What did a typical passenger aircraft look like in your grandparents' days of 1949, 1959, and then in perhaps your parents days of 1969 and 2009?
1949 1959 1969 2009
Typical Plane Douglas DC-3 Douglas DC-6 B-707 & B-727 B-737 & A-320
Typical Speed 150 mph 300mph 500-600mph 500-600mph
Aver.price/mile (USD) $0.57 $0.44 $0.34 $0.14
New York/Los Angeles $1,447 $785 n/a $298
U.S.Airline Passengers 16.7 million 60.3 million 171.9 million 769.5 million
Number of Flights 2.3 million 3.9 million 5.4 million 10.1 million
the Golden Age of air travel is NOW! For example, the piston-driver aircraft of earlier days, such as the Lockheed Constellation and Douglas DC-7, were noisy and often very bumpy. They couldn't fly over storms and turbulence the way jet-powered aircraft can. Engine problems and failures were more frequent – and so were accidents. A round-trip coach ticket between New York and Los Angeles was $208 in 1958 (according to the Air Transport Association ATA), but that 1958 price is now $1,570 in today's dollars.
Another difference "back then" was limited flight service. Getting across the U.S. often required multiple stops. And making connections often meant changing airlines too. Of course things started to change more rapidly in the 1960s and 1070s when jets were proliferating. Jets were — and are today — more reliable and safer than the piston-engine planes they replaced. Jets could also carry more people — and move them much faster than ever before. They even became more luxurious in some cases: Boeing 747s, which started airline service in 1969 (and opened international travel to large numbers of people) now even had piano bars in first class.
However, through much of the 1970s, it was still expensive for most Americans to fly, so the U.S. Congress de-regulated the industry in 1978. They opened the market to new air carriers, and it also allowed airlines to fly wherever to wanted, on whatever schedule they wanted — and to set their own prices. The results of de-regulation were dramatic. In 1977, according to the ATA, the average price paid to fly one mile in the U.S. was 8.42 cents. Adjusted for inflation, that's more than 30 cents per mile. Last year U.S. travelers paid an average of 13.5 cents per mile. In 1978 airlines carried 275 million passengers. In 2008 they carried 741 million passengers each year.
If you become a professional pilot flying for an airline in the U.S. or another of the many excellent airlines worldwide, you will become part of the exciting history of commercial aviation. You will wear that special uniform that commands respect — and an excellent salary. You will possibly fly all over the world. If this is the life you are interested in, contact www.pea.com for information on how you can start your flight training in Daytona Beach, Florida – where the training is priced the best, and where the flying weather is the best in the world. Remember, www.pea.com.