Transocean Air Lines 1946 - 1960
Iran was yet another country to benefit from
Transocean's assistance. TAL first began
operations there in 1948 by training Iranian Air
Lines pilots and providing aircraft
maintenance. In addition to flying the Moslem
pilgrims to Jeddah, they often flew the
Shahansha of Iran, His Imperial Majesty
Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, on journeys
to Rome, Geneva, Rabat, Formosa, Japan, or
The first flight by the polar route from Oakland
International Airport was made to deliver a
TAL DC-4 to Iranian Air Lines in Teheran. The
aircraft departed on January 7, 1955, with
Orvis Nelson in command with a crew of six.
On board were 8,000 pounds of cargo that
included spare engines and arctic survival
The first stop was at Duluth, Minnesota, for
final clearances and special winterizing of the
plane. There, de-icing gear and special fluids
to resist the cold would be installed.
The polar route chosen by Nelson was
similar to the one flown by Scandinavian
Airlines Systems (SAS). It penetrated 200
miles north of the Arctic Circle which saved
more than 400 miles on the 10,000 mile flight.
The course took them within twenty miles of
Bluie West 8, code name of a U.S. military air
base in Greenland. Their next stop was
Keflavik, Iceland. Then they proceeded to
Beirut via Dusseldorf, Geneva, and Athens.
Around the World With Transocean Air Lines
Afghanistan, Iran & Germany
Less than ten years after the United States had been at war with Germany, the West
German airline, Lufthansa, wanted to do business with TAL. It requested Transocean
to supply navigators for its new transatlantic service. TAL provided ten navigators for
the first year of operation. Pilots and engineers of Lufthansa had previously been
trained at the Taloa Academy of Aeronautics in Oakland.
Afghanistan was the next country to enlist the services of Transocean. The year was 1953. This
mountainous country with a primitive transportation system relied heavily on small trucks and
camel caravans to move goods over the Khyber Pass to and from distant markets. The
government contracted for weekly TAL air service between Kabul and Cairo with intermediate
stops at Kandahar and Jerusalem. Connections to Western Europe and the United States were
made at Cairo, Egypt.