America marks half a century jetting cross country

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Come fly with me, yes, up, up and away. We miss those days of glamour with a ‘u’ and an ‘a’ ‘i’ and ‘r.’ We were reminded of them the other day when Argie Hoskins Shumway, a former American Airlines stewardess, I mean flight attendant, posted a new blog with her reminisces of the first cross-country jet flight. American made the flight 50 years ago Sunday with a Boeing 707 between California and New York. The 707 landed at New York‘s Idlewild (now called JFK) on January 25, 1959, with some celebrities on board, including actress Jane Wyman and a fellow from American named Smith. Above, Mrs. Shumway and the rest of the crew. She’s on the right-hand center. (Neither the ‘Mrs.’ nor ‘America’ in the headline is a typo, we might point out.) 



The flight cost some $231, roundtrip, in 1959 dollars. That would equate to some $1,680 in 2008 dollars. You can get a transcon flight in 2009 for about $1,680 in 2008 or even 2009 dollars, but you can also get one for less, about $300 in today dollars. That takes a little planning, and you can get one for a little less if you’re willing to stop in several places.


The flight cut about three hours off of the time of the fastest propeller-driven flights. The big difference: American alone now offers 10 non-stops on the route. And today’s cross-country flights take a little bit longer, about an hour, mostly because getting into and out of New York airspace takes longer. And your flight probably won’t have actresses, and if it does, they’ll be up front. Mrs. Shumway recalls a few of the famous on board, and notes that after they landed, the crew of Flight 2 headed for their layover hotel, the Plaza, at Fifth Avenue and Central Park.

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4 Responses to America marks half a century jetting cross country

  1. argie hoskins shumway January 26, 2009 at 11:24 pm #

    Hi, Thanks for the celebration of American Airlines 707 Jet service from L.A. to N.Y. with the nice write up. It seems like yesterday as we planned for the exciting day. Yes, there I am right-center. Thanks, Argie Hoskins

    Could I place you on my blog???

  2. David Field January 27, 2009 at 5:13 pm #

    And how very nice to hear from you! Left Field would be flattered to be on your blog – and wishes you all the best.

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