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Special Travel Issue | Winging it

Flights of Memory

Side Trips: Travel Tips, Trends and Tools

March 21, 2004|Renee Vogel

"Wings Over the World: Tales From the Golden Age of Air Travel," by Tom Quinn (Aurum Press, $29.95), salutes the romantic, luxurious and dangerous era when only the very rich could afford to fly and planes often had promenade decks and cabins with beds.

The volume, due stateside this month, gathers advertisements and travel posters, snapshots and quaint memorabilia such as cigarette lists. There are reminiscences from flight deck veterans, most of whom worked before World War II, when crews navigated by the sun and stars, stewards cooked roasts and served five-course meals wearing white gloves and stewardesses laid out cosmetics in the ladies' lavatories. Much of the material concerns British aviation: A pilot with Imperial Airways, later British Overseas Airways Corp., describes flying then-Princess Elizabeth on the first leg of her journey from Africa to her coronation in the United Kingdom: "She asked if I would fly around Mt. Kilimanjaro so she could take a few pictures.... "

The era before jets became buses with wings was more lavish, but there were drawbacks. Planes were slower and nonstop flights rare, not to mention the din of those retro propeller engines--and no Bose headphones to muffle the racket.

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