Click on the highlighted "blue" words for pop-up pictures

In 1954, after Tom's death, his Executive Vice President, Charles "Chuck" Beard, (who had opened up most of South America), took the helm of Braniff International Airways (however Tom's sister and Paul's son remained active in the company). Charles "Chuck" Beard was known as "Honest Abe" by his fellow Braniff Employees (a view not shared about Harding Lawrence later). Chuck Beard always had an "open door" policy for Braniff Employees from "Board Member" to "Cabin Cleaner." It didn't matter who you were, you were always welcome in his company.

Chuck promoted R.V. Carleton as Executive Vice President R.V. stayed on through the "Lawrence Years" but had little respect for Lawrence, and finally, disgusted with the "Lawrence Posse," left Braniff in 1970. He had been hired by Paul Braniff as a pilot in 1930!

R.V. chaired the world's first commercial supersonic transport (SST) conference in 1961. This was held in Montreal, Canada and featured members from all over the world.

Pop-up picture of Braniff Stock

Braniff stock certificate owned by a member of The Braniff family

In 1955, Braniff bought two Lockheed L-049 Constellations from LAV, a Venezuelan airline. The four-engine, first generation Constellations were used to supplement Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Illinois service. (President Dwight D. Eisenhower selected the L-049 as his "Air Force One", and named it "Colombine" after his wife's state flower from Colorado). Eisenhower also traveled on Braniff frequently as did L.B.J. later on. The two "connies" were nicknamed "Fear" and "Panic" by the pilots and maintenance crew. These were nicknames of love, the planes never really had any problems. The connies were known for spewing oil, however. One flight hostess told "The Braniff Pages," "I would remember getting oil all over my hostess uniform." The Braniff Constellations were retired in the Fall of 1959.

Also in 1955, Braniff aquired two Curtis C-46 Freighters to supplement cargo service.

Photo via Bob Hudspeth

During the 1950's, Braniff had many firsts in the aviation industry:

  • the first airline to use ILS (Instrument Landing System)
  • the first to use Automatic pilot in most of its aircraft
  • the first to computerize all reservations systems, linking all Braniff ticket offices to Dallas.
  • the first to introduce "Silver Service" (elegant gourmet meals with a souvenier Sterling Silver toothpick)
  • one of the first airlines to use of commercial aircraft radar for navagation In 1956,
  • introduced the last and the greatest of the piston-powered airliners, The DC-7C, on October 20, 1956 to use on it's Dallas to New York and Chicago flights.
  • the first to introduce the fastest Boeing 707 (the "707-227") in 1959. (They were ordered by Chuck Beard in 1955)

The DC-7C could carry 73 passengers comfortably in a pressurized cabin. (12 First Class in the forward section, 45 "Tourist" Class in the middle and 16 First Class in the aft section) The DC-7C also had a cozy passenger lounge. Braniff dubbed these new planes "the El Dorado" fleet and painted an "El Dorado" crest on the aft fuselage with a quote reading, "Serving The Americas." An additional perk on these flights was Braniff's new Silver Service. This service was added in 1957 with over 20,000 silver cocktail picks and 20,000 silver Llamas made in Peru to give to passengers on DC-7C flights. Braniff used the DC-7C through the advent of the jet age.

Pop-up picture of Braniff Timetable

Braniff was one of the top two (flip-flopping with United) on-time airlines in the world. 1957 "On-Time" Timetable

Chuck Beard placed orders for Lockheed's new and exciting "Jet Powered Electra" in 1955. The aircraft, still in use today by the military and the National Weather Service, was and is capabable of speeds of 600 MPH. Braniff ordered nine of these aircraft (tail numbers N9701C-N9709C).

Pop-up bonus pictures of the Jet Power Electra

Braniff's first "Jet Power Electra" on delivery in 1959 (on the left) next to 1935 vintage Lockheed "Electra10" (on right).

1959 "Jet Power" Electra Cabin Layout

Timetable from 1959 touting the new "Jet Power Electra" Service.

