 4B, operated initially on inter – European routes by BEA. The “ultimate” Comet was the 4C model, with a further – stretched 118-foot fuselage length and 2,590-mile range. Comet 4s were flown by such diverse airlines as Mexicana, Aerolineas Argentinas, East African

Rising from the ashes of the ill-fated Comet 1, the Comet 4 beat Boeing’s 707 into transatlantic service by two weeks, flying for BOAC between London and New York. (BAE Systems)

Подпись: Pan American's glory years during the Jet Age all began with this airplane, the Boeing 707-121. Appropriately named Clipper America (as were several of Pan Am's first 707s during their initial proving flights and promotional tours), this first jet signaled the beginning of a new age in transportation. As advanced and futuristic as these airplanes were in 1958, it was rather amazing that only two years later they were made obsolete by larger, longer- range, turbofan-powered successors. (Ren Wicks/Mike Machat Collection)

Airways, Malaysian, Kuwait, and Olympic, but the title of world’s final Comet operator went to charter carrier Dan-Air which had the distinction of being the only airline to fly all three models of the Comet 4 series.

Although the Comet’s last commercial passenger flight took place on November 9, 1980, the Nimrod, a larger maritime patrol version of the Comet 4 devel­oped for the Royal Air Force, was still flying until the turn of the century. Having first entered military service in 1969, these formidable aircraft were continually upgraded and modified, with the final versions being built by British Aerospace. Larger “next-generation” Nimrods, equipped with uprated turbofan engines and the latest in military electronic wizardry, first flew in the 1990s and are still in operation today. While these newer patrol jets are decidedly more advanced airplanes than the original Comet 4, it is a proud testimony to the ruggedness and adaptability of the Comet design to see descendants of an aircraft type first flown in 1948 still in operation more than six decades later!

Boeing 707-100/200/300/400

Boeing’s original 707 variant, the -120, was ordered by American carriers for its ability to operate nonstop on any segment within the continental United States. In addition, Pan American Airways’ managers were willing to use the domestic version on transatlantic routes, with fuel stops, in order to gain a competitive advantage. The type could be shifted to shorter routes, such as to Latin America, upon delivery of longer-range 707-320 Intercontinentals. Pan Am became the first operator of the 707 in revenue service, on October 28, 1958, between New York and Paris via Gander, Newfoundland.

With a maximum takeoff weight of 247,000 pounds, four Pratt & Whitney JT3C-6 engines, each producing

12,500 pounds of thrust, powered the -120. Augmented by distilled water injected into the powerplants, total thrust was boosted to 52,000 pounds. The type was mar­keted with a 121-seat capacity in an all-first-class, five- abreast layout, or up to 179 seats in a high-density configuration. Its maximum range, with a full payload, was 3,075 miles. Utilizing a 13,500-gallon fuel capacity, the airplane could cross the country with relative ease.

When it was decided to offer both first-class and coach service on the jets, a planned five-abreast premium layout was abandoned in favor of four across in the for­ward, quieter premium cabin, with six-abreast in the aft coach section. But the mix contained a much higher percentage of first-class seats than we see today; in fact, American Airlines split the capacity evenly, with 56 seats in each cabin.

American attained the distinction of operating the first pure-jet flights “across the United States” on January 25, 1959, with its 707 Jet Flagships, nonstop between New York and Los Angeles. But it was par­tially upstaged when Pan Am leased one of its new 707s to National Airlines for a daily round-trip between New York and Miami, starting on December 10, 1958. Although flown in Pan Am colors, the 707 provided National with bragging rights as first to fly domestic jets in the United States, and was particularly pleasing to the airline’s colorful president, Ted Baker, who enjoyed upstaging Eastern’s legendary Eddie Rickenbacker at every opportunity.

TWA began New York to San Francisco service on March 20, 1959, with just one 707-120 while principal

Lockheed 188 ElectraUnlike Pan American, TWA held off over­seas jet service until its intercontinental 707-300s arrived, eliminating the need for fuel stops on flights to Europe. An example is seen at New York-ldlewild’s International Arrivals Building (IAB), wearing the twin- globe logo scheme adopted two years after entering service. (Jon Proctor)

stockholder Howard Hughes struggled to finance the balance of a 15-airplane order. Continental Airlines introduced its Golden Jet 707-120 flights on June 8, 1959, between Los Angeles and Chicago. Western Air Lines, with two 707-120s originally ordered by Cubana and leased from Boeing, began service June 1, 1960, on West Coast routes between Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle. The pair was acquired as an interim measure while awaiting delivery of Boeing 720s.

