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Location: Stratford, CT.
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Post #65317, posted on 12-28-2016 GMT-5 hours
One of the smallest of the post WW2 local service airlines, the new 1960's Jets would transform this small 'sleepy' airline into a major regional carrier by the late 1960's. Just 2-yrs after their last DC-3 was retired, Southern was being courted by the Boeing sales team for a trio of 727-200's!
By the early 1950's, Southern Airways had 463 employees and a fleet of DC-3's serving (33) mostly small southern towns. In 1955, they were granted a permanent operating certificate and by the late 1950's would begin to be awarded a number of important route awards. During the bitter 1960-61 pilot's strike, the CAB secretly kept the airline alive and for the next decade, seemed to have a 'patron saint' at the CAB. After the ALPA strike was ended, Southern's growth began as ex-Eastern Martin 4-0-4's joined the fleet.
As more 4-0-4's were added, so were favorable CAB route awards; Eglin Air Force Base in Florida was awarded in 1957, major cities in South Carolina (Columbia,Charleston & Myrtle Beach) in 1962.
By 1964, Southern Airways began looking at the new regional jets. Being that the DC-3 was still made up the majority of Southern's fleet, the Douglas DC-9 was a likely choice.
(1964-Douglas Aircraft Illustration)
Though Southern Airways was still the smallest of the locals, the continued favorable CAB awards, plus the growing economics in the South would make the dream of jets a reality. Southern's President Frank Hulse had good relations with the local business institutions and Douglas had created their own bank (Douglas Finance Corporation) in 1963 to help the smaller potential DC-9 customers.
On August, 25 1965, Douglas announced the sale of (3) DC-9's to Southern plus (3) Options. The deal was made with a group of local banks, headed by Trust Company Of Georgia.
Once the order was placed, Southern began formulating potential new routes that would connect with major Midwest and Northeast destinations; Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, St. Louis, Washington D.C. and New York City were all on the potential CAB filing list. In 1966, the (3) DC-9 options were converted to firm orders and (3) of the new Srs 30's were now options. 313,000 shares of new issued common stock would help with financing, as well as an arrangement with Douglas Finance Corporation.
With the new jets financed, the next step was the look for the new Southern Airways. It would take 8-months until a new look was finalized. An Atlanta based agency, Harris & Winstein Associates was the advertising firm contracted for the new color scheme. In March 1966, Goodyear Aviation Products put out a magazine ad with all the tails of the then Douglas DC-9 customers.
Unfortunately, the timing couldn't have been worse, as Southern was still a month away from unveiling the new scheme and told Douglas to just use the current Southern Airways logo for the ad!
In April, 1966, the new Southern Airways 'Accent S' logo was announced.
The letter 'S' was elongated to resemble wingtips on the top and bottom, as "a new Southern Accent in the sky". Soon after, the first updated Southern DC-9 illustration was made public.
It was decided to keep the Southern Airways original colors but the actual colors themselves have always been a bit of a mystery but luckily Paul Koehn has the chips. His Dad was a Southern Captain and in 1970, Paul had entered in the 1970 Soap Box Derby and his Dad Ray, had the paint department hand paint the Southern 'Accent S' on the car! Paul matched his Derby car to current Sherwin Williams chips and the colors are Regatta and Goldfinch.
In June 1967, Southern had a national ad campaign to announce the DC-9FanJETS were coming!
In May 1967, the first Southern Airways DC-9 N91S arrived for crew training.
Oddly, the font used for the Southern Airways logo was not used as the fuselage titles. The first Southern DC-9 was officially christened at 10.00AM on June 15, 1967 at Gate 32-Atlanta Airport. The airline proudly issued a route map showing the first Jet routes!
Atlanta-Columbia-Charleston, Atlanta-Huntsville & Atlanta-Dothan-Eglin AFB services began on June 15, 1967.
(Dr. Qurales Coll)
As the first (3) DC-9-15's were arriving, General Dynamics proposed the RR-Dart '640' conversion for Southern to replace the piston 4-0-4 fleet. Southern would have acquired Eastern 440's for the conversion but Frank Hulse would run Southern with conservative 'purse strings' which would be end up being the right move a few short years later and the 4-0-4's would remain until 1978!
