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Post Captain
Member # 108

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Last week there was an article in the WSJ about the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and how it may (or may not) be the new greatest way to fly a really long distance. Now I realize that airlines have been flying long (distance) segments for years. TW Connies flew non-stop from LAX to LHR in the late '50s. PAN AM had a regular non-stop -747 flight from Dhahran to the States. Now that the airspace over Asia has been opened for overflight there are a lot of non-stop flights between South Asia and North America.

This has gotten me thinking about short distance segments. Back in the early '60s, TW had flight that originated in SFO and first stopped in OAK before continuing to ORD (via DEN?). Do I remember correctly that TW once had a flight that landed ORD late at night then flew to Rockford for an early departure the next morning? I have flown on an Eastern 727 from SRQ and ATL with a first stop in TPA.

So here's my question for anyone out there who cares to answer: Back in the old days what were some of the really short (let's say less than 100nm) segments flown by the airlines using jet equipment.

By the way, this is not a test; I have no idea what the answers may be. I'm just curious.

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Rocky Dollarhide
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OAK-SFO, SFO-OAK, SFO-SJC, SJC-SFO, MIA-FLL, FLL-MIA, PHX-TUC, TUC-PHX,JFK-PHL, PHL-JFK. BAL-IAD, IAD-BAL, DCA-IAD, IAD-DCA. I am sure there are more. I flew these segments with Convair 880, B-707, B-727, MD-80, L-1011, and B-767/B-757
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Junior Poster
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PSP-ONT, ONT-PSP, ONT-LAX, and SAN-PSP were ones I flew on TWA quite a bit back in the mid to late 80's. Some of the other carriers flew routes with jets that they had flown with props several years earlier. I flew on North Central and Republic a lot on city pairs like ORD-GRB, ORD-MKE, GRB-CWA, CWA-EAU. I'm sure all of the former Ozark folks on here flew DC-9's on some short segments that at one point were flown by DC-3's or FH-227's.

[ 02-20-2012, 11:26: Message edited by: TWABRAT ]

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Post Captain
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I know, at one time, the SFO-OAK leg was the shortest one TWA sold a ticket on. They did it on purpose (rather than have it be a positioning ferry flight) so they could make that claim. I don't remember how much the ticket cost but we often had a few paying pax make the trip. It was a ORD based CV-880 flight & cabin crew that had flown ORD-SFO the day before and were positioning for the OAK-ORD return. Since full staffing was on the airplane it didn't really cost much to sell it as a flight. If you took off NW and landed SE you never even got the flaps up.
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Capn Eddie Ricketyback
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I frequently flew an MD-80 flight STL-BUR-LAX-SAN. I once did the BUR-LAX leg in 5 minutes, taking off from BUR on 15 and landing on 24R at LAX during a period of low traffic. That was as measured by the box, I forget the name of it, that automatically logged the takeoff and landing times and transmitted them to the company.
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Post Captain
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I recall in the mid 90's catching a couple of times JFK-PHL-STL when I didn't make the upgrade on the nonstop TW845 JFK-STL. I think the flight was in some way a connector for the then PHL-LON flight TW kept for a time after selling the JFK-LHR routes to AA.
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Bob Ritchie
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Ozark flight CMI/DEC....

Champaign IL. to Decatur IL. 36 miles. Obtain Cruise Clearance....MEA 2,500 ft. Level at 2,500 ft. accelerate to 340 kt. indicated for a few moments...close throttles decelerate to flap/gear speed and land.(no radar below 10,000 ft. in those days...that area). DEC tower closed at night.

6 minutes lift off to touchdown. Take off on 22 at CMI land straight in at DEC wind permitting. DC-9 aircraft.

Ozark FLT 711.

Left MSP at 0700: raced a NWA B-727 to RST. Then out through the boonies. 13 leg day. Just over almost 8 hours of flight time. 36+ minutes average stage length.

FH-227-B. 46,000 lb. Turboprop. 250 KTS indicated cruise speed.

Fun days....being a kid. It would kill me now. [Smile]


Posts: 1936 | From: Warren County, Missouri  |  IP: Logged
dave carr
Post Captain
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You won't believe this but one late night we did a leg from OAK to SJC on the MD80. If memory serves we took off to the southeast, did a right then left turn and landed to the southeast in SJC. Five minutes--my shortest leg in time and distance. I also flew a number of times between Pueblo and Colorado Springs.

The following doesn't count. In 1966 as a F/E I held a line doing nothing more than ferrying 727s between the three New York area airports. The line holding captain was John Graver and the F/Os were reserves-don't know why. All our flights were at night and we were positioned to pick up the flights by NY Helicopter or limos. We did some very quick flights. What fun!!!

Dave Carr

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Bob Ritchie
Post Captain
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...the long haul guys didn't have all the fun.

Now in my Maule. Well...that doesn't count.

Love Hanger Flying.

Posts: 1936 | From: Warren County, Missouri  |  IP: Logged
Subsonic Transport
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As a passenger I flew TW702 from SAN to LAX on an L-1011 before heading back to JFK.

United had a few hops in FL all though not that short. ORD-FLL-PBI and PBI-TPA-ORD. The second UA flight was a bear to fly. The night before, the girlfriend and I were [cough] quite active along with having a bad sunburn. By the time I arrived in ORD, I could barely get out of my seat! I wasn't smiling that day, but I am now as I write this.

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Charlie Jennings
Post Captain
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From my logbook:

28 Feb 1967 TWA Flight #166 SFO – OAK 707-131B 00+30 Block Time. Flight #166 continued OAK – DEN – JFK.

01 Aug 1967 Ferry Flt. SFO – OAK 707-131B 00+19 Block Time 01 Aug 1967 TWA Flight 154 OAK – JFK (same aircraft as ferry flight)

On 04 Dec 1967 I flew a line of Flight #154’s, SFO - OAK - JFK with the SFO – OAK block times of 00+21, 00+14, and 00+19 minutes. The 14 minute block time in the above flight didn’t have much AIR time ( as the airline guys all know ) since it was logged from parking brake release at the departure station to parking brake set at the destination airport. Landing to gate in Oakland was in the order of two to four minutes but
San Francisco had a LONGER taxi time from the terminal to the nearest runway, 09R as I remember.

I may be able to dig out a copy of the TWA published flight schedules for that period of time from my basement “archives” (which my lovely wife referrers to as my junk/clutter collection). I’ll check.

Charlie Jennings

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Post Captain
Member # 108

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Guys, This has been very interesting. I guess while you didn't log a lot of time your tally of take offs and landings grew pretty quickly. But jeez, you didn't even have time to get a cup of coffee, did you?

(Speaking of coffee: My faith is strong and I believe in miracles. I know that someday I'll get a decent cup of coffee on an airline. It hasn't happened yet and to this day-regardless of where I am-if I am served a pitifully weak cup of coffee, I get the feeling that I'll soon be landing at DFW.)

Back on topic: I wish there were some former TW number crunchers who could explain the economics of the short segments. Undoubtedly there was a published fare for those short legs (not the ferry flights) but I can't imagine they sold enough tickets for those legs alone to even cover the costs.

Sort of on Topic: I think I said something in my first post about the current emphasis on long distance and duration air routes. I don't get it. My last five years in the USAF I flew in E-3s. (I didn't sit in the pointy end of the plane with the bus drivers; I was in charge of the Self Loading Freight-the mission crew.) Anyway, the sorties I flew averaged between 10 and 12 hours. I always felt beat-up after a mission and what really sucked was to fly for 16-20 hours and land back where you started.

For three years in the '60s Dad worked for Ethiopian Airlines. It was a pretty good place to live then-I don't know about now-and I really enjoyed the flights back to the States or to Europe. There would be an early morning departure from ADD. You'd take off, eat and land at ASM (sometimes KRT). Fly for a couple of hours eat something then land CAI. Take off, eat, land in ATH. Fly for a couple of hours and land in Madrid. Some flights stopped in ROM.

My point is, that at each stop you could debark, walk around in the transit lounge or (as at the old airport in ATH) stand behind a fence on the ramp and watch airplanes take off and land. These were planes most of the frequent fliers of today have never seen and, probably, haven't heard of: Comets, Caravelles, Britannias, BAC-111s, VC-10s, Viscounts, Tridents, and all those Russian transports which were derived from bombers.

Yeah, yeah. I'm old, nostalgic, and still something of a romantic. And I miss the old days when flying was fun and interesting.

Mean while, back in reality, things are starting to grow here in eastern NC and I need to service the riding mower.

Posts: 232 | From: Mount Olive, NC  |  IP: Logged
Bob Ritchie
Post Captain
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It all has to do with the CAB and the quasi-public service, utility that the industry once was conceived by the Congress and controlled by the CAB.

Remember when there were designated catagories of airlines?

Flag Carriers:
Pan American

Trunk Lines:
such as..

North West Orient
and Again TWA

Local Service airlines:
Such as..
North Central
Lake Central
Trans Texas
West Coast

There were even Supplemental carriers like Trans America and cargo carriers like Flying Tigers...all regulated and controlled by the CAB. But their purpose is outside of the subject which you raised.

All a very integrated air transportation system. At the end of WW-2 the Congress debated the future of public transportion in this nation. Would it be rail or air. In the end they setled on air as the way of the future.

Thus they created the Local Service Carriers whose sole purpose was to bring passengers in from the small towns of America and feed them into the larger cities, where they would connect with the Trunk Carriers who would take them between major cities.

The Trunk Carriers would transport connecting International passengers to the coast cities where they would board Pan American or TWA and head across the ocean. Interlocking pieces of the puzzle.

So when a Local Service Carrier like Ozark left MSP with numerous stops to MCI they were really not carrying passengers between the cities that were close together. No one bought a ticket from CMI to DEC(36 miles) for example....rather the flights would leave the larger cities, destined via several stops in little towns to another large city. Along the way they would pick up and drop off people. A real milk run. So someone might leave MSP for CID with 3 stops in between. Or someone might board in CID for MCI with 2 or 3 stops in between....all on the same multi-leg flight segment. It was the only way to get from small town America to the larger cities via air. No Hub and Spoke in those days. All Linear Routes.

Usually one left the large city with a big load dropping off to fewer and fewer passenges as the flight progressed and then beginning to fill up again as one got closer to the destination large city. Those routes were subsidized by the federal government...for the "Benefit and Necessity of the traveling Public." In 1972 OZA only needed a 36% load factor to break even...thanks to subsidy. Without it...none of the routes would have been profitable. But Congress created the Local Service Airlines purposely and restricted them to short haul, multi-leg flights, with few exceptions, until deregulation in 1978.

Supershort segments flown by the Trunk Carriers were largly hold overs from the days when they also flew short haul into and out of the tiny towns of America. In fact many of the Local Service routes, post WW-2 were those which the growing trunk carriers served and asked the CAB to be relieved from.

As time passed I believe that the Trunk Carriers held on to a few short haul flights out of tradition and like the Local Service carriers...some of their short haul segment were simply passengers continuing down line. Not passengers boarding between the really short city pairs. Remember in the regulated era an airline could neither add or drop a route unless the CAB approved it. In fact the CAB even had to approve the airfares requested by the airlines and many other operating decisions.

As late as 1967 while I was working my way though college at the Terre Haute, Ind. airport.... TWA still flew Connies on an old "Milk Route." From Kansas City to St. Louis, to Terre Haute, to Indianapolis, to Dayton, Columbus and I "believe" Pittsburgh. It then turned around and came back down the "Ohio Valley Route" the same way. Imagine that. In a Connie!!

Might have one or two of those TWA Connie stops out of order but not by much. Maybe some TWA old timer's have more acurate information. But the spirit of my example is correct.

Funny thing the airline industry. The changes in our lifetime have been beyond our wildest imagination.

On a personal note: my son came home from Law School over Christmas...wearing your old Air Force Flight jacket.

Thanks once again.


Posts: 1936 | From: Warren County, Missouri  |  IP: Logged
Post Captain
Member # 108

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Even back then there was consolidation in the industry. Bonanza, Pacific, and West Coast became Hughes Air West, North Central, Central, and Southern became Republic. I believe United absorbed Lake Central. And so on and so forth.

You're right about the milk run. Back in '66 when I worked for TW reservations in Pittsburgh there were lots of Connies in and out of our station. One originated in (I think) Newark and arrived in Pittsburgh after stopping in Binghamton, Allentown, and either Philly or Harrisburg. Even after the jets came on line there was still a flight PIT-CMH-DAY-ORD.

Tell Bobby to keep an eye on that jacket. It's devilish. Any day now it will start shrinking.


Posts: 232 | From: Mount Olive, NC  |  IP: Logged
Bob Ritchie
Post Captain
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Pacific, West Coast, Bonanza became:
Air West. HH later bought them and it became:
Hughes Air West and then just HughesWest.

Allegheny merged with Mohawk and Lake Central
eventually becoming USAir.

USAir absorbed Empire and later merged with PSA and Piedmont. Became USAirways. Then AmericaWest reorganized and absorbed bankrupt USAirways...becoming in effect America West but keeping the USAirways name.

North Central merged with Southern and became Rebublic. Then Republic merged with Hughes West: Republic eventually Merged with Northwest. Of course NWA eventually merged with Delta: which itself had merged with Western.

Trans Texas was bought by a Frank Lorenzo group called Texas Air Corp. who changed the name to Texas International. Texas International(Texas Air corp) merged with and took over Continental who then took over People Express, Eastern Airlines and spawned a new upstart... New York Air.

Frontier merged with Central. Got cought up in the insanity of Texas Air Corp takeover and eventually vanished.

Ozark was bought by Carl Ichan and merged into TWA, which was bought by AA.

That is just the consolidation of the Local Service Carriers during the span of my career. Not a single Local Service Airline remains today. Of course most of the Trunk and both of the Flag carriers are gone also. Corrections welcome as this is from memory...

Gone with the Wind as all of us will eventually be. Ghosts of memories past.


Posts: 1936 | From: Warren County, Missouri  |  IP: Logged
Post Captain
Member # 108

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Time like an ever rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten as a dream
Dies at the opening day.
-Isaac Watts

Posts: 232 | From: Mount Olive, NC  |  IP: Logged
Jeff I.
Post Captain
Member # 2334

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Great thread and I'm getting here way late but ..... just had to post my own recollection. In the late 70's when I was in my latter college years, I remember flying TWA from ONT-BUR-SJC. At the time, even though I had already started my love affair with TWA, it wasn't the brand, though. Rather ..... I believe the one-way on the TWA run was $37.50 while the non-stop from ONT-SJC on Air California was $50.00 and the extra $12.50 ($25.00 on the R/T) was worth the extra stop in those days!
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