Whenever somebody gets nostalgic about the past, I get
suspicious. In the eigth century BC, Hesiod was already moaning
about how things aint like they used to be.
The Wall Street Journal has a great article about how nostalgic people get
for the way air travel used to be in the 1950s — with more leg
room, less hassle and more romance.
Piffle. Compard with today, it was expensive, dangerous and
The piston-driven planes of those
days, like the Lockheed Constellation and Douglas DC-7, were noisy
and often ferociously bumpy. They couldn’t fly over storms and
turbulence the way jet-powered airplanes can. Engine failures were
more frequent. So were crashes. And the cost of a ticket was
affordable for only an elite few.
The 1960s were no picnic either:
In one month alone-January
1969-eight airliners were hijacked to Cuba… The fatal accident
rate per departure in 1969 was 13 times higher than in
Here’s the Journal’s remarkable table comparing different eras
|Typical plane||Douglas DC-3; Convair 240||Lockheed Constellation; Douglas DC-6
|Boeing 707 and 727; Douglas DC-8 and
|Boeing 737; Airbus A320|
|Typical cruise speed||150 mph||300 mph||500-600 mph||500-600 mph|
|Average price to fly one mile*||$0.57||$0.44||$0.34||$0.14|
|New York-Los Angeles one-way
|Passengers on U.S. airlines||16.7 million||60.3 million||171.9 million||769.5 million|
|Number of flights||2.3 million||3.9 million||5.4 million||10.1 million|
|Fatal accidents per 100,000
|Net profit (loss) for U.S.
|($42 million)||($25 million)||$409 million||($4 billion)|