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Across The "Pond" In A DC-4

Fri Oct 15, 2004 2:39 am

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.  Smile
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RE: Across The "Pond" In A DC-4

Fri Oct 15, 2004 6:48 am

Great report, Olympus69.

It's great to have a glimpse into an bygone era which more than 95% of the people here have never experienced.... Please post about any other trips you might have taken during those early years of civil aviation.


"I never apologize! I am sorry, but that's the way it is!" - Homer Simpson
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RE: Across The "Pond" In A DC-4

Fri Oct 15, 2004 8:25 am

Great to hear about the past, from a far different era than today. And we here always complain about the length of our flights, the food, the service on the a/c, engine noise, wanting seatback IFE, high fares, bad seats  Big grin
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RE: Across The "Pond" In A DC-4

Fri Oct 15, 2004 10:10 am

John, I have read literally hundreds of reports on this forum but none held my interest more than this one did. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this piece of aviation history with us - it is truly a resource to be treasured.
"The A340-300 may boast a long range, but the A340 is underpowered" -- Robert Milton, CEO - Air Canada
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RE: Across The "Pond" In A DC-4

Fri Oct 15, 2004 12:34 pm

Thanks, guys. I had been afraid that my introductory paragraphs might turn people off. I am thinking of doing another report - about a 1953 BOAC Constellation trip.
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RE: Across The "Pond" In A DC-4

Fri Oct 15, 2004 8:25 pm

Fascinating, please do post your BOAC Connie trip as well!!!
Once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward; for there you long to return
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RE: Across The "Pond" In A DC-4

Fri Oct 15, 2004 9:10 pm

Fascinating trip report Olympus, muchos respect!

 Smile/happy/getting dizzy

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RE: Across The "Pond" In A DC-4

Fri Oct 15, 2004 10:25 pm

Keep them coming, I think all of us love to hear stories about the early days when it was never guaranteed that one would make it to the "other side of the pond".
Just because I stopped arguing, doesn't mean I think you are right. It just means I gave up!
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RE: Across The "Pond" In A DC-4

Fri Oct 15, 2004 10:43 pm

Fantastic report! Very interesting to read about flying in the past and to see how much everything changed compared to today.

I can't wait for the Constellation report!

NZ1's mother is a disgusting crack-whore and his father is a worthless alcoholic!
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RE: Across The "Pond" In A DC-4

Sat Oct 16, 2004 2:02 am


Very good and interesting report of this "oldie". Just wanted to share with you the fact that when I was a small kid I still have "foggy" memories of C-54's in Lisbon Airport. But last summer I had the chance ( that I think it was a once in a lifetime oportunity ) to see a few C-54's flying out of Fresno has water-bombers and I was very impressed and delighted. Has you know all these old water-bombers were stored now so I feel I was very lucky to see them flying, and of course I had the chance to see them with my 2 boys and they were very impressed also to see these old piston airliners flying..... I still "ear" the noise of those engines in my mind often, just wonderfull.
regards and bring on the Constellation report!!!
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RE: Across The "Pond" In A DC-4

Sat Feb 25, 2006 10:09 pm

a w e s o m e r e p o r t
the rumble of round engines is like music to me,likewise the thunder of thr JT8D
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RE: Across The "Pond" In A DC-4

Sat Feb 25, 2006 10:44 pm

It's really nice to hear about the pioneer era of civil aviation... It's a shame they didn't invent digital cameras well before...
Thanks for sharing
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RE: Across The "Pond" In A DC-4

Sun Feb 26, 2006 1:16 am

Great Report, but where is NHT?

Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
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RE: Across The "Pond" In A DC-4

Sun Feb 26, 2006 4:39 am

9 km (6 mi) North-East of London Heathrow (Great Circle Mapper)
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RE: Across The "Pond" In A DC-4

Sun Feb 26, 2006 5:38 am

Thank you for the story. As a kid I flew on Swissair from Cairo to Geneva with a stop in Athens on a DC-7 and in those days (1950s) breakfast was also served in the restaurant of the Athens airport and not on the plane.

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