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First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 1:05 pm
by DIRECTFLT
What were the first airlines and with what equipment did they use to fly Non-Stop (with no stops of any kind) from NYC to SFO??

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 1:22 pm
by N717TW
TWA started nonstop 707 service in '59. United is the other contender on this route as NYC-SFO was the "main line" of the "United Mainline" coast-to-coast service but I am not sure when they started nonstop service from IDL (now JFK). United got their DC-8s in '59, so its possible that both TW and UA started service the same year.

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 1:35 pm
by Rdh3e
The UA April '59 timetable has non-stop NYC-SFO on it.
http://www.timetableimages.com/ttimages ... a59-04.jpg

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 2:00 pm
by stapleton
According to America By Air (Smithsonian) American Airlines began both direction nonstop service between NYC and LA in November 1953 with DC7 aircraft.
https://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/ ... yday09.cfm

Obviously not SFO but earlier than the jets.

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 2:02 pm
by Qantas59
Looks like UA started SFO-IDL with DC-7 equip. on 1 Jun 54. Would also be curious as to when TW started this service.
Cheers.

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 2:24 pm
by knope2001
I think the kicker here may specifically be NYC-SFO, as in westbound.

Airlines flew DC7 and L1049 both ways between LAX and IDL/EWR in the 50's And similarly SFO-EWR/IDL eastbound. But I'm strugging to find any evidence of westbound props in the era to San Francisco. The westbound headwind and the extra 100+ miles made the IDL-SFO trip too long.

If I recall correctly (from things I've read) it was as much or more an issue of crews as aircraft performance. I think it was something like IDL-LAX being blocked at 8:15 and work rules capped crews at 8:00. FAA bent to allow the exception, and airlines (TW, AA, UA) also had to come to agreements with labor to exceed limits as well. I think AA was late to the party due to labor conflicts on the issue. But that was all IDL-LAX, with IDL-SFO being too much farther to get a similar waiver for westbound nonstop.

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 2:25 pm
by VC10er
I wonder if United ever considered “Mainline” as the new name for p.s.- today nobody knows what to call it. The “coast” thing was really bad branding and I think they know it because it seems entirely unsupported.
Wether they were truly first or not, it’s a huge part of United’s history, and very relevant today given their ops out of EWR and SFO, both east/west gateways to some great and unique 1 stop designations. (Ex: SFO - EWR - OPO or EWR - SFO - PPT)

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 2:51 pm
by longhauler
knope2001 wrote:
I think the kicker here may specifically be NYC-SFO, as in westbound.

Looking in a TWA timetable of August 1, 1955, I see there is a daily L1049G "Ambassador" flight 49 that flies IDL-SFO.

In a United timetable of December 8, 1955, there is a daily "Continental" flight 703 that flies IDL-SFO.

I am not saying these are the first, just that in the references that I have, these are the first I see mentioned. They may well have flown non-stops before these dates. But it does appear that it was the capabilities of the DC-7 and L1049G that allowed non-stops on both IDL-LAX and IDL-SFO.

It also brings up something about which I have always wondered. Assuming there was a demand for LAX-NYC non-stop, as airlines sure made a big deal about it when it was possible .... why didn't United start it earlier in 1950 with the introduction of the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser? There is no mention of using it in any other domestic operation than to Hawaii. The aircraft was certainly capable and available to any airline that wanted it.

Much like with Northwest's only domestic trans-con, IDL-SEA, they only flew it with a DC-7C and L188 in the prop era, even though their 377s could have flown the route non-stop as much as 6 years earlier.

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 3:01 pm
by c933103
knope2001 wrote:
I think the kicker here may specifically be NYC-SFO, as in westbound.

Airlines flew DC7 and L1049 both ways between LAX and IDL/EWR in the 50's And similarly SFO-EWR/IDL eastbound. But I'm strugging to find any evidence of westbound props in the era to San Francisco. The westbound headwind and the extra 100+ miles made the IDL-SFO trip too long.


If I recall correctly there were nonstop service going as far as from US West Coast to Europe at the time.

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 3:29 pm
by longhauler
c933103 wrote:
If I recall correctly there were nonstop service going as far as from US West Coast to Europe at the time.

The first West Coast to Europe non-stops I see are with the introduction of the L1649 at TWA in the summer of 1957. Competing Pan American with the DC-7C never could offer non-stop. Although faster, the DC-7C did not have the range of the L1649.

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 3:36 pm
by GCT64
longhauler wrote:
c933103 wrote:
If I recall correctly there were nonstop service going as far as from US West Coast to Europe at the time.

The first West Coast to Europe non-stops I see are with the introduction of the L1649 at TWA in the summer of 1957. Competing Pan American with the DC-7C never could offer non-stop. Although faster, the DC-7C did not have the range of the L1649.


