Back to the ’50s – Vintage BOAC Airliners

Friday, 8 November 2013

1960 - Dad & DC-7C 271I seem to have encountered Detroit regularly in recent months. I enjoyed Mark Binelli’s superb book about the collapse and fall of the Motor city. Then I noticed Detroit shopping bags in a Whole Foods Supermarket in London. And Made-in-Detroit Shinola bicycles in Palo Alto, California. Plus I spoke about Detroit’s ruins at a dinner for the California-based Global Heritage Fund.

I’ve got a real interest in Detroit because I live there for four years, back when Detroit was at its peak. In fact in 1962 Detroit was the wealthiest city per capita in the USA. Yes I was very young. And my dad was BOAC ‘s Airport Manager for Detroit. BOAC has become British Airways today. Here he is with a 1958 vintage Douglas DC-7C – a ‘Seven Seas’ – in Detroit. ►



1960 - DC-7C 01 542
▲ It’s amazing how fast aircraft changed in those days. The first 747s went into service in 1970 and 40+ years later they don’t look that much different. But in three years from 1958 BOAC went from the Douglas DC-7C with its four piston engines.

1958 - Britannia 02 542
▲ To the Britannia 312 with its four turboprop engines.

1958 - Comet 4, Detroit 01 542
▲ To the De Havilland Comet 4 with four jet engines.

1960 - Boeing 707 542
▲ And then the Boeing 707, also with four jet engines. These photographs are all at Detroit Metropolitan Airport and I flew on all of them!

Amazing how Detroit changed as well. British Airways ran a monthly ‘Time travel’ feature in their High Life magazine and the October 2013 issue featured Detroit and my father. It’s a reminder that Detroit has been far more than just the Motor City. Of course there’s Tamla Motown and its punk rock history, but Detroit has also been a major pharmaceutical centre:
2013 10 - BA High Life 542