Airline and Airliner History
been interested in the development of air transport for better
than two decades. I'm active in the Washington Airline Society
(and was its president for nearly a decade), and serve as
reviews editor for the monthly AIRWAYS magazine. My focus
is in the technical, business, policy, and social history
of civil aviation from about 1920 into the 1960s. I'm more
a "propeller" than a "jet" person--the
current aircraft largely all look (and surely sound) alike!
So my interest is more armchair reading rather than visiting
airports, not that the latter is much fun these days! I focus
on the story in the U.S. and Britain, and to a lesser degree,
other nations. My chief activity is collecting books old and
new that cover this fascinating four-decade period of 20th
At the July 1997 opening of the new control tower and terminal
at Washington's National Airport, a number of old aircraft
were present---including this Eastern Air Lines Martin twin-engine
craft from the 1950s.
Airchive: The Webseum of Commercial Aviation Timetables (the
history of some 30 airlines), routemaps and museums around
Pan American World Airways Lots of sites on this long-gone
(1927-91) global airline, but this is one of the better ones.
My special interest is the 1930s flying boat period.
Imperial Airways This was a predecessor company (1924-40)
to BOAC and today's British Airways, and was based at London's
Croydon Airport Amazing what routes were maintained (to Australia
and South Africa) given the airplanes of the day!
Concorde Now out of service, the airplane is best recorded
on the Web on this well-organized site with information on
all the flying models and their history. Includes many good
photos and full technical specs.
The Virtual Aviation Museum Extensive site providing access
to European websites on aviation history, both commercial
and military. It can be searched by aircraft type, museum,
Angelucci, Enzo. World Encyclopedia of Civil Aircraft: From
Leonardo da Vinci to the Present. New York: Crown, 1982. Directory
combining drawings, photos, scale profile and three-view drawings,
charts, and tables of airliners from the beginning through
the 1970s. The variety of ways of presenting airline design
changes (and sizes and capabilities) makes this especially
Davies, Ronald E.G. A History of the World's Airlines. London:
Oxford University Press, 1964 (and reprints). Still the standard
source for the period up to the earliest jet airliners. Davies
offers far more than mere chronology in this integrated analysis
from the first attempts before World War I into the early
(Ibid). Airlines of the United States. London: Putnam, 1972;
Washington: Smithsonian Press, 1982. By far the best history
with valuable maps and other illustrations.
(Ibid). Airlines of Latin America since 1919. London: Putnam,
1984. The best one-volume history with wonderful maps, working
from Mexico down to Argentina.
(Ibid). Airlines of Asia since 1920. London: Putnam, 1997.
The best one-volume history, again with great maps and far
more information than found anywhere else.
Donald, David, general ed. The Encyclopedia of Civil Aircraft. San Diego: Thunder Bay Press, 1999. A big (800 page) colorful
directory (with photos and diagrams) to most of the important
airliners through history, arranged by manufacturer. Each
gets several pages of coverage.
Guttery, Ben R. Encyclopedia of African Airlines. Jefferson,
NC: McFarland, 1998. Arranged by airline, and the only attempt
at a regional survey.
Hanlon, Pat. Global Airlines. Oxford, England: Butterworth
Heineman, 1999 (2nd ed.). Useful survey of the economic and
policy issues facing global transport---but written before
the post-2001 airline meltdown.
Jarrett, Philip, ed. Modern Air Transport: Worldwide Air Transport
from 1945 to the Present. London: Putnam "Putnam's History
of Aircraft," 2000. Very useful survey of technical,
economic and policy trends world-wide.
Leary, William O., ed. The Airline Industry. New York: Facts
on File "Encyclopedia of American Business History and
Biography," 1992. Only book of its kind---people, airlines,
policies, events all in concise entries written by authorities.
Leary, William M., and William F. Trimble, eds. From Airship
to Airbus: The History of Civil and Commercial Aviation. Washington:
Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995, 2 vols. Very interesting
papers from a conference, and ranging over airlines, people,
airports, and policy development..
Smith, Myron, ed. The Airline Encyclopedia. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow
Press, 2003 (3 vols). Huge compilation of very detailed chronologies
for nearly every airline in the world that ever existed.
Sterling, Christopher H. Commercial Air Transport Books: An
Annotated Bibliography of Airlines, Airliners, and the Air
Transport Industry. McLean, VA: Paladwr Press, 1996, Supplement, 1998. This grew out of my years of collecting and suggests
the best books through the 1990s.
Stroud, John. European Transport Aircraft Since 1910. London:
Putnam, 1966. Definitive historical directory of airliners
developed in Europe through the first generation of passenger
Zukowsky, John, ed. Building for Air Travel: Architecture
and Design for Commercial Aviation. New york: Prestel (and
the Art Institute of Chicago), 1996. One of the best books
on the historical development of airports and passenger facilities
in Europe, North America, and Asia.