On a warm, sunny afternoon on May 15, 1954, Boeing rolled out the first 707 from the factory. Two years later Boeing began studying the next logical step, a short-medium range jet for smaller airports. Remember, the first 707's needed almost two miles of runway to take off. The design shared a lot of commonality with the 707 to reduce development costs and certification time. The design had the same cross-section as the 707-120, but was eight feet shorter and retained the same 130' wingspan. Weight was reduced by 25% by using thinner fuselage skin and smaller wheels. United Airlines had the 707 and DC8, and were looking to order the CV880 for shorter routes. Not wanting to lose another big customer, Boeing formally announced the 707-020 in July 1957. United placed their order but didn't want to look like they were ordering more 707's, so the name was changed and the Boeing 720 was born. First flight was in November 1959 and featured the same JT3C engines as the original 707, Leading edge flaps across the entire leading edge of the wing, a redesigned inboard leading edge and other structural modifications to reduce weight. The 720 could carry 156 passengers in a single class layout, or 131 in two class. During certification, a landing was made in only 2200'! The FAA approved the 720 for service in June 1960 and one week later it entered service with United Airlines. Four months later, after an exhaustive design and feasability study, the 727 program was announced. While the 727 was competing with their own 720, the 720 lacked some critical features the airlines needed for smaller airports. The 720 needed a ground power cart and air cart for starting and separate airstairs for planing-deplaning. Short routes are financially leaner routes, yet the 720 operating costs were not much different than the 707. The 727 had an APU, built-in rear airstairs and a wing that made for even slower landing and takeoff speeds. The 720 engines were changed to the JT3D turbofan and the model became known as the 720B. Despite having only built 154 aircraft, the 720/720B program was profitable due to it's low development costs. The first 720 built, N7201U, was also the first one in service, Chicago-Denver-Los Angeles with United Airlines in 1960. In 1973 it was sold to Contemporary Entertainment as a charter jet with a 40-seat executive interior. Notable rock bands used the "Starship" for their tours between 1973 and 1977, including Led Zepplin, Deep Purple, The Band, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers, Alice Cooper and Peter Frampton. It was eventually broken up for parts in 1982.
Pacific Northern Airlines (PNA) began as Woodley Airways in 1934, a one man, one airplane operation with a lucrative air mail contract. Founded by Arthur G. Woodley, a pioneer known for his unimpeachable integrity, awesome profanity and a hair-trigger temper. Arthur was fiercely loyal to his airline, his employees and his passengers. Woodley Airways did a lot for air travel in Alaska. They created their own communications system, were the first to operate multi-engine aircraft, the first to utilize instrument flight procedures. In the 1940's Woodley was awarded an airline license (Certificate of Public Convenience) to operate from Anchorage to Bristol Bay, Seward, Kenai, Juneau, Cordova and Yakatut. In 1945 he incorporated with investors, buying two Boeing 247's for the new routes and changing their name to Pacific Northern Airline. The Boeing's were replaced in 1946 by four ex-Army C-47's. Alaska Airlines and PNA would operate intra-state routes (where PNA had a much stronger position), while PanAm and Northwest operated flights outside of Alaska. In 1951 PNA's big break came when they were awarded the lucrative Anchorage-Seattle and Juneau-Seattle routes, putting them in direct competition with PanAm and Northwest Orient. PNA initially bought four C-54's for the routes, but switched to ex-Delta L749's in 1955 for more seats and more speed. In 1960 and 1961, PanAm, Northwest Orient and Alaska Airlines placed jets into service on their Alaska/Seattle routes. PNA tried to keep up with the Constellations, but finally bought two B720's in 1962. In 1965 the CAB revoked PanAm's Alaskan routes, citing an excess of competition. This put PNA in an even stronger position. This caught the attention of Western Airlines, who proposed a merger. Normally the CAB would not approve a merger of two healthy airlines (Western and Pacific Northern were having their most profitable years yet), but they did approve this one and in 1967 the two merged, with Arthur Woodley going to the Western Airlines Board of Directors. Western merged with Delta Airlines in 1986. The Historic Airline Group has numerous flights for Pacific Northern Airlines, including the Constellation and Boeing 720.
