Published Date

August 1, 1945

Resource Type

GI Roundtable Series, Primary Source

From GI Roundtable 37: Will There Be a Plane in Every Garage? (1945)

After the war, private plane owners will be confronted with making a choice of traveling via air transport or flying their own planes, when doing cross-country flying.

Flying over the airways on a long cross-country hop in your own plane may become a tiring and even hazardous job, unless you have two-way radio equipment and an automatic pilot that takes over the job of flying the plane from time to time when you want to relax, and unless you plan to make the trip in easy stages.

Setting out to make a flight in your own plane from Columbus, Ohio, to New York City, you would first have to check in at the control, tower at Columbus and announce your flight plan to the traffic control officer, giving him the time of departure, your destination, the route to be followed, and the speed and altitude at which you plan to fly. After receiving weather data and being cleared for take-off, you climb up to the predetermined altitude, probably 5,000 feet.

At Pittsburgh, you probably land and refuel before flying over the mountains. Again you have to check in at the control, file your flight plan, and get another clearance before taking off. Once over the mountains, you may find the weather rough at 5,000 feet, and wish to ascend to 7,000 feet. Before doing this you have to contact the Pittsburgh control tower by radio and receive permission.

Once in the New York control area, you have to report your presence to the control tower at the field where you expect to land and notify them of your expected arrival time. Upon making a landing, you would have to check in at the control tower and let them know when you plan to make your departure.


Better take some money along too

The cost of such a trip is greater than the cost of just the fuel and oil that are needed to make the trip. You will have to pay from $10 up for the privilege of making a landing at any airport, except emergency landing fields. If you fly yourself, and carry no passengers, the cost may be greater than airline fare.

Of course, if you are taking a vacation trip with the family, which means that you are not in too much of a hurry, it will be less expensive to make the trip in your own plane, if you can accommodate everyone.

Other determining factors which should help you decide whether you are going to fly yourself or be flown are: weather conditions (if weather is bad you’d be better off in a commercial airliner); airport facilities at the other end (check to see if you can land near where you want to go, for some-times airports are closed to private flyers or for repairs); and route (if you have to cross broad expanses of water in a land-plane you’d be safer to fly in a commercial plane).

If you want speed, you will have to rely on the commercial airliner, which cruises along at speeds varying from 185 miles an hour for the DG-3 up to around 300 miles an hour for the Constellation. This is two or three times as fast as your personal plane could operate at its maximum speed.

You’ll be able to board a plane in New York at midnight and arrive in Los Angeles at eight o’clock the next morning, a trip of about eleven hours, allowing for the change in time. Cost of the trip will be about the same as the cost for first-class railroad fare plus Pullman and meals, or $138.85 each way. Within ten years after the war, airline fares may be reduced to the point where it will actually be cheaper to fly than to go by railroad coach. Imagine going from coast to coast by air for only $55!

Parking lots for planes may be provided at major air terminals over the country so that private plane owners can fly in from nearby communities. After parking their planes, they can board giant airliners to carry them great distances.

The question is yours to answer

Americans will do more traveling after World War II than ever before in their history. Commercial airlines will cross the country in every direction. They will link the United States with every major nation in the world. Railroad facilities will probably be improved, with more streamlined, air-conditioned trains operating at increased speed and comfort. Superhighways will permit faster and safer automobile travel.

Will these developments make it safer or faster or cheaper or more comfortable or more practical to travel by train, drive your own car, take a commercial airliner, or fly a plane of your own? Will private flying remain primarily for the wealthy sportsman or flying hobbyist? Or will it be a sound, safe, and sensible practice in the postwar daily life of the average American?

For Discussion

Should “aerocourts,” similar to motor courts, be provided at airports and air parks, where private flyers on cross-country trips could secure overnight accommodations at low cost? Under what conditions would you fly yourself from Chicago to New Orleans? Fly in an airliner? Would it pay a traveling man to fly his own plane all the time or make use of airliners? Will the expansion of air transport to many cities now without commercial air-service tend to reduce the number of private planes sold?

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