Delta Air Lines based in Atlanta is worth $ 37billion (£ 28billion) and flies to 370 destinations on six continents with newest aircraft.
Really, it's a titan of aviation.
But it began life as a washed-out outfit in 1924. And when it expanded to passenger transport, it used planes that could only go 90 mph, with the wind behind them. Delta has yet to travel – and these fascinating photos illustrate the dramatic transformation of the carrier over the decades.
They showcase some of the earliest passenger aircraft, a restored 1931 model with five passenger seats, a 1940s Douglas DC-3 that had 21 seats and capable of 170 mph, and a 1946 DC car. 4, which had 44 seats and a flashing top speed of 215 mph.
By the late 1950s, air travel with Delta was a completely different proposition. The DC-8 & # 39; s Christians go above 500 mph and offer first-class leather seats and lounges.
From 1970, the revolution went at a rapid pace, with Boeing 747-100s, 727s and 757s. Fast forward to 1999 and there are hi-tech sit-back TVs on board of the # 777 & # 39; s of the & # 39; an airline. Today, Delta's fleet includes the impressive Airbus A350, which has business-class suites with privacy doors and flight decks that look unmistakably sci-fi.
Scroll down to see, in pictures, how Delta stepped up – in a big way.
Wobbly screen time. This is a restored 1931 Curtiss-Wright 6B Sedan that was painted in & # 39; e & # 39; International Orange and Black & # 39; s Delta passenger's first passenger aircraft, the Travel Air S-6000-B, which flew Delta's first passengers on June 17, 1929. The 6B Sedan is built of the same design as the S-6000-B and tail number NC8878 drives that Travel Air aircraft, Delta says. Curtiss-Wright purchased Travel Air Manufacturing Co. in August 1929 and took up reorganization. This is one of only four 6B Sedans that are still intact. It had a top speed of 95 mph (5 mph more than the S-6000-B) and continued to be executors of a pipeline company until 1941, and then helped fight fires in Montana for 31 years, from 1941 to 1972, with smoke jumpers and supplies
Airspeeds jumped in 1936 with the 190mph Lockheed Electra 10, Delta & # 39; s first all-metal plane. It had capacity for 10 passengers and had 450 horsepower, thanks to two Pratt & Whitney Wasp engines. It also had retractable wheels – which didn't make it virtually space-free for the time being. Passenger convenience included hat nets, window curtains, reading lamps and ashtrays. And with the Lockheed 10, Delta introduced its first on-board food service – lunch and coffee boxes, served by the co-pilot
Air travel with Delta in 1940 took a big step forward with the Douglas DC-3. It could travel at 170 mph, had room for 21 passengers and had a range of 500 miles. It revolutionized commercial aviation. By 1940, DC-3 & # 39; s carried 80 percent of the world's air traffic
In 1946 there was another jump, with the Douglas DC-4. This had a relatively enormous range – 2,000 miles. And could cruise with up to 44 passengers on board at 215mph. A Delta DC-4 flew on November 1, 1946, the first nonstop scheduled flight between Chicago and Miami
It's 1953 and time to say hello to & # 39; e busy cabin, thanks to & # 39; a Lockheed Constellation, that & # 39; t, says Delta, had & # 39; non-stop transcontinental capability & # 39 ;. It worked between 1953 and 1958, could hit 327mph and had a range of 1,800 miles. It flew inland and Caribbean routes
Don't they look happy? And no wonder. They are on a 1954 Douglas DC-7, promoted by Delta as & # 39; America & # 39; s Fastest and Finest Airliner & # 39 ;. Hype? Not really. It had a range of 2,760 miles, a top speed of 360 mph and developed 3,250 horsepower. The features of the cabin were something for the time – golden window curtains, typewriters for those who didn't want to work, complimentary Champagne, appetizers at dinner and canapes and afternoon cocktails
A 1956 Convair 440 that had a range of 580 miles and a top speed of 284mph. Delta's last Convair 440 retired in 1970, when its fleet became 100 per cent jet engine
Today – 1957 – Delta had an important freight service. It launched in 1947 with cargo vessels of Douglas C-47 and had grown by 724 per cent by 1956. In 1957, new Curtiss C-46 aircraft (pictured) were delivered. Delta figured they were big enough to load a Cadillac car without scratching the paint job. The Curtiss C-46 remained in service until 1966
Pictured is a 1959 Douglas DC-8 jetliner, an aircraft type that Delta would serve until May 1, 1989 (apparently with a few upgrades along the way). On delivery day, July 22, 1959, Ship 801 flew the 2,497-mile route from the Douglas plant in Long Beach, California, to Miami in 4 hours and 43 minutes. The previous record on the route had been set 5 hours and 50 minutes by a Douglas DC-7. The DC-8 produced a hefty 13,500 horsepower and was able to reach 590mph
Delta launched the world's first Convair 880 service on May 15, 1960 between Houston and New York City. Two years later, a Convair 880 set a new Delta speed record – hit 715mph on a flight from Chicago to Miami and only takes one hour, 50 minutes and 55 seconds to complete the 1,258 miles