First Air and Canadian North are two different yet strangely identical airlines. First Air began operations in 1946 as Bradley Air Services in Ottawa, doing charter flights. It wasn't until 1973 that First Air began scheduled operations, and that was between Ottawa and North Bay with an eight passenger airplane. Service expanded slowly, with flights from gateway airports at Ottawa, Edmonton, Winnepeg and Montreal to two hubs at Yellowknife and Iqaluit. In 1995, First Air bought Ptarmigan Airways and NWT Air. Buying Ptarmigan was buying their competition for air freight in the great white north, but NWT Air had something they really wanted- 737's, 727's, L188 Electra II's and L100 Hercules, truly Big Iron. Not just any 737/727's either, these were the combi models, perfect for hauling paying passengers and freight together on routes that had a demand for both. They called it First Air and business was good. But there were issues. Buying Ptarmigan and NWT Air stretched their finances to the limit, and overnight they suddenly had many different types of airplanes requiring spare parts and crew training. They struggled along for the next ten years, going through difficult management times. Now one of the owners of First Air was a company called Makivik Corporation. Makivik Corporation was in charge of managing the Inuit lands. Inuits are the Indigenous peoples of northern Canada, a fact legally recognized by the Canadian government. Makivik is charged with promoting development of the Arctic regions, and having a stake in First Air helped ensure they could provide the air service essential to that goal.
Then in 1989, along comes Canadian Airlines. Canadian wanted their own subsidiary airline to provide feeder service for them from the northern Canadian regions. Canadian Airlines formed the new airline using 737-200 aircraft, on routes that were nearly identical to First Air's routes. This was why First Air bought NWT Air, so they could still compete in the northern airline business with their own jets. In 1998 Canadian Airlines sold Canadian North, to be renamed Air Norterra, whose ownership was divided equally among the Inuvialuit Development Corporation, representing the Inuvialuit people of the western Canadian Arctic, and Nunasi Corporation, representing the Inuit people of Nunavut.
Now, First Air had long established passenger loyalty and freight contracts, as well as a reputation for dependability. Canadian North had the code share agreement with Canadian Airlines, newer equipment and money to spend. First Air began reorganizing their fleet to a simpler group of aircraft types. The Makivik Corporation could see the benefits of merging the two, and after an aborted attempt in 2014, in 2018 the two airlines merged, with Makivik and the Inuit group taking control. In advertising they are known as Canadian North Airlines, but the logo on the aircraft is still First Air. How that plays out is yet to be determined.
The Historic Airline Group has flights for both Canadian North and First Air. Both are currently undergoing a complete redo for our summer update. They will still be separate airlines, but their schedules and equipment will be an even more accurate representation of these two significant Arctic operators.
The jet era in US commercial aviation began with the development of the J57 engine for the Air Force's F100, F101, F102, B52 and KC135. Being as the 707 was a derivative of the KC135, the same engines were used, designated the JT3C. The JT3C produced 11,200 lbs of thrust, 13,000 lbs with water injection. This was followed by the JT4A engine, designed with 13,500-17,500 lbs of thrust, primarily for use with the 707-320 series and the DC8-30. Rolls Royce had just developed the 508 Conway engine, a turbofan jet that was more fuel efficient and increased the range by 8%. Pratt & Whitney followed with their JT8D, a new design originally designed for the Navy's new A-6 Intruder (J52). The JT8D utilizes a six stage low pressure compressor section (including the two stage fan), and a nine stage high pressure compressor. The JT3D bypass airflow exited outside the nacelle, while the JT8D bypass airflow remained inside the nacelle and exited out the same exhaust location as the hot air, reducing noise levels. The JT8D produced 20% more thrust than the JT3D while increasing fuel efficiency by 19%. In the early 1960's the JT8D was the state of the art engine to have, powering the 727, 737 and DC9. Some design work was done to explore replacing the 707's JT3D's with JT8D's, but the cost could not be justified by the airlines. In the 1970's the JT8D was further evolved into the -215/217 version, with a 10" larger fan stage, higher thrust and 10% better fuel efficiency than the earlier JT8D's. Designed specifically for the MD80's, the engine found favor with the Air Force who used them on their E3 AWACS and E8 JSTARS aircraft. A modification by the Valsan company to the 727 replaced the two outboard engines with either -217 or -219 engines, while the center engine remained as is. This increased cruise speed by 50 knots, reduced fuel burn and increased range. 14,750 JT8D engines were built.
