Date: October 9-10, 1947
Airline: Transocean Air Lines Of America (TALOA)
Aircraft: DC-4 (C-54), Nxxxxx
I thought a report of a charter flight across the Atlantic 57 years ago might be of interest.
To set the scene, WW2 had ended 2 years ago, but Britain was firmly in the grip of "Austerity". Food and petrol (gasoline) were still rationed, with no end in sight. I had been released from the Royal Navy in the spring and gone to work for an insurance company in London. I was 20 years old.
As it happened, a fellow employee and I were both bored with our jobs and hated the Labour government of Clement Atlee. We made the decision to emigrate to the "Colonies". Australia was our first choice, but we couldn't afford the fare. However, the Ontario government was hungry for immigrants and had set up a scheme to fly out 7,000 people by charter for £67 - about $270 at that time. We both signed up and were soon on our way to Canada.
Unfortunately, I didn't keep a detailed record of the flight, so I can't supply a great amount of detail. When we boarded the plane we were in for a bit of a shock. The interior was just bare metal, with stenciled instructions about stretchers on the walls! The plane had been an air ambulance with the USAAF and, apart from putting in regular airline seats, not much money had been spent on converting it for passenger use.
We took off from Northolt with a full load of about 50 or so passengers at about 7pm and headed for Shannon, where we disembarked after about a 90 minute flight and were given a huge dinner. This was our first taste of unrationed food in about 7 years!
The fuel tanks having been topped up we headed out across the ocean. In those days any kind of IFE was unheard of so there wasn't much to do other than sleep. We had been supplied with blankets and pillows and I think the seats reclined a few inches. It was quite noisy - a crack in the window next to my seat didn't help matters (DC-4s were not pressurized). Our captain informed us that we were flying at 11,000 feet and a ground speed of 187 mph. We were not given any food during the flight - just coffee.
Soon after sunrise we landed at Gander, Newfoundland - at that time still a British colony. This seemed like rather a bleak place - but the food was great. Wow! Real eggs and bacon.
Two hours after our arrival at Gander we were off on the last leg - 6 hours to Toronto. I had a window seat and can still remember how Impressed I was with the seemingly endless forests of Maine and the beautiful fall colours of the trees.
At about 2 pm we touched down at Malton Airport and taxied to a distant part of the field. When we disembarked we were greeted by 70° and sunshine - and by an an array of tables staffed by employees of the government employment agency so that we could get jobs before we even left the airport if we so desired!
The trip had taken 24 hours - about 20 hours flying time. A side note: we were told that it was a holiday weekend, and we thought is was really nice that the Canadians had named it Thanksgiving day in honour of our arrival.