Chicago Through the Years
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Until 1957, our family lived in suburban River Forest, Illinois, almost mid-point between Chicago’s Midway and O’Hare Airports. I then visited my hometown often, and lived in Chicago again from 1972 to 1974 (see: http://jonproctor.net/1972-my-kind-of-town/). Here is a compilation of pictures that I, and my late brothers Bill and Bob took from the 1940s until 1984. Some of Bill’s were scanned off negatives in sepia and I have estimated the dates.
The pictures appear in chronological order by year. Click on individual pictures for a larger view.
Photo(s) last added on February 19, 2017
The Early Days
It’s appropriate that I introduce the Chicago pictures with two of my brothers, Bill and Bob, flanking our father, Lt. Col. W Heath Proctor at Midway Airport in 1943. At the time Dad was commander of the military base at Mitchell Field in Milwaukee and probably on his way back there following a short leave at home with family. I was still a wee lad, perhaps being juggled in Mom’s arms as she took this photo.
This is the only DC-3 picture I could find taken by Dad, albeit with no information on the negative sleeve. It was probably from the late ’30s/early ’40s. I thought it was shot at Midway Airport, but that tank in the back tells me differently. So the location remains a mystery, at least for now. Does anyone else have a clue? DC-3 NC17321, wearing The Transcontinental Line titles, was a TWA original, delivered in August 1937, and one of the few to remain in civil service throughout World War II. Bendix Corporation bought it in 1953.
Here’s a nice overview of the field’s north end. Although these two American Airlines hangars were built on the north side of the field in 1946 and opened in early 1947, this depiction, taken by bother Bob Proctor, was probably shot in 1948 or ’49. Four Convair 240s and a pair of DC-6s are seen parked in front.
Brother Bill Proctor took all the remaining 1940s pictures. The early Flagship livery on DC-3 NC21795 indicates that it was probably taken shortly after the war, or even earlier, at the original terminal on the south side of the field. Flagship Massachusetts was sold to Colonial Airlines in 1948.
Here’s the updated postwar livery on NC16016, Flagship Pennsylvania, an original factory-delivered DC-3. Dad’s logbook indictes he flew a trip with this airplane on April 15, 1946, to New York, probably to maintain his qualification on the type as by then he was on the DC-4s. Perhaps Bill saw him off and grabbed this shot. Those cords hanging down from the wings and tail are attached to wind gust locks, reminding the ground crew to remove them before departure. American’s factory-delivered Threes featured right-hand passenger doors.
The back of the photographic print reads, “Dad flying.” Again referring to his log books, I discovered that he only flew NC90435 in December 1946 and January 1947, so we have a rough time frame of when the picture was taken. Flagship St Paul was among a large batch of surplus military C-54s acquired by American and converted for passenger and freight use. It migrated to Air France in 1949.
Another American DC-4, taxiing on two engines, appears to be approaching Midway’s new terminal building, which opened in 1948 on the east side of the field.
The first American DC-6s began arriving in spring 1947. An early delivery, NC90709 appears about ready for departure with the ground agent looking towards the cockpit to signal all clear for engine start. Flagship Virginia had sleeping berth accommodations as evidenced by the smaller windows above the airline titles. Later relegated to Blue Ribbon Air Coach duties, this Six was one the last withdrawn from service, in 1966, and flew another 11 years with Mexican carrier SAESA.
Convair 240s began replacing DC-3s at American starting in 1948. NC94217, Flagship Providence, looks to be pulling into the same gate as the DC-4 above.
With rain showers in the area, Flagship Syracuse appears to be ready departure once its fuel is topped off. NC94224 later joined Trans-Texas and was upgraded with Rolls-Royce turboprops to become a Convair 600.
This negative was marked August 5, 1948, just two months after NC94238 joined the fleet. American’s Convair galleys were located aft and serviced through a door covered by the eagle symbol.
DC-4 N88881 saw short duty with Delta, from April 1948 until January 1949, when it was sold to Chicago & Southern. Close examination show the “C” has been removed from the original NC88881, a rule change that became effective June 14, 1948, so Bill’s picture was taken some time after that date. Delta merged with C&S in 1953, but the airplane had since been sold to Northwest Airlines and kept flying until 1970, with several carriers.
An original passenger DC-3, Braniff’s NC21774 caught Bill’s camera lens around mid-year 1948, along with the nose of a Capital DC-4.
To the right, a pristine shot of another “pure Three.” N28342 flew for more than 20 years with Delta.
I had to include this classic 1949 photo from the collection of my friend Harry Sievers, showing Northwest DC-4 NC95415, an ex-military C-54. My first airplane ride was that year, from Midway to Buffalo via Detroit, on an American DC-6. There’s one in the background; could it be the same airplane I rode?