On October 26, 1958, Pan American 707-121 N711PA Clipper Mayflower departed New York Idlewild Airport with 111 passengers to become the first 707 to fly a revenue trip to Europe. These initial flights were not non-stop though. These 707-121's were transcontinental (barely) but not yet intercontinental. Eastbound flights stopped in Gander and westbound flights stopped at Keflavik. Even before the first 707 flew, Boeing knew they needed to improve the design. One month after PanAm began jet service to Europe, the first 707-320 was rolled out, N714PA. It had a longer fuselage, a bigger and better wing and updated engines (JT4A vs JT3C). Fuel capacity increased 37% and takeoff weight increased by 88,000 lbs. The JT3C was adequate with 11,200 lbs of thrust, and they were equipped with water injection. 3000 lbs of distilled water was injected ahead of the combustion chamber, increasing thrust 16% on takeoff with a noticeably very smokey exhaust trail and a deafening roar. The 707-320 used the JT4A which made 13500-17500 lbs of thrust dry. These engines though were not long lived. Pratt & Whitney added a fan section to the JT3C and created the first JT3D turbofan. This engine first flew in 1961 and all JT3D types had a B suffix (707-320B, etc). With the JT3D the initial climb rate went from 1300 fpm to 3450 fpm at MTOW and takeoff distance was reduced by 25%. When Boeing introduced the 707-320 Intercontinental, they flew it from Seattle to Rome non-stop, returning to Seattle non-stop from London. 885 commercial 707's were built, at a cost (in 2020 dollars) of $61 million each. That's less than the cost of a new 737!
The Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company was created in 1925 by the Pratt & Whitney Machine Tool Company of Hartford CT to develop an air-cooled aircraft engine. Their first engine was the 425 hp R1340 Wasp, a nine cylinder engine that powered a wide variety of aircraft including the Boeing 247 and the Ford Tri-Motor. Next was the Wasp Junior, an R985 that powered smaller aircraft like the Beech 18. Next came the R1830 Double Wasp which powered the DC3/C47. Pratt & Whitney had the money and the skilled talent to build the world's most reliable engines, and aircraft manufacturers purchased them by the thousands. In 1937 they developed an improved Double Wasp, the 18-cylinder R2800 engine. It started out as a 2000 hp powerplant, and grew to as much as 2800 hp. It powered the Navy's best fighters in WW2 including the F6F Hellcat, F4U Corsair and the Army's P-47, B-26 and A-26. It quickly developed a reputation for relability and was a natural choice for the post-war DC-6 and Convair 240 airliners. Many variations were built, and the C model was a complete redesign of the original with many unique updates. The DC-6 used the R2800-CB16 C-model, making 2400 hp. While Douglas built a rock-solid airframe, Pratt & Whitney provided the reliable powerplants that made the DC6 the most economical piston engine airliner ever built. Over 125,000 R2800's were built. Starting the Double Wasp was like playing a piano, with three fingers and a thumb of one hand manipulating the boost pump switch, starter motor, primer and safety switch while the other hand worked the throttle and mixture controls. In flight, you spent a lot of time managing the engines, keeping them working perfectly as they were designed to be. One pilot said, “The R-2800 days were the highlight of my career, in a sense. That’s when flying was fun, and there was a whole lot to engine management—a whole lot. You’d spend hours sitting at the feet of the masters, who understood how to keep these things running, how to get them started and shut down. You might find a cryptic note here and there about operating technique or how to effectively reduce fuel flow, but you couldn’t learn by reading about it, you learned by watching somebody do it, and you passed it on to somebody else.”
