National Airlines (1934–1980)

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National Airlines
National70.png
IATA
NA
ICAO
NAL
Callsign
NATIONAL
Founded 1934
Ceased operations 1980
(acquired by Pan Am)
Hubs Miami International Airport
Focus cities Jacksonville International Airport
New York International Airport
New Orleans Moisant Field
Tampa International Airport
Headquarters Miami-Dade County, Florida
Key people George T. Baker
(founder, CEO 1934-1962)
Louis "Bud" Maytag
(CEO 1962-1980)

National Airlines was a United States airline that operated from 1934 to 1980.[1] For most of its existence the company was headquartered at Miami International Airport, Florida.[2] At its height, National Airlines had a network of "Coast-to-Coast-to-Coast" flights, linking Florida and the Gulf Coast with cities along the East Coast and large cities on the West Coast.[3] From 1970 to 1978 National, Pan Am and TWA were the only US airlines that scheduled passenger flights to Europe.[4]

History[edit]

The original logo of National Airlines, used from the 1930s[5] to the early 1960s.[6]

1930s[edit]

National Airlines was founded by George T. Baker in 1934, originally being headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida and based at the city's Albert Whitted Airport.[7] On 15 October of that year, revenue flights were launched, initially transporting passengers and mail from St. Petersburg to a few destinations within Florida using a fleet of two Ryan ST monoplanes.[7][8] In 1935, the Stinson Trimotor was introduced with National Airlines,[9] which were soon replaced by the Lockheed Model 10 Electra.[5] In 1939, the company headquarters were moved to Jacksonville.[7] By the end of the decade, the National Airlines network spanned from Miami to New Orleans,[10] on what it called the Buccaneer Route.[4]

1940s[edit]

Revenue passenger miles for years ending 30 June:[11]

  • 1936: 249,799
  • 1938: 653,688
  • 1939: 1,340,050
  • 1940: 3,465,316
  • 1941: 7,264,322
  • 1946: 108,760,267

In 1940 the Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar became the backbone of National's fleet.[12] National was awarded rights from Florida to New York City and other cities along the East Coast in 1944, with flights starting in 1945.[13] In 1946 National got approval to fly to Havana, Cuba, which coincided with the introduction of the Douglas DC-4.[7] The DC-4 allowed non-stop flights between Miami and New York[14] that started on February 14, 1946. Later that year National relocated its headquarters to Miami International Airport; a maintenance base opened at Miami in 1950.[7][15]

The Douglas DC-6, National's first pressurized airliner, began flights on July 1, 1947.[7] The DC-6 allowed the New York flights to follow the great circle route over open water, reducing travel time from five to four hours.[7] Flights on the DC-6 were marketed as Star Service.[4] National ran the Piggy Bank Vacations campaign, promoting low-fare flights to Florida during the off-peak summer season.[16]

1950s[edit]

This decade saw the introduction of the Convair 340/440, the Douglas DC-7,[16] and the Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation.[17] On 10 December 1958 National became the first US airline to operate domestic jet flights, using a Boeing 707 leased from Pan American World Airways between Miami and New York.[7] In 1959 the Lockheed L-188 Electra was another new type for National.[18] At the end of the decade Houston and Boston were the ends of the network.[17]

1960s[edit]

With the award of traffic rights on the southern transcontinental route on March 11, 1961 National Airlines gained access to destinations in California[7] (previously, these markets had been covered through interline agreements with American Airlines and Delta Air Lines).[16] Concerning international destinations in Central and South America, a cooperation with Pan Am was set up.[6]

In 1962, Louis "Bud" Maytag (a member[specify] of the Maytag family who had previously led Frontier Airlines) bought a majority share in National Airlines and replaced George T. Baker as CEO.[7] The airline further modernized its fleet with the Douglas DC-8 (in 1960),[19] as well as by placing an order for 10 Boeing 727s,[13] the first of which was delivered in 1964.[20] Following the retirement of the Electras in 1968, National Airlines became an all-jet airline.[7]

1970s[edit]

Revenue passenger traffic, in millions of passenger-miles (scheduled flights only, domestic and international)[21][full citation needed]
Year Pax-Miles
1951 432
1955 905
1960 1041
1965 2663
1970 2643
1975 3865

On 16 June 1970, National Airlines reintroduced international flights, when their Miami-London route was opened (flights to Cuba were suspended in 1961 due to the Cuban Revolution).[13] In October, the Boeing 747-100, at that time the largest commercial airliner, entered service with National on the Miami-Los Angeles Route.[7] Also in 1970, National Airlines opened their own terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport, which was dubbed the Sundrome.[22]

