George Hamlin

Contributing Writer

George Hamlin has been working in the airline and aerospace industries for more than 40 years and following them for even longer than that, dating back to the days when observation decks were almost a requirement at airports.

In his professional career, he’s worked for two airlines, TWA and Texas International; two aerospace companies, Lockheed and Airbus North America; and since 1996 has been a consultant to the industry.

He holds a BA in economics and political science from Washington & Lee University and an MS in transportation from Northwestern University, where his thesis topic was the airline fleet planning process.

George has also been documenting the industry photographically since 1969, and has contributed airline photos to a diverse set of entities, including his participation in ATW’s annual “Classic Airliners” calendar.

When Flights Had Names
Today, flight numbers are often four digits. Earlier in the industry's history, lower numbers were used, and even single digits were not uncommon. Most airlines referred to them as "flights", although Braniff, for one, used the alternative term "trip". And in the piston era, it also was not unusual for at least some flights in a carrier's timetable to also carry a name.
Musings on Mortality...

In this case, of airports.  No, that most of them are in danger of fading away (although a few have, as we've discussed previously), but that their airline tenants might choose to de-emphasize this location, or, even worse, to pull out entirely.  Years ago, I visited the airport at Glens Falls, New York.  Once served by Eastern Airlines, and later, Mohawk, by the early 1970s it was bereft of scheduled airline service.

Shuttles...and Lessons Learned

In the last installment, we discussed some of the characteristics of U.S. domestic "Shuttles" in terms of traffic and capacity.  While Eastern's became the most prominent, it was not the first.  Honors in that department go to the Rio de Janeiro-Sao Paulo Ponte Aérea, or "Air-Bridge" in Brazil. Established in 1959, it preceded Eastern's service by two years. 

Shuttles and Load Factors

Recently I encountered someone traveling in the Northeastern U.S. who claimed to be the only revenue passenger on an early-morning flight of a U.S. major carrier; something truly hard to believe given recent average load factors throughout the airline industry.

Once and Future Airports

To paraphrase the American General, Douglas MacArthur, some older airports that are being replaced with new ones not only don't die; they don't fade away, either.  Recent evidence of this was the announcement by ANA of Japan (a country General MacArthur had some experience with, by the way) that the airline was considering utilizing its new Boeing 787s on international routes from Tokyo's Haneda Airport, and not Narita, following initial domestic services with the aircraft type.

Window Seats

A few years ago, I acquired a copy of a book entitled Window Seat, by Gregory Dicum (Chronicle Books, 2004), whose subtitle was "Reading the Landscape from the Air".  Further light on its purpose is shed in the introduction:  "This book is for anyone who has glanced out the window and wondered what the strange pattern on the ground is, or why that huge building is in the middle of nowhere.  This book is for the planetary explorer disguised in the ho-hum garb of the modern airline passenger."

Multi-Stops and Milk Runs--Part Two

In Part One, we took a look at multi-stop flights from an international perspective; this time we'll focus on US domestic operations.

Multi-Stops and Milk Runs--Part One

Since the field for "number of stops" is a single character, the OAG's Pocket Flight Guide for North America provides the following explanation for its column 8: "The number of stops. A dash indicates the flight is non stop. For rail service, a"#" indicates there are more than nine stops."

'Mama Don't Take My Kodachrome Away'

In reality, when Paul Simon's song "Kodachrome" was on the record charts in 1973, Kodachrome slide film was only about halfway through its 75-year lifespan. Simon's plaintive request took on added meaning in more recent times; first when Kodak stopped making the film in 2009 and then in December 2010 when the final processing source completed its "last call" for unprocessed film. Fortunately it was made with significant advance notice so that photographers weren't left with their "bricks" (20-roll packages) of Kodachrome with no means of getting it processed.

To Re-Engine...or Not

Yes, that's currently the question facing the two primary producers of single-aisle aircraft, Airbus and Boeing, and one of them has provided an answer thus far. It's hardly a new idea, however, as a brief review of the history of re-engining of commercial jet aircraft shows.

The Wrath of Kahn?

As I'm sure has happened to many other writers, my idea for a clever title (in this case, to commemorate the passing of Alfred Kahn) had in fact been used before (at least once). In a July 24, 2007 article in USA Today, veteran aviation industry journalist Dan Reed provides a succinct summary of what many believe is the gentleman's strongest contribution as an economist: "Wrath of Kahn kept airfares low."


That word is a fair description of the 747 program, which has now been in service for more than 40 years. To put this into perspective, 40 years prior to the 747's inaugural service, the Boeing 247 was the prime airliner, albeit a twin-engined, piston-powered tail-dragger that carried 10 passengers, cruised at "three miles a minute", and couldn't cross the North American continent nonstop, much less fly across oceans.

Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude? 

And, after apologies to the singer Jimmy Buffet, don't forget longitude, either.  What I'm referring to are the changes in geography of airline headquarters locations, and whether this seems to have had any discernable impact on the persona of the companies involved. Following the recent spate of airline mergers, as well as those still proposed it might be a good idea to take a look at his phenomenon.

Another Name Bites the Dust 

Note to readers: ATW is pleased to introduce a new feature to our website: Observation Deck. Each month, industry consultant and veteran George Hamlin will provide his unique perspective on air transport history and how the events of the past continue to shape the industry today.

Blogs & Commentary
Apr 20, 2018

Unions imperil Air France's future

Air France unions must realize the damage they are doing to their company, which declared the cost of their strikes through mid-April was €220 million ($272 million). But do they understand how much they are jeopardizing their own futures and those of the other non-striking employees who make up the majority of Air France’s workforce?...More
Apr 18, 2018

Southwest’s ‘LUV’ heart beats through tragedy

It’s not something that any airline wants to be in a position to “get right,” but what Gary Kelly and his team at Southwest Airlines have demonstrated is the textbook way to respond to a disaster....More
Apr 5, 2018

Southwest builds its own kind of international network

Cutting out three hours of travel and eliminating a connection is a real selling point....More
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