Welcome to flying in the 1950s a time of civilized air travel before security lines, locked cockpit doors, knee-numbing seating, and enraged passengers. Step aboard a Pan Am Boeing Stratocruiser for a first-class flying experience where there was room to roam about without having to squeeze by serving carts, Standard comforts included a wide cabin with ample seat width and pitch a lower level bar, gourmet meal, and full-size beds.
The flying atmosphere on board was different than today, relaxed with more social interaction between passengers and crew. Captains and officers circulated about greeting and visiting with passengers. Captains occasionally left the flight deck door open, with only a velvet rope strung to keep the overly curious out. Others had a Captain’s table set up for dining with important passengers.
This photo is staged and not from our family photo album, although it could have been.
Our family of five was booked in the forward in the forward compartment which meant we all had a place to sleep. I was nine at the time, slept in the upper bunk and certainly would have likely teased my sister and little brother sleeping in the lower bunk.
AS WE SLEPT OUR NEW YORK-BOUND STRAROCRUISER LOST POWER IN THE NUMBER 3 ENGINE. THE NEXT MORNING EVENTS MOVED QUICKLY. THE FLIGHT ENGINEER STEPPED OUT OF THE COCKPIT AND INTO THE FORWARD CABIN FOR A VISUAL ENGINE INSPECTION FOLLOWED BY THE CAPTAIN’S ANNOUNCEMENT THAT OUR FLIGHT WOULD BE DIVERTED TO GANDER NEWFOUNDLAND.
AT THE AIRPORT, FIFTY FIRST CLASS PASSENGERS EXCHANGED THEIR COMFORTABLE SEATS ON THE PLANE FOR A SEAT ON THE EDGE OF A BUNK BED IN THE ONLY LODGING AVAILABLE, FORMER WWII MILITARY BARRACKS. Larry Driscoll