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 John Schmidt (dc8schmidt@twc.com) | Home  
John's Airline Postcards
I've collected Airliner cards since the 1950s, when my Father would bring cards and souvenirs from his travels. My first cards were the 3 common Eastern cards included in the souvenir flight packs of the time. Each trip would bring a new treasure; an American DC-6, a TWA Super G,and like an addict I wanted more. The next step was writing the airlines, which yielded many exotic new treasures. Now, it's ebay and shows.                                                               The times have changed, and airports aren't the friendly places they once were, but whether a DC-4 or a 787, the sight of an airliner taking to the sky is still a thrill.      Following are some postcard essays on various subjects. Also included is my complete collection of Airline Postcards.                      Questions or comments to dc8schmidt@twc.com
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Christmas & New Years Cards
1. Christmas & New Years Cards 
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Stratocruiser, Queen of the props 11-17
2. Stratocruiser, Queen of the props 11-17 
In 1945, the C-97 freighter, derived from the WWII B-29, took flight. The heavy freighter, and later tanker, served the military for decades, with over 800 built.
A civilian adaptation was developed by 1947, and 50 aircraft were authorized for production without benefit of any orders. Given the failure of the Stratoliner, it was a bold move.
However, Pan American promptly ordered 20, introducing the airliner in April, 1949. Although a maintenance headache, the luxurious Stratocruiser was a serious competitive advantage, in effect forcing United and American to match the airliner on competitive routes.
The Stratocruiser became the emblem of Pan Am's world-wide dominance in the 1950s, and, though homely by comparison to the sleek Constellations and DC-6s, it has remained the symbol of that elegant and exciting period of air travel.
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The Commuters, pt 2  Oct  2017
3. The Commuters, pt 2  Oct  2017 
As local service airlines became large Regional airlines the need for commuter replacements continued and many more airlines appeared in the 70s.
Ultimately, however, code sharing arrangements undeniably worked for the consumer. An independent could not successfully compete against a Major airline affiliated company.  Code sharing could be a bonanza for a commuter, but loss of a code share usually was a death sentence. Independents slowly strangled and one by one, the great commuter industry disappeared.
  Throughout the country are airports that once had scheduled airline service, but now handle only private aircraft. It would seem that a 70 mile drive down an interstate is a poor substitute for local air service, but that is frequently the case.
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 The Rise of the Commuters   Oct. 2017
4. The Rise of the Commuters   Oct. 2017 
The air taxis, later to be designated as "Commuters" began to appear in the early 1950s, offering basic transportation in unserved or underserved markets. They grew as certificated airlines sought to eliminate unprofitable segments, and in markets where frequency trumped comfort. Certainly by 1970 Commuters were a growing component of the air transportation system.
Following are cards of Commuters formed before 1970 that survived regulatory uncertainties, and often bad publicity to provide reliable air service to small markets.
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The Star-Crossed Martin Airliners 9 / 17
5. The Star-Crossed Martin Airliners 9 / 17 
By 1946 the race was on for a DC-3 replacement. Convair and Martin both had twin engine proposals on the table. Martin promised an earlier delivery, albeit an unpressurised airliner. The pressurized  240 offering was approximately a year behind.                        Pennsylvania Central had ordered 50 of the proposed Martin 202 "Executives" and Colonial added 20 to the order book. Northwest, TWA and even LAN Chile added to an order book totaling 270 Martin aircraft. But by 1947, certification delays and an economic downturn dissolved the order book. Only Northwest, and later TWA among American Trunk airlines took delivery of 202s.
Adding to the collapse in confidence were numerous operational issues including structural failures and unexplained loss of control of several Northwest aircraft. Ultimately Northwest pilots refused to fly the aircraft, resulting in its removal from service in 1951. Only 46 202s were delivered.
Nevertheless Martin aggressively marketed the improved 404 version, even claiming that the model would be suitable for conversion to jets. Only Eastern and TWA took the bait, along with two for the Coast Guard. A total of 103 404s were built as Convair's rugged, reliable 240s and340s racked up over 1000 orders.
   The Martin production quietly died, but second hand Martins fared reasonably well, operating into the 1970s.
   Only a few airline issued Martin cards were produced, but following are all of the postcard views of Martins I have acquired.
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The Vickers Issued Postcards. 8 / 2017
6. The Vickers Issued Postcards. 8 / 2017 
Vickers Aircraft enjoyed some success with the Viking, but the Viscount revolutionized air travel. Alone in the marketplace for turbine powered airliners, Vickers capitalized on the success stories of Viscount operators, and marketed them in many ways including postcards. Postcard advertisements extolled the accomplishments both real and projected of the Viscount and later the Vanguard.
