TWA Skyliner Magazine
0453 Trans World Airlines (TWA) Records
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NOTE: Issues of the TWA Skyliner are added to these WebPages as they are digitized, as time and money permit, beginning with the latest (2000s) and working backwards. The issues have been microfilmed and the film is available to be borrowed on interlibrary loan.
NOTE: We are pursuing an upgrade to the presentation of the TWA Skyliner which will significantly improve searchability and readability. In the process we are also addressing questions of copyright for the magazine. In order to show good faith during our discussions with American Airlines, which gained the rights to the TWA Skyliner in the 2002 TWA-American merger, we have temporarily removed the 1990 and 2000s issues. We anticipate that the copyright questions will be resolved soon and these issues will again be available on these WebPages.
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Additional information about the Trans World Airlines (TWA) Records
(KC0453) and TWA Collections
Project to microfilm and digitize the TWA Skyliner magazines
would not be possible without the generous support of
Donors. Also important are the contributions of the magazine issues as gifts or loans from
a number of individuals and organizations including first and foremost the
The late Ed Betts, respected historian and collector of TWA's history, deserves mention as an inspiration to the digital publication of the TWA Skyliners.
We welcome additional donations and loans of TWA publications, including the early TWA Skyliners, and financial support of the digitizing project. Please consider sponsoring the digitization of an issue, month, or year of the TWA Skyliners. Production costs are $2.00 per page.
Donations to this project: checks should be made to WHMC-KC with Skyliners Fund in the memo line, and mailed to Ona Gieschen, TWA Seniors Club Historian, PO Box 901439, Kansas City, MO 64190. All donations are tax deductible.
History of the TWA Skyliner magazine:
TWA’s history dates to 1925, when
United States Postal Service began to give airlines contracts to carry mail.
Founded by Harris Hanshue on July 13, 1925, Western Air Express (WAE) was
awarded the 650-mile long
Also in the spring of 1928 four men: Clement M. Keys, President of Curtis-Wright Corp., who had recently launched National Air Transport (NAT); Chester W. Cuthell, chairman of the Air Law Committee of the American Bar Association, counsel for several aeronautical firms; Paul Henderson, former assistant postmaster general and Vice President of NAT; and Charles Lindbergh, met at New York’s prestigious Engineers Club to form Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT), combining airplane and train routes to span the continent in forty-eight hours. By 1929, William Atterbury and the Pennsylvania Railroad and William Benson Storey, President of the Santa Fe Railroad with its close ties to the Fred Harvey restaurant chain, were firmly committed to the air-rail experiment.
On November 16, 1929
Transcontinental Air Transport merged with Maddux Air Lines, founded in 1927 by
Jack L. Maddux, an owner of a Los Angeles Ford and Lincoln car dealership, who
became the new airline’s western head. Maddux Air Lines carried passengers
With the 1930 merger of Western Air Express with Transcontinental Air Transport-Maddux, the new company became Transcontinental and Western Air (T&WA).
Howard Hughes became the principal
stockholder of T&WA in 1939, and expanded the airline significantly under
CEO Jack Frye leadership. Challenging Pan American World Airways’ dominance as
TWA played a major role in the
formation of Saudi Arabian Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, and a revived
Lufthansa. TWA for many years trained pilots from around the world and also
In 1950, the airline added an “s”
to change its name to Trans World Airlines. During the 1950s and 1960s,
it established routes from Europe to Asia flying as far east as
TWA leadership sought Howard Hughes removal as chairman in 1961. Under new corporate management, the Trans World Corporation (TWA’s holding company) purchased the Hilton Hotels overseas operations.
On April 7, 1967, TWA became the world’s first all-jet airline with the retirement of their last Lockheed 749 Constellation aircraft. That morning throughout the TWA system, aircraft ground service personnel placed a booklet on every passenger seat titled “Props Are for Boats.”
By 1969, TWA had surpassed Pan
American World Airways as the dominant Atlantic carrier, and in the Transpacific
Route Case of 1969, TWA received authority to extend its routes to
The airline aggressively expanded
European operations through the 1980s and by 1987 could brag of an
intercontinental network stretching from
Charles Tillinghast (TWA CEO 1961-1976), abandoned the trans-Pacific market and the dedicated air cargo market saying, “There’s no money in the Pacific and there’s no money in cargo. We’re gonna’ shrink this airline ‘til it’s profitable.” Deregulation also proved a problem because TWA had ignored domestic expansion at a time when the newly deregulated market was rapidly growing. When Trans World Corporation, starved for capital spun off the airline, it briefly considered selling itself to corporate raider Frank Lorenzo in the 1980s, but instead was purchased by another raider Carl Icahn in 1985—a move that some feel was the beginning of the end for TWA because under his direction, many of its most profitable assets were sold to competitors. The airline was forced into bankruptcy in 1992 and Icahn was eventually ousted in 1993.
Unscathed by the adventure, Carl Icahn had arranged for himself “The Karabu deal”—the right to purchase TWA tickets at a 45 percent discount for flights anywhere they flew, except those starting or ending in St. Louis. Icahn, using Karabu, could buy and then sell most of the airline’s available seats, leaving TWA to pay its cost from the sale of any remaining tickets. In other words, TWA was flying customers who were paying someone else. TWA lost an estimated $150 million a year to “The Karabu deal.”
Though tragic events had occurred
throughout its history, timing and public attention to TWA Flight 800 exploding
Faced with a declining market and challenging completion, by 1998 TWA had again reorganized to become primarily a domestic carrier, with routes though hubs at St. Louis and New York. The airline then announced a major fleet renewal and ordered 125 new aircraft, but growing financial problems instead resulted in its third bankruptcy and American Airlines acquiring TWA’s airline assets in April of 2001.
Trans World Airlines flew its last
flight on December 1, 2001. The ceremonial last flight was Flight 220 from
TAT Plane Talk to TWA Skyliner.
First published January 1, 1929, TAT Plane Talk, a four page monthly publication, was intended to inform the traveling public, TAT stockholders, and its employees of the sophistication and safety of their operation. Each issue was printed in the TAT company colors of red, white, and blue with many charts, maps, and pictures, and carried a different theme for each month. The first issue introduced the mission of Transcontinental Air Transport, its capital structure, its officers, and its general situation.
The February issue dealt with the Terminal Facilities and their development; the March theme was the Radio and Teletype Facilities. The June issue pictured the pilot personnel and an announcement by Col. Lindbergh:
The Transcontinental Air Transport System
will be ready to start a regular passenger schedule, between
Every effort has been made to incorporate maximum safety in every phase of operation. The airports along the entire route will be in satisfactory condition and will have suitable passenger accommodations; the Ford transports will be thoroughly equipped in every detail including two-way radio communication between plane and ground; the personnel both air and ground, will be completely trained; the meteorological system will be in operation and two weeks of preliminary and test operations will be completed on that date.
In consideration of these facts I have the honour to recommend that the inauguration of the Transcontinental Air-Rail service take place July 8, 1929.
The monthly themes continued but in December 1929 TAT Plane Talk became TAT Maddux Plane Talk. The paper seems to have discontinued after April 1930.
The next airline publication was a 5.5” by 8.5” pamphlet with a question mark on the cover. The editorial page carried the following message from the TAT President Richard W. Robbins:
The operation of a transcontinental airline, probably more than any other commercial endeavor, requires the complete cooperation of each and every individual in the entire organization. No other airline in the world, I’m convinced, has greater cooperation among its personnel than TWA.
We desire to take this opportunity on the occasion of the first appearance of our house organ, to extend the thanks of the management of Transcontinental & Western Air to our personnel from coast to coast and from the Great Lakes to the Southwest for the splendid efforts in giving TWA the position and standing it holds today.
We want to take this opportunity also, to congratulate our personnel for the universal interest that was shown in the publication of this house organ. We want it to be a “meeting ground” for members of the TWA family who do not have frequent opportunity to meet and discuss mutual problems.
My best wishes of the success of this publication.
Volume 1 Number 1 was proclaimed as “A Monthly Publication by and for the employees of TRANSCONTINENTAL & WESTERN AIR.”
The issue was not dated but appears to be June 1932 and carried a “What’s in a name contest” offering a cash prize. Some of the submitted names for their ‘house organ’ were Air and Wind Men; Air-O-Gust; Airy Lines; Hi-Stuff; Slipstream; Sputters; Tail Wind Advocate; Thoughts, Wits, and Airways; TWA Ever Thus; Twaddle; and many, many more.
Three men split the prize money for Line Squalls which appeared July 1, 1932, with a lone airplane gracing the front page until October 1, 1935, when the publication became SPEED with its symbolic speedy title and DC-2 plane.
Finally, the TWA Skyliner Vol 1 #1 came off the press April 1936 and, with only two exceptions, continued under that name until 2002. For the years 1946 and 1947 the paper was known as Starliner and between September 1970 and April 1974, it went by the name TWA TODAY.
The final issues of the TWA Skyliner were published in 2001 and 2002, during and after the merger of TWA with American Airlines.
Last revised: Wednesday, August 08, 2012
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