Having placed an order for ten aircraft back in 1969,[13] the Douglas DC-10 was put in service on the Miami-New York route on December 15, 1971.[7] A 1971 publicity campaign designed by F. William Free promoting National's flight attendants was criticized by the National Organization for Women as being sexist due to the slogan "I'm Cheryl. Fly me.", or similar.[23][24] With the advent of the intercontinental DC-10-30, National Airlines expanded their European network by adding Paris (inaugurated on 22 June 1977), as well as Frankfurt, Amsterdam (both in 1978)[7] and Zurich (in 1979).[8]

In the late 1970s, several airlines tried to take over National Airlines, who had become a major player in the southern transcontinental and Florida-East Coast airline markets.[25] In 1978, Texas International Airlines (which was led by Frank Lorenzo at that time) acquired 24.6 percent of the shares,[1] but did not succeed in the subsequent tender offer takeover bid. A similar attempt was made by Eastern Air Lines in 1979.[1] At the same time, the shares held by Texas International were sold to Pan American World Airways, who emerged as a white knight and succeeded in accumulating a controlling majority. On 7 January 1980, the acquisition was completed,[1] with Pan Am taking over the National Airlines fleet and route network.

Route network[edit]

A National Airlines Douglas DC-8 at Los Angeles International Airport (1971).
A National Airlines Boeing 747-100 at London Heathrow Airport (1973).
A National Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-10 at Heathrow in 1974.

National Airlines operated scheduled flights to the following domestic destinations:

Location State Airport(s) Commenced Ceased Notes
Mobile Alabama Mobile Municipal Airport
1938[10]
1980
Los Angeles California Los Angeles International Airport
1961[7][26]
1980
San Diego California San Diego International Airport
1961[7][26]
1980
San Francisco California San Francisco International Airport
1961[7][26]
1980
Daytona Beach Florida Daytona Beach Airport
1934[7][27]
1980
Fort Lauderdale Florida Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport
ca. 1958
1980
Fort Myers Florida Page Field
1937[5]
1980
Jacksonville Florida Jacksonville Municipal Airport
1935[8]
1980
focus city
Key West Florida Key West International Airport
ca. 1943[28]
ca. 1970[29]
Lakeland Florida Lakeland Municipal Airport (Drane Field)
1934[5][7]
ca. 1960[6]
Marianna Florida Marianna Municipal Airport
1938[10]
ca. 1960[6]
Melbourne Florida Melbourne Airport
ca. 1960[6]
1980
Miami Florida Miami Municipal Airport
Miami International Airport
1937[5]
1980
main base
Orlando Florida Orlando Municipal Airport
Orlando International Airport
1934[5][7]
1980
Palm Beach Florida Morrison Field
ca. 1944[28]
1980
Panama City Florida Panama City-Bay County Airport
ca. 1946[14]
1980
Pensacola Florida Pensacola Municipal Airport
1938[10]
1980
Sarasota Florida Sarasota-Brandenton Airport
1937[5]
1980
St. Petersburg Florida Albert Whitted Airport
St. Petersburg–Clearwater International Airport
1934[5][7]
ca. 1960[6]
Tallahassee Florida Tallahassee Municipal Airport
1938[10]
1980
Tampa Florida Davis Islands Airport
Tampa International Airport
1934[5][7]
1980
focus city
Atlanta Georgia William B. Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport
ca. 1972[30]
ca. 1976[31]
Savannah Georgia Savannah Airport
1945[28]
1980
Valdosta Georgia Valdosta Regional Airport
ca. 1946[14]
ca. 1960[6]
New Orleans Louisiana Shushan Airport
New Orleans International Airport
1938[10]
1980
focus city
Baltimore Maryland Baltimore Airport
ca. 1950[15]
1980
Boston Massachusetts Logan International Airport
1956[17][7]
1980
Gulfport Mississippi Gulfport-Biloxi Airport
1938[10]
ca. 1960[6]
Las Vegas Nevada McCarran International Airport
1961[6][7]
1980
Newark New Jersey Newark Airport
ca. 1946[6]
1980
New York City New York Idlewild/Kennedy Airport
LaGuardia Airport
1945[13][28]
1980
focus city
Fayetteville North Carolina Fayetteville Municipal Airport
ca. 1956[17]
ca. 1963[3]
New Bern North Carolina Simmons-Nott Airport
ca. 1946[14]
ca. 1963[3]
Wilmington North Carolina Bluethenthal Field
1945[28]
ca. 1963[3]
Philadelphia Pennsylvania Philadelphia International Airport
1945[28]
1980
Providence Rhode Island T. F. Green Airport
ca. 1956[17]
1980
Charleston South Carolina Charleston Airport
1945[28]
1980
Houston Texas Howard R. Hughes Airport
Houston Intercontinental Airport
1956[17][7]
1980
Newport News Virginia Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport
ca. 1956[17]
1980
Norfolk Virginia Norfolk Airport
1945[28]
1980
Richmond Virginia Richmond International Airport
ca. 1950[15]
ca. 1970[32]
Virginia Beach Virginia Chesapeake Regional Airport
ca. 1975[29]
1980
Seattle Washington Seattle–Tacoma International Airport
April 1, 1979[4]
1980
Washington, D.C. Washington National Airport
ca. 1950[15]
1980

