As Northwest Airlines’ name indicates, its early routes were across the upper U.S., well-known for its bitter cold winter weather.
I’m especially intrigued by how employees kept the airline going in those the early days of mail service in open cockpit planes. Northwest used propeller planes on skis to reach snowbound Chicago in 1939–the only airline that could get in and out of the city until runways were cleared. The airlines’ most amazing cold-weather feat was pioneering and operating an Arctic supply route during World War II across Alaska.
Here’s an early photo of mechanic Fred Fischer handing mail sacks to pilot Charles “Speed” Holman to load aboard a Northwest Stinson Detroiter at Wold Chamberlain Field (today’s Minneapolis/St. Paul Intl. Airport) in Winter 1927. The Stinson Detroiter was the airplane type that Northwest used to inaugurate the first closed-cabin airline service.
Got to grab some coffee now, and warm up!