Brother Bill used Dad’s pass benefits to the hilt. Like me, he usually took circuitous routes to go places, which often meant Convair 240 rides and pictures. N94219, Flagship New Haven will be boarding shortly, hopefully with an open seat for a non-rev. Thirty-third off the Convair assembly line, she wound up in South America with Cruzeiro do Sul and Aerolineas Colonia of Uruguay.
In July 1952, my cousin Johanne Brent came through Chicago, on her way home to California from Cleveland. That’s her on the right, next to me and my mother at Midway. Dad took the picture but, unfortunately, didn’t get a better shot of that C&S DC-3!
Follow up 50 years later, in Huntington Beach, California, with cousin Johanne on her 90th birthday.
Now we turn to some of brother Bob’s Midway pictures. This classic period piece, circa 1953, includes North Central DC-3 N15598, still wearing WIS on the wing from the former Wisconsin Central name, officially changed at the end of 1952. In the foreground sits a Cessna 195A of the original Midway Airlines, then an “air shuttle” operator.
December 2014 update: I received this note and photo regarding the Midway Airlines Cessna 195A and wanted to share it next to the referenced image.
I came across your website thanks to an old airline buddy of mine and found the pictorial history of Midway Airport quite interesting. I was particularly captivated by the photo that shows Cessna 195A, N1010D, that I owned from 1999–2001 (picture attached).
I knew that the original Midway Airlines was the first owner in 1950, when it came off the assembly line, but I’ve never seen a photo of it in its original colors. I did run into an old time once who had flown N1010D for Midway Airlines and offered to let him fly it again, but unfortunately he ‘flew west’ before we could arrange it.
N1010D is still flying today out of McChristy Airport, a private field in central Illinois.
–David J Graham, Crystal Lake, Illinois
Probably taken the same day, a pair of North Central DC-3s reflect the old Wisconsin Central livery. On the left, just below the window line is the inscription “Formerly Wisconsin Central,” while the airplane on the right still displays the old titles.
Although undated, I suspect Bob shot this picture soon after American’s DC-7s entered service in 1954. N315AA, Flagship Maryland, arrived in February of that year. In service barely five years, It left the fleet only a month after AA began flying 707s.
Here’s another of Bob’s without a timeline, this time “straight” DC-6 N90742. A Sky Chefs high-lift catering truck is seen descending after servicing Flagship Peoria. An American Airlines subsidiary from 1942, Sky Chefs managed airport restaurants and serviced several other airlines. LSG, a Lufthansa subsidiary, began a gradual acquisition of the company in 1993. Now known as LSG Sky Chefs, it has become the world’s largest provider of airline catering.
Just one more picture borrowed from Harry Sievers’ collection, a magnificent early morning study in November 1956, featuring Northwest, which operated DC-4s well into the early Jet Age. A pair pose along with a company Stratocruiser. Note the borrowed set of TWA steps, a not uncommon practice in the days when competing airline employees acted more like family.
My first airplane photograph, taken in 1955, shows part of United DC-6 N37533. Not very exciting, I admit, but a 13-year-old with a Brownie Hawkeye can’t be expected to produce prize winners.
My second shooting opportunity came on March 9, 1957, on an overcast day. United DC-7 N6314C, Mainliner Honolulu, appears to have just arrived, still wearing its delivery colors.
Another shot that day, reveals one of Northwest’s mighty Boeing 377 Stratocruisers, at the time the largest airliner in flight. The last passengers have deplaned and ground workers scurry to get ready for another load.
O’Hare Field opened for commercial flights on October 31, 1955. Originally known as Orchard Field, its construction began in 1942 to accommodate a 2-million-sq.-ft. wooden manufacturing plant, seen at the top of the picture. More than 600 Douglas C-54 military aircraft were built there; the first came off the assembly line in July 1943 and production continued until October 1945. Following the war, artifacts and 97 military aircraft, including the B-29 Enola Gay, were stored in the plant until they could be moved to a restoration center in Maryland, now known as Silver Hill.
Partially visible to the left is the original terminal building and on the right three Slick Airways C-46s are parked on an adjacent ramp. A new terminal complex, opened on January 16, 1962, ate up that space with one of its concourses wrapping around the pictured control tower. The old terminal was then used for international flights and eventually gave way to United’s airside gate facility. This image was given to me with only “Jim Seymour – Photographer” stamped on the back. I’m not sure but suspect it was taken in 1956 or early 1957. Thanks for this classic image, Jim!