A magazine advertisement for the new "Jet Power Electra."

An ad card for Braniff's "Electra Flight"

Buffalo, TX

A horrible fate befell Braniff "Jet Power Electra" N9705C, which crashed, ironically, a few miles from I-45 (Houston-Dallas) in Buffalo, TX (which is 49 miles from Dawson, TX, the site of the 1968 Electra Crash). This "Electra" crashed was September, 1959, when the plane was ONLY TWO A FEW WEEKS from Lockheed in Burbank. The C.A.B. ruled the cause of the crash was prop misalignment or "Whirl Mode" (a wobbling of the engines causing structural stress), but this has been viewed in the aviation community as "the magic bullet theory." (Lockheed re-worked over 100 Electras based on only two crashes...this one and Northwest N121US.) The last report, given two minutes before the crash, indicated no signs of trouble. In fact, J. Sorlie, who was also a dispatcher on N9707C, stated that "he continued communication up until the explosion, and that the pilot allegedly said 'My God, someone has hit us.' "On January 12, 1960, there was, as yet, no probable cause for the accident. The CAB reconvened its investigating teams and brought in observers including FAA engeers from Los Angeles, NASA, US Army Bureau of Aircraft Accident Research, American and Eastern Airlines (The two largest operators of Electras). This meeting lasted five days...every Electra component was either "too fail safe," "too strong," or "too inconsequential to contribute to the accident."

R.V. Carleton, long-time Vice President of Braniff Airways, Inc., stated he found parts of the cabin interior near the southern end of the wreckage area where the first pieces landed. (the tail) Mr. Carleton decribed the remains as protruting out as if an explosive device had gone through the aircraft. He also stated at the CAB hearings in 1960, "If this meeting continued long enough, one and all might have been convinced that the accident never happened." Engineers from Lockheed stated that paint blisters and cracked windows on the wreckage could only have been caused by "a fire of 2000 degrees F of an eight-second duration." R.V. screamed bloody murder to the C.A.B. and the Houston Chronicle. Ground witnesses reported seeing an airborne explosion, saw the plane streak to the ground "like a comet"; and said that the explosion sounded like a jet breaking the sound barrier. The bright light, like that of a welding arc (similar to the same light seen by witnesses of TWA FL 800), of the Electra explosion could be seen sixty miles away. This doesn't sound like vibrations from a misaligned prop tearing off the wing (Whirl Mode,) which was the official conclusion. (although the crash is still in the "not determined" category).

Braniff Exec. V.P., R.V. Carleton, and the A.L.P.A. (Air Line Pilot's Association) would challenge the "official" C.A.B. findings. A.L.P.A.'s report on the Buffalo crash listed the probable cause as "unknown." They would also go on to challenge the crash of another Braniff Electra crash in Dawson, Texas in May of 1968 which was very similar, and AFTER Lockheed's LEAP program.

Some Milestones for Braniff in 1957-58:

  • moved into the newly completed Dallas Love Field Terminal, Oct 1957.
  • Moved into World Headquarters in the Braniff Building at Exchange Park, Dallas
  • Completed the largest Maintenance facility at Love Field on Lemmon Avenue.

1958 - Braniff celebrates its 30th Anniversary.

Chuck also negotiated with Boeing in the 1950's to purchase the new all-jet 707, but unlike other airlines, he wanted the more powerful "227" engines to be on Braniff's 707's which would outrun American, TWA, Pan Am and other airlines. (Even though this meant that Braniff would fly the 707 4 to 5 months later).

Boeing Delivery Crash

Boeing Photo

The first 707, N7071 crashed on October 19, 1959 during a Boeing test flight, when the Boeing pilot did a "Dutch Roll." The Pilot who was in command was Boeing instructor Russell Baum. Braniff had two Captains in the cockpit, John Berke and Frank Staley. The Flight Engineer was Boeing's George Hagan. The Boeing pilot asked the "green" Braniff pilot to recover the aircraft which he couldn't. This was an anauthorized maunever at Boeing, and the result was disaster. The aircraft lost the No.1, 2 and 4 engines during the roll. On decent, N7071 hit a Cottonwood tree on the bank of the Stillaguamish River. The tail and rear broke off on the North bank. The forward fuselage expoded in a fireball. Baum, Berke, Staley and Hagan were killed. Two Braniff Pilots, Pete Krause (FE) and Fred Symmank (Avionics Manager), and Boeing Pilot William W. Allsopp and FAA Inspector W.H. Heubner survived in the tail. This happened the day before the plane was to be turned over to Braniff, so Boeing Aircraft had to take the loss on N7071. The aircraft only had 173 hours on it when it crashed.

Mel Lawrence Photo

The first 707-227 to be delivered to Braniff International was N7072 on December 3, 1959. Chief Operationg Officer, R.V. Carleton, flew the jet into Dallas.
(Braniff was the only airline to use the "227")

Braniff used these new Boeing 707-227 "El Dorado" Super jets on the Dallas-New York and the Dallas-Chicago routes and were inaugurated on December 19, 1959 from Dallas Love Field's Yellow Concourse as The "Santa Super Special" to New York.

Pop-up pictures of Braniff's 707 Service

Braniff's First 707 Delivery Braniff's first 707-227 flown by R.V. Carleton and met by Charles Beard

Braniff's Test 707 Braniff's first 707-227 in flight tests in Washington State.

Braniff's Jet Ads Exceptional ads from The Charles Beard Era

707 "superjet" advertising Braniff used several approaches to advertise their powerful new
"El Dorado" Super Jet flights.

Braniff's "Gold service" Braniff offered "Gold Service" on all its 707-227
"El Dorado" Super Jet flights.

707 Maintainence Braniff always maintained an impeccable fleet under Beard.

On April 17, 1960, the last Braniff DC-3 was retired. The type had served the airline faithfully for 21 years. The Douglas DC-3 is still regarded as the best built and safest airplane of the twentienth century.

In 1961, Braniff took delivery of the Boeing 720. The 720 was a shorter version of the 707 with enhanced alloys. Braniff could seat as many people on the 720 as its 707-227s (minus the First Class Lounge). The Boeing 720 was a modification of the 707-120 designed for medium-range operation from shorter runways. The 720 was lighter and faster than the 707, and had a simplified wing design. Braniff eventually operated nine 720s.


1962 Braniff and Pan American World Airways inaugurated direct Texas to London Service on 1 July 1962. Braniff used a Pan Am 707-321, N759PA, named "Texas Clipper." The route: Houston-Dallas-Chicago-London-Frankfurt. The flight number was 58, and operated out of "The Yellow Concourse" at Dallas Love Field. Both Braniff and Pan Am crews flew the flight.


In the early 1960's, Chuck initiated talks with Pan-American Grace Airways owned by then very powerful Pan American World Airways based in New York and W.R. Grace and Company based in Argentina. Pan-American Grace was Braniff's South America primary competitor, and in 1963, the U.S. Government ordered Pan-Am to sell Pan American-Grace because it was violating the "Sherman Antitrust Act" by preventing "Panagra" from extending its routes north of Panama. Braniff put in a bid early, and saw this as an opportunity to be the only United States to South American carrier. Pan-American Grace or "Panagra" agreed to sell all of its South American routes to Braniff for $22 million by 1965. ($11 million would go to Pan Am, and $11 million would go to W.R. Grace and Company).

Braniff would aquire Panagra's DC-8-62's (which they had on order). (However, when Lawrence took over, Harding delayed the merger two years). Braniff immediately put Panagra's fleet into service without re-painting them. They were eventually re-painted in the "solid-color" scheme during "The Lawrence years."

Pop-up pictures of Braniff's BAC-111

Braniff's BAC ONE-ELEVEN Twin Jet Braniff was a launch customer for the British Aerospace Twin-engine Jet.

Also in the Early 1960's, Chuck Beard ordered the new British Aircraft Corporation, BAC-111 dubbed the "one-11" by Chuck. An incredibly sturdy aircraft built in Hurn, England, the small jet featured two aft mounted engines and would seat around 60 people.

The first aircraft, N1543, was delivered to Braniff in March 1965. The last, N1554, the fourteenth one-eleven, was delivered December 1965. Lawrence would get rid of these between 1970 and 1972. (N1543 would be used again in the late 80s by Braniff II when it aquired "Florida Express." Florida Express had been flying some ex-Braniff Bac One-Elevens...see "1984 area")

It was perfect for Braniff's short-hop routes. (Dallas-Houston) (Fort Worth-Dallas) (Dallas-Oklahoma City)...etc. Beard was the VERY FIRST airline president to recognize the way of the future was a two-engine, two-man crew. (Just look at American's fleet today) Lovable Harding L. Lawrence, "el presidente" 1965-198something would throw a cog in these plans, canceling 12 of Beard's remaining original orders in favor of the B727-100 QC's. This move led to lower load factors in the long run). Braniff was the first U.S. carrier to fly the 111.

On 23 June 1963, Braniff celebrated 35 years in the air. The company had 5,482 dedicated employees, 17,914 route miles serving 46 cities in 10 countries, assets of $96 million, Operating Revenues of $94 million and the 10th largest airline in the world.

1963 STATS:

Cities served: 46 (both US and International)

Aircraft Fleet: Boeing 707-227s, 720s, Lockheed Jet Power Electra II's, DC-7C's...On order 14 BAC-111 (two already delivered), all were due to be in service by June, 1965. 50 aircraft in all.

Maintenance: 205,000 man-hours of routine and preventive maintainence are performed EVERY MONTH at Dallas Love, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago, Rio and Buenos Aires.

CARGO: 6,824,500 pounds of freight, express and mail per month

SOURCE: Braniff 1963 Annual Report

In 1964, Greatamerica Corporation headed by Troy Post bought Braniff Airways, Inc. (It is alleged that Eastern Airlines was going to buy Braniff, and that Post didn't want that to happen, even though Eastern had supposedly offered him $5 million to walk away...This isn't true. Eastern was in NO financial postion to but ANY airline, so the "Troy Post Bio" on "other sites" is a complete sham.) GreatAmerica was an Insurance holding Company founded in North Texas. Troy brought in his good buddy Harding Lawrence, (after C. Edward Acker) who had been an Executive Vice President at Continental Airlines, to take over. Post had been on the Board of Directors at Continental, but was also married to Harding's sister. (Troy Post would later serve on Braniff II's Board in 1984) Chuck Beard remained until the transition, and then Lawrence took FULL control. In fact, on 5 April 1965, Lawrence kicked Beard (literally) out of his office at Exchange Park. Chuck had just celebrated 40 years of dedicated service to Braniff.

Every year that Chuck Beard ran Braniff, it turned a profit. By the time of the takeover, Braniff's fleet consisted mostly of jets (about 95%), their route system reached from Seattle, Chicago and New York in the North to Buenos Aires in the South, and was about the same size and strength as Delta Air Lines. And, no the planes were not silver, they were painted White with Red and Blue accents. American Airlines' fleet was Silver. Braniff was highly popular, on-time, and well run under Beard. The exposed metal undersides of Braniff aircraft during Chuck's reign were polished so finely you could use the metal as a mirror. BI Maintainence was the best in the industry as well under Chuck Beard. Braniff planes ran like swiss clocks. On 8 February 1965, under Beard, Braniff announced a 1964 net profit of $6 million, up 374 %! Also, Braniff was the 10th largest airline in the WORLD. (which dropped to 14th under Lawrence) That leads us to the Lawrence years...

