Transocean Air Lines 1946 - 1960
Flying "Anything, Anywhere, Anytime"
Transocean Flies the Military
Several military contracts were awarded to Transocean during its
early years. One awarded in December 1948 kept airline personnel
working around the clock for days, helping fly more than 30,000 U. S.
Army personnel and their dependents across the Atlantic.
Operation Flying Bride
There was almost no way for TAL to plan ahead for business. The unexpected job came when
Congress voted not to renew the Immigration Act that permitted German girls who marry American
soldiers to become eligible automatically to enter the United States. The U.S. Army officers were
frantic. They had only a few days to make arrangements to fly thousands of war brides out of
Germany before the expiration of the act on Christmas Day.
As Transocean was the only American airline with a station in Munich at the time, it was the first to
participate in "Operation Flying Bride." Eventually, eight other airlines participated in this contract.
Mechanics were rushed from Transocean's East Coast division to Germany, and locals were
hired to handle the baggage. During that first week, Station Manager Don McAfee was so busy that
he didn't have time to take his shoes off. Sleep came in winks on a cot at the office during the
entire airlift; while his wife Dorothy took innumerable telephone calls, answered questions and
briefed flight flight crews in order to keep the aircraft departing on schedule.
"We were getting a planeload out every hour on the hour, around the clock," said McAfIee. "And by
the end of it, I was so tired I felt paralyzed."
When hostilities broke out in Korea in 1950, records at the Fairfield-Suisun Air Base (now called
Travis Air Force Base) in northern California showed that at 6:15 p.m. on June 30, 1950, a TAL
Skymaster was the first airplane to take off for Korea and that the second TAL airplane was
actually Korea-bound before other carriers had started. That first aircraft carried a cargo shrouded
in secrecy: 3.5 inch bazooka rockets. (Some thought Seaboard & Western put the first plane into
the sky in the Korean Airlift, but Transocean was first according to Howard Mingos in an article in
Esso Air World, March/April 1951).
Subsequent TAL planes carried blood plasma, ammunition, and spare engines to the war zone.
On their return to the U.S. mainland, they carried wounded personnel and equipment for repairs.
This was in support of the Military Air Transport Service (MATS).
During the first twenty-one months of the Korean Conflict, Transocean airplanes carried 7,112
fitter patients, 20,000 military passengers, and 9,960,095 pounds of military cargo on 673 flights
between Travis Air Force Base and Tokyo. At the height of the conflict, Transocean used seven
DC-4s, garnering nearly 14 percent of the airlift activity on the transpacific shuttle.
*From Folded Wings, A History of Transocean Air Lines by Arue Szura
Under contract with the military, Transocean flew hundreds of servicemen back to
Travis Air Force Base, Sacramento, California. Photo: Ralph Lewis