From Memoirs of a TWA Constellation Flight Engineer http://www.conniesurvivors.com/1-twa_flightengineer.htm

Regarding the 1957 L-1649A "TWA flew the polar route from London to San Francisco and Los Angeles. The crew complement was 4 pilots, 2 flight engineers and 2 navigators. Los Angeles to London was scheduled 19 hours and 10 minutes. Return to San Francisco was 21 hours and 5 minutes."

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 4:14 pm
by RetiredWeasel
knope2001 wrote:
If I recall correctly (from things I've read) it was as much or more an issue of crews as aircraft performance. I think it was something like IDL-LAX being blocked at 8:15 and work rules capped crews at 8:00. FAA bent to allow the exception, and airlines (TW, AA, UA) also had to come to agreements with labor to exceed limits as well. I think AA was late to the party due to labor conflicts on the issue. But that was all IDL-LAX, with IDL-SFO being too much farther to get a similar waiver for westbound nonstop.


That sounds questionable since even in the 80's and 90's, two pilots and a flight engineer could fly for 12 hours without augmentation. Not sure about union rules back then.

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:25 pm
by knope2001
longhauler wrote:
knope2001 wrote:
I think the kicker here may specifically be NYC-SFO, as in westbound.

Looking in a TWA timetable of August 1, 1955, I see there is a daily L1049G "Ambassador" flight 49 that flies IDL-SFO.


Thanks for the information -- I thought westbound to SFO still did technical stops at the time, but it doesn't seem so.

Regarding the 8 hour issue and IDL-LAX I knew I had read it someplace, and I found it:

http://www.tailsthroughtime.com/2010/10 ... ental.html

This is from a blog, however, so perhaps either they are mistaken or there are nuances I'm missing. Or things changed since the time period they reference.

"As air travel numbers experienced major growth in the early 1950s, American Airlines was the first out of the gate with an announcement that it would begin nonstop transcontinental services between New York and Los Angeles once it had taken delivery of its Douglas DC-7 propliners. Eager to upstage American Airlines and its iconic head, C.R. Smith, Howard Hughes had TWA launch its own transcontinental nonstop service on the same route using its new Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellations. On 19 October 1953, Trans World Airlines' "Ambassador Service" Flight 2 departed Los Angeles for New York Idlewild and just barely got into New York under the federal eight hour crew limit at 7 hours, 55 minutes. The westbound Ambassador Service flight had to deal with prevailing winds at altitude and thus couldn't make the flight nonstop within 8 hours- a 15 minute technical stop was scheduled enroute at Chicago Midway to allow for a crew change but no local passenger traffic.

The following month American Airlines inaugurated its own nonstop "Mercury Service" DC-7 flights between Los Angeles and New York Idlewild on 29 November. As the DC-7 had a higher cruising speed than the Super Constellation, the eastbound LA-New York run was made easily in 7 hours, 15 minutes (a fact not lost upon American's marketing department, hence the name "Mercury Service"), but the westbound run from New York to LA couldn't be made within 8 hours. Despite over a dozen modifications to the DC-7s made by American's engineers which included tweaks of the Wright R-3350 radial engines to squeeze every bit of horsepower out of the engines, the DC-7s still couldn't beat the prevailing winds. American's pilot union repeatedly pointed this fact out, but C.R. Smith's influence in Washington left the issue unaddressed by federal regulators. In the following year, federal regulators adjusted the time limit to allow the flight to be made legally and American's DC-7s blocked in at 8 hours, 15 minutes on a westbound nonstop.

Although TWA had reached an agreement with its Super Constellation pilots for overtime pay on the westbound nonstops to eliminate the technical stop for a crew change in Chicago, no such agreement existed with American and following deadlocked negotiations, American's pilots striked on 31 July 1954. C.R. Smith was furious but had no choice to accept an agreement for overtime pay on the westbound Mercury nonstops that exceeded 8 hours. After a punishing 24-day strike, American's pilots returned to work under new rules for transcontinental flights in excess of 8 hours."


However this specifc blog does reference westbound United IDL-SFO. Of coure that part of the story I didn't recall. I should have looked this up before I posted originally...:-/

"Arriving late to the transcontinental battle was United Air Lines. United took delivery of its DC-7s six months after American Airlines but didn't inaugurate nonstop services until 1 June 1954 on it's "Red Carpet" services between San Francisco and New York Idlewild. United's nonstops were eastbound only and rather unusually, westbound nonstops weren't added by the airline until 1955, nearly a year later after the Red Carpet services started."


Right there I would have seen UA was doing westbound IDL-SFO by 1955.

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:39 pm
by hOMSaR
longhauler wrote:
It also brings up something about which I have always wondered. Assuming there was a demand for LAX-NYC non-stop, as airlines sure made a big deal about it when it was possible .... why didn't United start it earlier in 1950 with the introduction of the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser? There is no mention of using it in any other domestic operation than to Hawaii. The aircraft was certainly capable and available to any airline that wanted it.

