The Timetable Chronicles: Ozark Air Lines (Part 1)
Today I again have the privilege to introduce a new Guest Editor to the World Airline News. My friend David Keller has joined the team joining Dave Nichols, Joel Chusid and Jay Selman.
David’s columns will look at the colorful histories of the world airlines. Today, the first article features Ozark Air Lines, the historic airline that was based in “David’s backyard”. We will bring each airline “back to life again” with period photos, timetables, route maps and logos.
David grew up (and he has basically lived his entire life) in the shadow of Lambert/St. Louis International Airport. David received his first airline timetable “by accident” almost 40 years ago. David was calling the airlines to request photos, but Allegheny sent him a timetable instead. David couldn’t get enough of it, and started calling every airline with a toll-free number to request timetables!
David now has a collection that numbers over 10,000 unique timetables, plus smaller collections of postcards, playing cards, ticket jackets and various other airline-related collectibles.
David is also the owner of Airlinetimetables.com, an unique on-line source for historic and current timetables.
Guest Editor David Keller
The Timetable Chronicles: The World of Airline Timetable Collecting
Ozark Air Lines (Part 1)
At the conclusion of World War II, the U.S. government proceeded with a plan to create a second level of air carriers, which would generally become known as “feeder” or “local” service airlines. This was designed primarily to further develop the air transportation system by bringing service to additional communities across the country. Part of the equation for was government subsidies to promote this service, as most of these additional destinations could not be served profitably without such assistance. One of those carriers was Ozark Airlines, which was the last local service carrier to gain a certificate in the years after the war. (Several commuter airlines were elevated to local service status in the 1970’s.)
Ozark began life as an intrastate carrier in 1945, operating flights from a base in Springfield, Missouri to Kansas City, St. Louis, and several smaller stations. The timetable dated September 15, 1945 (below) shows what appears to be a single aircraft operating 10 daily segments within Missouri.
Ozark’s ultimate goal was to be awarded an operating certificate to provide local airline service to communities in the Midwest. However, that award actually went to Parks Air Lines, which had been set up by Parks College in the eastern suburbs of St. Louis. Parks issued several timetables during the summer of 1950, including an August 1, 1950 timetable (below). This issue depicts the carrier’s DC-3 (dubbed “LocaLiners”) and a “Grain Belt Route” slogan.
However, Parks Air Lines encountered difficulties getting service started, and to the best of my knowledge, never flew any revenue flights under the local carrier certificate. The certificate and aircraft ended up with Ozark Air Lines, fulfilling the carrier’s desire to become a local service airline. The timetable dated September 26, 1950 (below) shows Ozark’s initial service, and also reveals that much was held over from Parks; flight times, fares, phone numbers, even the typeface used was unchanged.
Copyright Photo Above: Ton Jochems. A restoration of an Ozark Air Lines Douglas DC-3 keeps the Ozark memories alive today.
As with many of the local carriers, Ozark rapidly expanded as its certificate would allow. By the mid-1950’s, Ozark was operating to 28 destinations in 8 midwestern states, as depicted on this January 2, 1955 timetable.
By the mid- to late-1950’s, the local service airlines were contemplating larger equipment to supplement their DC-3 fleets. Generally speaking, these airlines followed one (or more) of three paths to acquire larger aircraft; purchase new F-27’s from Fairchild, acquire Convair 240/340/440’s on the secondhand market, or similarly procure used Martin 202/404’s. Ozark was something of an anomaly, in that the carrier actually exercised all three options.
Ozark’s first post-DC-3 type was the F-27, and the timetable dated January 4, 1960 (below) is the first to show the type in service. (Internet sources put the first F-27 service as September 27, 1959, but the timetables for late October and December 1 both advertise the F-27 as “Coming Soon” and indicate that all flights were being operated by DC-3’s Earlier issues did suggest a planned September start date for the F-27, but it appears that was postponed.) This issue shows further expansion of the airline’s route network (particularly in Iowa) and jet-prop service to 11 destinations.
Above Copyright Photo: Jacques Guillem Collection. Convair 240-4 N2400Z waits for its next assignment at St. Louis.
Used aircraft were less expensive than new F-27’s, so Ozark picked up a small number of used Convair 240’s. Being older and slower than the F-27’s, the Convairs received little mention. The timetable dated August 13, 1962 (below) is the first to show the 240 in service, operating between St. Louis and Chicago via intermediate stations in Illinois.
A few short years later, an equipment swap with Mohawk Airlines saw the Convairs leave Ozark’s fleet, to be replaced by Martin 404’s. This allowed Mohawk to operate a standardized Convair fleet, while Ozark gained by getting a larger number of Martins to expand operations. The timetables indicate no “overlap” of the two types, with the Martins taking over the 200-series flights previously operated by the Convairs in the December 1, 1964 timetable (below). This issue does promote new Martin 404 service between St. Louis and Milwaukee.
To be continued in Part 2: The coming of the Douglas DC-9 jets and the Fairchild-Hiller FH-227B turboprops.
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