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Flying the Lindbergh Line: Then & Now: (Transcontinental Air Transport’S Historic Aviation Vision)

Flying the Lindbergh Line: Then & Now: (Transcontinental Air Transport’S Historic Aviation Vision)

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Flying the Lindbergh Line: Then & Now: (Transcontinental Air Transport’S Historic Aviation Vision)

384 Seiten
2 Stunden
Jun 6, 2013


Flying in the early 20th Century was dangerous business. Aircraft were made of sticks and cloth and engines failed at alarming rates. Those who flew risked both accidents and death. However, some saw this stumbling attempt to master the skies as an opportunity to bring the human race forward. They had a vision of stylish travel in the skies combining comfort, speed and profit. Such was the vision of Transcontinental Air Transports Lindbergh Line that began the first scheduled coast-to-coast airline passenger service in 1929.
Relive the adventure of that time and travel with the author as he flies what remains today of the Lindbergh Line.
Jun 6, 2013

Über den Autor

The author was an F-4D pilot in Vietnam, completing 197 combat missions. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters. He holds a Ph.D. degree from Oklahoma University and has taught for 40 years. He lives and flies with his wife in California.

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Flying the Lindbergh Line - Robert F. Kirk


© 2013 by Robert F. Kirk. All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.

Published by AuthorHouse 06/19/2013

ISBN: 978-1-4817-5483-5 (sc)

ISBN: 978-1-4817-5482-8 (hc)

ISBN: 978-1-4817-5481-1 (e)

Library of Congress Control Number: 2013909413

Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models, and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only.

Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock.

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.




Author’s Previous Book




1   History Of Transcontinental Air Transport’s Vision For The Future Of Aviation Passenger Service

2   Mount Taylor Crash: Then And Now

3   Airmail, Passenger Service, And Ford Tri-Motor

4   Flying The Lindbergh Line: Then And Now—Grand Central Air Terminal, Glendale, California

5   First Leg Of The Flight: Apple Valley, California To Kingman, Arizona

6   Port Kingman: Then And Now

7   Second Leg Of The Flight: Kingman, Arizona To Winslow, Arizona

8   Winslow-Lindbergh Regional Airport: Then And Now

9   Third Leg Of The Flight: Winslow, Arizona To Albuquerque, New Mexico

10   Tat Albuquerque: Then And Now

11   Fourth Leg Of The Flight: Albuquerque, New Mexico To Clovis, New Mexico

12   Portair: Then And Now

13   Fifth Leg Of The Trip By Santa Fe Train: Clovis, New Mexico To Waynoka, Oklahoma

14   Tat Waynoka Airport: Then And Now

15   Sixth Leg Of The Flight: Waynoka, Oklahoma To Wichita, Kansas

16   Wichita Municipal Airport: Then And Now

17   Seventh Leg Of The Flight: Wichita, Kansas To Kansas City, Missouri

18    Tat Kansas City Airport: Then And Now

19   Eighth Leg Of The Flight: Kansas City, Missouri To St. Louis, Missouri

20   Tat-St. Louis: Then And Now

21   Ninth Leg Of The Flight: St. Louis, Missouri To Indianapolis, Indiana

22   Tat In Indianapolis: Then And Now

23   Tenth Leg Of The Flight: Indianapolis, Indiana To Columbus, Ohio

24   Port Columbus: Then And Now

25   Eleventh Leg Of The Trip By Train: Port Columbus, Ohio To New York City

26   Penn Station: Then And Now

27   Epilogue


Selected Bibliography


I want to dedicate this book to Vicki with love and infinite thanks. Vicki is my best friend and I can truly say that without her help and support this book would not have been completed. She was a great strength in the storms and a beam of light in the times of darkness. She was sitting beside me during our flights and stayed beside me all through the struggles of authorship.


I want to give special thanks for the assistance in the editing process to many individuals. These individuals’ added insight and expertise truly improved the quality of my book. Thanks to Fran Savage, Amy Storms, Dr. Daniel Rust, and a collection of individuals at Grants, New Mexico.

I also want to thank all those who assisted in the historical research and in the procuring of archival photos. This work wouldn’t have been possible without their professional and personal assistance. Thanks to:


Mike Shea, Glendale Public Library


Rob Chilcoat, Kingman Army Airfield Historical Society; Kay Ellerman, Mohave Museum; John Kaufman and Amanda Kaufman


Anne Mary Lutzick, Old Trails Museum; Dale Patton, City of Winslow


Harry Davidson, Cavalcade of Wings, ABQ NM; Glenn Fye, The Albuquerque Museum; Stefan Bocchino, KAFB Public Affairs; Paula Peknik, Sandia Area Federal Credit Union; Eileen Hogan, UNM Libraries; Scott Peeler, Jr., Valrico, FL; Steve Owen, Grants NM; Dan Deloria, Oklahoma; Linda Popelish, USFS retired; Daniel Kosharek, NM History Museum; James Moyers, KAFB; Daniel Jiron, Public Relations, ABQ International Airport


Phil Williams, Clovis Depot Model Train Museum; Harold Kilmer, President, High Plains Historical Society; Terri Gleaton, Clovis-Carver Public Library


Sandra Olson, President, Waynoka Historical Society; Terry Zinn, Oklahoma Historical Society; Valerie Holbert Wayne, Central Flying Service, Little Rock, AR


Shanna Hein, Kansas Aviation Museum; David Moreno, Kansas Aviation Museum

Kansas City

Zana Allen, TWA Museum; Jeremy Drouin, Kansas City Public Library; David Boutros, UMKC University Archives; Shannon Julien, Kansas City Public Library

St. Louis

Daniel Rust, University of Missouri, St. Louis; Mark Nankivil, Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum; Dan O’Hara, President, Missouri Aviation Historical Society; Robert McDaniel, St. Louis Downtown Airport; Jason Stratman, Missouri History Museum


Brent Abercrombie, Indiana State Library; Sgt. Jeff Lowry, Indiana Army National Guard, Stout Field; Christofer Matney, Indiana Air Service Director; Raina Regan, Architectural Historian, Indiana Army National Guard

Port Columbus

Matthew Benz, Ohio Historical Society; Lily Birkhimer, Ohio Historical Society; Angie Taber, Manager of Communications, Columbus Regional Airport Authority

Pennsylvania Station

Bruce Smith, President, Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society; Chuck Blardone, Editor, Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society; and Barb and Kenny Benson, Pennsylvania.


John Seibold; Molly, Norm and Bob, Planes of Fame Museum; Mike McComb

Miscellaneous locations

Donald Broadfield, American Airlines; Courtney Esposito Bellizzi, Smithsonian; Elizabeth Borja, Smithsonian; Joe Cupp, Walsworth Publishing; Daniel Kusrow, N.Y.; Shaun Hayes, University of Wyoming; Bjorn Larsson; Craig Morris, Galt, CA; Amy Storms, Joplin, MO; Frances Savage, Hesperia, CA


Warriors at 500 Knots:

As the ground war struggled for success in Vietnam, it became intensely clear that the skies had to be owned by the allies for victory to have a chance. It was the F-4 and its pilots that made that possible. The author, a Phantom pilot himself, details intense stories of undaunted and valiant American pilots with their legendary fierce Phantom. These are personal stories of intrepid courage and self-sacrifice to get the mission done - whatever the cost. Fierce, unflinching battles to save friendlies and destroy a ruthless enemy are all recorded 40 years later. True tales of war at 500 knots.


Flying in the early 20th Century was dangerous business. Aircraft were made of sticks and cloth and their engines failed at an alarming rate. Those who flew experienced a high incidence of accidents. Almost every pilot had stories of seized engines, landing or takeoff mishaps, becoming lost, bad fuel, dangerous weather and lost friends.

However, some saw this stumbling attempt to master the skies as an opportunity to bring the human race forward. They had a vision of stylish travel across the ground and into the heavens with comfort, speed and profit. Such was the vision of Transcontinental Air Transport’s Lindbergh Line that began the first scheduled coast-to-coast airline passenger service in 1929. It teamed with aviation visionaries Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart to build a new industry. That industry’s successful struggle evolved into our modern airline passenger service, one that carries us across the continent and across the world.


The Lindbergh Line: Then and Now, by Robert Kirk, provides an insightful glimpse into the significant but brief existence of Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT). None other than Charles Lindbergh, global hero after his spectacular solo flight from New York to Paris in 1927, served as the technical advisor to TAT. Lindbergh himself chose the aircraft and selected the locations for airports TAT would develop along its route. Robert Kirk’s book does much more than chart the history of TAT. The book describes Kirk’s personal odyssey as he retraced the transcontinental route of TAT from Los Angeles to New York in his own aircraft. He visited each airport TAT used, talked with local historians, and flew the route segments traversed by intrepid TAT pilots so many decades ago. Interweaving the history of TAT with Kirk’s own experiences and observations, the book invites the reader to gain a better understanding of this pioneering airline not just via the written text, but through visiting the remaining air terminals that facilitated the pioneering TAT passengers in the 1920s. This book is a timely reminder of the challenges and triumphs of the early years of commercial air transportation in the United States.

Daniel L. Rust, Ph.D.

Assistant Director, Center for Transportation Studies

University of Missouri-St. Louis

Author: Flying Across America

My earliest recollection of airliners was TAT/TWA. Robert Kirk’s coverage of its early and subsequent effects on the nation and its Port cities is a welcome study of TAT/TWA. Robert Kirk blends the events and places as they were then with how they are today. His photo collection documents people and places as they were then with a modern replication of how they are now.

Harry M. Davidson,

Aviation Historian, President,

Cavalcade of Wings, Albuquerque, New Mexico


My wife and I began thinking about Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT) a few years ago when we flew into Tucson International Airport. I landed our Beechcraft Sierra on Runway 11, and quickly taxied off the runway to a parking spot at the base of the tower. This area is known as the Executive Terminal. The Executive’s lineman came out to meet us in the golf cart that is used to help carry baggage from the aircraft into the terminal.

When we reached the door to Executive, we unloaded our bags and went inside. I went up to the FBO counter and greeted a young woman working there. I gave her instructions concerning our aircraft and its refueling. We were spending a couple of days in Tucson so we had arranged with Executive to have a car waiting for us. As we proceeded outside through the first set of automatic doors, I saw a plaque on the wall. I noticed aircraft on it, and an outline of a map. I called to my wife to wait for a moment. We both became mesmerized by what we saw. The plaque displayed the route that Transcontinental Air Transport started as it flew the first scheduled airline passengers across the United States. The name Charles Lindbergh seemed to leap from the plaque and screamed that something important happened here. This route was called the Lindbergh Line. Of course we had heard of Charles Lindbergh. Who hasn’t? Certainly no pilot who would claim his or her wings would do so. However, I had never heard that Charles Lindbergh was involved in setting up the first scheduled transcontinental airline passenger service.

For the next couple of years, my wife and I talked about that plaque. Finally, we could stand it no more. We had to know more about this plaque’s history and its story. We decided that we would research what had happened in 1929 to establish TAT and the route across the United States. It wasn’t long after that we decided that not only would we research what had happened, but we would fly the original route ourselves. We decided that we’d research old records and gain access to archival photos that helped tell the story of the early TAT, its airports, pilots, and passengers. Then we would fly the old route and take pictures to document what the route and airports were like then and what they are like today. TAT had begun its historic flights in early July 1929, so we decided that we would fly over the old route in July as well. We knew that it would be hot in July, but we wanted to make our trip as historically accurate as possible. So, after several months of planning, researching, and making appointments to meet with as many local historians and librarians as possible, we began our great adventure.

Author and his wife at the beginning of their TAT route flight in July, 2012. They are standing in front of their aircraft used for the trip. It is a Beechcraft Sierra C-24R.

TAT’s Vision of the Future:

Transcontinental Airline Passenger Service

Poster developed by TWA for its celebration of the 1929 TAT Inaugural Flight. Used by permission and courtesy of the TWA Museum, Kansas City, MO.

TAT brochure produced by TAT-Maddux. From the collection of Craig Morris, Galt, California.

TAT-Maddux label showing time saved flying instead of taking the train. From the collection of

Craig Morris, Galt, California.

TAT blotter used to roll over freshly signed documents. From the collection of Craig Morris, Galt, California.

TAT Plane Talk logo that was on each Plane Talk publication in 1929-30.


History of Transcontinental Air

Transport’s Vision for the Future of

Aviation Passenger Service

In the early part of the twentieth century changes and developments were setting the stage for a revamping of lifestyle for Americans. The realization of man’s first heavier than air flight; expansion of railroad service; first assembly line for the production of automobiles; and the development of a nationwide road system were just a few of these great changes.

Along with these and other changes came a long list of men and women who were driven to accomplish important and challenging things with their lives. These men and women wouldn’t be comfortable with just living a life of ease or normalcy. They wanted to accomplish great things in their lives.

Fear, the normal enemy that restrains so many of us didn’t restrain them. They were willing to risk their lives and fortunes to change not only their present world, but also the world of all who would come after them. Many of these people became a part of another important first in American culture: the first regularly scheduled transcontinental airline passenger service. This service began and grew from the efforts and sacrifices of American men and women from the fields of business and aviation who worked together to build a new industry of passenger air travel. This industry changed and molded America in ways that couldn’t be imagined in the early twentieth century.

The first regularly scheduled transcontinental airline service was established by a new company titled the Transcontinental Air Transport, Inc., or as it was commonly known, TAT.¹ The TAT company was formed in May 1928 by several individuals with common connections in aviation companies. Some of these companies included Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company; Wright Aeronautical Corporation; National Air Transport; Pennsylvania Railroad; and a number of bank groups. These business and bank groups provided technical and financial support for the new company. They set aside the sum of $5 million for the new company to use in its development.² It was believed that a sum of $3 million would be all that was needed to develop and get the company running. The additional $2 million was held in reserve to be used to finance future needs of the new airline.

Important men of business, banking, aviation, and auto production were selected for the company directors. These included:

Harold M. Bixby (St. Louis Banker)

Howard E. Coffin (National Air Transport)

Chester W. Cuthell (Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Company)

Fred Harvey (Fred Harvey Hotel &

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