Post-World War Two vintage flying experiences offered

The Douglas DC-3 aircraft is the epitome of 1940s glamour travel. Not long after World War Two had ended the DC-3 offered large cabin space, glamourous and caring cabin crew and a luxury experience.

Today a variety of companies are renovating these aircraft to their former 1940s glamour and offering the general public the chance to reminisce for days of old when air travel was a luxurious and harmonious with vintage flying experiences.

Travellers would have been offered gourmet food and the best champagne aboard their flight. The most extravagant commercial airliner built was the Lockheed Constellation or ‘Queen of the Air’ as she was known. However when customers began to demand speed over luxury the jet plane soon took over.

Germany’s national airline, Lufthansa is investing huge amounts to restore and renovate a Lockheed Super Constellation. It plans to offer passengers the opportunity to experience 1940s flying with all the glamour, decadence and allure that the airline can offer.

Historians say that the 1940s and 50s were when flying had a sense of romance about it. When there were no queues, food was cooked on the plane, and gourmet wines were served. Now air travel is about getting from one point to another rather than for the experience of flying itself.

The Constellation was designed and built by Howard Hughes. It was launched in 1947 and on its first flight its passenger list included Hollywood stars Cary Grant, Veronica Lake and William Powell. Howard Hughes himself piloted the plane flying from Los Angeles to New York City.

The Constellation was speedy for the era. It could fly from the US East to West coast in just under seven hours, when normal flying times were around double that.

As faster jet planes were developed, the Constellation soon became outdated. Many stopped being commercial airliners and ended up being used for cargo or crop spraying, The Boston Globe reports.

Lufthansa’s rebuild project is the ‘Star of Tigris’, which is a 1957 Super Constellation made especially for TWA in 1957. Its entire fuselage has had to be replaced and parts rebuilt from all over the world.

Lufthansa already has a Junkers Ju52 that operates vintage flights in Europe, while Shortstop in Australia has a DC-3 that operates gourmet dinner flights. In South Africa DC-3s are in operation for airborne safaris and there are a couple of DC-3s flying in Canada.

Operating from Wisconsin there are even flights available aboard 1920s Ford Tri-Motor commercial planes. In Stow, Massachusetts the last B-24, a B-17 and a B-25 all take flights.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE