Category: airline

Taking Airline Reservations before Computers

via reddit

Des Moines Tribune, Iowa, August 10, 1960

From Charles Finn’s obituary in the Los Angeles Times,

September 12, 1986


The Finns were both Air Corps veterans of World War II–George as a flight instructor, Charles as a B-17 pilot with 63 missions in Europe.

After their discharges, the San Francisco-born Finns settled in Southern California, and in 1952 set about forming their own airline. They bought a surplus C-46 twin-engine transport for $21,000 from the Bakersfield school district, intending to refit it and operate it as the first ship of a non-scheduled airline called “The Flying Finn Twins Airline Inc.”

But the federal government sued, claiming that the school district had no right to sell the plane, and the Finns decided to battle for their plane, using their own unorthodox methods. One of them stole the airplane, and hid it at a desert airport in Nevada. From that point on, the handsome and articulate twins were headline news.

Eventually the twins and their plane were found by the FBI. The Finns were charged with theft, but a federal grand jury refused to indict them because a key prosecution witness could not tell which of the identical twins stole the aircraft.

In 1954, in retaliation, the twins made a “citizens’ arrest” of then-U.S. Atty. Laughlin Waters, handcuffing him and alleging that he was illegally keeping their plane from them.

In turn, the Finns were charged with assaulting and impeding a federal officer–and wound up with one-year prison terms. Imprisoned in Springfield, Mo., they went on a 71-day hunger strike, again making headlines. They were released after serving 115 days when U.S. Sen. William Langer of North Dakota intervened in the case.

The disputed C-46 finally was sold at a sheriff’s auction in 1957 and, according to the twins, vanished somewhere in Africa.

LIFE Magazine, Feb 16, 1953:

Rare and fascinating photos of Harriet Quimby, the first licensed U.S. woman Pilot.

Here’s what first class air travel looked like in the 1930s

Here’s the only picture ever taken of Concorde flying at Mach 2 (1,350 mph) in April 1985.