Nowadays if you are an airline operating within the US domestic market and you wish to serve a route pair you simply do just that, after relatively little fuss and bother, but prior to 1978, when the US market was regulated by the Civil Aeronautics Bureau (CAB), starting new routes was a marathon process. Indeed, most of the time getting permission to start a new route, especially if there was any competition involved, was a non-starter. Whence the regulated period threw up a selection of idiosyncratic practices that made sense then but look a bit weird today. One of these was the concept of interchange services.
The race to be the first US airline with Jets was won by those who purchased Boeing 707s, however in the south both Eastern and Delta were not 707 customers and the race was still on for first jet service in Atlanta. Eastern in the 1950s still dwarfed Delta and was set to get its DC-8s much sooner than its competitor, that is until Eastern's Eddie Rickenbaker decided to shoot himself in the foot. Rickenbacker was notoriously spendthrift and upon learning that Douglas's first DC-8s would be underpowered compared to later build aircraft he promptly switched Eastern's early orders to later DC-8-21s. Delta then cheekily stepped in and tookup the early deivery slots leaving Eastern in its jet trails.
DC-8 Ship One, registered N8008D, was rolled out of the Douglas Aircraft - Long Beach, CA - Factory on April 9, 1958. The Prototype DC-8 made its first flight on May 30, 1958 in front of over 95,000 employees and spectators.
In a nice nod to the type, and to the loveliness of their mould, in 2008 Aeroclassics released 6 models charting the career of the very first Douglas DC-8.
On May 12 1997 Delta Air Lines CEO Ron Allen announced his resignation after ten years at the helm and 34 years at the airline. At the time the news seems to have been met with some shock especially as the airline refused to say why exactly he decided to leave.
The surprise was partly because the airline was firmly in the black by 1997 recording profits of around $900 million for the year which itself followed a record $662 million profit in 1996, whilst its stock was up 17% within a year. In retrospect however Allen's departure seems less of a surprise.
Now Delta had never been much interested in the Connie itself having been a loyal Douglas customer and having opted for the DC-6, DC-7 and DC-7B. However the 1953 takeover of Chicago & Southern (see http://www.diecastaircraftforum.com/...air-lines.html ) saw Delta receive six L-749As from C&S. Not fitting with Delta's fleet they were disposed of in under a year.
Soon afterwards however the airline had the need for aircraft to operate new vacation package coach services and the Connie was ideal.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: