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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.
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
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,
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)
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).
bonus pictures of the Jet Power Electra
first "Jet Power Electra"
on delivery in 1959 (on the left) next to 1935 vintage Lockheed
"Electra10" (on right).
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."
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.
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
largest Maintenance facility at Love Field on Lemmon Avenue.
- 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
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.
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.
PAN AM INTERCHANGE
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.
THE "PANAGRA" DEAL
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."
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).
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.
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
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...
Transition timetable before the "BI" logo roll-out in 1965.
THIS PAGE DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF:
CHARLES "CHUCK" BEARD, who died
of a heart attack after Braniff announced
Bankruptcy in 1982
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
favored by U.S. Presidents.
"DC-7C service was unmatched by any airline ...even in coach. Note the real glasses.
"El Dorado" logo applied to DC-7C service.
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.
Field baggage tag
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")
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
a Braniff DC-7C
crashed into the Lemmon Ave.
"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
"El Dorado" Super Jet Boeing 707-227
At Boeing Field in Seattle.
Boeing Aircraft Photo
Boeing 707-227 In-Flight
Boeing Aircraft Photo
Boeing 707-227 Interior
Terry Labus with Henry Dreyfus Interiors
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
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
ULTIMATE IN IRONY
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.
button to the end of "the age of innocence."
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.