Braniff Airways ordered basic 707-120 airframes with larger, JT4A-3 engines that brought about the 707-
220 variant and provided improved takeoff perfor­mance at the airline’s high-altitude destinations, and gave it a speed advantage. Braniff advertisements boasted the “fastest flights” when beginning jet service on December 19, 1959, in the Dallas-to-New York market against archrival American Airlines.

The first non-U. S. carrier to order and operate Boeing jets was Australia’s Qantas, which opted for the basic 707-120 with a shortened fuselage to extend its range for longer segments across the Pacific. The unique “short-body” 707-138 was not added to the 707-120

Convair 340

Jolted into reality by the large Martin orders, Convair began marketing the improved Model 240A, later renamed the 340, which not only leapfrogged the 404’s attractiveness, but blunted a potential threat from Convair’s East Coast rival.

The Model 340 stretched the 240 design by 4 feet 6 inches, increasing seating capacity to 44 passengers. Its wingspan was lengthened by 13 feet 11 inches, allowing nearly double the 240’s fuel capacity, up to 1,900 gal­lons. Upgraded engines completed the package, which drew a 30-airplane order from United Air Lines, later growing to 55. The Model 340 “Cosmopolitan” enjoyed wide acceptance from the airline industry, both

Convair 340

United flew the largest fleet of Convair-Liners; 55 Model 340s served the carrier for more than 12 years without incurring a single passenger fatality. Mainliner Omaha awaits customers at its San Diego birthplace. (Jon Proctor)
in the United States and overseas. Supplementing the 209 civil versions built, the U. S. Navy and Air Force purchased an additional 102.

Convair 990

American Airlines’ Chairman C. R. Smith saw the advantage of turbofan power early on, from both an economic and a competitive point of view. In August 1958, he ordered 25 Convair Model 30 jetliners from General Dynamics for $100 million. Commercially marketed as the 600 and later renamed the 990, this follow-on version of the 880 was to be 139 feet 6 inches long with a maximum takeoff weight of 240,000 pounds and powered by General Electric CJ-805-21 “ducted fan” engines to give it a speed advantage over the Boeing and Douglas jetliners already on order. With Pratt & Whitney’s turbofan engine development run­ning 18 months behind General Electric, the new Convair jet was only offered with GE powerplants.

A distinctive design feature unique to the 990 was the appearance of four anti-shock bodies mounted on the upper trailing edge of its ultra-thin wing. Resembling large inverted canoes, these pods utilized the same new “area rule” aerodynamic technology that greatly enhanced the performance of supersonic mili­tary jets. For the 990, this served to optimize the air­craft’s lift/drag ratio at speeds above Mach.80. Additionally, these “speed pods” served as supplemen­tal fuel tanks located optimally close to the airplane’s center of gravity.

Convair engineers did a masterful job of evoking the look of speed in their new jetliner. Swept back 39 degrees at the leading edge, the 990’s wing planform


bespoke superior Jet Age performance, which became a major selling point of the airplane. With the ability to offer 635-mph Blue Streak coast-to-coast nonstop flights 45 minutes faster than the competition, American’s managers planned to configure the 990 in an all-first-class layout, with 707s to carry coach passen­gers on the plebian “slower” flights.

General Electric upgraded the existing CJ-805 design that powered the Convair 880 by adding a fan and turbine on the engine’s rear end, saving develop­ment time and allowing a higher bypass ratio. By pulling additional air around the basic engine and exhausting it at low velocity through a double-jet noz­zle, the production GE CJ-805-23 improved operating efficiency by up to 40 percent over the non-fan model, creating 16,100 pounds of thrust.

Convair executives went ahead with the 990 based solely on American’s order, which included a guaran­teed 635-mph speed and the ability to operate between New York’s LaGuardia and Chicago Midway Airports. It was a particularly bold move, especially considering the attractive purchase contract that included an inflated $22.8 million credit on the trade-in of 25 DC-7s instead of a down payment. Although launch customers normally receive generous discounts, this contract would require a long 990 production run to spread out the costs.

Additional customers proved to be elusive and Convair lost significant orders from Pan Am, Continental, and other customers. In fact, American was the only U. S. buyer, along with a handful of air­planes purchased by Swissair, Varig, and Garuda. Failure to build a prototype aircraft took a heavy toll on General Dynamics when wind tunnel tests failed to dis­close significant design problems. Fixing them nearly
resulted in an order cancellation from American Airlines. It was saved by long wait times at Boeing and Douglas and American’s need for more jet equipment. Convair granted even deeper discounts on the order and accepted cancellation of five airplanes.