Until the L1049 came along, no airline could offer non-stop service from coast to coast in the US. When TWA ordered their Constellations, American went to their trusted supplier Douglas Aircraft and demanded a new aircraft that could fly non-stop from New York to Los Angeles in both directions in eight hours (Civil Air regulations limited crews to eight hours flight time). Douglas modified their trusted DC-6 design and created the DC-7 using a stretched fuselage and more powerful Wright R3350 Duplex-Cyclone turbocompound engines. American inaugurated service on November 29, 1954 using N305AA, from New York Idlewild to Los Angeles, one month after TWA started non-stop eastbound flights. In the days of railroads, certain trains were given special names, like the Boston Limited. American called it's non-stop transcontinental service "Mercury" flights. Mercury flights flew from Boston, New York and Washington DC non-stop to Los Angeles and San Francisco. Mercury flights had 65 First Class seats that sold for $158.85 one way ($1458 in 2020 dollars). Today the same flight will cost you $1989 and takes 6 hrs and 23 minutes. Later, Royal Coachman flights were added, either all tourist or a mix of tourist and First Class. Mercury flights though got the best food, much like what you would get in a five star restaurant served on china and fine glassware. On Mercury flights, drinks were free, passengers dressed up and if you arrived at the airport twenty minutes before departure time, no problem. There was no TSA security gates. You gave your bag to a sky cap, walked directly to your gate and onto the airplane. A lot of airlines had similar flights, making this indeed the golden age of air travel. At HAG, we have several Mercury flights available for your First Class services.
Historic Airline Group now has a Discord chat/PM/voice server for exclusive use by HAG pilots.
See the forums for info on accessing the Discord server. If you do not have a forum account, send a Staff member a message using the My Messages (AIRMail) facility and we can get you set up with forum access.
No info on Discord access will be posted on any public areas of the website.
Historic Airline Group Website - Continued Usage
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Pilot ID's Changing
In the coming days, Pilot ID's will be changed to "HAGxxxx FirstName FirstInitialLastName" (HAG0987 Joe B). This change will occur on the main site and the forums. This is being done to increase site security and make usernames consistent between the main site and the forum. From a user standpoint, this will make it easier to know who is who on both the main site and forum as the names will match.
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Historic Airline Group has been busy lately. We have updated Braniff 727 schedules to more accurately reflect actual timetables from 1968. This includes both -200 and -100 series, for a net gain of over 30 flights over previous schedules.
We just added Airbus A300 flights for Delta, PanAm and KLM. The first Airbus, though not a great sales success, started the whole "mini-wide body" type, and placed Airbus firmly in the airliner manufacturer marketplace. The A300 really found success as a cargo aircraft though.
We added twelve Korean Airlines DC9 flights. This is just the beginning of our Far East expansion, along with Thai Airlines. Flying classics in the Far East is exciting and a real change from what you are probably used to. Look for more expansion of Korean Airlines and other Far East carriers soon.
We have just expanded East Germany's Interflug Airline fleet by adding the A310. Interflug has always flown Russian airliners exclusively, until 1989 when they bought the A310. This came about when the trade embargo against eastern Europe was eased in 1988. Poland bought Boeing's and Interfug bought the A310. The A310 has significant advantages, including nonstop service to Havana. With the reunification of Germany in 1990, Interflug was up for sale but no buyers were found, so in 1991 the airline was liquidated. When Interflug was founded, it was under the control of the East German military, and it's pilots were mostly reserve and Army pilots.
We have just added several new Finnair flights. Taken from a 1990 timetable, these flights represent short, medium and long haul routes. This includes flights for the DC9-10 and the MD87, with flights from Helsinki to Athens, Cairo, Frankfurt, Istanbul, London, Madrid, Paris, Prague, Goteborg, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Copenhagen and Rome. Their DC10 now flies non-stop to Bangkok, Bejing, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Tokyo and Toronto. Finnair started out using Fokker aircraft on floats. After WW2, Finnair expanded using surplus C47/DC3's. In 1953 Finnair moved into Convair 440's for their first pressurized aircraft. In 1961 they bought their first jet, a Caravelle. In 1969 they bought a DC8-62 and started Helsinki to New York service. DC9's came on line in 1971, followed by the DC-10's in 1975. Finnair was the first western European airline to fly non-stop to Tokyo, using a DC10-30ER, and the first European airline to fly to China.
We have just added a new destination for Seven Seas Air Cargo. Kandahar, Afghanistan is now served daily from Frankfurt with either a DC8-63F or a 747-200F. These flights are government contract flights. While technically all cargo, we may on ocassion carry troops to and from this NATO base either exclusively or as a combi. Seven Seas cannot subcontract these flights to other carrier like Kalitta, etc. Normal freight is typically carried such as food, clothing, etc. Weapons may be carried. Ammunition of any type requires special written approval from SSA Flight Control. Note: All flights must deviate south and not violate Iranian airspace. Typically we fly south to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, northwest to Kuwait, then direct Frankfurt. Escort by NATO jets out of Afghanistan is normally provided on an as available basis.
