ATLANTA, Ga. — Delta Airlines has reopened an expanded state-of-the-art museum to the public spotlighting the company’s long standing air transportation service and the people behind their wings.
The history of the iconic company with it’s roots in the American south, through to the modern flight services of today, are showcased with artifacts and historical aircraft poised inside the Delta Flight Museum.
As Delta celebrated the eighty-fifth anniversary of their first passenger flight in June, the newly renovated museum reopened to guests inside two former Delta flight hangers which feature several static displays of the airline’s historic aircraft and an actual full motion flight simulator.
The airline moved it’s headquarters from Monroe, Louisiana to the twin Atlanta hangers in 1941, located on the edge of the then expanding airfield.
“Today with operations to 65 countries on six continents, it’s hard to image those early days in Atlanta when Delta flew to just 16 cities,” said Fred Cannon, Executive Director of the Delta Flight Museum. “Hangers one and two were next to the airfield and housed Delta’s aircraft maintenance operations — at the time the largest in the southeast.”
As guests arrive at the museum’s parking lot a newly added Boeing 757 supporting it’s original Delta colors greets visitors to the historic aviation grounds located on the shoulder of the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson.
The company’s early beginnings is a historic timeline of aviation firsts with fascinating antidotes mixed in for flavor.
A popular farm dusting business was purchased by a group led by C.E. Woolman in 1928, and was renamed for the Mississippi Delta, the region where Delta Air Operations was originally based near Monroe, Louisiana.
Catherine Fitzgerald, Mr. Woolman’s assistant, first suggested the company’s name in 1928, and by the following year, Delta leaped skyward with it’s first commercial passenger flight out of Dallas.
It was on June 29, 1929, when stunt flyer turned commercial airman Johnny Howe became the first Delta Airlines pilot departing Dallas at 8:00 a.m. en route to Shreveport and then Monroe.
The single prop Travel Air S-6000-B aircraft carried one passenger on that first flight into Shreveport, and picked up an additional passenger that same day.
The next year, Delta began passenger service to Atlanta for only a few months, and then full time service resumed in 1934.
When was Delta’s first in-flight meal served? In 1936, as the co-pilot of the company’s new Lockheed 10 Electra got up to offer box lunches with coffee to the nearly fourteen passengers.
The airline’s first “stewardesses” were later added to flight crews beginning in 1940, according to the museum.
Inside Hanger 2 rests the airline’s first Boeing 767 known as the “Spirit of Delta”. The 159-foot long aircraft was dedicated at company wide event in December 1982, and was later retired in 2006.
The B767 could ferry 204 passengers and a crew of eight cross country with a range of 2,100 miles.
A silvery Douglas Aircraft DC-3 looks incredible as she sits in Hanger 1 just as she did sixty years earlier. The 65-foot long twin prop could stay aloft for 1,400 miles as she carried up to 21 passengers and a crew of three at speeds of up to 170 m.p.h.
An actual Delta Airlines full motion Boeing 737 flight simulator located in one corner of Hanger 2 of the open air museum. “This is not a toy, it’s the real deal,” states museum director Tiffany Ming as she described the sim which was used by the company to train it’s pilots.
The simulator’s one hour time limit is a bit pricey, however it is the perfect gift for aviation buffs interested in the experience.
Overall, the Delta Flight Museum is a salute to commercial aviation, and the people behind an airline who swept humankind off their feet and into a destination of choice. The refurbished Delta museum will soar high with both children and adults through their interactive displays, models and historic wide body aircraft.
The Delta Flight Museum is located at 1060 Delta Blvd, Atlanta, just east of Interstate 85, and north of the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.
Tickets very by age and can be purchased online or inside at the gift shop.
(Charles Atkeison reports on aerospace, science and technology. Follow his updates via Twitter @AbsolutSpaceGuy.)