Additionally, the following international destinations saw scheduled National Airlines services:

Location Country Airport Commenced Ceased
Havana Cuba José Martí International Airport
1946[15][7]
1961[13]
Paris France Charles de Gaulle Airport
June 22, 1977[7][29]
1980
Amsterdam Netherlands Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
May 4, 1978[7][29]
1980
San Juan Puerto Rico Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport
April 1, 1979[7][31]
1980
Zurich Switzerland Zurich Airport
1979[8]
1980
London United Kingdom London Heathrow Airport
June 16, 1970[7][29]
1980
Frankfurt West Germany Frankfurt Airport
May 1, 1978[7][29]
1980

Fleet[edit]

A Boeing 727 in the livery of National Airlines landing at Miami International Airport (1980). At that time, the airline had already been taken over by Pan Am.

When National Airlines was acquired by Pan Am in 1980, the fleet consisted of 43 Boeing 727 aircraft (19 of the -100 and 24 of the -200 variant), as well as 16 McDonnell Douglas DC-10 airliners (11 of the domestic -10 version and 5 of the intercontinental -30 version).[33]

Over the years, National owned the following aircraft types:[1]

Aircraft Introduced Retired
Boeing 727 (includes B727-100 and stretched B727-200 aircraft)
1964[20]
1980[33]
Boeing 747-100
1970[19]
1976[19]
Convair CV-340/440[17]
Curtiss C-46 Commando
Douglas DC-2
Douglas DC-4
1947[7]
Douglas DC-6
1947[7]
Douglas DC-7
Douglas DC-8 (includes stretched Super DC-8-61 aircraft)
1960[19]
1975[19]
Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar[13]
1940[12]
Lockheed L-188 Electra
1959[18]
1968[7]
Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation
Lockheed Model 10 Electra[5]
McDonnell Douglas DC-10 (includes DC-10-10 and DC-10-30 aircraft)
1971[19]
1980[19]
Ryan ST[7]
1934
Stinson Trimotor[9]
1935

Incidents and accidents[edit]

Fatal[edit]

  • On October 2, 1945, Flight 16, a Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar (registered NC18199) crashed into a lake near Lakeland, Florida at 01:05 local time. The scheduled passenger flight had originated in Tampa, when the pilots encountered technical problems during approach of Lakeland Airport, which led to a failed go-around attempt. Of the 15 people on board, two passengers died.[34]
  • On January 14, 1951, 6 of the 28 passengers on board Flight 83 died when the aircraft, a Douglas DC-4 (registered N74685) overshot the runway and crashed into a ditch at Philadelphia International Airport. The pilots of the flight from New York City had tried to land the aircraft too far down the runway, instead of aborting the approach.[35] Frankie Housley, the only stewardess, also lost her life. She has been regarded as a hero, as she had returned to the burning wreckage to lead passengers into safety.[36]
  • On February 11, 1952, a National Airlines Douglas DC-6 (registered N90891) crashed shortly after take-off from Newark Airport due to a failing propeller, which caused the pilots to lose control of the aircraft. Of the 59 passengers that had been on this Flight 101 to Miami, 26 died, as well as three of the four crew members. Furthermore, there were four ground casualties.[37]
  • With 46 fatalities (5 crew and 41 passengers, among them Billy DeBeck's widow), the disaster of Flight 470 on February 14, 1953 marks the worst accident in the history of National Airlines. The aircraft, a DC-6 registered N90893, crashed into the Gulf of Mexico 20 mi (32 km) off Mobile Point enroute a flight from Tampa to New Orleans, after having encountered severe turbulences.[38]
  • On November 16, 1959 at 00:55 local time, another National Airlines aircraft, a Douglas DC-7 (registered N4891C) crashed into the Gulf of Mexico, the cause of which could not be determined. The 36 passengers and 6 crew that had been on Flight 967 from Tampa to New Orleans died in the accident 35.6 mi (57.3 km) off the coast of Pilottown, Louisiana.[39]
  • On January 6, 1960, a bomb exploded on board the DC-6 registered N8225H enroute Flight 2511 from New York to Miami. In the subsequent crash of the aircraft near Bolivia, North Carolina, all 29 passengers and five crew died.[40]
  • On November 3, 1973, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10 (registered N60NA) suffered an uncontained engine failure during Flight 27 from Houston to Las Vegas. Pieces of the turbine penetrated the fuselage, creating a hole in the passenger cabin. One passenger was sucked outside and died.[41]
The wreckage of Flight 193 (1978).
  • On May 8, 1978 at 21:20 local time, Flight 193 went down into Escambia Bay near Pensacola, in 12 ft (3.7 m) deep water. Of the 52 passengers on board the Boeing 727 registered N4744, three lost their lives. The pilots had attempted to land the aircraft at Pensacola Bay Airport.[42]