On April 19, 1957, grade-school classmate Joe Tourtelot and I celebrated my 15th birthday (a day late) by riding a Chicago Helicopter Airways flight from O’Hare to Midway. There still wasn’t much going on at O’Hare on a rainy day, as evidenced by this view from the rooftop observation deck.
On the opposite side of the terminal I managed to snap American Airlines Convair 240 N94268, Flagship Potomac. Eight months later it was sold to Brazilian carrier Cruziero do Sul and renamed Arcturas, becoming PP-CFD. A heavy landing at Rio in 1965 sent it to the scrapyard.
Next to American sat this TWA Martin 202A, distinguished from the 404 model by small “eyebrow” cockpit windows and 9 passenger windows, versus 10 on the 404. N93212, Skyliner Hannibal (TWA once served Quincy-Hannibal), later flew for Allegheny, then Modern Air Transport and Southeast Airlines.
Here’s our S-55 helicopter at Midway Airport, about to depart again on a return flight to O’Hare.
Compare then-sleepy O’Hare with this scene at Midway, taken right after we got up to the observation deck; close-in parking! There’s a bit of light shadow in the lower left-hand corner but it does little to detract from such a classic scene.
The observation deck ran the length of Midway’s terminal building, Joe and I spent a few hours here watching airliners. Here’s Delta “Golden Crown” DC-7 N4872C, which stayed with its original owner until 1966.
Capital was the first U.S. airline to operate turboprops, with the Vickers Viscount, which was heavily deployed on the Chicago–Washington DC route. Although four-engined, it only carried 44 passengers. Model 745D N7412 was one of the early deliveries and less than 2 years old when photographed on the same day. I can still hear the shrill whine of those Rolls-Royce engines.
Following my family’s move to California in 1957, I came back to Chicago for for the first time, arriving on August 31, 1959. The next day, at the same gate where I shot the Stratocruiser more than two years earlier, Northwest DC-6B N570 had just arrived. Manual labor was utilized to push the steps up as the cargo hatches were opened below. An original NWA delivery, it was sold to Air Vietnam in 1962 and became a victim of the war seven years later, destroyed at Hue, South Vietnam.
An Eastern 649 Constellation is cut off by the concourse roof, but still a graceful lady.
The first North American carrier to operate Viscounts, Trans-Canada flew the type into Midway. Model 724, CF-TGJ was 41st off the assembly line and joined TCA on January 30, 1955.
September 1, 1959 happened to be inaugural day for Northwest’s Lockheed 188C Electras and I caught a few pictures of N121US at the gate from ramp level; it had just arrived from Minneapolis-St Paul on a turnaround trip. Here are two pictures put together, showing all the activity around the airplane. A group of pilots congregate while mechanics get some hands-on introduction to the Allison turboprop engines.
An aft view barely shows the N121US registration, just aft of the rear boarding door and below the window line. Sadly this same airplane crashed near Tell City, Indiana on March 17, 1960, after its right wing separated from the fuselage. It was the second such accident, the result of a weakened engine mount that caused catastrophic oscillations. Major structural changes were completed on all Electras.
On September 5, Joe Tourtelot and I spent time at Midway Airport, then retraced our 1957 helicopter trip, this time to O’Hare via Meigs Field. While waiting for our ‘copter, I photographed Electra Flagship Boston, N6105A, accepting passengers for a nonstop flight to New York-La Guardia.
Airports without Jetways were much more photographer-friendly as evidenced by this picture, taken out the door at an adjacent gate. Braniff International Convair 440 N3436 became a “muscle machine” in 1967 with the installation of Allison turboprops, just like those on the Electra, and joined Allegheny as N5825.
Over at O’Hare International, I got my first look at a Boeing 707, “Straight-pipe” 707-131 N739TW. Although Midway was still dominant, ORD was beginning to grow rapidly with the advent of jets, on its way to taking the lion’s share of Chicago’s air traffic.
Thanks to TWA Passenger Relations Rep Rudy Kacer, I got an interior tour of N739TW. The original plan was for 5-across seating in first class, but at the last minute the airlines went to 4-abreast, so a table replaced the middle seat, as evidenced in this picture, on the right.
Among the jets, Capital was still operating venerable DC-4s. N88851 began life as an Army Air Force C-54 and was acquired by Capital predecessor Pennsylvania Central in 1946. Capitaliner Erie and the other remaining Fours were retired in 1961 following Capital’s merger with United Air Lines.
A BOAC “Whispering Giant” Britannia has just arrived from London via Montreal and Detroit. Note the the ground staff in white caps, very snappy! To the left is an Eastern DC-7B.
I got back out to O’Hare two days later, armed with a roll of color print film, and headed straight for the spacious observation deck.
