Beautiful Certificate of Apprenticeship from the Braniff International Airways
issued in 1950. This historic document has a border around it with a vignette of the company's logo, and an underprint of a 4 engine Braniff prop plane. This item has the signatures of the Company’s President, Tom E. Braniff Director of Maintenance, and Supervisor of Apprentice Mechanics, and is over 60 years old.
Braniff International Airways was an American airline that operated from 1928 until 1982, primarily in the midwestern and southwestern U.S., South America, Panama, and in its later years also Asia and Europe. The airline ceased operations on May 12, 1982, due to factors including escalating fuel prices, aggressive and unsustainable expansion, and fierce competition following changes that resulted from the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978.
In 1928 an insurance salesman and financier named Thomas E. Braniff financed an aviation company named Paul R. Braniff, Inc. with his brother Paul Revere Braniff. The airline itself was named Tulsa-Oklahoma City Airways and offered passenger service between most of the major cities in Oklahoma. The original Braniff brothers would remain a part of the company even as the ownership was repeatedly transferred. Eventually Braniff was purchased by what later became today's American Airlines. However, after briefly operating the Braniff division, the holding company incorporated it into AVCO.
The Braniff brothers started another airline in 1930 as Braniff Airways, Inc. During the 1930s, Braniff Airways expanded its service throughout the Midwest. Braniff's long-term survival was assured when Paul Braniff, then general manager, flew to Washington, D.C., to petition for the Chicago-Dallas airmail route. The United States Post Office granted Braniff its first airmail route in the wake of the 1934 Air Mail scandal. In 1935, Braniff became the first airline to fly from Chicago, Illinois, to the U.S.-Mexico border. Paul Braniff left the airline in 1935 to pursue other interests but Tom Braniff retained control of the carrier and hired Charles "Chuck" Beard to run the airline's day-to-day operations. Beard became President and CEO of Braniff in 1954.
Over the years, Braniff acquired a number of other airlines, as well as new Douglas DC-2 and Douglas DC-3 aircraft to fuel its expansion. Most of its operational network remained focused on the midwestern north-south portion of the United States. During WWII, the airline leased a portion of its fleet to the United States military, and its facilities at Dallas Love Field and throughout the country became training sites for pilots and mechanics. During the 1940s, Braniff was allowed by the Civil Aeronautics Board to serve the Caribbean, Latin America, and South America. These routes were served by the new and improved Douglas DC-6 aircraft.
First Braniff Airlines logo, ca. 1928-30During the 1950s the airline expanded nationwide. The acquisition of Mid-Continent Airlines in 1952 allowed Braniff to add several more domestic cities to its already established north-south route system.
On January 10, 1954, Thomas E. Braniff died in a United Gas plane, which, after icing up, crashed on the shore of Wallace Lake, 15 miles outside of Shreveport, Louisiana. According to information from Captain George A. Stevens: Mr Braniff was on a hunting expedition with a group of important citizens of Louisiana. They were departing from a small duck hunting lake out of Shreveport in a Grumman-Mallard aircraft with no deicing system. The wings iced up and they attempted to land. One of the wings hit cypress stumps and the plane crashed against the shore. It caught fire and all 12 lives aboard were lost.
Paul R. Braniff died later that year of cancer. Charles "Chuck" Beard became the first non-Braniff President of the carrier after Tom's death. He would lead Braniff into the jet-age, and would be instrumental in turning Braniff into a 95% jet carrier by 1965. In 1959, Braniff introduced its first jet, the Boeing 707-227.
In 1965, Troy Post — then the chairman of Greatamerica Corporation, an insurance holding company based in Dallas, Texas — purchased Braniff as part of an expansion of holdings which also included National Car Rental. Both Braniff and National were chosen after Greatamerica CFO C. Edward Acker identified them as "poorly managed" companies. As part of the acquisition, Acker became Executive Vice President and CFO of Braniff.
Also in 1965 and 1966 Pan American-Grace Airways PANAGRA was merged into Braniff, when Pan Am divested themselves of their 50% shareholdings in this company as did W.R. Grace which owned and divested the other 50% share in PANAGRA to Braniff.
In 1965, Post hired Harding L. Lawrence, then the Executive Vice President of Continental Airlines, to become the new president of Braniff International. Lawrence told the press the idea that Braniff was perceived to be a "backwater" airline — although the airline had routes from North Dakota to Argentina, and was by then the 11th-largest airline in the world (on an RPM basis). Harding Lawrence was determined to give Braniff a glossy, modern, and attention-getting image. Over the next 15 years, Lawrence's aggressive expansion into new markets - combined with ideas unorthodox for the airline industry - led Braniff to record industry financial and operating performance, expanding its earnings tenfold despite typical load factors of only about 50%.
