EXHIBITION PRESS KIT
TEN FUN FACTS
- Fire light flights. During the earliest years of airmail flights, pilots were guided through the darkness by bonfires set along air routes.
- Planes and trains. To travel coast-to-coast in the early 1920s before night flying was safe, airlines offered passengers a combination of train travel at night and airplanes during the day.
- Come drink with us. For four years starting in 1920, Aeromarine Airways carried wealthy passengers from Miami to Nassau and Havana aboard flying boats, a popular way for many to drink legally during the Prohibition era.
- No fragile items allowed. Earl Ovington performed the first airmail delivery during a demonstration flight in 1911 by simply dropping a bag of mail overboard, which was picked up by a postmaster.
- Fly or drive? In 1929 a one-way ticket across the country cost $338, more than half the price of a new Ford Model A, which cost $525.
- Say again? To communicate with passengers in the 1930s, cabin crew often had to resort to speaking through small megaphones to be heard above the din of the engines and the wind.
- Aye, aye, Cap'n. Pan American started the use of nautical terms in connection with air travel. Words like "captain" and "stewards" attracted customers who were accustomed to luxury ship travel. Pan Am also began the practice of dressing its crews in naval-style uniforms, which most airline pilots still do today.
- Play ball! The arrival of nonstop transcontinental service allowed major league baseball to expand into a truly coast-to-coast sport. The first major league teams beyond St. Louis were the Dodgers and Giants, both having abandoned New York for California in 1958.
- Ugly Betty need not apply. To attract businessmen, who were the majority of air travelers in the 1960s, some airlines dressed their stewardesses in miniskirts and hot pants. Stewardesses were required to be beautiful, and typically between the ages of 21 and 26, height-weight proportionate, and never married - and the mandatory retirement age was 35!
- But I just want to go to Chicago. Since its introduction in 1969, the entire fleet of Boeing 747s has logged enough miles to make more than 70,000 trips to the Moon and back.
America by Air Exhibition Press Kit
National Air and Space Museum
PO BOX 37012, MRC 321
Washington, DC 20013