Continental Airlines provided formidable competition to American and TWA with its 707 “Golden Jets.” While one stands by in the background, another is pushed back for departure. N70774, in the foreground, was later sold to TWA.
Next door, Capital turboprop Viscount 745D N7447, this one with weather radar, awaits its passengers.
Further to the left, TWA 707-131 N733TW gets the full ground treatment, with fuel trucks under both wings. Ahead of the rear stairs, a tanker loads demineralized water, to be injected into the engines during takeoff for added power. Under the tail, a lavatory service truck appears to have already done its job. That open land behind the airplane now houses a good portion of O’Hare’s current terminal complex.
When TWA began nonstops between Chicago and Paris a year earlier, its luxurious Lockheed 1649A “Jetstreams” needed O’Hare’s longer runways. N7316C, seen here, is being completely restored by Lufthansa Technik and will fly the European airshow circuit in another year or two. I was lucky to photograph what will become the last flying example of this historic airplane.
On the terminal’s opposite side, one of Northwest’s ultra-long range DC-7Cs rests between assignments. N290 was lost four years later, when it went down west of Annette Island in Alaska.
It was getting busy at O’Hare when I shot the last frame.
Coming home via Los Angeles on my first jet flight, I was lined up at the gate when TWA through-Flight 29, 707-131 N736TW, arrived from Pittsburgh. I’d have gotten a better picture from the observation deck but there were no assigned seats for local-boarding passengers. Queuing up netted me seat 18A, just aft of the wing.
In September 1960, I came back for another visit and, naturally, headed for the Midway observation deck. By now I had my first 35mm camera and had begun shooting color slides. Eastern Electra N5527 appears ready to depart. The venerable turboprop flew in Mexico for Aeroservicicios de California then became a freighter with several operators, soldiering on for another 40-plus years.
Looking in the other direction, an Ozark DC-3 faces the camera with American Electras in the background. American and TWA aircraft can be seen in the background, parked at company hangars.
A Northwest DC-7C snakes between other airplanes, approaching its assigned gate.
Double-parked airliners were common at Midway, as evidenced by this shot showing a pair of Capital Viscounts, two Delta Convair 440s and a leased Capital DC-6B in what would be the airlines’s final livery.
Over at O’Hare on September 10, I caught American Electra Flagship Tulsa before attempting to board Flight 65, a brand-new 720, for Phoenix, but did not get on. N6110A was one of several that migrated to VARIG in South America. It was damaged beyond repair on landing at Porto Alegre, Brazil in February 1970.
Time was running out for N88864, Capitaliner Birmingham, which joined Capital in 1946 when the airline was still known as Pennsylvania Central. It was withdrawn following the United merger less than a year later.
Following my unsuccessful attempt to depart for home from O’Hare, I rushed over to Midway in time to catch an American DC-7B nonstop to Phoenix. Its wingtip is visible in this slightly blurred picture of N7444, which I believe was the only Capital Viscount to have been painted in the updated livery before the United merger.
Headed for Chicago again in July 1961, I had to route via New York because of a canceled flight from LAX to ORD. Returning to O’Hare on July 28, only two weeks after United inaugurated Caravelle service between IDL and ORD, my American 720B, Flight 57, left Idlewild after N1001U, Ville de Toulouse, but we beat him to Chicago with enough spare time for me to shoot its gate arrival from the observation deck.
A variety of airlines crowded into the old terminal, anxiously waiting the move into new quarters.
Back at O’Hare on July 31, I caught a few shots before heading for San Diego. TWA 749A Connie N6026C is serviced at the end of the concourse. The background in this and the following pictures shows the new terminal complex under construction.
On the opposite side of the concourse, TWA SuperJet Convair 880 N812TW swings into the gate, with DC-8s in three different airline liveries behind it, plus Northwest 720B to the right.
Two American aircraft at close-in gates include DC-7B N334AA and Electra N6134A. Ironically, N334AA was later worn by the American 767 that crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
N7501A was the first 707 built for American. Later converted to turbo-fan power, the Boeing taxis out for takeoff.
After running out of slide film, I caught American Convair 240 N94264 in black & white. Flagship Poconos had already been fitted with “nipple-nose” radar.
During a quick Christmas 1961 trip, it was bitterly cold in Chicago, limiting my time on the observation deck. The morning sun didn’t favor shooting from this point, but I still got a couple of pictures, including TWA 707-331 Intercontinental N764TW. In the background, the new terminal was nearing completion. Ozark DC-3s and a TWA Connie are visible in the background.
At the next gate, American’s Electra II Flagship, N6125A is about to depart. Flagship Oklahoma began flying for Aerocondor Colombia in 1969 and crashed into a mountain after take off from Bogota on August 27, 1973.