The Vickers airliner cards were beautifully presented, with excellent images of the aircraft, and frequently a success story on the back.
Following are the few I have been able to collect, accompanied by a number of remarkable contributions by Kuo-Ching Fu.
First listed are the early art cards featuring some of the earliest purchasers. Then the later 1950s issues with identification on the bottom.
Included are 2 data cards which are presumed to be Vickers Issue, and a sampling of Vickers post card advertisements.
    Finally, there are several Airline Issues prepared by Vickers. Additions to any of these categories would be much appreciated!
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The Convair Jets  7 / 2017
7. The Convair Jets  7 / 2017 
There was nothing like the thrill of watching one of the Convairs departing with a massive cloud of black smoke slowly dissipating in its wake. The sleek Convair jets were the fastest of the new American jetliners, but never really found the niche that they hoped to occupy. Quickly obsoleted by more efficient tri jets, the 880s disappeared from their original buyers fleets, and never really had any significant secondary operators. The 990s lived on for some time with some upgrades, but they too are now a distant memory.
Following are cards featuring the fabulous Convair Jets!
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The Canadian Regionals 6 / 2017
8. The Canadian Regionals 6 / 2017 
Far more than the US, rural Canada needed air transportation. Numerous independent and government operated entities filled this need using an assortment of bush aircraft. From this fragmented group several airlines coalesced and with the aid of growing populations, charter opportunities, and DEW Line contracts, grew into entities resembling the CAB designated Local Service Airlines in the US.
Ultimately 6 were designated as "Regional" Airlines by the Canadian Government, providing service to smaller communities and feeding the 2 major scheduled airlines. From the 1960s through the 80s they grew in size and scope, but ultimately all were merged into Candian Pacific / Canadian. Ironically Canadian Pacific was acquired by the most successful regional, Pacific Western.
The names are all gone, but theirs was a legacy of growth and innovation, often in difficult circumstances.
Following are cards from the Regionals, and some of their predecessors.
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Flying Boxes, The Shorts Airliners 5 /17
9. Flying Boxes, The Shorts Airliners 5 /17 
In 1959 Shorts moved forward with a concept for a multirole STOL transport suitable for use in developing countries as well as Europe. By 1962 a prototype flew, equipped with Continental piston engines. These were discarded in favor of Turbomeca Astazous, and later, Garrett TPE 331s. The first orders were from Aer Alpi of Italy, and Emerald Air in the UK and the Skyvan entered service in 1966.
The little shoebox with wings and a drop tail had little passenger appeal, but was quite practical as a light freighter for military as well as civilian operations.
By 1973 the 330 design was completed and presented at Farnborough. Not aesthetically pleasing , but quite practical, the 330 was the first cabin class commuter, providing relief to long suffering commuter passengers. The first orders were from Command and Time Air, and the airliner was well received.
In 1980 a final "stretch" of the Skyvan was announced, resulting in the somewhat more aerodynamic looking 360 model.
Production of the Shorts commuters continued until 1991 with nearly 400 completed. Presented are some postcard views of these "flying boxes".
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The Supplemental Airlines  4/2017
10. The Supplemental Airlines  4/2017 
After the war, surplus aircraft spawned an explosion of Airlines operating services outside the realm of the "certificated" scheduled Airlines. Basically offering charters for both freight and passengers, but strictly limited in terms of frequencies the airlines marketed on the basis of low cost. Often safety was the victim of low costs.
   In the early 1960s the CAB undertook a process of eliminating  high risk operations, and sanctioning Airlines that met the criteria to become an official "supplemental" Carrier. Of the hundreds that once existed 13 became official "Supplemental" Airlines.
   The demand for military charters, and the initiation of publicly sold "advanced booking Charters" in the late 1960s and 70s resulted in an explosion of growth for the Supplementals, but the end of the Viet-Nam war and the advent of deregulation ultimately eroded the market niche, and gradually the Supplementals fell.
    These are some post card reminders of that era.
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The Universal Airliner. 3 / 2017
11. The Universal Airliner. 3 / 2017 
I think we're still looking for the "DC-3 replacement." No airliner has had as many stated attempts to replace it as the DC-3, still operating 80 years after its birth. Scandias, Vikings, Martins, Convairs Heralds, Ambassadors, as well as Fokkers, Metros, Beechcrafts, and others to some degree replaced the DC-3. But no airliner served as universally as the DC-3 from Transcontinental "Sleeper" flights to 60 mile hops. The C-47 transported much of the war effort, and later served to launch many successful airlines. There are a lot of DC-3 postcards. Following are some of my favorites.
