The British Airways 100th birthday celebrations last Saturday were muted by the aftermath of the strike announcement. So, a week on from the actual date, I wanted to reproduce this article from The Times of 26th August 1919 which tells you exactly what happened back on the very first day.
There is so much in this article to enjoy – the cost of the flights, the people invited (and the notable lack of women), the route taken, the safety warning and the cargo carried. It isn’t just airlines that have changed in the last 100 years.
You can get extra enjoyment by reading the following paragraphs in the tone of voice of a 1930’s newsreel announcer 🙂
“Yesterday three aeroplanes starting from Hounslow inaugurated the London-Paris Air Service, which it is intended to run daily. The first machine to leave was the Handley Page, which left Hounslow at 8.40 yesterday morning with 11 passengers.
She was piloted by Major Foot, and the passengers included Mr L A Northend of The Times; Major C C Turner, Daily Telegraph; Mr E A Perris, of the Daily Chronicle; Mr Harold Begbie, Daily Chronicle; Mr Tourtell, Daily Express; Mr Bartholomew, Daily Mirror; and Mr Crosfield, Daily News.
The second machine to leave was the Airco 4, which left at 9.10. This machine, in addition to the passenger, Mr G M Stevenson-Reece, Evening Standard, and Lieutenant Lawford, the pilot, carried a full load, including a number of daily newspapers, a consignment of leather from a London firm to a firm in Paris, several brace of grouse, and a considerable number of jars of Devonshire cream.
This machine was due to arrive in Paris at 11.40, and did so to the minute. She left on the return journey at 12.40, and arrived at Hounslow at 2.45. The machine, like the Airco 16, is owned by the Aircraft Transportation and Travel Company. The third machine to leave was the Airco 16, piloted by Major Cyril Patteson, who carried Marshal Foch to England on a recent visit. The Airco 16 carried four passengers, and arrived at Paris at 2.45, having left Cricklewood at 12.30pm. Her return journey will be made today. Both the Airco machines were fitted with Rolls-Royce 275-hp engines, and their speed is about 120 miles an hour.
The full fare for this London-Paris trip is £15 15s. The journey cannot be guaranteed every day, owing to the bad climate, and engine failure cannot be entirely eliminated, and forced landings and delay may occur. The route will be Maidstone – Boulogne – Beauvais – Paris.
Arrangements have been made for copies of the latest edition of The Times to be carried daily by the service, and these will be available for delivery to subscribers at a special rate. Details upon application to The Times Office, 2, Rue de la Chaussee d’Antin, Paris, or to the Publisher of The Times, Printing House Square, London, EC4.”
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