Here are a few 1962 O’Hare shots, this one from brother Bob. Lake Central DC-3 N25672 sits on the H Concourse with an American DC-6 in the background.
My shot from nearly the same spot on the H Concourse observation deck reveals American’s Convair 990 Astrojet N5612, not yet upgraded to “990A” status but nevertheless considered state of the art at the time, especially compared with the vintage DC-3 it is about to park next to.
With a Chicago Helicopter S-58C in the background, American Electra N6107A pulls in to an adjacent gate. “Electra II” titles were added after the airplanes went through modifications to strengthen the wings and engine mounts, following wing-separation accidents in 1959 and 1960.
That same summer I flew into O’Hare, on July 30 from Detroit, aboard an American Electra just a few minutes ahead of N6130A, Flagship San Francisco, which I caught on film as it approached the opposite side of H Concourse.
Bob photographed United’s “Men Only” Caravelle flight just after its arrival from New York-Idlewild. Operated by N1017U, model VIR named Ville de Cannes left United for Transavia Holland in November 1970. Wish I had better shots of Eastern’s beautiful livery as seen in the background on a DC-8-21.
Rather than conventional deplaning, businessmen and their briefcases disembarked via the aft ventral airstairs.
Sturdy Convair 240s were still in service across the Eastern United States, as evidenced by my shot of N94279, Flagship Wolverine State. What appears to be some kind of bar ahead of the cockpit windows was known as a “duck cutter,” to protect against bird strikes, the idea being that it would literally cut the offender in half and deflect its impact from the windows.
North Central occupied a concourse devoid of Jetways, which would not have fit these Convair-Liners nor the DC-3.
Another print from my collection was simply marked “1963,” with no photo credit. It shows the airport’s growth in dramatic fashion. The Y-shaped concourse in the foreground contained one of two observation decks, with the second on the similarly shaped structure to the left. Many of my pictures were taken from these locations. The third Y concourse at the top is the original terminal, by then used mainly by international carriers. Look closely and you’ll find the same control tower that appears in the earlier-posted 1955 aerial shot.
I flew to Syracuse, New York, on January 31, 1963 to attend my Uncle Jack’s funeral, with a stopover at O’Hare. American Convair 990 Flight 968, operating with N5615, brought me from San Diego in the record time of 2 hours, 48 minutes. A day later, the same flight was completed in 2 hours, 41 minutes. The Convair is seen departing for New York, its final destination.
Moving in the opposite direction, American’s 720B “Astrojet” N7547A taxis to its assigned gate. Visible in the background is the old Douglas plant, described in an earlier photo caption. It was torn down by 1967.
Retreating from the frigid, open-air observation deck, I had to shoot through the window to get this Braniff DC-7C, parked at the last gate before entering the old terminal.
Eastern and Continental shared this concourse, and there’s that original control tower again.
For many years, Trans-Canada, then Air Canada, occupied Gate G-1, with TWA using the other 11 gates on the concourse. Vanguard 952’s CF-TKD No. 4 engine begins turning as the big turboprop comes to life; only 44 were built for two customers, TCA and British European Airways.
It appears that United Viscount 745D N7413 was receiving maintenance, with a mechanic having climbed through an emergency exit and out onto the wing. Look closely and you’ll see the tail of a Braniff Electra and a Continental Boeing, plus a lineup of Eastern airplanes and the nose of another Continental jet, with that airline’s unusual, tubular loading bridge in use.
Another United Viscount is about to turn into an adjacent gate. Eighteen months later, an in-flight fire brought down N7405 near Parrottsville, Tennessee, with the loss of all 39 passengers and crew.
We’ve seen a similar shot of an American Electra in this same gate. What makes this one unique is use of a Jetway. After extending the integral staircase, visible below the fuselage, the loading bridge is utilized, most welcome on cold winter days. N6126A, Flagship Tucson, went to McCulloch International in 1970.
That summer, brother Bob caught Chicago Helicopter S-58C Helicopter, about ready to depart for Midway Airport. In addition to the American Electra II, Delta’s gate area is occupied by a pair of DC-8s, a Convair 880 and two DC-6s, one departing.
As a rookie TWA employee in 1964, I wasn’t yet eligible for passes; we had to wait a full year for them! But brother Bob came through O’Hare in November and got these two shots in the low sun. With the tail of a Continental Golden Jet 720B on the opposite side of the concourse, Boeing 720-025 N8705E displays Eastern’s fairly recent “hockey stick” livery. It left EAL in 1966 for Conair of Scandinavia and soldiered on with several subsequent owners until 1991.
