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.