Much like with Northwest's only domestic trans-con, IDL-SEA, they only flew it with a DC-7C and L188 in the prop era, even though their 377s could have flown the route non-stop as much as 6 years earlier.


Did they have the route authorities to fly these nonstops earlier? Back then, airlines would need approval to start a new route. Of course, I have no idea how difficult said authorities were to obtain.

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:42 pm
by DIRECTFLT
This 1959 United Promo film for the DC-8, highlights the IDL-SFO Non-Stop "Red Carpet" Service. About half way through the video, at 11:24, it mentions the history of the various airplanes and times for United's NY-SFO service, ending with "Then... it was the DC-7, for coast-to-coast non-stop in 8:45 minutes."

https://youtu.be/T4QgK8dfw1U?t=11m24s

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 8:56 pm
by WA707atMSP
hOMSaR wrote:
longhauler wrote:
It also brings up something about which I have always wondered. Assuming there was a demand for LAX-NYC non-stop, as airlines sure made a big deal about it when it was possible .... why didn't United start it earlier in 1950 with the introduction of the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser? There is no mention of using it in any other domestic operation than to Hawaii. The aircraft was certainly capable and available to any airline that wanted it.

Much like with Northwest's only domestic trans-con, IDL-SEA, they only flew it with a DC-7C and L188 in the prop era, even though their 377s could have flown the route non-stop as much as 6 years earlier.


Did they have the route authorities to fly these nonstops earlier? Back then, airlines would need approval to start a new route. Of course, I have no idea how difficult said authorities were to obtain.


This was a very messy subject before deregulation. The simple answer:

The original air mail routes in the 1930s ran from one big city to another, with intermediate stops. When aircraft range increased, airlines were allowed to overfly intermediate stops on some flights without requesting authority from the CAB, as long as they maintained at least one flight a day each way to the intermediate stops. Douglas, Arizona was one of the intermediate stops on American's original route from New York to Los Angeles, and American did not have to request authority to fly nonstop from IDL to LAX, but they also had to serve Douglas 1x day on a multi stop flight.

However, when new routes were awarded after that, the new routes clearly stated where stops had to be made. San Francisco was not on American's original mail route. The CAB subsequently allowed American to add flights from San Francisco to Phoenix, Tucson, and Dallas. Even though these cities were also stops on AA's original route from New York City to Los Angeles, American was not allowed to overfly them and begin nonstops from New York to San Francisco. The CAB did give AA nonstop authority from SFO to Chicago in 1955, New York City in 1959, and Detroit in 1966, but the SFO-CHI / NYC / DTW routes were each awarded in separate route cases. Although AA badly wanted to fly nonstop from SFO to BOS and Washington, AA was not allowed to do so until after deregulation.

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:03 pm
by DIRECTFLT
Bty, what is the current max flying time allowed for commercial pilots by the FAA??

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:26 pm
by DaufuskieGuy
GCT64 wrote:
longhauler wrote:
c933103 wrote:
If I recall correctly there were nonstop service going as far as from US West Coast to Europe at the time.

The first West Coast to Europe non-stops I see are with the introduction of the L1649 at TWA in the summer of 1957. Competing Pan American with the DC-7C never could offer non-stop. Although faster, the DC-7C did not have the range of the L1649.


From Memoirs of a TWA Constellation Flight Engineer http://www.conniesurvivors.com/1-twa_flightengineer.htm

Regarding the 1957 L-1649A "TWA flew the polar route from London to San Francisco and Los Angeles. The crew complement was 4 pilots, 2 flight engineers and 2 navigators. Los Angeles to London was scheduled 19 hours and 10 minutes. Return to San Francisco was 21 hours and 5 minutes."


amazing a prop could fly that far i wonder if it turned a profit with all the staffing requirements and relatively few passenger seats

Re: First NYC-SFO Non-Stop

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:30 pm
by timz
So it seems UA and TW both started IDL to SFO in 1955. By then the rules allowed 10-hour (?) domestic nonstops.

AA and TW both tried BOS-LAX in 1957, but don't think any prop was ever scheduled BOS-SFO.

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:44 pm
by FlyHappy
GCT64 wrote:
longhauler wrote:
c933103 wrote:
If I recall correctly there were nonstop service going as far as from US West Coast to Europe at the time.

The first West Coast to Europe non-stops I see are with the introduction of the L1649 at TWA in the summer of 1957. Competing Pan American with the DC-7C never could offer non-stop. Although faster, the DC-7C did not have the range of the L1649.


From Memoirs of a TWA Constellation Flight Engineer http://www.conniesurvivors.com/1-twa_flightengineer.htm

Regarding the 1957 L-1649A "TWA flew the polar route from London to San Francisco and Los Angeles. The crew complement was 4 pilots, 2 flight engineers and 2 navigators. Los Angeles to London was scheduled 19 hours and 10 minutes. Return to San Francisco was 21 hours and 5 minutes."


