An eight-minute flight to Hawaii

This really cool eight-minute 1950 United Airlines travelogue of a Boeing Stratocruiser flight from California to Hawaii pushes nostalgia buttons for an age that preceded my earthly arrival. It harkens back to an era of commercial air travel before the jet airliners arrived. The post-WWII years featured powerful propeller-driven aircraft capable of making the long Pacific flights. And as the video shows, it was a pretty special experience.

For many, this was a once-in-a-lifetime journey. It called for dressing up, even if seated in the main cabin (i.e., coach). The flight alone was an event. Watch the video and feel your mouth water at the plated meals and pre-landing buffet! (It’s easy to forget that even domestic flights within the continental U.S. often included a hot meal for everyone.)

The contrasts to the present are pretty obvious. There is nothing romantic or adventurous about standard-brand air travel today. Oh, it’s still the case that a trip to an exotic locale or to see cherished family and friends can bring excitement and anticipation. But otherwise, hopping onto a plane for a flight is a more practical experience designed to get us from point A to point B.

Of course, modern air travel is also less expensive than it was back in that day. With luck and timing, a plane ticket can take us a long way and back at relatively affordable prices. Vacations and reunions still await us upon landing. For the flight itself, just expect cramped seating and swap out that in-flight entrée for a bag of chips.

Approaching Boston’s Logan International Airport (photo: DY)

4 responses

  1. Dear David. Thank you for posting this video of a bygone era. I greatly enjoyed seeing people dressed up and being civilized to each other. We still could be like that if we wanted to be. On a personal note, the video confirmed a memory of mine that is strong but surely it was wrong. In the 1960s, my family and I flew from Canal Zone, Panama to the States. (We lived in the Canal Zone.). I remember playing at my parents feet on the plane. This memory was reinforced since the airlines gave me a piece of white hand luggage with a picture of a stewardess and an airplane on the side and afterwards I played “going on an airplane” using the luggage for a long time. My brother got a toy airplane with a wingspan of at least 16 inches. On the plane we had enough space to play with our gorgeous new toys. A while ago I asked another brother if this memory could possiblely be right since we would never fly first class and have all that room. My older brother said that was what it was like to fly back then. I was happy to see that my memory is real when I saw the young children on the plane in this video! Oh, you bet I had to wear my Sunday best on the plane! Complete with gloves! Sharon

    1. Hey Sharon, I’m glad you liked that video! It was such a cool discovery. And thank you for sharing your memories of traveling as a child. It was an adventure to fly back then!

  2. My mom recalls sewing a special outfit for herself for a flight in the late ’50s. My how times have changed!

    1. Kerry, wow, sewing an outfit for a flight!!! Oh yes, as many flight attendants will attest in dealing with passengers, the times have changed!

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