Flying in 1954 was a very different experience to today. For starters, everyone dressed up, plus it was expensive, noisy and the aircraft vibrated due to the piston engines.

Even so, there was a glamour around air travel, mainly because only the well to do could afford it. Let’s take a trip back in time and see what things were like back then.

A Cross Country Trip In 1954

This film is called “The Mercury” because that was the name of the American Airlines Douglas DC-7 service from New York Idlewild to Los Angeles. It runs for just under half an hour and while the quality is very average, it’s worth a look as it’s a time capsule of sorts from the era.

It opens with a reservations agent booking a passenger on Flight 1 with her “electronic machine named the Reservisor”. Next we head to the hanger, followed by the flight kitchen and then the crew check-in and there is some of the pilots briefing.

Quite a lot of the operation is shown in good detail during the flight. Cabin service appears from 16 minutes in, with each element of the meal outlined. Seems lamb chops were a big thing here.

An interesting feature is at 24 minutes 35 seconds when they put out the speed brakes. I never knew how these worked on a DC-7 and I bet you didn’t either. That was certainly unexpected!

Overall Thoughts

What an excellent film this is, really showing what it was like flying in 1954. American Airlines should unearth this, restore it and add it to their inflight entertainment system. I think it would be a fun thing for people to see.

The Mercury name seems to have been passed on for years, but today AA1 is no longer called that, which is a bit of a shame. Airlines no longer name routes like they did in the past, a bit like how train companies removed the practice.

What did you think of the video? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image via SFO Museum on Facebook.