Braniff Transition timetable before the "BI" logo roll-out in 1965.

of a heart attack after Braniff
announced Bankruptcy in 1982

Pop-up Tribute to Charles Beard

Braniff's Dynamic President 1954-1965 Beard Tribute

Continue to 1965 - The "el presidente"/Pucci/Girard Years

Charles "Chuck" Beard,
President of Braniff International Airways
(Was hired as Traffic Manager in 1935)
This "Globe" date keeper once sat on Chuck Beard's desk at Exchange Park In Dallas
Brooke Watts personal collection
Braniff, favored by U.S. Presidents.
"DC-7C service was unmatched by any airline
...even in coach.
Note the real glasses.
Braniff "El Dorado" logo applied to DC-7C service.
The Lockheed L-188 Electra
The first BN "Jet Power" aircraft.
Braniff's Electra
was popular on the Houston - Dallas Route.
A Nun and a family Board a Lockheed L-188 Electra
The "rain" would foreshadow Flight 352.
Braniff also offered passengers full size
wool blankets in Turquoise
...even in coach.
Love Field baggage tag
Braniff's new Lemmon Avenue
Maintenance and Reservations Base in Dallas, 1958.
This building would serve as an overhaul facility
as well as home to Braniff's NEW Computerized Reservations Center.
Braniff was the FIRST airline to link all its cities in one center.
Move-in was completed on 19 December 1958
(This base would also serve Braniff, Inc. [II] 1984-1989...before becoming "Dalfort")
Braniff's new World Headquarters at Exchange Park in Dallas, 1958.
(This building could be seen from Dallas Love Field).
Photo via George W. Cearley, Jr.
Exchange Park viewed from the West.
Dallas, Texas 1958.
The building today (2004) is occupied by AT&T
Braniff Pages Collection
In 1961, a Braniff DC-7C
crashed into the Lemmon Ave.
Maintainence base.
"The plane hit an operations office
that was at the end of the building and a 12 inch roof support beam bisected
the cockpit almost to the cabin bulkhead behind the cockpit. I seem to recall
that at least one of the mechanics that was operating the aircraft at the time was killed.
As an employee during those years, we were told
that one of the engines "ran away" and over-revved, and the mechanic lost control.
The plane veered into the building."- Hugo Elmore, Facilities Engineer,
Properties and Facilities Department, 1959-1967
Braniff "El Dorado" Super Jet Boeing 707-227
At Boeing Field in Seattle.
Boeing Aircraft Photo
Braniff Boeing 707-227 In-Flight
Boeing Aircraft Photo
Braniff Boeing 707-227 Interior
Terry Labus with Henry Dreyfus Interiors
Braniff Super Jet Boeing 720-027
N7076 at Boeing, Renton Prior to delivery
Being prepped for flight tests
This was the first of nine 720s delivered in the early 60s
Braniff/Boeing Photo
Braniff Jet Age logo
In 1964, Braniff had the largest "moving display" billboard in the world.
This was placed in The heart of Times Square in New York City.
Photo George W. Cearley, Jr.
In 1964, Braniff took delivery of the British Aerospace 111
This 90 passenger jet was perfect for Braniff's short hops.
Braniff was the FIRST BAC customer in the US.
Others would soon follow.
Lawrence cancelled the remaining orders when he came on in 1965.
One of many of Lawrence's "Faustian" deals.
Delivery of the Bac-One Eleven in England
Braniff was the FIRST BAC customer in the US.
Senior V.P. R.V. Carleton takes delivery for Braniff
One of the last great acts of Charles Beard was
Braniff's promotion of the
1965 New York World's Fair
Brand-new President Harding L. Lawrence looks at a mock-up of a 727 with a Boeing Representative. Notice the plane is painted in the Red, White and Blue Scheme which Lawrence quickly got rid of.
A tribute button to the end of "the age of innocence."
The photos on this page are provided by: Pat Zahrt, George W. Cearley Jr., Boeing/McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Co., Alice Dykeman - Dykeman Associates, The Dallas Historical Society, UTD, The "Clipped B's", J. Paul Braniff, Sr., Wanda Brown, Diane Muse, C.R. Smith, Chuck Beard, Marv and Carol Degroote, Geza Szurovy, The Braniff Family and Watts Communications' Private Braniff Collection.