Cabin crew aboard a DC-9, which entered in 1965 – and flew until 1993 (the uniforms date to 1969). After nearly a 16-year absence, the DC-9 rejoined Delta's fleet during the Northwest merger in 2008, and flew until January 2014. Delta was the first and the last US airline that planned & # 39; 9 commercial flights flew. They had a top speed of 575 mph and a range of just 2,000 miles
In 1966 Delta upgraded its freight service with the Lockheed L-100 turboprop, which mainly transported goods between California and the Southeast. Its top speed was 361 mph
It's 1970 and the Queen of the Skies, the Boeing 747, is on the scene. Pictured is the first type, the 747-100. Currently, Delta Senior Vice President of Marketing, T M Miller, said: & # 39; The 747 is completely unlike any other aircraft, piston or jet. A triumph of American technology, the 747 will bring our passengers a standard of comfort and convenience that is no longer limited by the size of an aircraft cabin. & # 39; Delta & # 39; s first 747 (N9896, Ship 101) was delivered on October 2, 1970, piloted by Captain T. P. "Pre" Ball, Delta vice president – flight operations. Four more 747 & # 39; s were delivered to Delta by November 1971. Delta 747s offered the & # 39; first ever flying penthouse apartment & # 39; in the world, which is above the cabin of & # 39; e First Class and next to the lounge of & # 39; e First Class. It had seats for six passengers and was sold as a unit. It had its very own airline company. The 747 has a range of 6,000 miles and a top speed of 625mph
Delta began flying the Boeing 727s in 1972. They retired in 2003. Delta Vice President, Engineering, Julian May, said in 1981 that the aircraft was popular with passengers and its fuel-efficient engines allowed the carrier to maintain ticket prices . They could sail at 566mph and had a range of 1,950 miles
The Lockheed L-1011 was used by Delta between 1973 and 2001. They had capacity for 250 passengers, could cruise at 552 km / h and in-flight entertainment included & # 39; seven mood-matched channels of Deltasonic stereo words and music programs & # 39 ;. Delta's first films were shown in 1978 on its transatlantic L-1011s
This is a 1982 Boeing 767 – and it's an aircraft type that Delta still flies. The carrier has served all Boeing 767 models, the 200, 300 / 300ER and 400ER. It currently flies the world's largest 767 fleet, the Delta Museum website claims. The 727-232 had a top speed of 530mph and a range of 2,150 miles. Delta says the technical advancement of the 767-200 included a new advanced wing design that allowed more efficient lift for faster climbing to cruising altitude, a digital "glass cockpit" with 40 computers and engines ; t were 30 percent more fuel-efficient & # 39;
First delivered in 1984, the Boeing 757 is still air services for Delta. The first model, the 757-200, was 45 percent more fuel efficient than the Boeing 727 that replaced it. In 1992, Delta received the 500th 757 made by Boeing and has served the largest 757 fleet in the world since 2007
In 1987, the McDonnell Douglas MD-82 (pictured) came into service. Developed from & # 39; the original Douglas DC-9, it has twice the passenger capacity of & # 39; first version, and modernized engines and avionics. The final MD-88 was delivered in December 1993. They are still in service today. It has a top cruise speed of 574mph and capacity for 142 passengers
The McDonnell Douglas MD-11 flew services to Delta between 1991 and 2005. & # 39; (The MD-11) brings new standards of convenience and comfort to the international traveler, & # 39; said Ronald W. Allen, president of Delta, president and CEO, in February 1991. It had a cruise speed of 543 mph, a tremendous range of 8,460 miles and aerodynamic improvements, including winglets
This is the economy case of a Boeing 777 from 1999. Delta says customer service at & # 39; time & # 39; leading in & # 39; the sector. Even in the economy, passengers had personal video games, adjustable footrests, headrests, and lumbar support. And the pilots were also in another world. They had satellite communications, GPS, predictive wind management and collision prevention systems and improved ground priming warning systems. The 777 is still going strong today
It's 2017 and time to meet the Airbus A350 and its business class suite – which doesn't have a reclining seat, a sliding privacy door and an 18-inch entertainment screen. The cabin, meanwhile, has optimized pressure, temperature and humidity
The A350 is a technical tour-de-force. It has a carbon-reinforced plastic hull with increased resistance to corrosion and the pilots have all kinds of gadgets at their fingertips. For example, & # 39; lowering brake & # 39; which does not automatically apply the correct amount of brakes to bring the aircraft at taxi speed at the desired orbit, images of & # 39; e & # 39; wing shape and screens that display everything from fuel level to track layout
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