I am utterly blown away that there was a 21 hour commercial service run on a piston engine aircraft. That is simply amazing. I wonder what the pax experience was like.........

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 10:54 pm
by RetiredWeasel
DIRECTFLT wrote:
Bty, what is the current max flying time allowed for commercial pilots by the FAA??

Currently (and as far back as I can remember), if the aircraft requires 2 pilots and a flight engineer, then 12 hours is max in a duty period without augmentation. For two pilot aircraft (no additional crewmember), the limit is 8 hours without augmentation. But as knope2001 has alluded too, the requirements may have been different back in the '50s. And 12 hour nonstop flights back then were infrequent.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/14/121.521
https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/14/121.483

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:04 am
by DIRECTFLT
RetiredWeasel wrote:
DIRECTFLT wrote:
Bty, what is the current max flying time allowed for commercial pilots by the FAA??

Currently (and as far back as I can remember), if the aircraft requires 2 pilots and a flight engineer, then 12 hours is max in a duty period without augmentation. For two pilot aircraft (no additional crewmember), the limit is 8 hours without augmentation. But as knope2001 has alluded too, the requirements may have been different back in the '50s. And 12 hour nonstop flights back then were infrequent.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/14/121.521
https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/14/121.483


So, on a flight I took in the 90's on an MD-11 from FRA-DFW... would the crew change after 8 hours, or would they change after 5 hours, about half way through the flight?

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:09 am
by DIRECTFLT
FlyHappy wrote:
GCT64 wrote:
longhauler wrote:
The first West Coast to Europe non-stops I see are with the introduction of the L1649 at TWA in the summer of 1957. Competing Pan American with the DC-7C never could offer non-stop. Although faster, the DC-7C did not have the range of the L1649.


From Memoirs of a TWA Constellation Flight Engineer http://www.conniesurvivors.com/1-twa_flightengineer.htm

Regarding the 1957 L-1649A "TWA flew the polar route from London to San Francisco and Los Angeles. The crew complement was 4 pilots, 2 flight engineers and 2 navigators. Los Angeles to London was scheduled 19 hours and 10 minutes. Return to San Francisco was 21 hours and 5 minutes."


I am utterly blown away that there was a 21 hour commercial service run on a piston engine aircraft. That is simply amazing. I wonder what the pax experience was like.........


From Wiki:

The twice-weekly ORY-ANC-TYO flight was scheduled for 30 hr 45 min, compared to 42 hr 20 min for the fastest 1049G via India (and 32 hr 00 min for BOAC's Comet from London to Tokyo via India).

When the DC-3s were going from NY to SF the flight time was given as 17:29 and they made stops but picked up no pas. The DC-3 had a berth with curtains for sleeping. I don't know what the L-1649A service offered...

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:32 am
by RetiredWeasel
DIRECTFLT wrote:

So, on a flight I took in the 90's on an MD-11 from FRA-DFW... would the crew change after 8 hours, or would they change after 5 hours, about half way through the flight?


If they had a full relief crew (CPT and FO) then normally you would change out about 1/2 way through the flight. However if the flight was less than 12 hours in a 2 pilot aircraft, then there may have been only one relief pilot and in the 90's, he probably would have been a full fledged CPT. They would then have diced up the flight time in thirds.

Somewhere in the late 90s or early 2000's the FAA authorized a position called cruise pilots or cruise captains and they could augment the front end, but the full fledged CPT would be in the seat for T/O and landing. You'll have get a current pilot to answer the question how they do it now and how they split up the times because it's ancient foggy history to me.

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:59 am
by FlyHappy
DIRECTFLT wrote:
FlyHappy wrote:
GCT64 wrote:

From Memoirs of a TWA Constellation Flight Engineer http://www.conniesurvivors.com/1-twa_flightengineer.htm

Regarding the 1957 L-1649A "TWA flew the polar route from London to San Francisco and Los Angeles. The crew complement was 4 pilots, 2 flight engineers and 2 navigators. Los Angeles to London was scheduled 19 hours and 10 minutes. Return to San Francisco was 21 hours and 5 minutes."


I am utterly blown away that there was a 21 hour commercial service run on a piston engine aircraft. That is simply amazing. I wonder what the pax experience was like.........


From Wiki:

The twice-weekly ORY-ANC-TYO flight was scheduled for 30 hr 45 min, compared to 42 hr 20 min for the fastest 1049G via India (and 32 hr 00 min for BOAC's Comet from London to Tokyo via India).

When the DC-3s were going from NY to SF the flight time was given as 17:29 and they made stops but picked up no pas. The DC-3 had a berth with curtains for sleeping. I don't know what the L-1649A service offered...


certainly all were long flights - but I'm mostly remarking on the shear non-stop range/flight time, which is damn impressive. Its funny to think that today we bicker about 12, 14, 17 hour segments (what is or isn't ULH) and IFE, in seat power, etc, etc. To realize that commercial ops really were running transpolar 20+ hour routes in the pre-jet era is eye-opening. (and yes, I'm well aware of the massive difference in pax count, freight, likely seat comfort and amenities, not to mention relative cost).