The new Southern 'look' would also include the Flight Attendants as a new designer uniform was created in June 1967.
The Apricot colored classic design would be a public identity for the new Southern Airways!
"Out with the Old and In with the New", as the new Southern had arrived, the old and dependable DC-3's were removed from service, as the last DC-3 flight was in June 1967. (According to Southern F/A's, the large Tote bag was an issued item!)
(Mel Lawrence-1969 Memphis)
By the end of 1968, Southern had (6) DC-9-15's in service and in April 1969, the first of (3) DC-9-31's would join the growing fleet!
(MDC-Tim Williams Coll.))
Amazingly, in just 2-yrs, there were (6) DC-9 Srs 10's and (3) DC-9 Srs 30's wearing the Southern Accent 'S', just as the airline was celebrating it's 20th Anniversary!
_____________________________________ 727-200 Proposal ____________________________________
It would be another favorable CAB route award in late 1968 that would bring the Boeing sales team to Atlanta! The CAB awarded a New York City route via Dothan-Columbus-Washington D.C. in late 1968 and this would bring in the idea of a Southern 727-200. No doubt an impressive symbol of Southern's amazing growth in just 2-yrs of jet operations. The Boeing proposal was for mainly a New York-New Orleans service plus a New Orleans-Huntsville-Atlanta route. A 'triangle' Atlanta-Memphis-New Orleans-Atlanta 727-200 route was also proposed. Boeing estimated (3) 727-200's would add 1,043,500 seat miles with aircraft utilization of 8.4 hrs with annual revenue increasing by $7.4million.
As it turned out, this was not the only local service airline to be targeted by the Boeing sales team in early 1969, as Ozark, Mohawk & Allegheny received 727-200 proposals. They appear to be all similar long-term lease deals, as a number of new aircraft leasing companies entered the envisioned lucrative market. Unfortunately, the 1969-70 recession, left many of these 'newbies' with brand new 'White Tails', as many airlines cancelled their lease deals as the recession took it's toll on the airlines.
Southern's Frank Hulse ended up taking the conservative route and leasing a pair of DC-9 Srs 30's from CIT Leasing instead of the 727-200. Only Allegheny took the 727 lease deal (a 12-yr lease with GATX-Armco Boothe) and the 727-2B7's didn't even make 2-yrs before they were 'traded' to Braniff, so it looks like Southern probably made the correct decision.
___________________________________DC-9 Srs 10 Leases 1968-71____________________________________
As more favorable CAB awards continued during 1969, Southern decided on a series of DC-9 lease deals as the best way to deal with their continued 'good luck' with the CAB. In May 1969 Memphis-St. Louis & Memphis-New Orleans were awarded. In July, a major Florida route adding Tallahassee-Orlando-Miami and in September, Memphis-Chicago.
MDC was the logical choice for DC-9 Srs 10's, as most of the orignal early Srs 10's were MDC lease deals and those A/C were to be returned as the larger Srs 30's became available.
The 1st lease DC-9 to arrive was the 'Red Barron'!
(Edge To Edge Photography)
N13614 would remain in it's former Air Canada scheme and became the DC-9 that Southern used to 'fly in' Santa Claus to Atlanta for Southern's employee Christmas parties! N13614 would soon be joined by (3) additional ex-Air Canada DC-9-15's; N15335 Nov. 1969- N1729U Dec. 1969 & N13699 Feb. 1970.
(Mel Lawrence via Reginald Rowe-July 1970)
Based on this N15335 photo, it appears that the (3) 1969-70 MDC leased were all painted in full Southern colors.
An interesting aspect of the MDC spec paintjobs was how the Southern Airways cheatline was painted by the end cockpit window. Only MDC applied paintjobs got this treatment. Southern painters did not use this style when they later repainted their own DC-9's.
In February 1970, (2) more DC-9 leases arrived! These were former Bonanza Airlines DC-9-11's that had been uprated to -15 standards. N946L & N947L were painted by Air West and show some minor differences in the 'Southern' makings. These would be returned to Air West in July/October 1971. The (4) MDC leased DC-9 Srs 10's would be returned in the early 1971.
