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Historical Reference-Aviator

Thu Apr 07, 2005 5:09 am

I wasn't impressed with the story line but I was surprised to learn so much about the history of TWA and Pan Am.

While I find it ironic how TWA outlived PanAm, I have one question: Was the film pretty accurate in its portrayal of its airline figures? And of the legal proceedings that followed?
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RE: Historical Reference-Aviator

Thu Apr 07, 2005 5:12 pm

My view is that it was generally correct concerning the airline figures. Don't know for certain about the litigation end of it, but Hughes was very much hands on with TWA. Hughes brought Hollywood flair to the airline's promotion but created some problems. He was known to requisition company aircraft for his personal use at the last minute, creating problems for Dispatch (once he tied a Connie up in the Bahamas for a month, along with a paid TWA flight engineer). Other problems were that TWA didn't own its aircraft-Hughes Toolco did and the airline ended up being stuck dealing with that one lessor even after Hughes left the airline. Also, while other airlines operated the improved Douglas DC-6 and -7 series, Hughes insisted on sticking with the Constellation.

As for Pan American and Juan Trippe, they did own the foreign skies and everyone knew it. Trippe's extensive business connections and air mail contracts provided the basis for his expansion into developing markets. In many cases, Pan Am was the only airline in these markets and would remain so until after WWII. After the end of the war, other airlines began appearing and fighting for a piece of the action. This slowly and inevitably weakened Pan Am, which was not entirely used to such competition. Had the airline been better managed and realigned after Trippe's death, it may well have survived. TWA always was the small fry compared to Pan Am.
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RE: Historical Reference-Aviator

Thu Apr 07, 2005 8:34 pm

Quoting Mirrodie (Thread starter):
TWA always was the small fry compared to Pan Am.

I hardly find this to be accurate, at least not on the Atlantic. TWA was constantly chipping away at Pan Am's market share and by the 1970s they were the #1 airline from the USA to Europe.