In the end, the modified 990, designated the 990A, could not match its original guarantees and the type entered service with American on March 18, 1962, between New York and Chicago, but using Idlewild and O’Hare Airports; the LaGuardia and Midway plans had been long-since canceled by the type’s redesign. Instead of a single, premium-class cabin, 57 coach seats were installed, along with 42 in first class plus a four-place lounge. American’s only 990 transcontinental flights operated briefly from San Francisco to New York. Unable to complete the seg­ment against prevailing winds, the 990 flew only the eastbound segment.

Swissair ordered the airplane’s overseas version named Coronado, which beat American’s 990s into reg­ular service by nine days, and kept its fleet in operation for 12 years. Except for a three-year stint with Middle East Airlines, second-hand 990 fleets served mostly charter outfits and travel clubs for several years but were eventually taken out of service when stiffer noise rules went into effect.

Only 37 990s were built, resulting in massive finan­cial losses. Combined with the 880 shortfall, General Dynamics wrote off $425 million on the program, by far the largest loss of any corporation at the time.

de Havilland/Hawker Siddeley H. S. 121 Trident I

Although not technically a “fanjet,” the Trident still deserves mention. Having first flown in January 1962, this novel airliner provides us with a peek into the

Convair 990British European Airways became the first operator for the Hawker Siddeley Trident with a 24-airplane order. The advanced tri­jet first flew on January 9, 1962. (BAE Systems)

future. It was a smaller airplane than the popular four – engine intercontinental jetliners of the time, and was quite a technologically advanced aircraft as well. Although the Trident may not have been a success when compared to other first-generation jetliners that pre­ceded it, this airplane indeed served as a harbinger of things to come.

The Trident story is fraught with frustration, for had the original 1958 design concept been frozen and heralded into production, such legendary airliners as the Boeing 727 might never have reached production. How can we make such a bold assumption? Simply stated, this aircraft was originally to be a short – to medium-range airliner powered by three Rolls-Royce RB.141 Medway “by-pass” turbojets producing 14,000 pounds of thrust each. The original Trident would have weighed between 130,000 and 150,000 pounds at take­off and carried 110 passengers over routes of up to

1,500 miles in length. (These were the approximate specifications of the Boeing 727, only five years before that aircraft entered service!)

As happens in modern industrialized societies, an insidious combination of politics and corporate wran­gling can combine to put a stranglehold on progress, and the Trident succumbed to just this type of industrial “perfect storm.” Originating manufacturer de Havilland was caught in the maelstrom of British aerospace consolidation, orchestrating a merger with Fairey and Hunting to form a new company called Airco. Combined with this series of events was the
insistence of launch customer BEA on having the new tri-jet be reduced in size, weight, and capacity to become a 107,000-pound, 80-passenger jetliner. BEA then ordered 24.

This pivotal change was enacted to make the air­plane more suitable for the specific needs of BEA at the expense of overall world market appeal, and Britain’s airliner industry never recovered from this stumble. Many months of critical timing and market advantage were squandered as design changes were contemplated and then adapted. The Airco merger became moot when de Havilland became a component of the Hawker Siddeley Group. Now powered by three 10,400-pound – thrust Rolls-Royce RB.163 Spey by-pass turbojets, the smaller Trident I finally flew for the first time on January 9, 1962, and slowly reached production and operational status by the end of 1963.

As the worlds first airliner to be certified for “zero-zero” autoland operations (precursor to today’s full Category III landing capability), the Trident dis­tinguished itself as an airplane that represented the future of commercial aviation. Although larger stretched models were subsequently produced and were ultimately successful within the small market niche, the Trident was quickly relegated to the back pages of airliner prominence. As with many other British transports, the diminutive tri-jet from Hatfield was soon outdone by stronger competitors from the United States, which once again emerged victorious in world markets.



Flagship Knoxville, an American Airlines Douglas DC-3 in 1939. (Craig Kodera/The Greenwich Workshop)



fter World War II ended, the world entered an era of recovery and rebuilding. Commercial air trans­portation began to expand using fleets of surplus military transports and leftover prewar passenger aircraft. Despite
there being a number of false hopes with giant new air­liner concepts that never came to fruition, the promise of bigger and better airliners was looming on the distant horizon. Maybe someday, there would even be jets.

Evolution of Post-World War II Airliners—

USAAF Surplus

The end of World War II saw a massive transfer of aircraft to the airline industry, mostly Douglas C-47s reconfigured to passenger layouts. In addition to civil DC-3s returning from military service, more than 9,000 C-47s were available to choose from, at prices less than $10,000 each.

In addition, 1,100 Douglas DC-4s, built as C-54s for the Army and R5Ds for the Navy, became available and were purchased by airlines in large numbers. American Airlines acquired 50 C-54s at the standard government price of $90,000 each, and spent an addi­tional $175,000 per airplane to install passenger interi­ors. Pan Am, which had ordered DC-4s in 1940, went on to fly 90 of the type, while other carriers purchased smaller numbers.

Powered by four Pratt & Whitney R-2000 engines, the DC-4 rumbled along at a maximum speed of 227 mph and possessed near-transatlantic range, but was chiefly used on shorter domestic routes, carrying 44 passengers in a standard configuration, plus two pilots and one or two flight attendants. In addition to American, surplus DC-4s were acquired early on by Delta, Eastern, Northwest, Pan Am, TWA, and United.

Подпись: A crowd gathers around this TWA-painted Constellation after its record-breaking, 6-hour 58-minute flight from Burbank to National Airport in Washington, D.C., on April 17, 1944, with Howard Hughes and Jack Frye at the controls. Although it was scheduled for handover to the War Department, Hughes was allowed the airplane for the cross-country flight and, without permission, had his airline's colors applied to complete the publicity coup. The loading steps, made of wood, were specially constructed and painted for the event. This would be the only Constellation to wear Transcontinental Line markings, and it never flew in revenue service with TWA. (TWA/Jon Proctor Collection)

Подпись: In 1948, LaGuardia Airport in Queens, New York, drew thousands of weekend onlookers with its panoramic observation deck. (Peter Black Collection)

As the war ended, Douglas built a small batch of civil DC-4s before concentrating on production of its new DC-6, which airlines would begin receiving in

Подпись: April 16, 1944, Las Vegas, Nevada. TWA Treasurer John Lockhart, acting on behalf of the U.S. Army Air Force, accepts the flight manual and paperwork as the first Lockheed Constellation is turned over to the airline. A variation of the Constellation logo, with added stars, is visible on the Connie, along with a tailskid that was only fitted on the first few airplanes. Wearing military registration 310310, the airplane was immediately flown back to Burbank and prepared for its record-breaking flight to Washington, D.C., the following day. Note boarding ladder. (Craig Kodera Collection) Подпись: A Pan American World Airways Stratocruiser; its landing gear already retracting into the wells, departs from Los Angeles on June 23, 1950, bound for Honolulu. At the west end of Runways 25-Left and -Right, traffic on bordering Sepulveda Boulevard was stopped for long-range takeoffs in the days before a tunnel was built under the runways to allow extension of the strips. The Stratocruiser remains to this day the most successful adaptation of a military transport (the C-97) into a luxury airliner. (Los Angeles World Airports)

1947. Western Air Lines was a factory-delivery DC-4 customer. At Burbank, California, Lockheed began producing civil variants of its Constellation after divert­ing the type to the military during the war. C-69 Constellations were handed over to TWA and Pan Am, both hungry to replenish their small fleets and add capacity as postwar prosperity began rapid growth in air travel.

On U. S. domestic routes, TWA gained a significant advantage over its domestic rivals, as even the ex-military Connies were on a par with the DC-6s yet to arrive. Fifteen of these larger, more-modern airliners required less modification work than the C-54s and had the advantage of pressurized cabins that allowed them to cruise at higher altitudes to avoid bad weather. Eighteen-cylinder, Wright Cyclone R-3350 radial engines permitted cruising altitudes of 21,000 feet. Accommodations for up to 57 passengers were provided on daylight flights, with sleeping berths added for longer night and transatlantic flights.

The type was used to inaugurate TWA’s transat­lantic service in February 1946 and quickly spread to domestic routes as well, supplementing five four-engine Boeing 307 Stratoliners that were returned to TWA from military duty in 1944. The C-69s were followed by civil-built Model 049 Connies. TWA also acquired 15 C-54s for transatlantic use through purchase and lease contracts.

SE 210 Caravelle I, I A, and III

There can only be one “first” of anything, and for rear-engined jet airliners, the Sud-Est SE 210 Caravelle proudly holds that honor. French aircraft manufactur­ers were identified by region, Nord (North), Sud – Ouest (Southwest), or Sud-Est (Southeast). Named for the small, swift, twin-masted sixteenth-century sailing ships that also became the aircraft’s official logo, the Caravelle turned heads at the Paris Airshow when revealed to the public for the first time in 1957. However, the airplane’s genesis dates back to the late-1940s when

SE 210 Caravelle I, I A, and III

SE 210 Caravelle I, I A, and III

Although an early Constellation operator, Eastern Air Lines turned to Douglas for a 50-strong fleet of DC-7Bs, which wore several variations of the company’s colors. Two stewardesses are seen departing at the end of their duty day in December 1963 at New York’s Idlewild Airport. Also known as New York International, the airport was officially renamed for slain President John F. Kennedy on Christmas Eve day that year. (Harry Sievers)

SE 210 Caravelle I, I A, and III

The Connie’s classic lines are handsomely accentuated by wingtip fuel tanks in this overhead view taken at Kansas City. It was TWA’s first airliner to feature two classes of service, with separate entry doors for each cabin section.

