I started in at TWA in July 1941, there were five Boeing
Stratoliners that had been in service for a year on
Transcontinental and Western Air routes. A total of only 11
Stratoliners were ever manufactured—all of the other six
served at Pan American, I believe.
first ride on a TWA airplane was on one of the Stratoliners. As
I recall, there had been some complaints about the circulation
of air in the cabin, so the Engineering people wanted to make a
test flight to take some measurements of air flow in the cabin
and I went along. Some of the people in the Engineering group at
that time were Ray North, John Roche, Lou Holland and George
Heflin; there were others whose names I can’t recall as I am
writing this 60+ years later.
only airplane ride I had ever experienced before was in a noisy,
bumpy old Ford Trimotor, so I was quite taken by the smooth,
quiet and comfortable ride of the Stratoliner. After flying for
a while, as cabin air flow measurements were being made by the
Engineering folks, I looked out the window and discovered, much
to my surprise, that we were about
directly above downtown
entered into World War II, the Stratoliners were withdrawn from
TWA service and modified for service with the military.
It was a shame to see the shiny aluminum skin of those
beautiful planes adopt a dark gray-green paint scheme. Their
identification was changed from Stratoliner to C-75.
the war they made many overseas trips carrying important
passengers and there are many stories about them in the records
of our Intercontinental Division (ICD). The Stratoliners were
returned to TWA in 1945 and after extensive modifications at the
Boeing plant, and also at TWA’s hangar at MKC, they returned
to domestic passenger service on April 1, 1945.
the DC-3’s, which had hydraulically operated landing gear
retraction and extension systems, the Stratoliners had an
electric motor-operated system. There were several incidents
where one of the main landing gears could not be extended, so
there were several one-up/one-down landings with resultant
damage to the lower wing surfaces. Our ace metal mechanic, Homer
Monroe, was sent out to make repairs and after the second or
third such trip, he developed a kit of parts to take along,
thereby speeding up the repair job.
1948 or 1949, I was making trips between MKC and LGA, riding on
non-stop Stratoliner flights, I remember in particular the
pleasant evening flights back to MKC, riding in the comfortable
and commodious Stratoliner, and enjoying a satisfying evening
meal. In those good old days, there was not a tourist-first
class distinction, and everyone aboard had comfortable seats
with plenty of leg room and a splendid meal.
Stratoliners were retired from service in 1950 with the advent
of the Connies.
Keith Horton, 1941-1983, served in Maintenance/Technical
Services Engineering and Field Maintenance.