Non-fatal[edit]

  • On September 13, 1945, a National Airlines Lockheed Lodestar (registered NC33349) overshot the runway at Peter O. Knight Airport near Tampa in rainy weather and came to a rest in the water of the Tampa Bay. There were eleven passengers and three crew members on board the scheduled flight from Miami.[43]
  • On October 11, 1945, another Lodestar (NC15555) was involved in a hull-loss accident. The pilots of Flight 23 from Jacksonville to Miami with 14 passengers on board experienced an engine fire and attempted an emergency landing at Melbourne Airport. The approach was missed, though, and the pilots did not manage to pull the aircraft up again, so that it hit the ground.[44]
  • On October 2, 1950, a cargo-configured Curtiss C-46 Commando (registered N1661M) was substantially damaged in a belly-up landing at Washington National Airport.[45]
  • On January 10, 1955 at 09:38, Flight 1 with ten passengers and three crew veered off the runway during a take-off attempt at Sr. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport. The copilot had lost control of the Lockheed Lodestar (registered N33369) that had been bound for Sarasota.[46]
  • On November 15, 1961 at 17:10, National Airlines Flight 429 (a DC-6 registered N8228H) collided with Northeast Airlines Flight 120 (a Vickers Viscount) on the ground at Logan International Airport. The pilots of the National aircraft with 25 passengers on board had commenced with the take-off run without having been cleared to do so, hitting the landing Northeast plane.[47]

Hijackings[edit]

Between 1961 and 1980, 22 (attempted) hijackings on board National Airlines occurred, which involved the aircraft being demanded to be flown to Cuba. In 1969 alone, there were nine such occurrences.[48] The reasons of these events can be attributed to the tense Cuba–United States relations at that time, and the strong focus of National Airlines on the southeastern United States. See List of Cuba – United States aircraft hijackings for more information.

There were several other criminal acts involving National Airlines aircraft:

  • On March 8, 1971, a hijacker on board Flight 745, a Boeing 727 with 46 occupants en route from Mobile to New Orleans, demanded the aircraft be flown to Canada instead.[49]
  • On July 12, 1972, Michael Stanley Green and Ethiopian national Lulseged Tesfa hijacked National Airlines Flight 496 (a Boeing 727) while en route to New York from Philadelphia.[50]
  • On March 30, 1974, following a hostage taking in Sarasota, the perpetrator tried to hijack a parked National Airlines 727 at Sarasota-Brandenton Airport, but was prevented from doing so by a flight engineer.[51] A similar hijacking attempt happened on 3 January 1975 at Pensacola Airport.[52]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Information about National Airlines at the Aero Transport Data Bank
  2. ^ "Walkout by 3,500 Cancels All Flights Of National Airlines." The New York Times. Sunday February 1, 1970. Page 58. Retrieved on September 24, 2009. "Pickets marched at National's headquarters at Miami International Airport"
  3. ^ a b c d National Airlines 1964 timetable, at timetableimages.com
  4. ^ a b c d Image collection of National Airlines timetables, at timetableimages.com
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j 1937 National Airlines timetable, at timetableimages.com
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j 1962 National Airlines timetable, at timetableimages.com
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai National Airlines history, at Nationalsundowners.com, the Organization of Former Stewardesses and Flight Attendants with the Original National Airlines.
  8. ^ a b c d Photos of National Airlines timetables and route maps, at airtimes.com
  9. ^ a b NAL: The 1930s, at Nationalsundowners.com, the Organization of Former Stewardesses and Flight Attendants with the Original National Airlines.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g National Airlines 1938 timetable, at timetableimages.com
  11. ^ American Aviation 1 Sept 1946 p19
  12. ^ a b NAL: The 1940s, at Nationalsundowners.com, the Organization of Former Stewardesses and Flight Attendants with the Original National Airlines.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Airline to the playgrounds of the world. The Boeing Magazine, January 1964 [1][2][3]
  14. ^ a b c d National Airlines 1947 timetable, at timetableimages.com
  15. ^ a b c d e National Airlines 1952 timetable, at timetableimages.com
  16. ^ a b c National Airlines 1954 timetable, at timetableimages.com
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h National Airlines 1958 timetable, at timetableimages.com
  18. ^ a b Image of National Airlines 1959 advert, at airtimes.com
  19. ^ a b c d e f g National Airlines fleet list at planespotters.net
  20. ^ a b Roach, John; Eastwood, Tony (1992). Jet Airliner Production List. West Drayton, England: The Aviation Hobby Shop. ISBN 0-907178-43-X. 
  21. ^ Handbook of Airline Statistics (biannual CAB publication)
  22. ^ Information about the Sundrome by its architects, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners
  23. ^ NOW criticism of the National Airlines "Fly Me" campaign
  24. ^ Stuart Lavietes (2003-01-08). "F. William Free, 74, Ad Man Behind 'Fly Me'". The New York Times. 
  25. ^ Christian, J. Scott, former Continental employee and manager, Bring Songs to the Sky: Recollections of Continental Airlines, 1970-1986, Quadran Press, 1998.
  26. ^ a b c National Airlines 1967 timetable, at timetableimages.com
  27. ^ National Airlines 1941 timetable, at timetableimages.com
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h National Airlines 1945 timetable, at timetableimages.com
  29. ^ a b c d e f National Airlines 1978 routemap, at airtimes.com
  30. ^ National Airlines 1974 timetsblr and routemap, at departedflights.com
  31. ^ a b National Airlines 1979 timetable and routemap, at departedflights.com
  32. ^ National Airlines 1969 timetable, at timetableimages.com
  33. ^ a b "World Airline Directory". Flight International. July 26, 1980. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  34. ^ Accident report of National Airlines Flight 16 at the Aviation Safety Network>
  35. ^ Accident report of National Airlines Flight 83 at the Aviation Safety Network
  36. ^ "Take Your Time". Time. Jan 22, 1951. Retrieved 2008-01-24. 
  37. ^ Accident report of National Airlines Flight 101 at the Aviation Safety Network
  38. ^ Accident report of National Airlines Flight 470 at the Aviation Safety Network
  39. ^ Accident report of National Airlines Flight 967 at the Aviation Safety Network
  40. ^ Accident report of National Airlines Flight 2511 at the Aviation Safety Network
  41. ^ Accident report of National Airlines Flight 27 at the Aviation Safety Network
  42. ^ Accident report of National Airlines Flight 193 at the Aviation Safety Network
  43. ^ September 1945 National Airlines accident at the Aviation Safety Network
  44. ^ Accident report of National Airlines Flight 23 at the Aviation Safety Network
  45. ^ 1950 landing accident at the Aviation Safety Network
  46. ^ Accident report of National Airlines Flight 1 at the Aviation Safety Network
  47. ^ Accident report of National Airlines Flight 429 at the Aviation Safety Network
  48. ^ List of accidents and incidents involving National Airlines, at the Aviation Safety Network
  49. ^ Report of the hijacking of National Airlines Flight 745 at the Aviation Safety Network
  50. ^ 40 years later: The day a 727 landed at Lake Jackson, at chron.com
  51. ^ Report of the 1974 National Airlines hijacking at the Aviation Safety Network
  52. ^ Report of the 1975 National Airlines hijacking at the Aviation Safety Network

Bibliography[edit]

  • Banning, Eugene; edited by R.E.G. Davies (2001). Airlines of Pan American since 1927. Paladwr Press. ISBN 1-888962-17-8
  • Conrad, Barnaby (1999). Pan Am: An Aviation Legend. Emeryville, California: Woodford Press. ISBN 0-942627-55-5.
  • Davies, R.E.G. (1972, revised August 1982). Airlines of the United States Since 1914, Putnam. ISBN 0-370-30942-1.
  • Davies, R.E.G., illustrated by Mike Machat (1987). Pan Am: An Airline And Its Aircraft. Orion. ISBN 0-517-56639-7
  • Gandt, Robert L. (1995). Skygods: The Fall of Pan Am. New York: Morrow. ISBN 0-688-04615-0.
  • The Clipper Heritage - Pan American World Airways 1927-1991 (2005). Pan American Historical Foundation. Retrieved April 2008.
  • Pan American World Airways, Inc., Records (6-26-1996). Otto G. Richter Library, University of Miami Archives. Retrieved April 2008.