(TWA/Jon Proctor Collection)

the French aircraft industry led the country back from the ruins of World War II by formulating a plan for the design and development of a new commercial airliner to be exported worldwide.

This airplane was to be a medium-size, medium – range jet transport intended to fill the apparent gap in new commercial aircraft sized just below larger, longer- range four-engine jetliner designs then on the drawing boards in England, Canada, and the United States. Initially called the X-200 and masterminded by Sud’s brilliant Chief Engineer Pierre Satre, numerous configu­rations were proposed with the tenth design, or X-210, emerging as the most likely candidate for development. This was a three-engine aircraft called the Tri-Atar, which bore a striking resemblance to another airplane that would later be known as the Boeing 727. By 1951, capitalizing on improvements in jet powerplant tech­nology, a twin-engine version of the X-210 came into focus, and the Caravelle was born.

Sporting twin Rolls-Royce Avon turbojets housed in slim nacelles mounted on the aircraft’s aft fuselage, this new jetliner looked sleek, efficient, and practical, yet stylishly modern at the same time. With the engines at the rear, the Caravelle’s slightly swept wings were left strictly to provide lift at maximum efficiency, giving the aircraft an impressive glide ratio of 19:1—the same as high-performance gliders of the time. The airplane’s landing gear was also suitably short, giving it a low
stance, and allowing full maintenance and ramp service with only a few work stands required.

Passengers enjoyed another major benefit of the rear-mounted engines: The painful roar of exhaust noise was far behind the cabin. From a safety standpoint, fuel lines and associated heat sources were located behind the cabin as well. From an aerodynamic point of view, engine thrust vectors were located much closer to the fuselage centerline than with wing-mounted engines, ensuring safer single-engine operations (should those occasions ever arise). Finally, an integral boarding stair was fitted to the lower fuselage aft of the rear pressure bulkhead, alleviating the need for cumbersome external boarding stairs at smaller airports.

To facilitate the airplane’s development, the French physically grafted the sleek bullet-shaped nose of an exist­ing jet airliner onto the forward barrel section of the Caravelle’s fuselage. That other jetliner just happened to be Britain’s de Havilland DH-106 Comet, recently grounded from a series of tragic inflight accidents (see Chapter Two). Sud purchased two complete nose sections from de Havilland and had them shipped from Hatfield, England, to Sud’s final assembly facility at Toulouse. With the exception of engine pylons and tail surfaces built by Fiat in Genoa, Italy, the rest of the Caravelle’s airframe was manufactured exclusively in France.

The first Caravelle prototype rolled out of Sud’s final assembly building on April 21, 1955, and flew

SE 210 Caravelle I, I A, and III

successfully for the first time one month later. In November of that year, the country’s national airline, Air France, placed an order for 12 Caravelles with 12 options, and the race was on. Certification flight testing was completed in March 1956, and route-proving and system-integration test flights soon began in earnest. One such flight offered a rather graphic demonstration of the aircraft’s impressive single-engine performance when the second prototype flew between Paris and Casablanca on only one engine!

After the two prototypes, the Caravelle I became the first operational aircraft sporting a З-foot fuselage stretch and a new avionics “hump” on the upper aft fuselage. Rolls-Royce Avon 522A engines provided 10,500 pounds of thrust each, and passenger capacity was established at 85 in an all-economy configuration. A slightly upgraded Caravelle 1A model was devel­oped, after which the Caravelle III became the standard, with all earlier airplanes upgraded as Ills. With a wingspan of 112 feet 6 inches and a fuselage length of 105 feet, the new jetliner was perfect for serving smaller outlying country airfields and big city airports alike.

Scandinavian Airlines System became the first airline in the Western world to inaugurate twin-engine pure-jet airliner service when it put the Caravelle III into opera­tion flying from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Beirut, Lebanon, in April 1959. Air France began its Caravelle
service on the Paris-Rome-Athens-Istanbul route the following month. Swissair and Air Algerie soon fol­lowed, flying the sleek twinjets on short – and medium- range routes throughout Europe and North Africa.

