The Paradise of the Real
“We treat the physical results of capitalism as though they were an inevitability. In 1955, no captain of industry, prince, or potentate could buy a car as good as a Toyota Camry, to say nothing of a 2014 Mustang, the quintessential American Everyman’s car. But who notices the marvel that is a Toyota Camry? In the 1980s, no chairman of the board, president, or prime minister could buy a computer as good as the cheapest one for sale today at Best Buy. In the 1950s, American millionaires did not have access to the quality and variety of food consumed by Americans of relatively modest means today, and the average middle-class household spent a much larger share of its income buying far inferior groceries. Between 1973 and 2008, the average size of an American house increased by more than 50 percent, even as the average number of people living in it declined. Things like swimming pools and air conditioning went from being extravagances for tycoons and movie stars to being common or near-universal. In his heyday, Howard Hughes didn’t have as good a television as you do, and the children of millionaires for generations died from diseases that for your children are at most an inconvenience. As the first 199,746 or so years of human history show, there is no force of nature ensuring that radical material progress happens as it has for the past 250 years. Technological progress does not drive capitalism; capitalism drives technological progress — and most other kinds of progress, too…”
— Dana Perino (@DanaPerino) June 4, 2015
Dana has good taste. (And a great laugh) In a comment to Dana, Kevin D. Williamson notes: “It’s actually an old piece that’s been making the rounds…” Fooled me, too. I also thought it was new column. Good to see it circulation again.
Late 1960s, Economy Class Seating on a Pan-Am 747 pic.twitter.com/YmjUUdYCJl
— Old Pics Archive (@oldpicsarchive) October 19, 2014
Patrick Weidinger writes: The decade after the first US airliner was hijacked and flown to Cuba may be thought of as the “golden age” of US hijackings. Anyone who remembers this era knows just how frequently planes were being hijacked. Prior to 1958 only one airplane was hijacked, per year, on average, in the entire world. The worst year was 1969 when 82 airplanes were hijacked. US airplane hijackings headed for Cuba became so common the FBI considered setting up a fake Havana airport in southern Florida to trick hijackers into thinking they had arrived in Cuba. “Take me to Cuba” became a national catchphrase.
“Prior to 1958 only one airplane was hijacked, per year, on average, in the entire world. The worst year was 1969 when 82 airplanes were hijacked.”
There was great confusion during this period of time about what to do with the hijackers – give into their demands or try to take them out (this ended on September 11, 2001, after which there was no more debate). No one was even sure who had jurisdiction. Was it the FAA or was it the FBI (J Edgar Hoover thought it was most defiantly the FBI). And so it was the hijackers managed to pull off their crimes against a confused and non-coordinated response system. By the end of 1972 over 150 American airplanes had been hijacked.
“By the ’80s, domestic hijackings seemed a thing of the past, a perception that persisted right up to the 9/11 attacks. But during the 1961-1972 skyjacking golden years, upwards of 50% of hijackers were successful.”
The number of US hijackings began to decrease in 1973 after Cuba and the US came to agreement on means to return hijackers to the US for prosecution. Also, on Jan. 5, 1973, federally mandated measures designed to tighten airline security – metal detectors, searches of carry-on luggage and passengers – went into effect for the first time. These measures would cut hijacking attempts from their peak of one every other week in 1972 to a mere three between 1973 and 1974. By the ’80s, domestic hijackings seemed a thing of the past, a perception that persisted right up to the 9/11 attacks. But during the 1961-1972 skyjacking golden years, upwards of 50% of hijackers were successful. Here are the top ten US airplane hijackings for that time period (including the start of the ’70s).
Top 10 U.S. Airline Hijackings of the Sixties
10 National Airline Convair 440
May 1, 1961 and a US Airlines Convair 440 airplane is traveling from Marathon Florida to Key West. It would become the first US airplane hijacked to Cuba. A US Korean War veteran named Antulio Ramirez Ortiz, boarded the plane with a knife and gun, demanding the pilot to divert the aircraft to Cuba, as he was seeking asylum in the country. At the time, US domestic airlines had no history of aircraft hijackings and when the airplane disappeared from its intended flight route it was assumed to be lost and missing at sea. At the time, hijacking an airplane was not even a US federal crime. After Ortiz was apprehended in Jamaica in 1975 he was only charged with assault and transportation of a stolen aircraft over state lines. Ortiz lived to regret his decision to seek asylum in Cuba as Castro thought he was a US spy and he spent years in Cuban prison. He was released and in 1972 he attempted to escape Cuba by raft, but was apprehended by Cuban officials and spent another 3 years in prison.
9 Pan Am Flight 281
On November 24, 1968, three men, (one named Castro), hijacked a Pan Am flight with 103 people on board from New York’s JFK Airport and diverted the flight to Havana, Cuba. The hijackers grabbed a stewardess and put a knife to her neck then pointed a loaded gun in the face of the flight engineer saying “Cuba, Cuba, Cuba.” Passengers were forced to leave the airplane when it landed in Havana and no one was injured. Two of the three hijackers were captured in the 1970s but a third lived as a fugitive in Cuba until 2009 when he returned to the US and surrendered. At his trial he claimed he wanted to return to the US to be with his wife who had fled Cuba in 2004. He asked for leniency and a sentence of no more than 4 years but the Judge was having none of it and on January 4, 2011 the hijacker was sentenced to 15 years in prison, without the possibility of parole. Read the rest of this entry »
Today we largely take international air travel for granted. Every major city in the world is little more than a hop, skip, and jump away. But what was it actually like to fly halfway around the world in the 1930s, when the very concept was still novel? Pretty incredible, as it turns out—provided you could afford it.
At the dawn of commercial air travel, Imperial Airways was Britain’s shuttle to the world. As the British Empire’s lone international airline in the 1920s and ’30s, Imperial was responsible for showing the rich and famous every corner of the Empire. And in doing so, their mission was to make the Empire (and by extension, the world) feel that much smaller.
They did it in style.
During the WWI, airplanes became a vital tool for victory, ushering in a brave new world of battle. Airplanes were the future of war, but they had yet to prove themselves as the future of peace.
After the war, Britain had a surplus of warplanes that would jumpstart its commercial air industry. But the early 1920s was a hard period for British aircraft companies. Unlike their counterparts in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the United States, very little government investment in British air travel occurred during peacetime.
Instead, the government hobbled together the few struggling British air companies to form Imperial Airways, which was incorporated in 1924. Imperial was devised as a private, highly subsidized company that would operate with monopoly support from the British government. They shuttled mail and passengers to the farthest reaches of the globe.
Imperial’s planes of the 1920s (made of wood and fabric) would slowly morph into the planes of the 1930s (made of metal). But it wasn’t merely because the streamlined aircraft looked sleeker. The newer planes also better suited Imperial Airways’ mission of Empire maintenance.