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The Whispering Giant   2 / 2017
12. The Whispering Giant   2 / 2017 
Ah, The Britannia! A most elegant and exotic aircraft which compared to the DC-7s and Constellations of the time truly did whisper.
The Britannia, conceived in 1950, fell victim to the malady that affected most British Airliners, a prolonged and dysfunctional development program.
The first test flight was an omen, as over sensitive controls led to wild pitching of the aircraft, the cockpit filled with smoke, and the landing gear malfunctioned, fully deploying only seconds before landing.
There were numerous engine issues, resulting in the crash of the 2nd prototype. Nevertheless, fueled by an order for 25 aircraft by BOAC, designs were finalized and production  launched.
During the first 8 months of trials, 16 in flight engine failures occurred and 49 unscheduled engine removals were required.  Sales prospects dimmed as delays continued.
But the Britannia entered service in 1957, much to the delight of passengers, and relief of BOAC management. Sadly, important orders from American trunk airlines, Capital and Northeast failed to materialize, due to their financial issues. But the Britannia flew, and led the world in speed and comfort until the arrival of the pure jets.
As production wound down in 1960 and 1961, the Canadair licensed Britannia derivative aircraft was ramping up, lasting ultimately until 1965. The CL-44 was not without its own development problems, from total electrical failures to engines shaking loose, but by 1960 it became the ideal freighter, as well as a high capacity long haul passenger airliner. The Britannia program, conceived in 1950 concluded 16 years later with the last CL-44 delivery to Loftleidir.

This is a selection of Airline issued and publisher cards, which illustrate many of the "Whispering Giant" operators.
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The Skies of France Editions PI   1 / 17
13. The Skies of France Editions PI   1 / 17 
The Editions PI airliner cards originated around 1954, were numbered, and carried the title "Dans le Ciel de France" or "Aeroports de Paris" as well as the airliner identification. Regrettably, I never made any attempt to collect them until around 2000.
The series stopped at a little over 200, although Editions PI continued for many years afterwards,
These are all I have, obviously missing more than 150. Some of the later issues are among my favorite cards, particularly the Pan Am DC-8, and the great in flight card of the British European Vanguard.                                           Cards are titled as "Dans le Ciel de France" unless otherwise noted.
Any additional identifications would surely be appreciated, and any scans would be particularly valued.
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The Jumbo Postcards 12 / 16
14. The Jumbo Postcards 12 / 16 
During, and shortly after World War II oversized black and white cards were published by the Jumbo Postcard Co. of San Antonio, describing various themes including airliners. Quite hard to find, and easily damaged, almost none are in excellent condition. I've acquired a few, including 2 mint cards, but would love to know about, and particularly have scans of others. Any contributions would be very much appreciated
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The Beechcraft Airliners 11/2016
15. The Beechcraft Airliners 11/2016 
In 1937, when the DC-3 was beginning to revolutionize commercial air travel, the twin engined Beechcraft 18 was starting a revolution of its own. Production started on the first of some 9,000 aircraft that became the ideal executive, light cargo or mini airliner from 1937-1969.
By 1969, Beechcraft was solidly established in the corporate aircraft arena.  But the rapidly expanding commuter airline market provided an opportunity to enter that market with a light turboprop airliner derived from the Queen Air. Some 240 99s were produced between 1968 and 1987. By 1984 the pressurized 1900 entered service, with significant numbers going to the trunk airlines code share fleets. a total of 686 1900s were delivered between 1984 and 2002.
Now the Beechcraft airliners are fading or have faded away. Following are some postcard reminders of the Beechcraft airliners.
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Pan American, The Flying Clippers  10/16
16. Pan American, The Flying Clippers  10/16 
There was no other airline like Pan American.  In 1927, Pan Am began making the world smaller, with a Fokker F-7 flying from Key West to Havana.  Soon Pan Am was operating from Miami and Brownsville, connecting America to Latin American destinations. Then it was the Pacific, The Atlantic, and Around the world.
Pan Am pioneered new routes and new Aircraft  throughout its 64 year existence making international travel a practical proposition for many Americans.
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The Fabulous Electras  9/2016
17. The Fabulous Electras  9/2016 
The L-188 was a Lockheed design tailored to requirements put forth by American and Eastern Airlines. At the time, (1955) Capital was introducing the Viscount which was clobbering competitive airlines' piston powered flights.  Even though deliveries of the Electra would not occur until 1959 most American airlines chose to wait for the Lockheed offering.
