Mid-Continent Airlines was an airline in the central United States from the 1930s until merging with Braniff Airlines in 1952.
Hanford's Tri-State Airlines
The company was founded in 1928 in Sioux City, Iowa as Hanford's Tri-State Airlines by Arthur Hanford, Jr., who offered charter service and scheduled flights from Sioux City to Omaha, Nebraska, Minneapolis, Minnesota and Bismarck, North Dakota.
In 1934 it was awarded mail contract for runs from Minneapolis to Kansas City, Kansas; from Sioux Falls to Bismarck; and from Chicago to Winnipeg via Minneapolis. Its fleet was four four-passenger Lockheed Vegas and three Ford Tri-Motors.
Hanford died in 1935 and his father took over the airline and it was acquired in 1936 by Thomas Fortune Ryan III, the grandchild of financier Thomas Fortune Ryan. Ryan moved the headquarters to Kansas City and renamed the airline Mid-Continent in 1938 after expanding service into the oil boom cities in the Mid-continent Oil Field out of a hub in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Ten-passenger Lockheed Electras were added to the fleet.
In 1940 Mid-Continent routes extended from Minneapolis and Bismarck ND south to Tulsa. It had 6 million revenue passenger miles that year; Braniff had 36 million and industry leader American had 312 million. After World War II Mid-Continent expanded to Shreveport, Louisiana, New Orleans and Houston; in October 1951 it flew to 34 airports.
Mid Continent Honored at Kansas City
Kansas City, Missouri moved to build a new airport away from the river for Mid-Continent and TWA, whose main overhaul base was in a former B-25 bomber factory at Fairfax. The new airport was to be called Mid-Continent Airport which would eventually become Kansas City International Airport.
Merger with Braniff
Before the airport could open Mid-Continent Airlines was taken over by Braniff International Airways in 1952. When they merged on August 16, 1952, Mid-Continent had a fleet of DC-3s and five Convair-liners. The DC-3s continued flying for only a few more years, while the Convairs continued flying for Braniff Airways until the mid 1960s. The airline had six Conviar 340s on order at the time of the merger.
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