Midwest Express started life as a corporate flight department for Kimberly-Clark in Appleton WI. In 1969 the flight department became K-C Aviation. The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 left Milwaukee and Appleton with sparse airline service, so they decided to start a scheduled airline of their own. Using two DC9-10's, they began serving Appleton, Milwaukee and Chicago. Slowly they grew, slowly adding more DC9's, including the -32 series. Their aircraft had 2x2 seating (most airlines had 3x2), leather seats, lots of legroom, free gourmet meals served on real china, and their trademark warm chocolate chip cookies. Business travelers loved them. In 1989 Midwest Express bought the first of eleven MD-80 aircraft, allowing them to serve Florida and the west coast. In 2007 a private group (TPG) and Northwest Airlines bought Midwest Express, though it continued to operate (as Midwest). Service though was cut back and planes sold. In 2009 Republic Holdings bought Midwest and their nine remaining aircraft for one tenth of what NWA/TPG paid. Republic Holdings replaced the DC9/B717 with ERJ-170/190 aircraft. In 2009 Midwest ceased to exist when it was merged with Frontier. HAG represents MWE from 1986 with fourteen flights to their seven destinations. When you fly these trips, be sure to heat up some fresh chocolate chip cookies and serve them on fine china for the true Midwest Express experience.
Trip of the Week #44
Every week we post the Trip Of The Week (see link on right). This includes two jet trips, two prop trips and a single charter or cargo flight. Normally we mix it up, but this week we are paying tribute to Scandinavian Airlines, the flag carrier for Denmark, Norway and Sweden. This week we have an early DC8 doing flights between Alta and Copenhagen, then on to Bardufoss and back. Next the SAS Caravelle flies from Oslo to Stavanger and on to London. The magnificent DC-7C flies from Copenhagen to Los Angeles via Stromfjord and the north polar route. Next, we have an SAS Convair 240 doing local shuttle service from Stockholm to Oslo, Goteborg, Rosklide and back. Our Charter of the week is a Chester Charter freight trip, between Stockhom and the remote northern town of Svalbard with food and medical supplies. If you're looking for something new and different, try one of these classic trips. They even come with detailed routing and load information.
Northwest Orient L1049 Added
Northwest Orient Airlines was a Douglas customer since the DC3. In 1953 though they were expanding internationally and needed a good long range aircraft that could make money. The Stratocruiser had range but the high operating cost and limited seating did not help their bottom line. Douglas was still developing the DC-7C, so in the interim NWOA purchased/leased several L1049G Constellations. These were used on both domestic and international routes from 1953 to 1956, being replaced by the DC-7C. What the Connie did for NWOA was to bring both profitability and non-stop service to their longer range flights.
The Douglas DC-7 started out as a civilian version of the C-74 Globemaster. PanAm put forth the idea, but later changed their mind when they rethought how they flew internationally. The real beginning for the DC-7 came when American Airlines approached Douglas to build an airliner that could cross the continent east to west in less than eight hours, the maximum flight timit limit for crews, set forth by the FAA. For simplicity, the DC-6 was simply stretched 40" and four Wright R3350 Duplex-Cyclone Turbocompound engines were installed for greater speed. When it entered service, American advertised non-stop east coast to west coast service, but it was unrealistic. In order to make it in under eight hours, engines were pushed to their limits and inflight failures became common. This led to the DC-7B with more power and range. The DC-7C was created primarily for European airlines, who needed an aircraft with truly longer range. The fuselage was stretched again, the wingspan was increased, power and fuel capacity were increased. This was the first Douglas airliner that could consistently cross the Atlantic from east to west and carry enough of a load to make a profit. It was also the last airliner to use a fabric-covered rudder. It was the ultimate piston airliner, but the next day the jets arrived and the DC-7 quickly flew into aviation history.
Nordair Schedules Added
Nordair was created in 1947 when Boreal Airways and Mont Laurier Aviation merged. Nordair remained in business for forty years until they merged with CP Air in 1987. Based at Dorval in Montreal (and later Mirabel), Nordair operated scheduled flights primarily in the Quebec province. In addition, they were big into the charter freight business. In October 1968 they entered the jet age with their first of 18 B737-200's. Flightsim has a good texture for the Tinmouse II 737. Be sure to use the gravel runway kit option.