American Air – "Your flight so smooth over the velvet road of nature" forums forums Politics and other things American Air – "Your flight so smooth over the velvet road of nature"

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    Dan Packard

    A vintage video showing air travel in 1933 when planes flew lower to the ground (where King Kong could grab them), and used radio signals for vectors,


    It was interesting to see the ways that airline tickets could be purchased in the early 1930s. I did not know that post offices were in the business of selling them at that time, nor did I know that airlines had downtown storefront offices. However, no mention was made of tickets being purchased at the airport. I was left wondering whether this omission was for marketing purposes (to highlight the convenience and efficiency of doing business with American Airways) or whether 1930s airports were typically so small that an airline counter only had space for dealing with checked luggage.


    The airlines having storefront offices was not that long ago. I used to go downtown here in Portland to buy tickets at the AA office on 6th Avenue. That was only about 15 years ago. (In a few situations, I had an AA travel voucher that had to be cashed in at the airport or at a ticket office.)


    Nice find, Dan. An AA infomercial of the time, but still fascinating.

    Andrew, I too remember the downtown offices of airlines, but in Seattle. I recall Pan Am, Northwest, and United specifically, but this would be the 80’s…not sure they were there 15 years ago…

    Alfredo, the beginnings of airline passenger service came from the airplanes that delivered mail. I think this is why you could still buy a ticket at the post office in 1933.

    I have been fascinated with aviation almost my entire life. This video obviously illustrates how much has changed, not only in the equipment, but in how we perceive flying. In 1933, flying was special. (And, usually only available to those who were wealthy). The thrill back then was looking out the window and seeing the sights. (Still a thrill to me, but I’m an aviation geek). Recent flight coming back from Texas to Seattle on a beautiful day I noticed even passing Mt. Rainier about 90% of passengers had their shades down. Nobody cares anymore today about great views out of an airplane. But I digress. I am old enough to remember when people actually dressed up for flights…the late 60’s saw this start to diminish, and by the end of the 70’s, it was completely gone. I also remember when the pilots would point out scenic sights, sometimes 2-3 times during a flight. Doesn’t exist today. I am certain that their consumer feedback was negative about pilots interrupting their nap, or their movie. Unfortunately, as a society, this is what we have become. I’m sure the fact that passengers have been flying now for almost 100 years, it has sadly become routine.

    I am hopping on a flight to visit my brother in SoCal this Saturday. I still get excited about an upcoming flight. I guess I am somewhat alone these days.


    Well, call me a geek as well. I was a frequent business traveler until last year, easily taking 25-30 flights a year, and I ALWAYS tried to get window seats so I could see the sights.

    Maybe it’s a quirk, but I noticed Seattle based crews on Alaska would almost always break in to point out the Tetons or where in the Rockies we were, and sometimes would give a rundown of the intended flight path. These folks would also point out whichever of the WA/OR volcanoes we were passing.

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 2 weeks ago by Chico. Reason: grammar error

    Chico, thanks. Could be luck of the draw…I don’t fly that often anymore, maybe 2-3 times per year. I guess some pilots still break in…but it seems like a lost art.


    I am currently a frequent traveler. And I still go for the window Chico. Almost every chance I get. Sometimes I hurt more and take an asile on 4 hour plus flights now, but nothing too bad yet.

    These days, I will often take photos and then go use Google earth to help sort out what I saw later on.

    I’ve seen most of the US, but still catch things that intrigue me. When I go abroad, I have the most fun. So much! I miss more than I see, really see. It is like rock hunting. You just can’t see all the rocks. Seems like one can, but it is a clever illusion.

    I miss pre 9/11 travel. Southwest seems like the only airline left having any fun. I fly them every chance I get. They feel the most like those better times. Everyone wants it safe. But what goes unsaid is whether the mess today is more theater than safe. I don’t really know, so I just got good at all the stuff and minimize all that. I like to think it really helps.

    As for Northwest… in the later 90’s they left early once. I got left behind. Was quite a surprise. So I grilled the attendant for any flight arriving at the same destination. United had one, so I ran to catch it. The NW attendant called ahead for me.

    A talker, Bruce Williams, had shared his air travel experiences. When I started, that proved to be very good radio. I had the jump on many peers because of that great radio. I listened because it was all so compelling. And it still is flat out amazing! One can get up, and before you know it, can be having a nice meal on the other side of the country, seemingly a world away…

    Anyway, I got there a few minutes before door close, showed my Northwest ticket, knew they had spare seats, and said, “I am never flying NW again, will you let me on for Boston? Please, I really need this.”

    They did. I never flew Northwest again. Thanks Bruce for the bit of savvy needed to get me through that day.

    Fun times back then. I was with a group going to do a show. They were concerned, but wanted the story when I arrived later that evening. It was an eventful flight too. Lightning would arc on the little device on the wing for that purpose. Rough. Saw some real weather.

    And that is another favorite. Just a few weeks ago, we had to fly around a real monster thunderstorm! I was on the right side of the plane to watch it too. There it was advancing, lightning strikes every few seconds! The size of it! Made me feel small, flying in a little, easily broken can. Sheesh.

    One of my favorite sights is fireworks. Fly over a big show and that is a treat.

    My other favorite is either early, or late sky. Every so often, it all lines up, a city skyline maybe, and the beautiful spread of color… Just recently I had an awesome one happen while heading into Midway. Was a light flight, and the stewardess leaned in to get a photo.

    We talked, and she said the same thing. Never gets tired of those. I had a better camera, so I texted her a few shots. Was nice that can still happen without people worrying. And for 20 minutes or so, we just talked, with them telling me of their adventures in the sky, me asking them various things, all of us just happy that evening.

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