Britain’s Airline Entrepreneurs, From Laker to Branson

Wow, what a treat from Burnt Ash Publishing who have been breaking fresh ground in aviation history. Sadly, few of the names in this book mean anything today when the people and their airlines deserve so much better. Here is the opportunity to learn about them all. Most Highly Recommended

NAME:  Britain's Airline Entrepreneurs, From Laker to Branson
FILE: R3290
AUTHOR: Malcolm Turner
PUBLISHER: Burnt Ash Publications
BINDING: hard back
PRICE: £35.00                                                  
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT:   Civil airlines, civil airliners, passenger planes, jet aircraft, jet technology, 
risk taking, pioneer, de Havilland, British aircraft, high speed flight, aviation 
revolution, pressurized aircraft, high level flight, entrepreneurs, ex-military surplus 
aircraft, converted bombers, budget airlines, Berlin Air Lift, Freddie Laker, Adam 
Thompson, Nigel Norman, William 'Bill' Armstrong, Fred Newman, Bill Hodgson, 
Don Peacock, British Eagle, Caledonian Airways, British Caledonian, Airwork, 
Autair, Court Line, DanAir, Monarch Airlines

ISBN: 978-1-9162161-3-6

PAGES: 208, 100 colour and B&W illustrations
IMAGE: B3290.jpg
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DESCRIPTION: Wow, what a treat from Burnt Ash Publishing who have been 
breaking fresh ground in aviation history. Sadly, few of the names in this book mean 
anything today when the people and their airlines deserve so much better. Here is 
the opportunity to learn about them all.  Most Highly Recommended

Until 1945-46 passenger flight was a great adventure for the rich and the bored. It certainly was exciting with no great surety that the aircraft would arrive at the intended destination. Records were broken frequently and passenger numbers increased but it was still an exclusive form of transport. In contrast today it is possible to travel ‘cattle class’ for a few pounds to destinations near and far, much as it was for coach and train travel before WWII. The start of the period in-between has generated so many books about war in the air and yet there are still stories to be told. Of the second stage from 1945/46 remarkably little has been written and yet air travel for the masses is only possible because of those pioneers. The only exceptions in their heyday are Laker and Branson and much of that coverage is meanly uncomplimentary.

The author has made a very good fist of this work, well-researched, lavishly illustrated and nicely written.

At the start of the period, many entrepreneurs were using their demob money and a lot of risk to take to the air in ex-military surplus aircraft and converted bombers. Much of the infrastructure we take for granted today simply did not exist. London Heathrow was a damp airstrip with a few military hangers and little else.

The first huge achievement of these first post war civil aviation pioneers was the Victory of the Berlin Airlift. When we look back from today, most will think this was a military affair where British and American military aviators saved Berlin from the fate of East Germany. Every day WWII era aircraft flew in a near endless chain, bringing food and fuel into the city to maintain its population during the Soviet siege. We may see something similar today on the landing approach to London Heathrow, but that is with advanced aircraft and electronics to maintain a safe and orderly procession of aircraft converging on the Heathrow approach path from all over the world. In 1948 the fleet of hastily assembled aircraft were most frequently flown by civilians, in many cases entrepreneurs with a fleet of one well hammered DC3/C-47 or a new aircraft produced from a marriage of components, wings and under carriage of a WWII bomber. Most of these pilots had previously flown through flak over Germany to drop bombs on German cities, others had flown paratroops and towed gliders in the mass airborne forces drops on D-Day, during Op Market Garden and for the crossing of the Rhine. They were often reckless seat-of-the-pants pilots who had little interest in rules. They flew very long hours with little sleep and little food. Today’s ‘elf an Safety’ would have had a severe attack of the vapours had it been exposed to the realities of the Berlin Airlift and yet these flyers not only made the Soviets look stupid and produced the first Allied victory of the Cold War, but they were laying the foundations for the massive growth in air travel through the 1950s and onward to the airline business of today.

This is a truly extraordinary story. The reader will be well rewarded by this book.