Post as a regular at the Johnson White House, contracted with the Government to transpost our Military personnel from Viet Nam to Hawaii for their R&R furloughs.
To overhaul the Braniff image, Lawrence hired Jack Tinker Associates, who assigned advertising executive Mary Wells—known as Mary Wells Lawrence after her 1967 marriage to Lawrence in Paris—as account leader. First on the agenda was to overhaul Braniff's public image — including the red, white, and blue livery which they perceived as "staid" (although, "The El Dorado Super Jet" Braniff livery from 1959 had won design awards). New Mexico architect Alexander Girard and Italian fashion designer Emilio Pucci, were called in, and with this new creative talent, Braniff began the "End of the Plain Plane" campaign.
At Girard's recommendation, the old livery was dropped in flavor of planes painted in a single color, selected from a wide palette of bright hues. Girard wanted the planes painted from tail to nose in colors like "Chocolate Brown" and "Metallic Purple." He also favored a small "BI" distinctive logo and small titles. Braniff engineering and Braniff's advertising department modified Girard's colors, enlarged the "BI" logo, and added white wings and tails. This, ironically, was based on the 1930s Braniff "Vega" Schemes, which also carried colorful aircraft paint with white wings and tails. The new "jelly bean" fleet consisted of such bold colors as beige, ochre, orange, turquoise, baby blue, medium blue, lemon yellow, and lavender (lavender was dropped after one month, as lavender and black were considered bad luck in Mexico). Girard also outfitted the interiors with 57 different variations of Herman Miller fabrics. 15 colors were used by Braniff for plane exteriors during the 1960s (Harper & George modified Girard's original seven colors in 1968). Many of the color schemes were applied to aircraft interiors, gate lounges, ticket offices, and even the corporate headquarters. Art to complement the color schemes was flown in from Mexico, Latin America, and South America.
Pucci used a series of nautical themes in overhauling the crew's uniforms. For the stewardesses, Pucci used "space age" themes, including plastic bubbles (resembling Captain Video helmets) which the stewardesses could wear between the terminal and the plane to prevent hairstyles from being disturbed. However, the "space bubble" was dropped after about a month because the helmets cracked easily, there was no place to store them on the aircraft, and jetways at many airports made them unnecessary. Stewardesses were called "hostesses" at Braniff and were attired with uniforms and accessories composed of interchangeable parts which could be removed and added as needed. In 1969 Pucci designed "Pucci IV", for the intro of "747 Braniff Place" (1971). The collection was debuted at the Dallas Hilton by Pucci himself, in 1970. Today all of the vintage Pucci attire designed for Braniff is valuable.
In 1968, under the leadership of Mary Wells and Jack Tinker, Braniff expanded the advertising campaign that showed the likenesses of Andy Warhol, Sonny Liston, Salvador Dali, Whitey Ford, the Playboy Bunny, and other celebrities of the time, all flying Braniff. It became one of the most celebrated marketing efforts Madison Avenue had ever produced, blending style and arrogance. One advertising slogan was "if you've got it — flaunt it!" Although management considered the campaign a success, Braniff's core customers were outraged by the grandiose behavior and perceived "bragging", causing many corporate accounts to leave Braniff.
Operationally, Braniff entered the jet-age in 1959 with the 707-227. Braniff took delivery of four of these; one other crashed while still owned by Boeing. Braniff was the only airline to order the -200 series from Boeing; in 1971, these 707-227s were sold to BWIA. Boeing 720s were added shortly after. In 1964, Braniff became the launch U.S. customer for the British-built BAC-111 twin jet. By 1965, Braniff had a 95% jet fleet. After his arrival at Braniff in late spring, 1965, Lawrence cancelled most of the remaining BAC-111 on order (orders had been placed under Charles Beard, President from 1954–1965) in favor of the larger Boeing 727 trijet.
Braniff eventually ordered several variants of the new 727 type including the new "quick change" cargo/passenger variant, the stretched -200, and later the -200 Advanced. By 1969, the turboprop planes were all retired, making Braniff an "all jet" airline. By the mid-1970s, Braniff operated the largest fleet of Boeing 727s in the world, and pioneered the concept of fleet standardization and the efficiencies that a single type of aircraft could produce. Also during this period (1967), Braniff acquired Pan American-Grace Airways, which increased its already strong presence in South America.