___________________________________Ex-Eastern Airlines DC-9-14's ______________________________
(Peter Popelar Photo-LGA 1967)
Without a doubt, the most interesting and overlooked Southern DC-9 for modelers are the (5) ex-Eastern DC-9-14's that were part of Eastern's original 1965 $84 million order. (24) stretched DC-9's were ordered with an interim lease of (15) Srs 10's. As it turned out Eastern loved the -14's so much that they extended the leases but did return a number of them in 1970.
The first, -14 N8903E arrived in October 1970!
The most obvious difference is the reduced size fuselage titles! Eric made up a scale comparison and it's quite a difference.
The 2nd difference is the old Eastern Airlines White demarcation was kept!
The Bruce Drum N8903E photo is the only known image of any of the (5) ex-Eastern-14's during the 1970-71 delivery period. So not only are N8903E-N8907E RARE photos but the questions are quite interesting and remain unanswered! Who did the paintjob? Why were the smaller titles and former Eastern demarcation lines used? Though these DC-9-14's were owned by MDC until the sale to Southern, we know that MDC nor Southern Airways did the paintjobs, as if they had, they would have used the normal size titles and bare-metal demarcation line.
These ex-Eastern -14's were clearly the most unique and mysterious Southern DC-9's
(Mel Lawrence-Memphis 1969 Photo)
As it turned out, Southern liked the added 'White' look of the former Eastern DC-9's and they adopted it as the new 'look' for Southern's DC-9's, though the small fuselage titles would eventually be replaced by the correct sized ones.
In June 1971, the pair of 12-yr leased -31's from CIT Leasing (N1334U & N1335U) arrived and would be the final factory delivered DC-9's in the Accent 'S' scheme and in the new lower White demarcation line.
(Werner Fishdick Photo)
By the end of 1971, Southern's DC-9 fleet was up to (16) DC-9's! They had not only survived the 1969-70 U.S. recession but flourished! Frank Hulse's conservative approach had left Southern with much less debt than some of the other locals. The decision not to acquire ex-Eastern 440's for '640' conversion no doubt saved the airline likely $15-20 million and allowed Southern's jet expansion into the early 1970's.
Early 1972 would bring the final addition to the Accent 'S' DC-9's!
The 'Have A Nice Day' campaign was introduced with the help of Southern Flight Attendants, who were now wearing the final uniform in the Accent 'S' period-Hot Pants!
There were 2-versions of the 'Happy Face' decal.
(Bill Rosenbloom Coll.)
Not only were there 2-'Happy Faces', there were also 2-Hot Pants, according to Southern's F/A's; a Black w/Silver and a Yellow w/Silver. Earlier in 1970, there was a short-lived Black/White pattern dress with a White hat.
The Southern Pilots had been issued a new hat badge to go with the new Accent 'S' unifrom changes but as it turned out most veteran pilots kept wearing the old style badge.
Southern Airways would continue to grow in the post-'72 years, introducing a new color scheme in 1973 and adding a large number of ex-Delta DC-9's. The airline would reach it's peak in 1977, when they were the launch customer for the new Super 80 (though they had to later cancel the Super 80 due to management issues). The 'sleepy' Southern Airways of the 1950's had become a major Regional airline by the end of the Accent 'S' years and the DC-9 Srs 10 would be the symbol of this amazing period.......John
(John Stewart-Dulles June 1972)
Special Thank You to Southern Airways Historians David L. Weatherford & David Stringer, as well as all the Southern family on the Facebook group. They kindly answered all our questions and gave us great information on Southern Airways' amazing history.
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Post #65318, posted on 12-28-2016 GMT-5 hours
Love this history! Thank you for posting. Never knew about the 727-200 options presented to Southern; what a beautiful airplane. I remember seeing the DC-9 regularly at Montgomery's Dannelly Field in the late 60s and 70s.
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Post #65329, posted on 12-29-2016 GMT-5 hours
The first plane I ever flew on was a Southern DC-9!
We flew from Washington Dulles to Dothan, AL. I believe we stopped in Atlanta along the way.
I recently built an AIRFIX DC-9 with the newer blue livery. I didn't know about the 727 options either.