Lady Skywriter Celebrates Northwest Airlines
and the Golden Age of Commercial Aviation.
Once upon a time there was an airline ~ known over the years as Northwest Airways, Northwest Airlines, Northwest Orient Airlines, and NWA. She had dazzling flagships, including the Ford Trimotor in her early days and the Boeing B-377 Stratocruiser from the 1950s, pictured above. These were the days before deregulation, bankruptcies, mergers, and passenger screening. Back then air routes were doled out by the federal government and competition between airlines focused on other issues: passenger comfort, quality of food and exceptional service. A fairy tale? Sounds like it when compared to today’s passenger experience.
Northwest Airways began humbly in 1926 as an airmail route from Minneapolis-St. Paul’s Speedway Airport to Chicago. The airline was known to the U. S. Post Office as C.A.M. 9 (Contract Air Mail No. 9.) Although it is believed that an occasional passenger hitched a ride to Chicago on C.A.M. 9, Northwest Airways’ first official passenger was Byron Webster, a St. Paul businessman, on July 5,1927. In 1931 service to Duluth began. No airport? No worries. Two amphibious aircraft were acquired and flights landed in Duluth Harbor. By 1933 the airline extended its reach to Spokane and Seattle with both Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart helping to promote the new route. In 1934, the year Lady Skywriter was born, new Minnesota owners reincorporated the airline as Northwest Airlines, Inc.
From the beginning Northwest was peopled with colorful characters and flew magnificent airplanes. Its history is written with great stories, right up until the disappearance of the famed red tail in early 2010. After 84 years of innovation and growth our beloved airline was no more ~ its familiar logo painted over by its new owner, Delta Air Lines, now the biggest airline in the world.
So we celebrate her memory by telling and re-telling her stories and printing her photographs, right here!