   It was launched in 1955 with orders for 35 from American and 40 from Eastern, soon followed by most of the other Trunk Lines + PSA.
   The early enthusiasm died upon the loss of 3 aircraft to in flight structural failures. The issues were ultimately resolved, but the early surge of orders stopped at 170.  Nevertheless the Electra served exceptionally in multiple roles. Many had long second lives as freighters.  Now, the few remaining have been reduced to Airsprayers.
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Remembering Trans Australia 8/2016
18. Remembering Trans Australia 8/2016 
Trans Australia was half of a bizzare twin airline policy in Australia, matching government owned Trans Australia with privately owned Ansett. Both Airlines had a nice postcard history. This is the TAA half.
  There is an excellent Trans Australia history site at www.taamuseum.org.au.
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The Air Travel Clubs 7/2016
19. The Air Travel Clubs 7/2016 
The bottom rung of the Airline Industry were the Air Travel clubs. Using mostly antique surplus aircraft, they sprang up and blew away like dandelions. Not many  lasted long enough to issue postcards, but some were successful, most notably Denver Ports of Call, and Nomads, which only recently perished after many years of successful operations.
Nomads was by far the most prolific issuer of cards, totaling 9 during their long period of service.
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The Super Great DC-8  6/2016
20. The Super Great DC-8  6/2016 
My Favorite airliner, the nearly indestructible DC-8 filled an assortment of roles, luxury airliner, international charter specialist, and heavy cargoliner, with many in operation long after most 707's were put to rest. These are a few of my favorite DC-8 cards!
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The IAWP Historical Cards 5/2016
21. The IAWP Historical Cards 5/2016 
The IAWP historical cards were issued from 1984 - 1995, by Fred Erdman, and each individually numbered. Eschewed by most collectors, and known more for poor printing quality and obscure subjects than historical significance, they nevertheless provide some important images available nowhere else. Included in this set are some of my favorites, with a little history included.
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Warbirds, The Mighty C-46 4/2016
22. Warbirds, The Mighty C-46 4/2016 
The C-46 was the pride of nobody's fleet, but a large number of war survivors populated most non-scheduled airline fleets in the 1950s. Even the American trunk lines found a home for C-46s, mostly as freighters, but a few in passenger service, such as Northeast. A few of these warbirds are still flying today.
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The Local Service Airlines 3/2016
23. The Local Service Airlines 3/2016 
In order to provide reliable air service to smaller towns the CAB created a category of subsidized airlines. Initially equipped with DC-3s, the 13 Local Service airlines gradually grew into thriving regional, and ultimately major airlines before their consumption by the already bloated trunk airlines. They're all gone now, their initial mission long ago undertaken by the Commuter airlines, and gradually abandoned once again as the "Code Share" commuters grow ever larger. But, the 13 Local Service airlines can be revisited through their legacy of postcards.
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The Super Saabs    2/2016
24. The Super Saabs    2/2016 
In 1944 Saab launched an aircraft program that was to be the DC-3 replacement, a short to medium range airliner seating 30 passengers. It was something of a miscalculation, since by the time of its first flight, C-47s were available in large numbers, at a small fraction of the price of a Scandia. Despite a major World wide marketing effort, a total of 18 Saab Scandias were built.
Some 35 years later, Saab launched another airliner which was to have an entirely different result. The Saab 340 was the airliner that was to rescue many small city travelers from the  claustrophobic cigar tins that actually had replaced the DC-3. Some 461 were built between 1983 and 1999, and the 340 served with airlines from start ups to the US majors. Most are still flying today. These are some of my favorite Saab cards.
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The 1st Intercontinental Airliner 1/2016
25. The 1st Intercontinental Airliner 1/2016 
The Douglas DC-4 spelled the end of long distance Flying Boat operations. With enough range to traverse oceans without getting wet, the DC-4 began the post WW II period of ever more practical international air travel. These are some of the many DC-4 Postcards.
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The World of British Airliners 12/2015
26. The World of British Airliners 12/2015 
A postcard collection of some of the diverse British Airliners. Some very successful, Most not so successful.
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Airline Postcard Collection
27. Airline Postcard Collection 
My complete collection of Airline Postcards. There are 48 sets. Cards are listed alphabetically by Airline. Cards are airline issued unless otherwise noted. Card identifications with the suffix TH are by courtesy of Terry Hale. Those with the Suffix GS are by courtesy of Greg Smith. Those with KCF, are by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu, and BD are from Bernd Dienel.
I would very much appreciate scans of Airline issues that I don't have, and would be pleased to provide scans upon request.  Questions or comments to dc8schmidt@twc.com
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