European colonialism has left a bitter legacy in many African nations, but probably none has been so disgraceful and damaging as the Belgian influence in what has become the Democratic Republic of Congo. Independence did not bring the new chapter the Congolese wanted and instead the next 50 years have been as bad or worse than what went before. Nevertheless throughout this period a veneer of normalcy was provided by the national carrier Air Congo (later Air Zaire).
The rise and fall of Harding Lawrence’s Braniff International is so well known that in aviation it has become something of a byword for mismanagement and a case study for the impact of deregulation. In many ways it was a harbinger of the bloodbath that the 1980s would become for US carriers however in others it was unique. Nonetheless back in 1978 everything seemed rosy at Braniff and the airline would celebrate its Golden anniversary with the introduction of a new look.
Eddie Rickenbacker was a strong and decisive leader but also a frugal and dictatorial one. He often focused on cost savings and operational reliability over customer service and marketing. The example of Eastern's purchase of its first pure jets is a great example of these aspects of Rickenbacker's Eastern, whereby the airline got a better financial deal but at a price in other areas that could hardly be justified.
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: