Amazing U.S. Map Given to the First Transcontinental Air Travelers

David Rumsey Map Collection

If you were lucky enough to be one of the first people to experience commercial transcontinental air travel in 1929, then you were lucky enough to receive this map.

On the backside of the map is a a weather diagram, a “Certificate of Flight” and a flight log for the passenger to fill out. At 14×30 inches, these days the map would have made for a beautiful poster, but it also folded down to be more pocket-friendly.According to Slate, the map was manufactured by Transcontinental Air Transport Inc, which was founded in 1928 and built an image off of the glamorous world of air travel. But as a matter of fact, people that flew weren’t actually flying completely transcontinental; passengers actually took a train to Columbus, Ohio, then another from Waynoka, Oklahoma to Clovis, New Mexico. But in between, they flew in Ford Tri-Motor planes, decked out with enough wicker seats to seat 10 to 12 people. In fact, people took the train at night and flew during the day so they could see all the amazing sights from the air. All in all, the trip took 48 hours.

This specific map, ​catalogued by the David Rumsey Map Collection, shows that Mason Menefee made the trip starting April 25, 1930, from Los Angeles to St. Louis.

I you visit the map’s page you can zoom in and out to see it in detail, and will make you wish that you too would get something just as cool when you travel.

Passing the time on your long flight

Unless you’re like Gadling blogger Grant, who might have been genetically engineered by Boeing, it’s inevitable you’re going to get bored on a flight sooner or later. This is especially true on transcontinental flights, where you’re guaranteed to be stuck inside your cylindrical prison for at least 6 hours if not longer. No matter how many awful in-flight movies, magazines and episodes of The Wire on your iPod you have to amuse yourself, you can still expect to get bored eventually.

For the gaming-obsessed bloggers at Joystiq, the tedium of these long flights is just an opportunity to invent some creative ways to pass the time. If you’re desperate to hold back the boredom (or just cannot sleep on planes like me) consider the following (questionable) game suggestions:

  • BING! – This game only requires a bag of airline pretzels or snack mix. Start with three pretzels and set the rest to the side as the “house.” Each round bet one, two or three pretzels on which side of the airplane cabin will be first to ring their flight attendant call button. If you guess right, take as many pretzels as you bet from the house. If you lose, put the pretzels back. Keep playing until you’ve either won or lost all the pretzels from the middle.
  • In-flight Catalog Scavenger Hunt – As one Joystiq commenter suggests, compete against a friend to find the most ridiculous items from the in-flight catalog. The person to find the item with highest cost-to-uselessness ratio wins. Keep your eyes peeled for the remote control dragonfly.
  • Cellphone standoff – As the plane begins to land, try to guess the number of cellphones that will be turned on/make noise between the moment the wheels touch the ground to when the seatbelt light is turned off.

We don’t necessarily suggest playing these games unless you’re desperate, but with flight delays and long waits on the tarmac all but standard these days, it’s always good to have a few backup options. What do you do to amuse yourself on long flights?