Eastern’s first Electra, N5501, wore the small company title on the tail for a short time. It wound up converted for military use with the Argentine Navy after flying for SAM Colombia.
It was 1966 before I did any more shooting at ORD. Here Delta Convair 880 N8807E is pushed back for departure. One of the observation decks is visible on the left and appears to be doing a fairly brisk business.
On my 24th birthday, I photographed a busy North Central ramp, similar to an earlier shot, this time in color. The carrier’s aircraft tail logo featured a symbol often called Herman the blue goose, but in fact Herman was a duck, indeed a Mallard duck! At the forefront sits Convair 440 N4804C, acquired used from Delta four years earlier. Converted to CV-580 turboprop standards in 1968, it was last reported to be in Canada with a private operator.
Here are four pictures I took at O’Hare in 1967, all on June 10 during a short airport layover and all through windows. Barely three months old at the time, a Braniff International “quick-change” 727-27C has been pushed back for departure as ground workers disconnect the tow bar. The airline’s End of the Plain Plane advertising campaign that debuted in November 1965 resulted in striking liveries in a variety of colors. Wearing what was called “the jellybean look” by some, N7279 received the bright orange treatment. It went to UPS 14 years later, and served there for 20 years. That American Airlines Boeing on the right is parked at the international terminal, inbound from Mexico City.
At the adjacent gate, a Braniff ground agent flags in 720-027 N7079, seen wearing the beige livery, which doesn’t show very well on this overcast day.
TWA’s Gate G-2 was originally used for Constellations and not fitted with a Jetway, thus becoming a logical parking spot for DC-9-10s that replaced the propliners. The rest of the concourse featured parallel parking for dual boarding through the forward and aft doors on Convair 880s and Boeing 707s; one each appear in the background. N1051T was seventh off the assembly line, delivered to TWA in March 1966. She left for Texas International in 1974 and wound up flying for Mexican carriers Aerocalifornia and TAESA until 1999, a tribute to such a sturdy airliner.
It’s late in the day and the observation deck crowd has thinned out. Below, BAC 1-11 “400 Astrojet” N5031 sits dormant. The British-built twin-jets were acquired to replace the last of American’s DC-6s but didn’t stay around very long. This example left after less than three years and was converted for corporate use, including sports and entertainment charters.
On October 30, 1968, while waiting to board TWA 727 Flight 339 for Phoenix and Los Angeles with Captain Bill Proctor in command, I caught this low-sun image of DC-8-51 N803E, still wearing full Delta Air Lines titles. Another long-serving airliner, it flew for more than 40 years, ending up as a freighter with Fine Air. Note the horizontal Delta widgets on the two DC-9s in the background, later turned upright to match the rest of the aircraft fleet.
While waiting for our departure runway, we passed by FH-227B N4216, used by Ozark mostly on short-haul flights. It migrated to a number of other carriers including Air New England and Britt in the US.
On an adjacent taxiway, TWA “straight-pipe” 707-131 N745TW joins the queue. My logbooks says there were ATC delays of nearly an hour that evening.
Preparing for widebody jets, TWA began modifying the G concourse to accommodate 747s on the end gates, resulting in nose-in parking and the end of dual Jetway use. Construction is under way in this December 1969 picture by my good friend, the late Jeff Burch. It also exposes DC-9-15 N1053T with a ‘W’ accidentally added to the end of the registration during repaint. It reportedly went unnoticed for several weeks before correction!
I rode the domestic portion of TWA’s 747 route-proving flight, which arrived at O’Hare from San Francisco in the late afternoon on February 4, 1970. This picture was taken from the upper deck as we taxied to the TWA hangar. Look at the cars stopped with people standing outside to watch us as we passed United’s hangar complex.
The next day we flew on to New York. 747-131 N93103 appears ready to depart on a frigid afternoon as a United 737 climbs away in the background.
I transferred to Chicago with TWA in April 1972 (see http://jonproctor.net/1972-my-kind-of-town/), resulting in better ramp access for O’Hare picture taking . On July 11, TWA’s second L-1011, N11002, is pushed back for its inaugural flight to Los Angeles. The airline’s TriStar service began June 25, between St Louis and LAX.
Meanwhile, TWA was operating a daily ORD-Las Vegas roundtrip plus a London nonstop with 747s. N93114 was one of a batch sold to the government of Iran in 1975 and modified as a freighter.
On the opposite side of the G concourse, United 747-122 N4710U looks brand new, even though it’s already two years old. Pan Am acquired the jumbo in 1985 and it ended life flying packages for Federal Express as N850FT.
