For more on Panagra see El' Pacifico: Panagra's DC-6B Service to South America
The competition between Braniff and Panagra escalated into a battle that at times threatened the passengers themselves. As related in Arthur W DuBois' book 'Behind the Facade and A Peek at Panagra':
"The word came down, "do not co-operate in anyway." One night a Braniff DC-7 was coming in to Guayaquil and the Panagra senior operations man took the instructions literally and he would not let the tower turn on the runway lights. The weather was bad and Braniff ended up landing in Talara, Peru. The Ecuadorians owned the airport and Braniff protested to the Ecuadorian Aviation Authority, who informed Panagra that the next time this happened; they would send the army to turn the lights on."
In Mexico Pan American put construction equipment on the runway after their flight departed so Braniff couldn't land!
In November 1961 another of the Braniff DC-7Cs, this time N5905, was written off, however this time it was caused by a ground fire at Dallas Love-Field. The DC-7Cs actually saw longer service with Braniff than they did with most operators. The type could still be found on international scheduled services like Lima-La Paz as late as May 1965. They were still being used on the inter-change route with Eastern in 1963.
As jets tookover the more prestigious routes the DC-7Cs could increasingly be seen operating domestic routes. The May 1965 timetable shows services like San Antonio-Dallas-Wichita-Kansas-Chicago. By August 1966 the 7Cs were in the twilight of their careers and the timetable shows only a single Houston-San Antonio and Houston-Dallas schedule a day. The aircraft left the fleet for storage at Dallas Love-Field at the end of 1966 and were broken up in 1970.
Panagra's DC-7s had been eclipsed by the new DC-8s from 1960 but remained in service. One of the Panagra DC-7s also suffered a major mishap when in October 1962 N51702 was damaged beyond repair taking off from La Paz. Fortunately there were no fatalities. The DC-7s no doubt gradually found themselves on less important routes but two were still operating for Panagra when it was acquired by Braniff in 1967. Considering the animosity between the airlines the acquisition and merger must have been 'interesting'. The props never operated with Braniff and were all retired upon the takeover.
N51700 actually found herself being used as a Steak House restaurant well into the 1980s located near Interstate 75 near Byron, Georgia. She was known as the DC-7 Steak House but appears to have been broken up in late 1989.
Though obsolete by the early 1960s the Douglas props gave sterling service on the long distance routes to, what were at the time, still remote and exotic destinations, albeit ones served in a style you won't find today!
DuBois, Arthur W. Behind the Facade and A Peek at Panagra
Oct 1956. Chicago Tribune. Braniff Puts New DC-7C Into Service
Sept 2009. Braniff DC-7Cs mid-1960s. Airliners.net
JPB Transportation Blog: The Pan Am Series – Part XXIII: Panagra
Aviation Safety.net - N5904
Aviation Safety.net - N5905
Timetable images are as always from the excellent http://www.timetableimages.com
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: