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About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Queens of all the Air: 1952

Queens of all the Air: 1952

A Capital Airlines Lockheed L-049 Constellation at the Allegheny County Airport, southeast of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Circa 1952. Scanned from a Kodachrome stereo slide taken by my grandfather Ralph E. Archer, who owned and operated the Archer Camera Shop in Titusville, Pennsylvania, from 1929 to 1961.

Pennsylvania Airlines, which started in 1931, later merged with Central Airlines in 1936 to become (you guessed it) Pennsylvania Central Airlines. PCA then changed its name in 1948 to Capital Airlines and made a first in airline history when it introduced a new low-fare "coach" service called the "Nighthawk" service. It later merged with United Airlines in 1960. "Queens of all the Air" was the title of one of their advertising brochures in the 1950s which featured the Constellation on the cover.

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It's beauty was expensive

The Connie's dolphin shape made it beautiful and expensive to construct. Compare to almost every airliner built since - the Connie fuselage was made of unique rings, ever-changing from front to back. Building a straight cylinder fuselage is much easier for everybody.


The Connie is probably the most beautiful aircraft ever designed.

Ask the boy who owned one

In the mid 50's, my parents took my brother and me to Friendship Airport (now BWI) to watch the planes. Before we left, Pop bought both of us our own Constellations. They were lithographed tin with pistol grips below; squeezing the grips caused the props to spin and made appropriate racket. The planes were decorated in the Capital Airlines scheme.

Our toy Constellations are just as long-gone as Capital's. Probably worth a nice bundle to the collectors today.

Airline ad

This is the cover of the ad brochure mentioned in the post and where its title came from.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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