Nostalgia trip—all aboard the Electra express

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Thanks to Conniptions886, a YouTube member with a bent for Australian nostalgia, we have a glimpse of air travel in the early 1960s.

This documentary, produced by Brisbane’s BTQ-7, shows preparations for a flight from Brisbane to Hobart by a Lockheed L-188 Electra of Ansett-ANA. There’s not much drama here (which is how it very much should be in commercial aviation), but a lovingly detailed look at filing of the initial flight plan, using pen and paper, pre-flight walk-arounds, cockpit checklist, and start-up procedures for the Electra’s four Allison T-56 turboprop engines.

If you’re a fan of Elgarian background music, like seeing passengers dressed up to go flying, enjoy seeing Brylcreem on men’s heads and hats on women’s, you’ll get a warm glow from this. You might also note what’s missing; there’s not a computer to be seen, no mention of in-flight entertainment (the novelty of being aloft was enough in those days), and a jaunty assumption that all staff were ‘men’, apart from ‘the hostess’.

A strong hint as to why flying is cheaper these days come from comparing the specifications of the 80-seat Electra and the similarly sized Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, which seats 74, and is regarded by some fearful flyers as hardly more substantial than a Jabiru. The Electra requires an extra crew member (the flight engineer) and is more than 20 tonnes heavier at maximum take-off weight.

Ansett-ANA, TAA and Qantas had a successful safety record operating the Electra, which in other markets was not a particularly well-regarded or successful design. This video shows why—despite the differences, and the quaintness to modern eyes there was a strong foundation of professionalism, which has served Australian air transport from then until now.

2 COMMENTS

  1. That was brilliant! I was an Ansett ANA flight hostess from 1963 to 1971, based initially in Brisbane. The Electra was very modern and fast. I loved the sound of those engines starting up, and the special roar as it flew overhead. Back then we hostesses had to know a great deal about the aircraft in order to answer passenger queries. The Allison Turboprop engines (I don’t remember the exact name), the emergency equipment, how everything worked. Passengers loved the speed and comfort. Thank you for the memories.

  2. that was magnificent… my dad was a F/E from October 64 on electras until he moved to 727s & retired on 767s in 88. He was based in MEL. the Electra was a beautiful aircraft. i know me as a kid flying on them at 7 – 10 years old in mid 60s was mind blowing…. he is now having a battle at 84 years…..
    pity they are not flying here in aus…i would shout him 1 last trip….like the connie… he was a ground engineer at QF on connies & 707s…..
    cheers darryl

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