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 1:30 am
by highflier92660
In the early 1950s the quest for nonstop transcontinental passenger service was a very big deal with the flying public and airlines in a quest for prestige. Airliner speed and performance took precedence over economic efficiency, which is why C.R. Smith talked Donald Douglas' ear off until he agreed to bolt on the Wright 3350 turbo-compound on to a marginally stretched DC-6B to create the DC-7. Pilots unions were another major hurdle as their contracts stipulated any flight over 8-hours had to include a relief crew. Theoretically the DC-7 was built to block LAX to Idlewild in under that time.

Scant weeks prior to American Airlines inaugural DC-7 transcontinental service in November 1953, Trans World Airlines upstaged their competition by inaugurating their own coast-to-coast eastbound LA-to-New York nonstop using a 1049A Super Constellation. This early series Super Connie was hardly a true competitor, underpowered as it was with non-compound version engines and conservatively a good 30-40 knots slower than the DC-7. Nevertheless TWA's nonstop Ambassador flights were the first scheduled nonstop flights from California to New York.

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 1:35 am
by Ziyulu
Don't forget CA which flew from SFO to JFK.

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 2:20 am
by TW870
WA707atMSP wrote:
hOMSaR wrote:
longhauler wrote:
It also brings up something about which I have always wondered. Assuming there was a demand for LAX-NYC non-stop, as airlines sure made a big deal about it when it was possible .... why didn't United start it earlier in 1950 with the introduction of the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser? There is no mention of using it in any other domestic operation than to Hawaii. The aircraft was certainly capable and available to any airline that wanted it.

Much like with Northwest's only domestic trans-con, IDL-SEA, they only flew it with a DC-7C and L188 in the prop era, even though their 377s could have flown the route non-stop as much as 6 years earlier.


Did they have the route authorities to fly these nonstops earlier? Back then, airlines would need approval to start a new route. Of course, I have no idea how difficult said authorities were to obtain.


This was a very messy subject before deregulation. The simple answer:

The original air mail routes in the 1930s ran from one big city to another, with intermediate stops. When aircraft range increased, airlines were allowed to overfly intermediate stops on some flights without requesting authority from the CAB, as long as they maintained at least one flight a day each way to the intermediate stops. Douglas, Arizona was one of the intermediate stops on American's original route from New York to Los Angeles, and American did not have to request authority to fly nonstop from IDL to LAX, but they also had to serve Douglas 1x day on a multi stop flight.

However, when new routes were awarded after that, the new routes clearly stated where stops had to be made. San Francisco was not on American's original mail route. The CAB subsequently allowed American to add flights from San Francisco to Phoenix, Tucson, and Dallas. Even though these cities were also stops on AA's original route from New York City to Los Angeles, American was not allowed to overfly them and begin nonstops from New York to San Francisco. The CAB did give AA nonstop authority from SFO to Chicago in 1955, New York City in 1959, and Detroit in 1966, but the SFO-CHI / NYC / DTW routes were each awarded in separate route cases. Although AA badly wanted to fly nonstop from SFO to BOS and Washington, AA was not allowed to do so until after deregulation.


Thanks for the important information. I had the exact same question as longhauler as I started to read this thread, and I am still not sure I am 100% clear on the answer. United introduced the Stratocruiser well before the turbo-compound powered airplanes that introduced the non-stop transcon era were ready to go. Why didn't United blow the market open and put the strat on LAX-IDL or SFO-IDL? Is the issue as you name above WA707atMSP, namely that UA was forced to stop by the CAB? Since they had LAX-IDL authority from before the time that the CAB started enforcing specific stops, couldn't UA have just run one multi-stop on a DC-6 and then run non-stops on the Strat?

This is such an interesting discussion!

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 5:25 am
by DIRECTFLT
FlyHappy wrote:
DIRECTFLT wrote:
FlyHappy wrote:

I am utterly blown away that there was a 21 hour commercial service run on a piston engine aircraft. That is simply amazing. I wonder what the pax experience was like.........


From Wiki:

The twice-weekly ORY-ANC-TYO flight was scheduled for 30 hr 45 min, compared to 42 hr 20 min for the fastest 1049G via India (and 32 hr 00 min for BOAC's Comet from London to Tokyo via India).

When the DC-3s were going from NY to SF the flight time was given as 17:29 and they made stops but picked up no pas. The DC-3 had a berth with curtains for sleeping. I don't know what the L-1649A service offered...


certainly all were long flights - but I'm mostly remarking on the shear non-stop range/flight time, which is damn impressive. Its funny to think that today we bicker about 12, 14, 17 hour segments (what is or isn't ULH) and IFE, in seat power, etc, etc. To realize that commercial ops really were running transpolar 20+ hour routes in the pre-jet era is eye-opening. (and yes, I'm well aware of the massive difference in pax count, freight, likely seat comfort and amenities, not to mention relative cost).


From Wiki:

On 1–2 October 1957, a Trans World Airlines Lockheed L-1649 Starliner, the ultimate piston-engine airliner in terms of range and endurance, flew the inaugural 8,638 kilometres (4,664 nmi; 5,367 mi) London–San Francisco polar route in 23 hours, 19 minutes.

Before that was the "Double Sunrise" scheduled service during WWII: From 1943 to 1945, Qantas operated "The Double Sunrise", a weekly 5,652 kilometres (3,052 nmi; 3,512 mi) flight between Perth, Australia and Koggala Lagoon in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) with average flight times of 28 hours, using a Consolidated PBY Catalina. One of these flights remains the record holder for longest time airborne (for a commercial flight) at 32 hours, 9 minutes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longest_flights#History

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 6:28 am
by millionsofmiles
FlyHappy wrote:
GCT64 wrote:
longhauler wrote:
The first West Coast to Europe non-stops I see are with the introduction of the L1649 at TWA in the summer of 1957. Competing Pan American with the DC-7C never could offer non-stop. Although faster, the DC-7C did not have the range of the L1649.


From Memoirs of a TWA Constellation Flight Engineer http://www.conniesurvivors.com/1-twa_flightengineer.htm

Regarding the 1957 L-1649A "TWA flew the polar route from London to San Francisco and Los Angeles. The crew complement was 4 pilots, 2 flight engineers and 2 navigators. Los Angeles to London was scheduled 19 hours and 10 minutes. Return to San Francisco was 21 hours and 5 minutes."


I am utterly blown away that there was a 21 hour commercial service run on a piston engine aircraft. That is simply amazing. I wonder what the pax experience was like.........



WHEN it made it nonstop. The engines on the 1649 were notoriously unreliable and frequently overheated. This is just one of several reasons that the 1649 served for such a short time with TWA, outlasted by the 749 and 749A. Many of TWA's 1649s were converted to freighters very early in their careers whereas the 1049s and 749s remained in passenger configuration with the last 749 being withdrawn from service in 1968.

The LAX-originating Polar flew nonstop eastbound to LHR, assuming no engine problems.
The SFO-originating Polar flew nonstop eastbound to ORY, again assuming no engine problems.

The westbound Polars both contained the notation "A fuel stop(s) may be necessary." Going westbound, both the LHR-originating Polar and the ORY-originating Polar were scheduled nonstop to SFO, continuing on to LAX. Going eastbound, the LAX-originating Polar skipped SFO.

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 1:01 pm
by WA707atMSP
TW870 wrote:
WA707atMSP wrote:
hOMSaR wrote:

Did they have the route authorities to fly these nonstops earlier? Back then, airlines would need approval to start a new route. Of course, I have no idea how difficult said authorities were to obtain.


This was a very messy subject before deregulation. The simple answer:

The original air mail routes in the 1930s ran from one big city to another, with intermediate stops. When aircraft range increased, airlines were allowed to overfly intermediate stops on some flights without requesting authority from the CAB, as long as they maintained at least one flight a day each way to the intermediate stops. Douglas, Arizona was one of the intermediate stops on American's original route from New York to Los Angeles, and American did not have to request authority to fly nonstop from IDL to LAX, but they also had to serve Douglas 1x day on a multi stop flight.

However, when new routes were awarded after that, the new routes clearly stated where stops had to be made. San Francisco was not on American's original mail route. The CAB subsequently allowed American to add flights from San Francisco to Phoenix, Tucson, and Dallas. Even though these cities were also stops on AA's original route from New York City to Los Angeles, American was not allowed to overfly them and begin nonstops from New York to San Francisco. The CAB did give AA nonstop authority from SFO to Chicago in 1955, New York City in 1959, and Detroit in 1966, but the SFO-CHI / NYC / DTW routes were each awarded in separate route cases. Although AA badly wanted to fly nonstop from SFO to BOS and Washington, AA was not allowed to do so until after deregulation.


Thanks for the important information. I had the exact same question as longhauler as I started to read this thread, and I am still not sure I am 100% clear on the answer. United introduced the Stratocruiser well before the turbo-compound powered airplanes that introduced the non-stop transcon era were ready to go. Why didn't United blow the market open and put the strat on LAX-IDL or SFO-IDL? Is the issue as you name above WA707atMSP, namely that UA was forced to stop by the CAB? Since they had LAX-IDL authority from before the time that the CAB started enforcing specific stops, couldn't UA have just run one multi-stop on a DC-6 and then run non-stops on the Strat?

This is such an interesting discussion!


My guess (speculation) is that United did not feel there was the demand to make nonstops profitable.

Robert Rummel was TWA's chief engineer from the 1930s to the 1970s. In his excellent book "Howard Hughes and TWA", he says that although TWA took delivery of L-1049 Constellations with transcontinental nonstop range in 1952, TWA did not begin transcontinental nonstops until October 19,1953, just before AA's DC-7 nonstops began, and then only to meet AA's competition. Rummel says:

"Although it may be difficult to believe, TWA's (sales) department insisted that flights stop in Chicago, arguing 'the passengers want to get out and stretch their legs. No one wants to fly nonstop. Nine hours is just too long to be confined'". Another person said "People can't sit that long. They want to get out and stretch their legs. Besides, another meal would have to be served, and probably extra crew members carried. It just isn't the thing to do". Rummel had wanted to add transcontinental nonstops sooner, and said "It was tragic that TWA did not take advantage of the inherent capability of the 1049s earlier".

Source: "Howard Hughes and TWA, pp. 181-183.

In the 1950s, United was the most risk averse of the big airlines, and was reluctant to buy the DC-7 even though they knew AA was planning to buy them for New York-Los Angeles nonstops. I'll speculate that UA probably felt the same as TWA: passengers preferred to stop enroute - and this is why they did not fly nonstop in the early 1950s with Stratocruisers.

At the risk of going OT, anyone interested in learning more about the development of the Constellation, 707, 880, and many other airliners from the 1940s to the early 1960s should buy a copy of Howard Hughes and TWA. The book was published in 1991 by the Smithsonian Institution, and although it's been out of print for many years, it isn't hard to find at Alibris or Amazon. It's a terrific book!

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 2:34 pm
by highflier92660
Famed Lockheed aeronautical engineer Kelly Johnson was also irked that TWA didn't put the original 049 constellation on the transcontinental route in 1946. Prior to introduction of the aircraft into service Howard Hughes flew an 049 filled with Hollywood celebrities of the day nonstop from Burbank to Washington D.C. to display the aircraft's capabilities. Johnson maintains it was the pilots union and the 8-hour rule- not the aircraft- that prohibited TWA from flying transcontinental nonstop flights with the original 049 constellation in the mid-1940s.

Significantly when the much-touted "365-mph" DC-7 frequently failed to make schedule westbound in under 8-hours, American Airlines pilots went on strike for a short time until a new contract was hammered-out for more money. This injected new-found adrenaline into the cockpit crew and eliminated their pilot fatigue complaints.

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 6:46 pm
by Planeboy17
RetiredWeasel wrote:
DIRECTFLT wrote:
Bty, what is the current max flying time allowed for commercial pilots by the FAA??

Currently (and as far back as I can remember), if the aircraft requires 2 pilots and a flight engineer, then 12 hours is max in a duty period without augmentation. For two pilot aircraft (no additional crewmember), the limit is 8 hours without augmentation. But as knope2001 has alluded too, the requirements may have been different back in the '50s. And 12 hour nonstop flights back then were infrequent.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/14/121.521
https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/14/121.483


The FAA made significant changes to pilot rest and flying limits to all passenger Part 121 carriers beginning in January of 2014.
The flight limit is now 9 hours from 5 am to 7:59 pm. 8 hours from 8:00 pm to 4:59 am.
This is considered block time not necessarily just flying time. This is why crews can time out during bad weather situations. Being stuck on the ground counts toward your flight time.
There were many other changes as well but those are the flight time ones. Also as noted above, these are only for passenger flights, cargo flights operate on the old rules.

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 8:20 pm
by timz
TW870 wrote:
Why didn't United blow the market open and put the strat on LAX-IDL or SFO-IDL?

United and AA could have flown LAX-LGA with a DC-6 in 1947, if not for the federal 8-hour rule. Likely they couldn't count on the B377 to do better.

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Mon Mar 05, 2018 9:51 pm
by BlueSky007
What am I missing? United DC-7 NYC-SFO service. Started on 8/15/54 ft 721 Dp NYC 8:00 ar SFO 2:45 with 45 min stop. (9 hr 45 min total; < 9 hr total air time w the 45 min stop). http://www.timetableimages.com/ttimages ... a54-04.jpg . Ft 703 is nonstop on 01/6/57 dep NYC 9:00 ar SFO 3:25. Total time 9 hr 25 min. http://www.timetableimages.com/ttimages ... a57-04.jpg Unless I made a mistake, that is only 20 min faster total time than the '54 one-stop. Is there a tech stop in the 1/6/57 flight? There is a "note" 3 on the top of the ft 703 listing, but I only see a note 3 about SFO-Oakland traffic. Also, as noted earlier, the '59 timetable shows ft 703 as nonstop at 9 hr 30 min total.

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 2:48 am
by TW870
WA707atMSP wrote:
TW870 wrote:
WA707atMSP wrote:

This was a very messy subject before deregulation. The simple answer:

The original air mail routes in the 1930s ran from one big city to another, with intermediate stops. When aircraft range increased, airlines were allowed to overfly intermediate stops on some flights without requesting authority from the CAB, as long as they maintained at least one flight a day each way to the intermediate stops. Douglas, Arizona was one of the intermediate stops on American's original route from New York to Los Angeles, and American did not have to request authority to fly nonstop from IDL to LAX, but they also had to serve Douglas 1x day on a multi stop flight.

However, when new routes were awarded after that, the new routes clearly stated where stops had to be made. San Francisco was not on American's original mail route. The CAB subsequently allowed American to add flights from San Francisco to Phoenix, Tucson, and Dallas. Even though these cities were also stops on AA's original route from New York City to Los Angeles, American was not allowed to overfly them and begin nonstops from New York to San Francisco. The CAB did give AA nonstop authority from SFO to Chicago in 1955, New York City in 1959, and Detroit in 1966, but the SFO-CHI / NYC / DTW routes were each awarded in separate route cases. Although AA badly wanted to fly nonstop from SFO to BOS and Washington, AA was not allowed to do so until after deregulation.


Thanks for the important information. I had the exact same question as longhauler as I started to read this thread, and I am still not sure I am 100% clear on the answer. United introduced the Stratocruiser well before the turbo-compound powered airplanes that introduced the non-stop transcon era were ready to go. Why didn't United blow the market open and put the strat on LAX-IDL or SFO-IDL? Is the issue as you name above WA707atMSP, namely that UA was forced to stop by the CAB? Since they had LAX-IDL authority from before the time that the CAB started enforcing specific stops, couldn't UA have just run one multi-stop on a DC-6 and then run non-stops on the Strat?

This is such an interesting discussion!


My guess (speculation) is that United did not feel there was the demand to make nonstops profitable.

Robert Rummel was TWA's chief engineer from the 1930s to the 1970s. In his excellent book "Howard Hughes and TWA", he says that although TWA took delivery of L-1049 Constellations with transcontinental nonstop range in 1952, TWA did not begin transcontinental nonstops until October 19,1953, just before AA's DC-7 nonstops began, and then only to meet AA's competition. Rummel says:

"Although it may be difficult to believe, TWA's (sales) department insisted that flights stop in Chicago, arguing 'the passengers want to get out and stretch their legs. No one wants to fly nonstop. Nine hours is just too long to be confined'". Another person said "People can't sit that long. They want to get out and stretch their legs. Besides, another meal would have to be served, and probably extra crew members carried. It just isn't the thing to do". Rummel had wanted to add transcontinental nonstops sooner, and said "It was tragic that TWA did not take advantage of the inherent capability of the 1049s earlier".

Source: "Howard Hughes and TWA, pp. 181-183.

In the 1950s, United was the most risk averse of the big airlines, and was reluctant to buy the DC-7 even though they knew AA was planning to buy them for New York-Los Angeles nonstops. I'll speculate that UA probably felt the same as TWA: passengers preferred to stop enroute - and this is why they did not fly nonstop in the early 1950s with Stratocruisers.

At the risk of going OT, anyone interested in learning more about the development of the Constellation, 707, 880, and many other airliners from the 1940s to the early 1960s should buy a copy of Howard Hughes and TWA. The book was published in 1991 by the Smithsonian Institution, and although it's been out of print for many years, it isn't hard to find at Alibris or Amazon. It's a terrific book!


Thanks WA707atMSP for all of the excellent information. This all makes sense in an era when long endurance flying was still a very novel concept. Plus, the Stratocruiser was a very big, very expensive airplane to operate in 1950. I also have a hunch that risk averse airlines didn't want to take two risks at once: both a new aircraft, and a novel non-stop service that would also require a fight with pilots and regulators. Plus, the economy was growing very fast in the immediate postwar period, and demand was much stronger for all air travel 1955 than it was in 1950. Each year brought new opportunities for growth, and this is likely why, by the time the R3350TC airplanes were ready to go that American decided to finally force the issue.

Re: First Airline with NYC-SFO Non-Stop Commercial Service

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 2:54 am
by TW870
timz wrote:
TW870 wrote:
Why didn't United blow the market open and put the strat on LAX-IDL or SFO-IDL?

United and AA could have flown LAX-LGA with a DC-6 in 1947, if not for the federal 8-hour rule. Likely they couldn't count on the B377 to do better.


That makes sense. My historical question, though, is why the fight about the 8-hour rule didn't happen earlier - in 1949 rather than in the mid-1950s. The Stratocruiser could have flown non-stop both ways, and I wondered why the airlines didn't force the issue then instead of in 1953 and 54 when the DC-7s were arriving. WA707atMSP's answer above helps clarify that.

It is amazing, though, how fast attitudes about long haul flying were changing back then. While they were timing out at 8 hours in 1953, they were flying 23-hour non-stops in 1957 - likely with many of the same pilots. When I was a United flight attendant beginning in the late-1990s, there were always struggles over crew rest facilities on each new fleet as stage lengths gradually got longer. But I cannot imagining tripling the stage lengths with one new generation of airplanes!