Simanaitis Says

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BOOSTING FLIGHT—WITH FLAPPERS AND MORE PART 1

AEROMARINE AIRWAYS RECOGNIZED early on the marketing potential of aeroplanes. In 1920, Aeromarine inaugurated an international flight schedule, among the world’s first for heavier-than-air craft. (Dutch KLM beat it only by months; Count Zeppelin’s 1909 DELAG was airship only.) In 1921, Aeromarine showed an in-flight movie. From 1920 to 1923, the airline had innovative in-flight messaging. And throughout the early 1920s, Aeromarine was the cat’s pajamas for flappers showing their style.

The Aeromarine Website offers information today of this aviation pioneer. In fact, more than enough for Parts 1 and 2 here at SimanaitisSays today and tomorrow.

The 1920 Aeromarine 75 was a civilian conversion of the surplus U.S. Navy Curtiss F5L, an American-built version of the R.A.F. Felixstowe F5L, which in turn had evolved from the Curtiss H-12.

The Aeromarine 75 accommodated 11 passengers and a crew of three. The pilot and assistant pilot/mechanic rode in an open cockpit midway in the fuselage of this twin-engine biplane. The third crewman was a steward/bowman.

Power came from a pair of Liberty L-12As, water-cooled V-12s operating in tractor (i.e., not pusher) fashion, each producing 400 hp.

Ten Aeromarine 75 aeroplanes are catalogued at The Aeromarine Website. The first four, christened in 1920, were the Santa Maria, Pinta, Niña and Columbus. The Santa Maria and Pinta inaugurated Aeromarine’s Key West/Havana service on November 1, 1920.

Aeromarine flights left Key West at 10:30 a.m. with return trips at 3:30 p.m. According to Chronicle of Aviation, by M.J. Armitage et al, Jl Intl Pub, 1992, “Passengers who used to be decanted from the train only to wait eight hours for the steamer to leave on its overnight voyage can now step straight onto the flying boat and get to Havana in about 90 minutes.”

The Santa Maria in Havana Harbour, with the ramparts of the Fortalez de la Cabaña in the background. This and the following images from The Aeromarine Website

An Icy Aeromarine Adventure. Another of the Aeromarine 75s, the Ponce de Léon, had an adventure on the year of its christening, 1921. Attempting to set down in a frigid Raritan Bay separating Staten Island from New Jersey, the craft got stuck in the ice. The Ponce de Léon had to be dynamited out, though it survived to start service in Key West within a month.

The Ponce de Léon, near Aeromarine’s Keyport, New Jersey, manufacturing facility, January 1921.

Tomorrow in Part 2, we’ll learn of an Aeromarine 75 fitted for the Arctic Circle, another with inflight entertainment, an Aeromarine mystery, and a whole bunch of 1920s flappers aloft everywhere from Cleveland and Detroit to Key West. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2019

One comment on “BOOSTING FLIGHT—WITH FLAPPERS AND MORE PART 1

  1. jlalbrecht64
    January 6, 2019

    The 90-minute flight vs overnight steamer sentence got me thinking about my career. The internet helps a lot in day to day business, but in my line of work (engineering consulting), there is no substitute for regular site visits. International flights mean I can actually have a private life with some regularity rather than decades of moving from one project to another.

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