Braniff opened the "Terminal of the Future" for its home base at Dallas Love Field. The airline also operated Jetrail from 1969–1974, the world's first fully automated monorail system. Braniff was a key partner in the planning of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and contributed many innovations to the airline industry during this time.
In 1973, Alexander Calder was commissioned by Braniff to paint an aircraft. His contribution was a Douglas DC-8 known simply as "Flying Colors." In 1975, it was showcased at the Paris Air Show in Paris, France. Its designs reflected the bright colors and simple designs of South America and Latin America, and was used mainly on South American flights. Later in 1975, he debuted "Flying Colors of the United States" to commemorate the Bicentennial of the United States. This time, the aircraft was a Boeing 727-200. First Lady Betty Ford dedicated "Flying Colors of the United States" in Washington, D.C.. Calder died in 1976 as he was finalizing a third livery, termed "Flying Colors of Mexico"; this livery was not used on any plane.
In 1975 Braniff was headquartered at Exchange Park in Dallas.
In 1977, Braniff dropped Pucci as its designer of uniforms. American fashion and couture designer Halston was then brought on to bring a more American look back to Braniff. His all-leather looks—dubbed the "Ultra" look—were applied to uniforms and the fleet, including Braniff's new Boeing 727-200s (and the "Flying Colors" planes as well). His uniforms and simplistic design were praised by critics and passengers.
In 1970, Braniff accepted delivery of the 100th Boeing 747 built—a 747-127 model, N601BN—and began "jumbo jet" service to Hawaii on January 15, 1971. This plane, dubbed "747 Braniff Place" and "The Most Exclusive Address In The Sky", became the flagship of the airline. In 1978, N601BN flew the inaugural flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to London. Additional 747s, including the 747SP, were acquired for service to Asia and Europe. The Douglas DC-8s were aging toward the end of the 70s, and there was speculation whether new McDonnell Douglas MD-80s, Boeing 757s, or Boeing 767s would be purchased to replace the DC-8-62s (which flew the South American routes). However, financial problems at the airline soon made this question irrelevant.
Up to 1978, Braniff remained one of the fastest-growing and most-profitable airlines in the United States. But deregulation of the airline industry was introduced in 1978, and Braniff under Lawrence misjudged this change.
Lawrence believed that the answer to deregulation was to expand Braniff's route system dramatically; consequently, the domestic system became 50% larger, with flights to 16 new cities. International hubs were created in Boston and Los Angeles to handle expected increases in travel outside North America. This would have included flights to Tokyo, as well as an "oil run" between Dallas, Houston, and Dubai; these routes never entered service.
Little of the expected new business materialized; 747 service from the new Boston hub proceeded particularly poorly, with the huge planes flying nearly empty. The expense of the new equipment and the new hubs increased Braniff's debt tremendously; more debt was incurred in shifting Braniff's main base of flight operations from Love Field in Dallas to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, complete with a sprawling new headquarters just inside the new airport on the west side. Braniff's sub-par load factors, which were especially intolerable on the expensive-to-run 747s, and the large debts combined to produce massive financial shortfalls. The rising debts in addition to allegations of accounting fraud led to the removal of Harding Lawrence in 1980.
In 1978 Braniff Place, the final world headquarters facility for Braniff, was built. It is located in what is now Grapevine, Texas, on the grounds of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.
The airline started service with Concorde in 1979 between Dallas/Fort Worth and Washington, D.C., to Paris and London on interchange flights with Air France and British Airways. Flights between Dallas/Fort Worth and Washington Dulles airports were commanded by Braniff cockpit and cabin crews while British or French crews would take over for the remaining segment to Europe. Over U.S. soil, Concorde was limited to Mach 0.95, though crews often flew just above Mach 1; the planes flew at Mach 2 over open water. Transfer of ownership took place in Washington each time Concorde flew in the U.S. Braniff actually owned the planes while on U.S. domestic service, and the planes were re-registered with temporary tape. Ownership was then re-transferred to Air France or British Airways on the Trans-Atlantic leg.
The Concorde service proved a fiscal disaster for Braniff. Though Braniff charged only a 10% premium over standard first-class fare to fly Concorde - and later removed the surcharge altogether - the 100-seat plane often flew with no more than 15 passengers. Meanwhile, Boeing 727s flying the same route were filled routinely. Consequently, Concorde service ended little more than a year after it began.
Although many postcards show a Braniff Concorde, the Braniff livery was never applied to the left side of any Concorde, and the aircraft remained in the colors of British Airways and Air France throughout the operation.
On May 11, 1982, the airline's CEO, Howard Putnam, who was President of Southwest Airlines from 1978–1981, left a courtroom at the Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York City, after he failed to gain an extension from the airline's principal creditors because of the massive debt built up under the Harding Lawrence regime. The next day, on May 12, 1982, Braniff Airways ceased all operations, thus ending 54 years of service in the American airline industry. Braniff flights at DFW that morning were suddenly grounded, and passengers on the jets were forced to disembark, being told that Braniff now ceased to exist. According to the book "Splash Of Colors", an afternoon thunderstorm was used as cover to cancel many afternoon flights that day, although Braniff flight 501 to Honolulu departed anyway with the crew subsequently refusing to divert the flight to Los Angeles International Airport.
In the days that followed, all the Braniff jets based at Dallas/Fort Worth sat idle on the apron by Terminal 2W.
The former headquarters became GTE Place. As of 2009 it is now Verizon Place.
Three airlines were formed following the shutdown of Braniff. Former Braniff employees founded Minnesota-based Sun Country Airlines in 1983. It flew a fleet of Boeing 727-200s and DC-10s until 2001. It reorganized and currently flies a modern fleet of Boeing 737-800 series aircraft.
Two other airlines were formed from the assets of Braniff:
Braniff, Inc, founded in 1983 by the Hyatt Corporation under the umbrella corporation "Dalfort."
Braniff International Airlines, Inc., founded in 1991 by financier Jeffrey Chodorow.
The book "Deregulation Knockouts, Round 2" documents at least 2 attempts to use the Braniff name in operations subsequent to the above attempts: one would have based the company again at Dallas-Ft.Worth Airport utilizing Boeing 757 aircraft. Another operation would have been based at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport and would have offered discounted fares to members of a "Braniff Club".
The remains of the original Braniff (including Braniff Airways original Tax ID number) are retained by a company named "Asworth" in Dallas. Asworth was formed out of the old "Dalfort" corporation and is responsible for paying pilot pensions according to the Braniff Retired Pilots Group, B.I.S.E.
A Braniff Boeing 707 crashed in Arlington, Virginia, on October 19, 1959. Although the aircraft was not officially a Braniff aircraft, it was due for delivery the very next day and was already wearing the Braniff logo and colors. The aircraft, a Boeing 707-227, registration number N7071, was on an orientation flight with two Boeing test pilots, and two Braniff Captains on board. The Braniff pilot performed a series of Dutch Rolls, however one of the rolls was executed beyond the maximum bank restrictions. Control was lost, but the aircraft recovered. During the recovery however, the no. 1, 2 and 4 engines were torn off. The aircraft crashed along the Stillaguamish River northeast of Arlington. The two pilots in the cockpit did not survive the emergency landing, the other two pilots who were sitting in the tail section did. A bare patch in the trees along the north bank of the river still exists today.
Braniff Flight 542 crashed in Buffalo, Texas, on September 29, 1959. It was en route to Dallas, Texas, from Houston, Texas, and the crash resulted in the deaths of twenty-nine passengers and five crew members. The plane, registration number N9705C, was an 11-day old Lockheed L-188 Electra. The Civil Aeronautics Board blamed the crash on the "whirl-mode" prop theory.
Braniff Flight 250 crashed in Falls City, Nebraska, on August 6, 1966. It was en route to Omaha, Nebraska, from Kansas City, Missouri. Thirty-eight passengers and four crew members were killed in the crash. The plane was a BAC One-Eleven 203, registration number N1553.
Braniff Flight 352 crashed in Dawson, Texas, on May 3, 1968. Like Flight 542 nine years earlier, it was en route to Dallas, Texas, from Houston, Texas. Seventy-nine passengers and five crew members were killed in the crash. The plane was a Lockheed Electra II, registration number N9707C. Two other Braniff employees, a Cargo secretary, and a Braniff Construction Engineer were among the dead.
In the TV series The Simpsons, Braniff is Clancy Bouvier's (Marge's father's) employer.
A Braniff plane and logo always appeared between season 1 and season 10 after the closing credits in the South Park cartoon series, with the slogan: "Braniff - Believe It!" This was the name given by Trey Parker and Matt Stone to the original production company created to produce South Park.
History from OldCompany.com
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