Other Caravelle III operators included Finnair, Alitalia, and Sabena in Europe, and Varig of Brazil in the Western hemisphere. A total of 111 Caravelle I, I A, and III models were built, while the total number of all Caravelles, including larger turbofan-powered versions, numbered 282 aircraft. This was the largest single pro­duction run of any European-built airliner at the time.



hroughout the Industrial Revolution in America, bold, farsighted men carved out a country that flourished beyond their wildest expectations. Midway into the period of American exceptionalism, the fledgling airline industry required, and acquired, men such as those who preceded them: huge dream­ers, bold and decisive leaders, the inspirational cre­ators of an entirely new system of transportation. These were the men who didn’t just lead but “became” their own airline companies, and by doing so, gave the world wings. Below are three of many; perhaps the three most influential airline presidents who shepherded into the modern era the airlines they so proudly ran.

W. A. "Pat" Patterson, United

Plucked from Wells Fargo Bank, after being the loan officer in charge of the Pacific Air Transport (PAT) account, William A. “Pat” Patterson was hired by Boeing Air Transport after it bought PAT in 1929. He was placed in the company as general manager under its president at that time, Philip Johnson. Soon thereafter, the presidency became his. Patterson’s tenure at what became United Airlines lasted some 32 years, and at the time of his retirement, United Air Lines was the largest airline in the free world.

Pat Patterson ran United as a very hands-on man­ager, usually spending one third of his year traveling the routes of the airline so as to keep an eye on its functioning and to meet the employees. He was a leg­end when it came to remembering names. His admin­istration was one of shared commitment, and he stressed five rules to utilize in everyday airline work life. They were (in order of importance) safety, pas­senger comfort, dependability, honesty, and sincerity.

Perhaps the biggest early decision Patterson made was in response to the San Francisco Traffic Manager’s suggestion that the airline utilize nurses onboard the airplanes in order to care for the needs of the passengers. Eight young women were hired and became the world’s first professional stewardesses.

Under his watchful eye, other firsts at United included: the first airborne kitchen for inflight meals; the first nighttime scheduled services for coast-to – coast and long-distance routes; and two-way radio communications. This last point also bears on the fact that United had a radio laboratory that also investi­gated other aspects of advancing flight and aerial nav-


United Chairman William A. Patterson was a close friend of Donald Douglas, and was known to order airplanes from "Doug" just by picking up the phone. United flew every major Douglas type, and was a launch customer for several Douglas airliners includ­ing the DC-8. (Jon Proctor Collection)

igation. Additionally, United had a lead role in creat­ing special airfare promotions like taking your wife along for free on your business trip, and men only “executive” service (see Chapter 8 sidebar, “United’s Magnificent Caravelle,” page 122). United also helped refine and then launch the Douglas DC-8 Jetliner.

C. R. Smith, American

Another financial whiz kid, Cyrus Rowlett Smith, or Mr. C. R., or just “C. R.,” was an imposing figure of a man, standing just over six-foot-one-inch tall. A compassionate yet sometimes gruff manager, Smith got things done at American, even though he originally had no interest in running an airline. Once


American Airlines’ guiding light throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s was Cyrus R. Smith, who understood the profound impact air travel would have on National commerce as well as the traveling public. (Craig Kodera Collection)

selected for the job of running Texas Air Transport, he threw himself into the occupation, going so far as to get his pilot’s license. Once in charge of the entire amalgamated airline after 1934, C. R. made aviation history time and again through American Airlines. He was president from 1934 until 1968.

C. R. was what we call today a workaholic man­ager, always flying the line and tweaking American’s service and its business. He usually flew anonymously, and on standby at that, with a similar penchant as Patterson for remembering employees names and family details. It wasn’t surprising to see a short letter from C. R. noting a good, or bad, occasion. It was a small aviation world back then.

One indicator of his bravura was the launching of the national ad campaign boldly asking if the average person was afraid to fly. This was the unspoken real­ity of commercial aviation in the 1920s and 1930s, and C. R. brought it into the open and pointed out that American’s number-one priority was safe transporta­tion in the air. By the end of the 1930s, American was carrying one third of all U. S. airline passengers.

Pioneering “firsts” in the airline industry under C. R. included: first national campaign to sell seats; first credit purchase program; first passenger lounges (Admirals’ Clubs); first airline service into LaGuardia Airport (thus assuring American’s overwhelming presence), first transcontinental jet service; first stew­ardess college; and the first airline to carry one million passengers during a year (1937). American also helped pioneer the VOR (Visual Omni Range) system of navigation, today’s staple. It caused the launch of many significant airliners including the Convair 240 and 990; the Lockheed Electra (see Chapter 4); and the Douglas DC-6, DC-7, and DC-10.

