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Commercial Aviation Movies: Volume 1 – Video

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This video features seven historic, obsolete, and interesting films from TWA, American Airlines, United Airlines, Transcontinental Air Transport T-A-T Maddux Air Lines, and Pan American Airways.

I wanted to give you a broad retrospective of commercial aviation films and this is certainly a broad sample.

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From technical pilot training films to internal and external promotional films we get a look at aviation from the beginning of the commercial flight to the early 1970s. The total runtime of this video is 102 minutes.

The following films are included:

TWA Approach Procedures (Circa 1960s)

Showing excellent 707 views and nice in-flight Boeing 707 external flight shots in TWA colors. This is a pilot’s training and refresher film that was shown to TWA pilots.

It gives you clear instructions in checklist procedures in combination with the flight engineer. One section of the film takes us from 18,000 feet to the final approach at 14 left at Chicago O’Hare airport.

The captain and first officer review the approach plate and coordinate activities. As I pilot I find the film intriguing and if you are a TWA fan you’ll really enjoy the cockpit ride. Exceptionally nice color on restoration.

United Snowbirds (1972)

This is a United employees training and promotional film covering United’s snowbird service catering to skiers. It features snowbird mugs with snowbird menus on snowbird flights.

We see a United DC-10 in the beginning of the film. We see footage of skiing activity at Steamboat.

The film shows United’s snowbird commercials, brochures, print ads, and signage.

Routes of American Airlines (circa 1970s)

A unique American Airlines film that helps to introduce us to interesting spots along their routes. We get a close look at Greenfield Village near Detroit with all of its cultural and transportation items, including the Suwanee paddlewheel steamboat.

I’m sure that if you ever visited this place as a kid it will bring back great memories. As the film says, “Detroit is an American town.”

The next stop is in San Antonio, Texas where we get a close look at the Alamo, then off to Mystic Seaport in Connecticut where we are taken on a maritime tour of the collections This was a particularly tough film to restore. The original was almost lost forever. I had to work very hard to rescue as much color as was possible.

Preview the World with Pan American

This is a short 8mm promotional film that must have been given to people. The film opens with a 707 Pan Am jet taking off on its Pacific adventures. We get to see some Pan Am destinations.

Features are Hong Kong, New Zealand, Fiji, and Hawaii.

I’ve added a new musical soundtrack to this silent film.

Coast to Coast in 48 Hours (1928-1929)

I present you with two versions of this film, one is the silent version and the other is a lesser visual quality copy of the sound version. Both films are enormously interesting to aviation buffs because they feature T.A.T Maddux Air-Lines with a very young Col. Charles A. Lindbergh as Chairman of the Technical Committee of T.A.T. – Maddux Airlines, Clement M. Keys, Chairman of the Board of Transcontinental Air Transport, Inc. and Jack Maddux, President of T.A.T. – Maddux airlines.

T.A.T. later went on to become part of TWA but launched the first major effort at transcontinental transportation, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Railroad. The route was from New York to Los Angles and passengers flew during the day and rode the train at night.

Starting in New York City, passengers would have an overnight trip, by train, to Columbus, Ohio. In Columbus, passengers were taken to the airport and would fly all day to Waynoka, Oklahoma to board a train that would travel all night to Clovis, New Mexico, to once again have the passengers board a Ford Tri-motor, that would take the passengers the remaining distance to Los Angeles.

The total trip from New York to Los Angeles would require just a bit less than 48 hours.

This film features the Ford Tri-Motor aircraft and we get to see some fabulous shots of the cockpit and passenger cabin. If you love the “Tin Goose” as much as I do you’ll want to see this film.

United Airlines: Coast-to-Coast, from Air Mail to the DC-7

This movie is a treasure in uncovering the history of United Airlines. The movie begins with footage from the first airmail service between Washington and New York in 1918.

President Wilson is seen officiating at this historic event. The air mail army pilots are seen consulting their maps for the inaugural airmail flight. The flight skips down the field and heads for New York. Footage from the first transcontinental airmail flight from Hazelhurst Field at Mineola, New York is shown. Sacks of mail are handed to the biplane pilot and stuffed into the front of the plane.

Loads of great early footage are shown along with film of night operations in the very early days. Night flying became safer with more lighted fields. Planes from National Air Transport are shown being readied and loaded with mail. The pilot crawls into the cockpit, parachute and all.

We watch Bill Boeing’s wife christen the first Boeing 40, the first plane designed for air mail and passengers. Boeing Air Transport operated between Chicago and San Francisco. Passengers are seen crawling into the nose of the biplane. We see a Varney Air Lines Boeing 40 loading with four passengers.

The Ford Tri-Motor finds its place in history as a fourteen-passenger transport that can carry people in “lounge chair comfort.” The tri-motor is shown in flight and prepared for flight.

The Boeing 80, the big tri-motor aircraft is shown in flight. In July 1931, National, Boeing, Varney, and Pacific Air Transport merge to become United Air Lines.

Early United flights are shown.

Next, we see the United Boeing 247, the first all-metal, low winged, twin-engine transport. It is strange to see baggage being loaded into the nose of the airplane. Passengers are seen boarding a United Air Lines Boeing 247. It takes flight and cabin shots are shown.

The DC-3 joins the United fleet. A nice segment on a DC-3 flying over the Golden Gate Bridge is shown along with passengers enjoying swivel chairs in flight. Night transports were equipped with beds.

World War II flight operations are shown. Bomb runs show the bombs leaving the aircraft and striking the target.

The DC-4 enters service as the C-54 for military operations and later to be used to carry more passengers for United than ever before.

In 1947 the DC-6 enters service. Passengers are seen climbing stairs and entering the United DC-6 for takeoff. Great shots of the United DC-6 in flight are shown over puffy clouds, up close, and over metropolitan areas.

We see the DC-6 landing and operating at night.

In 1954 the DC-7 comes on the scene and leads the way for United Air Lines. Lots of views of the United Air Lines DC-7 in operation. We see the huge United logo under the wings of the plane while it is flying.

Length (Minutes):

1 Hour 42 Minutes


These items are provided for historical and reference use only. assumes no liability for any loss or damage resulting from or in any way connected to other use of this information. Not for commercial use or further dissemination.

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