Across the field, company DC-10-10 N1811 rests between assignments. It had been in service 10 years with plenty of life left. FedEx acquired the widebody jet in 1998. Wearing N372FE and flying freight, it later became a two-pilot MD-10F.
Seen resting on American’s hangar ramp June 17, 1972, by-then veteran 707-123B N7520A flanks DC-10-10 N108AA. The 707, delivered nearly 13 years earlier, later flew for United African Airlines as 5A-DHO and -DHM. Broken up at Brussels in 1984, its cockpit survives at the Technik Museum, Sinsheim, Germany.
Over at TWA’s hangar, 727-31C N891TW awaits its next assignment. TWA de-activated the quick-change feature on its eight QCs after less-than-stellar results with the concept. They were among the first Boeing tri-jets to leave the fleet, sold in a single batch to UPS.
At the TWA hangar in March 1973, 747-131 N93119 looks about ready to head for the terminal. Sadly, she ended life as Flight 800 on July 17, 1996.
After operating an all fan-jet DC-8 fleet for several years, Delta inherited seven older DC-8-33s from Pan Am, including N8038A, the former N803PA, handed over in December 1968. All were withdrawn in 1974.
In service barely two months, L-1011 N31014 arrives in the late in the day on September 5, 1973, operating as Flight 780 nonstop from Las Vegas.
Flight attendants began a strike against TWA on November 4 that lasted 45 days. Among the aircraft grounded at O’Hare was L-1011 N41012, which sat idle at the hangar with a 727.
On December 20, 1972, Delta Convair 880 N8807E (also pictured earlier), cleared to cross an active O’Hare runway in error, was struck by a North Central DC-9. Picked clean for spare parts and devoid of titles, the remaining hulk sits behind Delta’s hangar in February 1974, awaiting the inevitable cutter’s torch.
I had to cross an active taxiway to reach employee parking at the TWA hangar, seen in the background, and stopped to photograph American DC-10-10 N110AA as it headed for AA’s hangar in April. That same month saw the last of TWA’s 880s fly into retirement; two are already out of service and parked parked on the left. Ironically, this is the DC-10 that crashed shortly after takeoff from O’Hare on May 25, 1979 with the loss of all aboard. US-registered DC-10s were grounded shortly thereafter.
In November 1974 the first TWA airplane to wear this updated livery was flown to O’Hare from the Kansas City overhaul base and scheduled to operate Flight 770 to London, but a problem with the No. 3 engine (seen with nacelle fairing removed) resulted in it sitting idle at the hangar for a few days while awaiting replacement parts. I was back working in New York by then, but flew in and took a few black & white shots at this spot. However, Jeff Burch caught 747-131 N53111 in color with nearly perfect sun.
The updated colors were generally well received, but it was thought that the hollow TRANS WORLD titles did not stand out well. As a result, they were “thickened” a bit. The difference is apparent when comparing the earlier shot with that of 747-131 N93118, which I photographed on the opposite side of TWA’s O’Hare hangar in March 1975. Both jumbos were sold to the Imperial Iranian Air Force in 1975.
Another fresh delivery from Palmdale, California, L-1011 N81027 caught my lens on October 30, 1975, just a month after entering service. For whatever reason, our marketing people decided to delete the ‘L’ from L-1011 on the No. 2 engine intake. Why the TriStar didn’t arrive in the newer livery is questionable; perhaps it had been painted by Lockheed before the changeover occurred.
We seem to be spending a lot of time at the TWA hangar, but shooting opportunities there were generally unimpeded. Those more visible titles show up on N11003, the first TriStar to receive the updated livery, as seen in March 1977.
I was doing my tour of duty with Saudia (http://jonproctor.net/overseas-assignment/) in May 1978 when Jeff Burch photographed Hughes Airwest 727-2M7 N725RW pulling into Gate G-5, a charter flight ground-handled by TWA. It amused me to see an airline principally owned by Howard Hughes (who died in 1976) linking up with his old company so many years after the fact.
TWA had been operating 707s for 20 years by the time I shot N793TW on pushback. This 707-331B still had five years of duty before its sale to Boeing Military Aircraft Company where a large number of its brethren were stripped of engines and other components for the USAF KC-135 tanker fleet upgrade program, then scrapped at Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona.
During the summer of 1980 I had several trips with O’Hare “practice layovers,” sitting for multiple hours during the day, which gave me some photographing opportunities.
With Delta right across from TWA’s G concourse, I had a clean shot of 727-232 N4111DA, about to turn into the gate. The Boeing tri-jets wore the airline’s livery well, don’t you think? It looks especially attractive here, before black anti-glare paint was added to the nose crown and around the cockpit windows.