As impressive as these achievements may have been, perhaps the most significant action ever taken by C. R. Smith was his insistence, during a marathon two-hour phone call, that Don Douglas build a larger DC-2 derivative called the Douglas Sleeper Transport, which became better known as the DC-3. From that point on, the world of transport aviation was never the same, and by 1936, airlines were finally showing a profit carrying only passengers, and not having to depend on U. S. Mail contracts.


By Jon Proctor


s with the Lockheed Electra, early 707 opera­tions utilized boarding steps rather than jet – ways—those covered bridges that are today’s norm. Using this conventional form of embarking on one’s first jet flight, unless the weather was bad, provided an exciting preview. You could not help but be awestruck by the sheer size of this new behemoth.

The use of separate aircraft doors for first-class and coach passengers was a short-lived phenomenon, done away with when space constraints dictated nose-in parking and single-point boarding. Status – minded customers soon learned that you could board through the first-class entryway by waiting until the last minute because the aft coach door was closed first, in order to facilitate engine start-up.

As a teenager, my only thought was to board my first jet flight as soon as possible, on a TWA 707, from Chicago to Los Angeles in September 1959. Thanks to the generosity of my brother, I had the extra $7 to pur­chase a “jet surcharge” coupon necessary to upgrade from a Super-G Constellation flight, and was eager to find a good seat. On early jet flights, coach seat assign­ments were not available on “through” trips, and TWA Flight 29 had originated in Pittsburgh.

Perhaps it was my imagination, but the air condi­tioning seemed better on this jet than on an older DC-7, as the cool air hit my face as soon as I entered the airplane. Walking forward toward seat 18A, I immedi­ately noticed the PSUs, or passenger service units, that hung from the open, overhead racks. Each unit con­tained a “Fasten Seat Belt” and “No Smoking” sign,


Passengers board an American Airlines Boeing 707 Flagship New Jersey at Los Angeles International in the transitional days before fully enclosed jet bridges attached directly to new satellite terminal buildings to keep passengers protected from the elements. (Craig Kodera Collection)

three air vents, individual reading lights, and a small speaker to pipe boarding music through the cabin. There was plenty of legroom on this airplane, even in coach. Each row enjoyed two of the smaller windows, and the seats were deep and comfortable.

Instead of plug-in tray tables, each seatback included a drop-down tray. The traditional propliner window curtains were replaced by window shades that could be pulled up or down. Side lighting came from a panel that ran the length of the cabin on either side, just above the windows. In the ceiling above the aisle were circular fixtures that seemed to serve no purpose on this daylight flight. Later, I learned that these “domes” contained lighting that could be adjusted from “bright” to “night,” and were designed to replicate portholes in the aircraft ceiling. The night setting fea­tured pinholes of light against a dark background, giv­ing the impression of a planetarium filled with stars.

The air conditioning produced a constant hum as boarding was completed. Together with the airplane’s soundproofing it was sufficient to mask any engine noise, and I suddenly became aware that the airplane was moving, backward. It was my first time experi­encing pushback from a gate with a tug attached to the nose gear. The first hint of engine noise came as we taxied away from the gate to the runway.

The 707 seemed to taxi as a stable platform, rather than the subtle bouncing I remembered from
piston-powered airliners; it moved rock-solid as we taxied along. Although there was no prop-era engine run-up, the Boeing was eased onto the runway, aligned for takeoff, and then stopped. Now the engine noise level rose to a rumble, gaining power. Finally, the brakes were released and we slowly lum­bered down the runway, gradually increasing speed. After what seemed like an eternity, the front of the cabin rose and our jet broke ground with a bit of a thump as the main landing gear rotated before retracting into the fuselage. The engine noise sub­sided a bit, no longer bouncing off the tarmac, as the ground fell away.

“Yankee Pot Roast,” served for lunch, was the first truly hot meal I could remember on an air­plane, with an accompanying beverage in a real glass. There were no carts in the aisles to block access to the three aft lavatories that featured flush toilets, another first.

The aft cabin noise level could not truly be described as quiet but in marked contrast to a pro­pliner it was all but vibration free. Less than four hours later, TWA Flight 29 landed at Los Angeles International Airport, more than two hours sooner than I would have arrived on the Super-G Constellation on which I had originally booked space. But the thrill of an early jet came at a price. I never did get to fly on a Super-G.

