Mid-Continent Airlines

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Mid-Continent Airlines
Founded 1928 (1928) (as Hanford's Tri-State Airlines)
Sioux City, Iowa, United States
Commenced operations 1938 (as Mid-Continent Airlines)
Ceased operations August 16, 1952 (1952-08-16) (merged into Braniff Airlines)

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[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.[1]

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.[1]

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 Electras were added to the fleet.[1]

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 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.[2]

Merger with Braniff[edit]

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 Convair 340s on order at the time of the merger.[1]

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.[3]
  • 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.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Cearley, Jr., George W. (1986). "The Building Of A Major International Airline". Braniff International Airways: 56–66. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ Accident description for N90664 at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2014-10-29.
  4. ^ Accident description for N19928 at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2014-10-29.

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