When TWA carried Pope John Paul II around the country during his October 1979 visit, his specially configured 727-231, along with two press charter airplanes, wore solid TRANS WORLD titles in an effort to provide more visual publicity for the airline. The 747 that took him back to Rome was also so painted. This led to the decision to fill in the lettering fleet wide, as seen on 727-231 N24343 as it pulls into Gate G-5.
Republic Airlines, the result of the 1979 merger of Southern and North Central, was in the throes of repainting the combined fleet when I got these pictures. Convair 580 N969N has a interesting history. Built a -440, it was delivered to the Royal Canadian Air Force and converted to a turboprop CV-540 with Napier Eland turboprop engines. Four years later Allison 501s were fitted, producing a Convair 580 variant for sale to North Central, in 1967. N969N migrated to Republic, then Northwest and later Air Resorts.
Originally with Eastern Air Lines, DC-9-14 N8906E joined Southern in 1971 and appears here in that carrier’s final livery but with Republic titles. Looking a bit tired, it was hopefully on the short list for repaint. The airplane was part of the Northwest Airlines acquisition of RC in 1986. Its tail number was finally struck from the US registry in 1998, some 32 years after first entering service.
The first full Republic livery, seen on ex-Delta DC-9-14 N3309L, retained the beloved Herman the duck, a reflection of North Central’s management that retained control of the merged company. Number 24 off the Long Beach assembly line, this short Nine also became part of Northwest and flew until 1992.
Photographed from the end of the G Concourse, DC-9-51 N783NC about to turn into the gate area. Delivered only two years earlier, it received the new treatment rather quickly.
707-123B N7581A was one in a batch of later standard-body models to join American, between 1967 and 1969. Like so many TWA 707s, it went to Davis-Monthan for parts and scrapping, in 1981.
DC-10-10 N1838U came by just in time for a final picture as I began running out of daylight. Delivered in 1979, its entire 20-year flying life was with United.
My last picture taking at O’Hare occurred on August 2, 1984, only a handful of shots. By then TWA’s hub had been pretty much dismantled in favor of St Louis, which will be chronicled on a future photography page.
I always liked United’s stylized U “tulip” livery, which struck me as crisp and attractive, although probably hard to keep clean with all that white paint. A 727 launch customer, United operated one of the largest Boeing tri-jet fleets. As with the DC-10 pictured above, N7021U’s entire career was spent with the airline, nearly 28 years, ending in a scrapping yard at Shelton, Washington.
Not showing its age, 5-year United veteran N7450U, a stretched 727-222 variant, turns onto a taxiway en route for its departure runway. It was stored in 1998 and flew with the resurrected Pan Am II as N346PA, then Bolivian carrier AeroSur, which went out of business in 2012.
Boeing 747-122 N4720U was christened William A Patterson on delivery in recognition of the company’s long-standing president, although the name doesn’t appear in this picture. One of 19 early models acquired by United, it was delivered in January 1972 and initially flew routes as long as Los Angeles–Honolulu and as short as Chicago–Newark. Another one-owner airplane, the jumbo was retired in 1997.
Mississippi Valley Airlines was one of the few US carriers to operate Fokker-built F.27s. This -500 variant, N334MV, was delivered new to the regional carrier in November 1980 and migrated to Air Wisconsin when the two carriers merged in 1985. It was last reported in 2003, wearing a New Zealand registration.
We’re back to Republic, ending with a picture of DC-9-15 “Rapid Change” N9352, which began with Continental Airlines in 1967 as N8911, flying passengers by day and freight by night. Coming to Republic via the Hughes Airwest merger in 1980, it was relegated strictly to passenger service. N9352 later passed through to Northwest and was withdrawn from service in 1993, then went on to serve other carriers.
A Nostalgic Return to Midway Airport
Flying to Orlando for my brother Dick’s memorial service on June 11, 2013, I took advantage of an itinerary that included Southwest’s new Spokane–Chicago Midway nonstop service, albeit with a 2:15 connection. However the chance to fly through my old domicile airport after so many years could not be passed up. Landing to the Northwest, we glide over the fence with the downtown Chicago skyline visible in the distance.
The familiar American Airlines hangars, now occupied by Southwest, brought back 60 years of memories.
My good friend Phil Brooks is a Chicago-based flight dispatcher for United and met me as I stepped off Flight 4446 from Spokane.
The generous connecting time allowed for a visit to Harry Caray’s restaurant in the terminal.
Thanks for enjoying dinner with me and helping the time pass quickly, Phil!
For more airport pictures go to the following:
Los Angeles: http://jonproctor.net/lax-through-the-years/
Airports Out West: http://jonproctor.net/airports-out-west/