WELCOME ABOARD THE 707This work by famed artist Ren Wicks depicts the dome lighting of TWA’s 707s, designed to look like portholes in the aircraft ceiling. At night, pinholes of light against a dark background gave the impression of a night sky filled with a galaxy of stars. (TWA/Jon Proctor Collection)


The unique 707-200 series, built at the request of Braniff International, combined the Model 100 fuselage with more-powerful JT4A-3 engines used by the -300 model. Only five examples were built, including one that was lost in a pre-delivery demonstration and acceptance flight accident. (Boeing/Jon Proctor Collection)


The first 707-138 for Qantas sits on the ramp at Boeing’s Renton plant shortly after rollout. Boeing engineers removed 10 feet from the 707-120 fuselage design, aft of the wing, to bring about the "short-body" 707-138; Qantas was the only customer. In the background new 707 jets for TWA, American, and Continental receive finish­ing touches before their first flights. (Qantas)

certificate, nor did it attract additional customers. Qantas placed the type into service on July 29, 1959, on the multi-stop route between Sydney and San Francisco.

Boeing’s intercontinental 707-320 was first deliv­ered to launch customer Pan Am in July 1959, and was specifically engineered for transoceanic flights with increased passenger and cargo capacity. Its fuselage was stretched 8 feet 5 inches, bringing the maximum passen­ger load to 189. A 21,200-gallon boost in fuel capacity came from a center fuselage tank and additional tankage in the wings, increasing the -320’s range to 4,360 miles.

The -320 wing also featured an enlarge planform with a 12-foot increase in span, a new leading-edge airfoil at the wing root, and increased area of the inboard trailing – edge flaps as well. The same JT4A-3 engine assigned to the 707-200 powered the intercontinental version, and a total of 69 were built for Air France, Pan Am, Sabena, and TWA.

An otherwise carbon copy of the -320, the 707-420, was equipped with Rolls-Royce Conway 50B bypass engines. A total of 37 were sold to eight overseas carri­ers, the first being, quite appropriately, BOAC.


One of United’s first Douglas DC-8 jet Mainliners, N8002U was upgraded from Model-11 to Model-21 standards. It still wears delivery colors in this March 1968 photo at New York-JFK, differentiated only by the emergency and door exit outlines legislated into existence by the FAA in 1965. (Harry Sievers)



Dramatic ant’s-eye view of a factory-fresh Eastern Air Lines Douglas DC-8-21 taxiing out for takeoff at Long Beach, California, on a pre-delivery acceptance test flight. This Raymond Loewy color scheme was the third of nine differ­ent variations on the same design theme to be applied to Eastern aircraft within a two-year period, but was per­haps the epitome of the original design. Compare the tail’s Falcon motif with that of the Eastern DC-8 on page 113.

(Mike Machat/Craig Kodera Collection)


WELCOME ABOARD THE 707The DC-8’s cockpit was much roomier and offered much greater outward visibility than that of its piston-powered pre­decessors. Flight Engineer’s station is visible to the right with an observer’s jump seat at extreme left. Note move – able sunshades mounted on a circular track to ensure place­ment anywhere they were needed, a unique Douglas feature. Emergency quick – donning oxygen masks seen hanging next to each seat were a new addition for the flight crew. (Mike Machat Collection)

Douglas DC-8-10/20/30/40

Trailing the 707’s entry into service by nearly a year, the first Douglas DC-8 was delivered to launch cus­tomer United Air Lines on June 3, 1959. Powered by the same Pratt & Whitney JT3C-6 engines mounted on Boeing’s 707-120, the DC-8-10 featured a heavier, 265,000-pound maximum takeoff weight and a substan­tially greater range of up to 3,900 miles. At just over 146 feet in length, it was 2 feet longer than the 707-120, with a maximum density listed at 176 passengers.

Delta Air Lines accepted its first DC-8-10 on July
21 and wasted no time showing it off to the public; a day later it set a 1-hour 21-minute speed record between Miami and Atlanta. A second DC-8 was accepted on September 14.

Both carriers began DC-8 revenue flights on September 18, 1959, with Delta beating United into actual service entry by virtue of their time zones. Its Flight 823 departed for Atlanta from New York-Idlewild at 9:20 AM Eastern time, while United’s Flight 800 left San Francisco at 8:30 AM for New York, but in the Pacific time zone.


Unlike Boeing’s overwater version of the 707, Douglas’ DC-8 Intercontinental was the identical size as its domestic brethren, offering only a higher gross weight allowing for more fuel carriage, and uprated Pratt & Whitney JT4A turbojets. The Panagra example seen here was used by that carrier for service between the United States and var­ious South American destinations. (Mike Machat Collection)