Recently made a trip up to former Northwest Airlines headquarters in Minneapolis/St. Paul with Delta Museum Director Tiffany Meng. Side note: It was fun for this native Atlantan to see snow before January – not that we often see it then! We were there to collect some amazing Asian airport facilities drawings, found by Brian Ruppert in Corporate Real Estate, and bring them to Atlanta for preservation in the Delta Archives.
Northwest made the drawings for planning and early operations of its Asian service. I was able to scan some of the smaller ones in-house for you to see: Seoul terminal building 1950 and Shanghai & Manila airport layouts 1946.
Another find this year was a rare snapshot from a Northwest survey flight in January 1947 made during preparations for service to Asia. Shown here is Northwest Douglas DC-4 Ship 422 refueling at Chitose Air Base in Hokkaido, Japan. Photo by Clay Tice, Jr., retired USAF colonel, who donated it to Northwest in 1995.
It is a privilege to be able to preserve these records of Northwest’s pioneering work in airline service between the U.S. and Asia. Before Northwest in 1947, no airline flew the chilly, northern “Great Circle” shortcut to Asia. Drawing on wartime experience in the Artic, Northwest flew Douglas DC-4s from Edmonton, Canada, and Anchorage, Alaska, refueled at the military airfield on Shemya at the tip of the Aleutian Islands, and crossed the Pacific by circling north of the earth’s equator to Tokyo, Shanghai and Manila. Flying this route–2,000 miles closer to Japan than the warm weather, mid-Pacific route pioneered by Pan Am–Northwest planes could fly Twin Cities to Tokyo in 33 hours.
A special thank you to Blain Peters in Corporate Real Estate – MSP for his work this year to locate historical treasures like these and make sure that they were preserved to share the story of Northwest Airlines.