Mid-Continent Airlines

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Mid-Continent Airlines
Founded1928 (1928) (as Hanford's Tri-State Airlines)
Sioux City, Iowa, United States
Commenced operations1938 (as Mid-Continent Airlines)
Ceased operationsAugust 16, 1952 (1952-08-16) (merged into Braniff Airways, Inc.)

Mid-Continent Airlines was an airline which operated in the central United States from the 1930s until 1952 when it was acquired by and merged with Braniff International Airways. Mid-Continent was based in Kansas City, Missouri at the time of its acquisition by Braniff.[1]


Hanford's Tri-State Airlines[edit]

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.[2]

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.[2]

New Management[edit]

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 10 Electras were added to the fleet.[2]

In 1940 Mid-Continent routes extended from Minneapolis and Bismarck 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.

Northwest Airlines and American Airlines proposed mergers with the airline in the 1940s; neither was approved.

Mid-Continent Convair 240 at Tulsa International Airport (August 1950).

Mid Continent Honored at Kansas City[edit]

Kansas City, Missouri moved to build a new airport away from the river for Mid-Continent and TWA, whose main overhaul base was located 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.[3]

Merger with Braniff & Fleet in 1952[edit]

Before the airport opened, Mid-Continent Airlines was acquired by Braniff International Airways in 1952. When they merged on August 16, 1952, Mid-Continent had a fleet of Douglas DC-3s as well as five Convairliners including Convair 240 and Convair 340 aircraft. The DC-3s were operated for several more years while the Convair 240s were retired during 1953. The new Convairs continued flying for Braniff Airways until the mid 1960s. The airline had six Convair 340s on order at the time of the merger.[2]

Destinations in 1951[edit]

By the early 1950s, the airline's route system stretched from Minnesota and North Dakota in the north central U.S. to the Gulf Coast in Louisiana and Texas. According to its September 1, 1951 system timetable, Mid-Continent was serving the following destinations:[4]

By 1952, Mid-Continent had entered into a "through plane" interchange agreement with Eastern Air Lines which enabled single plane service between Kansas City and Miami, Florida via intermediate stops in St. Louis, Atlanta, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida.[5]

Braniff International continued to serve the vast majority of the destinations listed above following its acquisition of Mid-Continent in 1952; however, by 1960 Braniff had ceased serving many of the smaller cities previously served by Mid-Continent.[6]

Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • On February 27, 1951, a Convair CV-240-2 (N90664) crashed on climbout from Tulsa International Airport after the flaps were retracted at a too low air speed following engine problems; all 34 passengers and crew survived, but the aircraft was written off. The aircraft was operating a Minneapolis-Houston service with intermediate stops.[7]
  • On March 2, 1951, Mid-Continent Airlines Flight 16, a Douglas DC-3A (N19928), stalled and crashed at Sioux City, Iowa while making a turn to land, killing 16 of 25 on board. The aircraft was operating a Kansas City-Minneapolis service with intermediate stops.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, Sept. 1, 1951 Mid-Continent Airlines system timetable
  2. ^ a b c d Cearley, Jr., George W. (1986). "The Building Of A Major International Airline". Braniff International Airways: 56–66.
  3. ^ Cole, Suzanne P.; Engle, Tim; Winkler, Eric (April 23, 2012). "50 things every Kansas Citian should know". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved April 23, 2012.
  4. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, Sept. 1, 1951 Mid-Continent Airlines system timetable
  5. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, Jan. 1, 1952 Mid-Continent Airlines system timetable (front cover)
  6. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, April 26, 1953 & April 24, 1960 Braniff International Airways system timetables
  7. ^ Accident description for N90664 at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2014-10-29.
  8. ^ Accident description for N19928 at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2014-10-29.

External links[edit]