Chicago and Southern Air Lines

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Chicago and Southern Air Lines
C & S
Founded 1934
Ceased operations 1953 (integrated into Delta Air Lines)
Fleet size N/A
Destinations N/A
Headquarters Memphis, Tennessee
Key people Carleton Putnam, Founder

Chicago and Southern Air Lines (C&S) was a United States airline that started life as Pacific Seaboard Air Lines, which was organized on June 15, 1933. The airline's headquarters was in Memphis, Tennessee.[1]

Early history[edit]

The first service was on June 23 in Carleton Putnam's Bellanca CH-300 "Miss San Jose." Putnam held a Transport Pilot's license. Three Bellanca CH-300s were flown in the California operation. The new airline only flew passengers on the West Coast of California on "The Scenic Route." This route was up the coast of California from Los Angeles (Grand Central Air Terminal at Glendale) to San Francisco's Mills Field. Stops were made at seven cities near the Pacific Ocean. For a short period, Pacific Seaboard Air Lines flew from San Francisco to the capital of California, Sacramento. The primary competition on the L.A.-San Francisco route was United Airlines with twin-engine, ten-passenger, Boeing 247s. United, which also flew the valley route, had the U.S. Air Mail contract and more comfortable aircraft. Putnam decided the only way he could stay in business was to get a U.S. Air Mail contract. In four months and one week, 1113 passengers were carried.

Airmail operations[edit]

On February 9, 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt canceled all the U.S. Mail contracts. The U.S. Army operated the air postal service for a few weeks and then the government called for a new bidding of the Air Mail routes. Mr. Putnam bid on and received the Air Mail route between Chicago and New Orleans by way of Peoria, Springfield, St. Louis, Memphis and Jackson (Air Mail Route 8). Two more Bellanca CH-300s were purchased, bringing that fleet to five aircraft. He had to start service in 30 days or he would forfeit his $50,000 performance bond. Air Mail service started June 3, 1934, and passenger service started June 13 with the five Bellancas on "The Valley Level Route." The airline changed its name to Chicago and Southern Air Lines in 1935.

Passenger services[edit]

C&S Douglas DC-3 "City of St Louis" at St Louis airport

Chicago and Southern continued flying north to south routes in the Midwest, bringing air service to smaller markets such as Evansville, Indiana, and Paducah, Kentucky. The airline acquired its first Douglas DC-3 in 1940 and continued to operate the type until the 1953 merger with Delta Air Lines.[2] Some four-engined Douglas DC-4s were also operated postwar.

From 1946, the DC-4s were used to commence international services from Houston and New Orleans to Havana, Cuba, Santo Domingo (which was known as Ciudad Trujillo from 1930 to 1961), Dominican Republic, Kingston, Jamaica, and Caracas, Venezuela.[3]

In October 1950 C&S took delivery of the first of six Lockheed L-649A Constellations. These larger pressurised airliners were placed in service from Chicago and St Louis to Houston, Memphis, New Orleans, Havana, Kingston, and Caracas. On 10 January 1953 a new service from New Orleans to San Juan, Puerto Rico was inaugurated.[4]

Merger with Delta Air Lines[edit]

On 1 May 1953, C&S merged with Delta Air Lines, giving it access to a Great Lakes route system in the upper Midwest and, importantly, to points in the Caribbean Sea. The airline operated as Delta C&S for the next two years.[5]

Incidents and accidents[edit]

On August 5, 1936, Chicago and Southern Flight 4 crashed near St. Louis, Missouri. All 8 passengers and crew were killed in the accident.


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  • Gradidge, J.M.G. (2006). The Douglas DC-3 - The First Seventy Years, Volume 1. Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. ISBN 0-85130-332-3. 
  • Marson, Peter (1982). The Lockheed Constellation Series. Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. ISBN 0-85130-100-2. 


  1. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. May 16, 1952. "Chicago and Southern Air Lines" 592.
  2. ^ Gradidge, 2006, p. 227
  3. ^ Marson, 1982, p. 165
  4. ^ Marson, 1982, p. 165
  5. ^ Delta Through the Decades