S.S. AMERICA, S.S. UNITED STATES sailing on the 'All American' team to Europe

The days of civilized air travel


The story of the America would not be complete without a look at the airlines that sent them into early retirement. By the time the America made her maiden voyage in 1946, American aircraft manufacturers and airlines were mounting a challenge to the ocean liners.

At first it wasn’t much of a threat. Not only was flying was out of the reach of transatlantic passengers at $711 ($9,000 in 2016 dollars) it was also for many an ordeal. The 20-hour flight in a vibrating unpressurized DC 4 with two refueling stops was enough to keep passengers sailing. Staggering around a transatlantic liner in a dinner jacket with a martini was a rational, more reasonable alternative, to shuffling across a cold windswept tarmac to barrack-like terminals in the middle of the night for the mandated refueling pit stops.

The beginning of the end came in 1952. While the S.S. United States was thrilling passengers with her beauty and speed, engineers at Boeing were developing the jet powered 707.  By 1959 the business airline booking exceeded luxury liner passengers ticket sales as speed and glamor moved to the air.

The following pages take you back to the airliners that pioneered the air routes to Europe we now take for granted. They flew at a time when there was glamor in the air travel and joy in the journey. Airborne comfort had not yet been displaced no frills economizing, air rage, airport security lines, stun guns and impenetrable cockpit doors. 

Take a trip back to the days of civilized air travel. 

by Eric Margolis – 11 Dec 1997

bOEING pia 707poster_memo10 - CopyForeign correspondent Eric Margolis recalls his early flights on the Boeing Stratocruiser, a ‘sexy’ Lockheed Connie and the final flight of a PIA Boeing 707.



boac psterJames Bond (007) Flies to New York on a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser.

Author Ian Fleming enjoyed the finer things in life and a BOAC Stratocruiser flights across the Atlantic was one of them. In Diamonds are forever Fleming’s provides us with his detailed observations of flying the big plane as experienced by his alter ego, James Bond.

Thanks to the website The Scarf and Goggles Social Club for the information



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On June 18, 1946 a Pan Am Lockheed Constellation took off from New York bound for Paris. Shortly after takeoff one of the four engines caught fire. The flames severed the engine’s connection to the wing and it dropped off entirely taking the fire with it. The plane was still over land and the captain made a quick emergency landing in a Connecticut farmer’s field. Both plane and passengers survived the ordeal to the surprise of rescuers who were prepared for the worst.



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