Air Hostess: Attention please B.O.A.C. Flight 906 to Cairo, Karachi, Calcutta, Bangkok, Hong-Kong and Tokyo. Will passengers please go to the South Exit where the coach is ready to leave for London Airport. B.O.A.C. Flight 906 to Cairo, Karachi, Calcutta, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Tokyo.
Main Commentator: “The air, said an eighteenth-century seer, “is an uninterrupted navigable ocean, that comes to every man’s door”. Today, the air lines of many nations have turned that vision into commonplace fact. Their gleaming silver and flashing airscrews are at every man’s door – tempting him Into the Blue.
At airports from London to Rio and Dum-Dum you can sample the stir and bustle that never ceases the clock round: glimpse, behind the scenes, the wonders of radio and radar that now, according to statistics, render you safer in the air than in your own home.
Publicity man: You-can travel 21,184,000 miles before you can reasonably expect to be killed in an air accident. That’s over 88 return trips to the moon.
Main Commentator: And aloft – cruising in comfort at ten or twenty thousand feet – it’s free meals, no tips, and the papers delivered to your chair. Jules Verne dreamed of circling the earth in eighty days. Now, you can do it in just about as many hours. And all the baggage you inquire to circumnavigate the globe is a toothbrush and a powder-puff.
To the United Kingdom, seeking by every means to increase her trade abroad, the swift onset of the air age presents a special challenge. Emerging from the war with tremendous military air strength – but little civilian – her airlines have since then been striving to make up for lost time.
Now only a few years later, the name of British European Airways is well-known all over Europe. Under the management of Lord Douglas of Kirtleside – himself a celebrated airman B.E.A’s routes now fan out from London to cover the Continent from Scandinavia to Spain.
Starting virtually from scratch after the war, its services of freight and mail are making it a very real factor in the economic integration of Europe.
Swiftly becoming the largest airline entirely devoted to European traffic, B.E.A. now carries nearly one million passengers a year, on business or pleasure bent, from Prague to Belfast.
Already familiar, as well, throughout the great cities of the world are the initials B.O.A.C – British Overseas Airways Corporation. This is Britain’s long-distance airline, now organised to keep more than fifty planes moving above the globe every minute of the day and night.
To B.O.A.C’s Chairman Sir Miles Thomas falls the task of supervising nearly two hundred thousand, miles of routes, many of Which did not exist before the war. First to fly the Atlantic regularly in both directions, B.O.A.C. Captains now look down on the towers of New York as old familiar friends.
Others skim the glittering Caribbean, courses set for the hard currency trade and tourism of the South American republics.
Others again sweep across the lakes of equatorial Africa, with the traffic of Commonwealth relations and Colonial affairs.
And yet others, touching down where the hills of Hong-Kong fall to the China Sea, carry to the farthest East the commerce of the Western world.
And to-day, on London’s famous Baltic Exchange where Britain’s cargoes find their carriers- they will tell you how important to the nation’s business are the many ’Charter’ airlines, offering special transport service at short notice.
Equipped to fly anyone or anything – livestock, spare parts, perishable goods – the five hundred planes of the Charter Companies are essential assets to a nation whose exports must reach foreign markets ahead of competition.
But behind the booking halls and the front-offices, Britain’s airline operators well know that swift and successful air development – while vital to national purposes involves a constant struggle against costs. There is, for instance, the cost of training air-crews, whose responsibility for bigger payloads is growing every year. There is the cost of ground staffs, fuel, replacements, for aircraft rapidly increasing in size and complexity. There is the cost of courses for new personnel – to ensure the polished personal attention without which no modern airline can hold its international clientele. And everywhere, there is competition to face: the keen rivalry of many nations many powerful lines, each presenting its own special attractions to lure the traveller.
Publicity man: For you, the now pleasure of travel, in the latest luxury airlines, twice as fast, with personnel whose courteous attention is world famous.
Publicity man: I think we ought to have the lettering much bigger. Air India – the route of the magic carpet.
Publicity man: A diplomat, a movie-siren, a world renowned musician is usually aboard and may be sitting beside you – and remember, breakfast in bed.
Main Commentator: But informed observers of the British aviation scene believe that the United Kingdom has two trump cards to play in her bid for leadership in the-sky: the bold, far-sighted policy of executives like Whitney Straight; and her acknowledged genius in the design of new aircraft and engines. They point to Britain’s intensive pioneering of gas-turbines: prime movers which will outstrip by many hundreds of miles an hour the speeds accepted in present time-tables.
And they point as well to the revolutionary new aircraft now emerging from British factories: the record-smashing “Comet” – the enormous Saunders-Roe long-range “Princess” flying boat – the hundred-passenger Bristol “Brabazon”, specially designed to fly direct from London to New York – non-stop to the New World.
So, a nation which once built its business on the mastery of great waters, turns now to take up the challenge of the new trade routes of the sky.
In a few short years her aviators have regained much of the time inevitably lost when all their skill and enterprise were devoted to war. Now, in a world everywhere lifting its traffic into the blue, they believe that Britain’s future in the air is safe and sure.