|A Tribute to TWA..."The Airline Run by Flyers"
Early TWA History from original TWA documents.
|An Airline Executive Talks about the Tomorrow of Aviation
Paul E. Richter, Executive Vice-President of
Transcontinental and Western Air, Inc.,
predicts a vast expansion of aviation when war ends.
|When World War I was declared, a young man in Colorado who heard the "flash" from the country telephone operator saddled his horse and rode to the home of his grandfather, twelve miles away to tell him the news. It took him almost three hours to make the trip. Today that same ranch is little more than two hours away from Kansas City. And that same man could carry news from New York to the ranch in a little more than six hours--or only twice as much time as it required for his horseback trip in 1914.
The same "Paul Revere" of not so many years ago today is an airline executive, keen-minded, conservative, cautious about what he says of aviation. He is Paul E. Richter, executive vice-president of Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc. "Amazing?" he asked the other day in a discussion on the progress of aerial transportation in which he related his own experience. "Well, in a way, yes. But look how commonplace flights across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans for commercial passengers have become. The world has shrunk to a mere nothing because of the speed and range of the airplane. "If one thinks that is amazing, what are we to think of what is to come in the field of aviation and transportation? Yes, we have come quite a ways from Kitty Hawk. But the surface of this great new frontier has barely been scratched. "Across the continent in 8 1/2 hours, or lunch in Kansas City and breakfast in London. Freight ordered by telephone in New York tonight and delivered to your dock in Kansas City the next morning. Luxury liners with the same comforts as the ocean going vessels, cruising through the aerial sea, at 300 miles an hour. The sky literally filled with private and commercial planes. We can't realize all that is ahead of us." A Huge Expansion after War. And so, with feet cocked up on a table, we listened to the careful thinking, far-seeing Paul Richter, as he talked of the "tomorrow in aviation."
Just when that tomorrow will be--a year, five years, ten years--cannot be determined now because of the war. "But no matter the length of the war, the expansion in aviation is coming, just as sure as new life is coming," he said. "And it will be an astonishing expansion to the entire world. Even during the war some expansion will come. We have become dependent upon aerial transportation and nothing can stop the progress now. "We know now that air support is necessary and the army of tomorrow will travel on its wings--instead of its stomachs. And as the war production hits its stride--and it is getting closer and closer each day--the problem of commercial production will be eased. The domestic lines will receive eighty-four more twin-engine transports of the Douglas DC-3 type next year. "When commerce is once again at a normal stage it will be travel by air, buy by air and ship by air." Skeptics Often Confounded.
"What the human mind can conceive of we can eventually do, so the possibilities of the future in aviation are almost unlimited," our practical visionary said. "A mind conceived the steamboat and while everyone laughed at the idea they went down and watched it work and they were amazed. A mind conceived the railroad train, met the same public result at the start, but they came, they saw and they were amazed. "The Wright brothers conceived of the airplane and we happen to live in the generation fortunate enough to watch its remarkable progress from that day back in 1903 when the "most foolhardy" stunt of all took place. The public was amazed then and is being amazed today. "We look at pictures of the first train or the first steamboat and think how marvelous it was. "But today," and Richter was glancing at some old pictures, "we look at those first planes. Many of the men who built those planes are alive today and carrying on. There's Glenn Martin, Sikorsky, Wright and many others. It is just an infant industry."
Richter doesn't say anything like the plane will replace the motor car, as the car replaced the horse. But he places the airplane in the category of water craft. For instance the light plane, the little "2-seater," might be compared in the aviation of tomorrow to the row boat or canoe. You don't plan to make long trips over uncharted areas in a skiff, he says. "But let's look at them in this class," the air lines official continues, "Perhaps there will be a port (or a park) where you can go out on Sunday and rent a plane to take your girl for a spin just as you might take a ride around the Swope park lagoon today. You might rent one to hop over to Lawrence or Columbia for a football game. A quick little business jaunt to numerous towns in a 200 or 300-mile radius could be served on the 'fly-by-yourself' basis."
"Next let's take the higher powered, faster, fully equipped plane, with all navigation aids. That compares to the motor boat and the owner of this kind of plane must be of the technical sportsman type--well trained in radio, navigation and meteorology as well as flying." Air Yachts Have Hired Crews "And then the yacht, the twin-engine-class plane. Here the owner has his own professional crew of pilot, co-pilot and radio-navigator. If the owner is in Kansas City he may call on the telephone to the airport and announces he wants to fly to New York, the city of Mexico or any other place he desires.
"The commercial transport is next, operating on schedules to all parts of the United States or even the world. Designed for safe operation, convenience, necessity and comfort, it will be available for all. "The tomorrow of aviation will see all first-class ocean travel by air, and the airships to serve on these oceanic routes are already on the drafting boards. They seem like dreams and just two or three years ago they would perhaps have brought the same kind of laugh Fulton received. Even the great passenger liners of yesterday (which inaugurated trans-Atlantic service in mid-1939) today are inadequate; they lack the comforts sought by that class of traveler. "That same tomorrow will see thousands of miles added to the present air routes of the nation and the world. There will almost be commuter service between Kansas City and the East and West coasts and other sections of the United States, with departures scheduled for every few minutes. There will be adequate and comfortable service for all. "T.W.A. has already prepared for this great future and ordered forty Lockheed Constellation transports, 4-engine leviathans of the air which will make the Atlantic and Pacific only eight and one-half hours apart. While at the start these planes will no doubt make three stops across the nation, when they go into service late next year, eventually we will see nonstop service or one stop in Kansas City."
War Planes No Place In Peace
Many ask whether the thousands of military planes now being built will be put to commercial operations. To this Richter answered in one word--none. A plane must be built for a specific purpose and to convert a medium bomber into a private executive's plane or a heavy bomber into a freighter calls for a complete rebuilding. The military planes not lost through crashes or depreciation will be junked, and the metal melted for use in other planes built for private or commercial use. One of the hopeful signs about the aviation of tomorrow is the encouraging reservoir of personnel. Thousands of the men being trained as pilots will keep on flying and there will be a great need for more pilots with the added routes, schedules and planes. With the expansion of operations comes the expansion of maintenance and thousands of jobs for those who today are learning to service or are servicing Uncle Sam's war planes. "And for those who forsake careers in aviation there will be thousands of boosters for air travel because they have been made aviation conscious," the air line executive pointed out. One of the big advances that will come in the near future for commercial air line transportation will be a system of blind landings. Experiments have virtually been completed and when in general use all landings will be made automatic along the radio highway to the ports."
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