Northwest Airlines memorabilia becomes big with collectors

Two years after being absorbed by Delta, Northwest Airlines has become a hot ticket again among airline collectors. Airline museums in Minnesota and Atlanta are seeking artifacts from Northwest and all things NWA-related are selling on eBay, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“It was the airline everyone loved to hate, but you know what? People are starting to miss it,” said Bruce Kitt of the NWA History Centre in Bloomington, Minnesota. The curator of the Delta museum is seeking NWA items such as children’s airline wings that represent the “passenger experience.”

The airline once jokingly referred to as “Northworst” joins other defunct airlines such as Pan Am, TWA, and the Concorde (technically a part of still-flying Air France but a big draw for aviation enthusiasts) as brands with hotly-demanded memorabilia. “Airline collectors are a dying breed, but if you go to any shows, the strangest one I’ve ever seen is a guy in a bright yellow baseball cap that says, ‘I buy barf bags,’ ” Kitt said. “Here’s a guy who just collects motion-sickness bags, including the first ones from the 1920s.” Airplane models, brochures, and safety cards are popular items, and silverware and china (they weren’t always plastic) are often for sale at New York’s Fishs Eddy home store.

If you’re visiting Minneapolis, or just flying through MSP Airport, you can visit the NWA History Centre via light rail to Bloomington’s 34th Street Station. The Delta Air Transport Heritage Museum south of Atlanta is free to visit with special hours to view aircraft interiors.

Do you collect airline items, from current or defunct airlines? Tell us about your finds.

Photo courtesy Flickr user Ted Kerwin.

Pan Am returning to the air as “Pan Am – the series”

The Pan Am name may have gone down in history with painful memories of the Lockerbie terror attack, but the iconic airline has roots that stretch back to the very early days of commercial aviation.

The airline that was such an important part of history may be making a comeback – in a TV show. ABC has commissioned a pilot for “Pan Am – the series”, and its development is being spearheaded by executive producer Nancy Hult Ganis – who flew Pan Am as a stewardess in 1968.

The days of flying back in the 60’s and 70’s were fantastic – flying was still glamorous, flight attendants were picked based off their skills and looks, and the experience of long haul international travel was still special.

No date has been announced for when you can expect the pilot, but the producers already revealed that it will be an anti-Mad Men – showing women breaking out of their traditional roles. For more on the upcoming series, head on over to our friends at AOL Travel News.

[Photo: Flickr/swbkcb]

Delta set to expand at JFK, tear down Pan Am terminal

The battle for New York’s John F. Kennedy airport continued in earnest this week, as Delta Airlines announced plans to remodel and expand it’s currently leased footprint.

With current operations now taking place in both terminal 4 and the former Pan Am Worldport (aka, terminal 3), the airline plans to expand all of their operations to terminal 3 with a full remodel, all set to be complete by 2013. The somewhat legendary yet sorely outdated Worldport will be demolished and used for taxiway and aircraft positioning.

Delta’s remodel at T4 will play a key role in expanding their presence at JFK, both in integration of passengers, gates and operations and in increased capacity for a stronger flight network out of the largest city in the nation. For New Yorkers, the good news is that you’ll have better access to Delta’s cities around the globe. In turn, competition from other carriers may also mean lower prices across the board.

For everyone else, more flights from the delay-prone New York corridor means that we may experience more trickle-down delays from the east coast.

Expect operations at terminal 3 to wind down as the year comes to a close. Fans of the nostalgic Worldport best book your tickets and bring your cameras while there’s still time.

Man reconstructs entire Pan Am first class cabin in LA condo

Airline nostalgia is a hobby of many hobbyists out in the travel world. I know that I’ve got an unwrapped deck of NWA playing cards from a 747 flight before the airline merged with Delta, and others I’ve met have collected things ranging from silverware to barf bags to life vests.

Never, however, have I seen someone collect an entire first class cabin.

As it turns out, it can be done. Anthony Toth, a sales director at United Airlines has been working on his mock-up of a Pan-Am first class cabin for twenty years. Reconstructed in his Los Angeles garage with original vintage and reconstructed materials, the model is a near replica of the Pan-Am cabins from yore, down to the flatware, seat covers and almonds.

Right now he uses the $50,000 investment to host friends and colleagues from United, but some day Mr Toth hopes to turn the mock-up into a museum. With the broad legacy that Pan-Am has left upon the current airline world, it would be a shame for it to be used otherwise.

Check out the Wall St. Journal link below for actual pictures.

Pan Am hijacker caught after 41 years

On November 24th 1968, Luis Armando Soltren and two others, hijacked Pan Am flight 281. Using guns and knives, Soltren and his accomplices forced their way into the cockpit and demanded that the plane land in Cuba.

Of course, back in that era, hijackings were a little more common than they are nowadays, but that does not mean the crime was easily forgotten. For 40 years, Soltren lived in Cuba, away from his wife and two sons. His two partners in crime were arrested back in the mid 70’s, and each served their time.

Soltren decided that being the number one fugitive on the FBI list for 41 years was long enough, and his deteriorating health forced him to surrender and return to the United States. He was accompanied by security personnel, and was arrested when he landed at JFK airport.

He’ll have to answer to a court today, and chances are his old age and poor health won’t get him much leniency in sentencing – he committed a horrible crime, and probably changed the lives of all those involved on his flight. It took a State Department chartered plane to get them back to the US.