The philosophical and literal union (they married) between Mary Wells of the marketing firm Wells Rich Greene and Harding Lawrence, leader of Braniff International, powered the airline's transformation through the 1960s and 70s. The artistic apogee of this union was the special Calder schemes one of which celebrated the 1976 US Bicentennial. A late addition to the scheme gained it its nickname and the aircraft that wore it had some personality too.
Harding Lawrence had taken over the leadership of Braniff in 1965 and changed not only the airline but also the industry as a whole with his marketing heavy image makeover. It had worked and Braniff had increased its profitability whilst making moves, like the takeover of Panagra, which strengthened its position. Fleet rationalisation was a key pillar of this strategy also. Lawrence wanted rid of the Electras and One-Elevens and to that end was building up his fleet of 727s. Come 1971 and it was also time for another makeover.
The Ilyushin IL-86 'Camber' encapsulates a big chunk of what was wrong with the Soviet Union, but also some of the things they did well. By the 1980s when it entered service, it was obsolete. Its development was protracted, its service entry late, its performance anaemic and its production far too prolonged and slow. However despite this it had many unique features, which adapted it to Russian operations well, was solid, strong, reliable and very safe.
The growth of air travel in the USA was such that by the mid-60s there was an increasing role for third-level operators to pick-up short hops from the local service airlines, who only a few years earlier had themselves been picking them up from the trunk airlines. Now they had replaced their DC-3s with gleaming BAC One-Elevens and Douglas DC-9s and a new breed of small operator was stepping in. One of the most successful of these new contenders was Air Wisconsin, which within 18 years was itself a jet operator.
The switch from using Berlin Templehof to Berlin Tegel on September 1, 1975 concentrated all the remaining IGS routes at the more distant airport. Although the fleets dedicated to the IGS routes of both Pan Am and British Airways were reduced from their heyday they were still important to both airlines. The 1980s would bring about a rebirth of competition that would challenge the status quo until the reunification of Germany itself made the IGS obsolete.
IGS operations had been a close battle between Pan Am and BEA, with Air France always a distant third, despite their Caravelle service to Tegel. Flying into Templehof was what mattered and Pan Am had managed to counter the introduction of turboprop Viscounts with frequency and the lower costs of the DC-6Bs. 1966 would see Pan Am turn the tables as it introduced the first regular jet service into Templehof on IGS routes.
At the end of the 60s the age of the widebody was fast approaching and all the major US airlines were on a new equipment binge. The 747 was the first new widebody and everyone felt they had to have some or suffer the consequences of being left behind. In fact all the trunk airlines operated Jumbos (except for Northeast and Western) although, considering only Pan Am, Northwest and TWA had international routes, they mostly lacked sensible ways to utilise them. Eastern, unusually, went down a more considered path than everyone else but still ended up with 747s for a time.
The Eastern Air Lines shuttle was a pioneering idea in the busy US North-east market offering no-reservation guaranteed seat service between the super busy business destinations of New York, Washington and Boston. There are few markets that can support such a concept but travel from the UK regions to the London Heathrow was always a good contender. In 1975 the new British Airways decided to see if it could replicate the massive success of Eastern’s shuttle in the UK.
During its first 20 years of operation Ozark had fulfilled exactly the promise that the local service airlines had been created for. It had started and proved a wide range of feeder services and grown demand to the point that it could sustain not just prop-jets but pure jets as well. Even better it had done so profitably and begun to wean itself off of subsidy and pick-up longer routes that the trunk airlines no longer wanted. All in all it found itself in good position to grow into the 1970s and face the challenges of deregulation to come.
Whenever I write a history of one of my US Douglas DC-9s in 1/400 scale there is a good chance that it will have ended up with Northwest, and even possibly Delta, through the continual mergers that constituted the deregulated aviation market in the USA during the 1980s. Following the recent release of a couple of nice NW nines by Aeroclassics in this post I'll quickly look at the livery transitions many of these Diesel Nines went through.
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: