Al Marsh

Welcome aboard, it’s 1953

March 4, 2010 by Alton K. Marsh, Senior Editor, AOPA Pilot

YouTube has a 48-minute movie made by the late television and radio star, and U.S. Navy pilot, Arthur Godfrey, showing a flight in an Eastern Air Lines Lockheed Constellation. Appearing with him is Eddie Rickenbacker, a fighter ace of World War I but in 1953 the president of Eastern, who casually tells Arthur he recalls climbing to 20,000 feet in an open-cockpit French SPAD biplane fighter to await the enemy in World War I. Famed aviation pioneer Dick Merrill, the highest-paid airmail pilot, the first airline pilot to fly a round-trip transatlantic flight, and Dwight Eisenhower’s pilot during the presidential campaign, is Godfrey’s co-pilot. After reaching cruising altitude Godfrey announces it is time to relax and light up a Chesterfield cigarette. Merrill lets him know that he doesn’t smoke. The pilots shout to one another in the cockpit, and seem to shout into the handheld microphone as well. Eastern’s disptach office has a guy who writes the aircraft’s radioed position on a blackboard. As one observer notes, much of the basics of flying remain the same today. This is how the airlines flew in 1953, kids, exactly 50 years after the Wright brothers first successful powered flight.

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7 Responses to “Welcome aboard, it’s 1953”

  1. Kevin Collins Says:

    I enjoyed the film, although one can certainly tell from its slow pace that life was different back then compared to today’s rushed culture. Sent the link to my dad and learned that he frequently flew from South Bend, IN to Washington, D.C. on TWA Super Connies back in the day.

    Could that plane really maintain level flight on one engine? I imagine the demo in the film was with a pretty light load, what about with a lot of passengers and fuel?

  2. Al Marsh Says:

    I suspect there were no passengers aboard, either for the demo or for the “pretend” passenger flight.

  3. getulio simões tedesco Says:

    I remember the movies Arthur Godfrey,goods times constelattion hes was very good pilot too.

  4. getulio simões tedesco Says:

    I remember the movies Arthur Godfrey,goods times consteletion .he was too veny good pilot.

  5. getulio simões tedesco Says:

    I remember the movies capitan Arthur Godfrey,very nice times,veri nice manchine,he was too very good pilot.

  6. getulio simões tedesco Says:

    I see,and great constellation arrow flying with one enginee only,and tre engine off.showing SAFFETY….

  7. getulio simões tedesco Says:

    thi is yes country!!!

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