Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Jetting There with Savoir Faire

Some of you know that I am an Airliner nerd and some of you know now!

As thoughts this week lead to flying this Friday, I am always drawn to what is commonly known as one of the “golden ages” of travel, that of the early 60’s. Jet travel by Boeing airliner or jets from other manufacturers on both sides of the Atlantic was capturing the public’s imagination. Images of exotic locations speed and luxury tantalised the travelling public. It was also the heyday of the graphic artist.

However, when it comes to the manufacture and marketing of new jets it seems that the Europeans had a bit more Savoir Faire and imagination when naming their latest products. Whereas the Americans were sticking to a nomenclature based on a numerical system such as Boeing 707 and DC8 the Europeans were firing up the public’s imaginations with names such as Comet, Viscount and Trident.

One incredibly stylish offering from the Europeans was Sud Aviation SE 210 Caravelle, which entered service with mainly European Airlines in the late 50’s. The name was devised from a highly maneuverable sailing ship called a Caravel developed in the 15th century by the Portuguese. Radical in its design, the Caravelle established the aft-mounted-engine, clean-wing design that which portrayed a futuristic elegance. Also another unique feature was that passengers could also board the aircraft via a set of air stairs that descended from the tail of the aircraft. A futuristic elegance was portrayed with the whole design.

Ok, technicalities aside, Airlines took advantage of this new aircraft and advertised the use of it heavily. Not only did the public have a choice of which airline it would travel with, but also by a choice of aircraft. By no means the fastest or the biggest, it was however one of the most stylish!

Graphic artists of the era did a wonderful job in illustrating this. Stylistic representations of the aircraft both humorous and serious adorned travel agent walls and magazine pages.

Personally I think I would rather fly by Caravelle instead of an A380 which really does not do much for the imagination.

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