Airline Quarterly was first published in the Summer of 1977 (the year before I was born)! It was published by Challenge Publications of 7950 Deering Ave, Canoga Park, California 91304 and cost $3.00. An annual subscription could be acquired at the princely sum of $9.00 for all four volumes.
The first edition introduces the magazine as a new standalone entity distinct from a previous Air Classics Airliner Special, which sounds like it was the prototype edition that ran for two issues. Air Classics was another, monthly, title, presumably from the same publisher. Interestingly the first and last 18 pages are printed on high quality silky smooth paper while the inside 64 are on a thicker rougher paper except where colour photos are printed.
The content wouldn't go amiss in an Airliners magazine from the 90s or even Airliner World of today. Issue one is a good example. It is a mix of articles about specific aircraft (Commercial Hercules, HS748s, Convair Twins, BAC One-Eleven, DC-1), Airports (Burbank), Airlines (Golden West, Western Airlines) and other aviation articles (Military Airlift Command). As with Airliners articles are split into sections in the magazine meaning the beginning of one is at the start and the end is, well at the end.
The articles are an interesting read, being as they are often pieces about what were contemporary aircraft and airlines, which are now obviously classics. The language is also sometimes entertainingly different. One issues doesn't talk of cheatlines but uses the term speed stripes, which I'd not heard before.
After three issues the magazine had something of a refresh with the Spring 1978 edition (Vol 2, Number 1). It seems the previous editor team led by David C. Lustig was replaced with a new one headed by Michael O'Leary. The publisher, Edwin Schnepf, remained the same. This issue had a letter from the new team talking about the changes.
The most obvious change to the magazine was the addition of regular sections such as 'Rampside' (for airline news), 'Down Memory's Runway' (a nostalgia piece on air travel as it used to be), 'Pilot Profiles' and 'Airline Markings'. They also say that the new articles will put more of a focus on specific airliner types and expanded to include military and business jets. Interestingly it doesn't seem like the latter ever happenned but certainly this issue had lots of articles on airliners - Canadian Junkers, DC-5, Prop conversion DC-3s, Concorde, the IL-86 and TU-144, Bristol Britannia and Sikorsky S-40 in just that edition alone. The magazine was still quite chunky and came in at an impressive 98 pages.
The magazine continued publishing through 1978 and 1979 with a very varied set of articles of high quality. In particular obscure aircraft types and experiences were covered that rarely get seen in modern magazines. Types such as the airship Graf Zeppelin, the Avro Canada Jetliner, Bristol Brabazon, Latecore flying boat, Fokker F-32 and more. 'Modern' aircraft like the A300 and Shorts 330 are also featured.
Airline profiles less frequently but often cover US commuter carriers like Air New England, Sun Aire, Metro Airlines and Golden West. Most of the content does have an American flavour to it but there are odd articles from Australia, Mexico, the UK and Europe as well.
I have all the issues published except for vol 3.3. It seems the last edition was published in Summer 1980 as volume 4, issue 2. This issue is slightly shorter than its predecessors, being only 82 pages, but has the same high quality and interesting content such as a profile on the 'new' Lockheed Tristar 500 and a piece on the last propliner to visit Heathrow (a Kar Air DC-6).
I'm told this was the last issue published, although I have no proof of that. Certainly Airline Quarterly is very much a forerunner of Airliners with much the same style and look and feel as the later magazine. I am happy to have discovered this old classic and would be keen to hear from anyone who read it themselves or knows more about it. As far as I am aware I own 12 of the 13 published issues.
I'm Richard Stretton, an aviation enthusiast and major collector of 400 scale model aircraft. This blog discusses ongoing events in the world of 400 scale.
This site is free. Please donate to keep it going.