Transocean Air Lines 1946 - 1960
Flying "Anything, Anywhere, Anytime"
Transocean made newspaper headlines around the world in the
summer of 1947 when it signed a contract called "New Horizons"
with the Province of Ontario, Canada, for the movement of 7,000
English, Scottish, and Irish emigrants from London to Canada.
This was the largest number of passengers transported en masse since the end of World War II.
The reason for the exodus from Europe by these émigrés was that jobs were scarce in Europe.
They were skilled workmen in their trades, and as Canada was in need of these skills, the move
was hailed by both Canada and the countries of origin of these workers.
The original contract was renegotiated with Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA) as the prime contractor
because of some legal problems over landing rights. TCA continued to operate a portion of the
flights with their own airplanes, and seven thousand workers were transported from the U.K. to
William R. Rivers was assigned to New York to administer the New Horizons contract. Rivers had
been designated by Orvis Nelson as the payee for all funds paid by the United Nations Relief and
Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). Soon after, Nelson left for Spain leaving Rivers to face a
most unusual dilemma.
"Since our company had no credit cards to buy aviation fuel from the oil companies at that time, I
had extracted an agreement from UNRRA to pay us in cash, as I had to furnish each
outward-bound crew with at least $6,000 expense money," said Rivers.
"Nelson had planned on his return to Oakland to have TAL's board of directors authorize me to
deposit and withdraw funds on Transocean's behalf. As it was, the money piled up each time a
flight was completed, and Nelson was still in Spain. Bankers informed me that if I deposited the
money in TAL's name, I wouldn't be able to withdraw any to pay bills. Similarly, if I deposited it
under my own name, then happened to be run over by a car, the company couldn't get the money.
"Finally, I bought a cheap briefcase which I hoped would attract only pity from the New Yorkers on
the streets. Wherever I went, the money went. Every morning I rode the subway to Lower
Broadway, and sometimes that shabby little briefcase contained over eighty thousand dollars.
When I'd return to the Century Hotel, just off Times Square where I was staying, I'd toss my
briefcase carelessly onto the counter and ask for a safe box. This way, if I lost it, the hotel had it
"When Nelson returned, he traveled with me to the office near Lower Broadway. I said nothing
about the money until we were secluded in my office, then I opened this dud of a briefcase and
showed him just under fifty thousand dollars from which I'd have to finance two crews that day. His
eyes popped out, and he started to give me a tongue lashing until I reminded him that he had
caused the problem. I told him that if I hadn't transferred a hundred thousand dollars to Oakland
just a few clays earlier, I'd have been carrying around a hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
"Nelson left for Oakland that day, and the following day the bank and I received confirmation that I
was now a banking agent of Transocean's. With all that money safely in the bank, I went out and
got 'pie-eyed.' The end of this episode was the prompt securing of credit cards from three of the
world's largest oil companies."
*From Folded Wings, A History of Transocean Air Lines by Arue Szura