Airlines Remembered

Braniff International Airways

Photos © R.Leeuw

Ceased operations: 12May82 (Nov89 & 02Jul92)
Homebase: Dallas,TX (Orlando,FL)
Founded: 1930 (1984 & 1991)
ICAO callsign: Braniff
Flightnbr prefix: BN / BNF
Operations: passengers

Two of Braniff's 727s stored with Commodore Aviation at Miami,FL in Oct1992. The colourscheme was unique for Braniff, with a variety of pastel colors for the individual airplanes. The blue Boeing 727-235 is N4749 (c/n 19469/568), formerly operated by National Airlines and Pan Am (''Clipper Quickstep'', 1980-1991)
The left 727, in burgundy red, has been damaged by the forces of nature, Hurricane Andrew to be precise.

It al started in 1928 when Paul and Tom Braniff began a service between Tulsa and Oklahoma City; Paul was the pilot and Tom took care of business. It was not a success and they sold it. But in 1930 they tried again and set up Braniff Airways; the postal services granted some routes. In 1937 Douglas DC-2s were intorduced, followed by DC-3s 2 years later.
In 1941 headquarters moved to Dallas,TX. Immediately after WW2 routes expanded into Mexico. On 04th of June 1948 the first Douglas DC-6 took off for a flight from Houston to Havana and onward to Pima,Peru. Thus the company's name was changed to Braniff International Airways. More destinations in South America were added, while domestically Braniff expanded thru the purchase of Mid-Continent Airlines.
Lockheed L.188 Electras were added to the fleet in 1959 and the first jet, the Boeing 707, followed in in December of that year; the 707 was used on its S.America routes. Another milestone in 1959 was introduced by the "Flying Colors" campaign: all aircraft were painted in up to 9 different variations of colourschemes; the 2 most famous were the Boeing 727 and Douglas DC-8 painted by artist Alexander Calder. Talk about Braniff and everybody remembers the "Flying Colors" ! Braniff sought advise from an advertising agency to change its image into something dynamic and Mary Wells came up with the "end of the plain planes" campaign. She later became the wife of Lawrence Harding, Braniff's CEO from 1965 - 1980.

Douglas DC-8-62 N1805 (msn 45899/304) is seen here being towed to the display area of the Paris Air Salon, somewhere during the1970s; one must admit that the paintscheme by Alexander Calder (note the "Calder" name on the forward fuselage) is quiet a departure from most airline colourschemes....

With the takeover of Pan American Grace Airways on 01Feb67, Braniff became market leader in South American Services: PANAGRA had had a monopoly of traffic between Panama and Chile, and to Buenos Aires - USA. The takeover included Panagra's DC-8s.
Following the policy of air traffic deregulation in the USA, in 1978, Braniff expanded aggressively and started operating Trans-Atlantic flights to London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Frankfurt. Further expansion to Hawaii and Guam followed. For these long-haul flights Boeing 747s (nicknamed "the Big Orange") and 747SPs were added, while also more DC-8s joined the fleet. Even the Concorde flew for a short period for Braniff !

Plaques in memory of the inaugural flights (top to bottom, left to right) Amsterdam to Dallas-Ft.Worth (02Jun79), Amsterdam to Paris (05Jun79), Amsterdam to Frankfurt (02Jun79) and Amsterdam to Boston (04Jun79). Plaques courtesy Ada Leeuw-Knol, former employee Braniff-AMS.

The recession in the early-1980s, with high fuel prices, hit Braniff hard as the expansion was targeted on the long-haul routes. Mounting losses could not be countered with lay-offs and route cancellations. Braniff ceased to operate on 12May82.

Braniff tails, stored engine-less at Miami and with sandbags on the wings to prevent them from flying away on the winds of Hurricane Andrew...

The Hyatt company bought Braniff out of this bankruptcy and a new Braniff emerged in 1984; the fleet only consisted out of Boeing 727s and the route network was limited to US domestic services. The start up was not without problems and after 6 months the company was configured to a "low-cost operator".
In 1989 Florida Express, based in Orlando (FL), was taken over. By taking over Pan Am's order for up to 50 Airbus A320s, BN became the first operator of this type in the USA. But when 16 had been delivered, Braniff again ceased operations on 06Nov89. But another comeback was staged, re-introducing the "Flying Colors"-theme and the brightly painted Braniff airplanes once again took to the skies. But this lasted from 01Jul91 untill 02Jul92, mainly under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and only then Braniff Int'l was permanently layed to rest.

A few images on
DC-8 N1806, blue m/s, Toronto 1981
747 "Big Orange" London-Gatwick 1980
727 N274WC in "ordinary c/s", Las Vegas 1987

Braniff Airport Staff - Amsterdam Schiphol
The Braniff Schiphol Airport- and Town Office staff gathered after seeing off the last flight from Amsterdam on 24Oct1980.
Photo above and tags below, courtesy collection Ada Leeuw - Knol.

Braniff baggage tags
Braniff stubs

Click here   1951 ad courtesy Martin Suter

Martin Suter sent me a very nice series of contemporary advertisements:
Braniff Super Jets to South America

1961 "Braniff Super Jets to
South America" magazine ad

baggage sticker
Baggage sticker

Delivery 1st Boeing 727 for Braniff

727-100 at Robert Mueller, Austin,TX

Braniff remembered at The 1940 Air Terminal museum (Houston)
Braniff remembered at The 1940 Air Terminal Museum (Houston); see MY REPORT

Braniff exhibition in Frontiers of Flight Museum
Another fine and extensive exhibition can be viewed in the Frontiers of Flight Museum (Dallas); see MY REPORT


And here as a tribute for those who worked the PARS computer system: Braniff's Cowboy Quick Reference.
I have copied some pages that should illustrate the intricate- and complex commands to work with this system.
Thanks to Henk Bink to make this book available for me (march 2016).
Braniff's Cowboy Quick Reference (PARS)



More on Braniff's history:

Fleet info: JP Airline Fleets 1990
"Airlines Remembered" by B.I.Hengi (Midland Publishing, 1999).
Recommended reading: "Airline Pasionado" (subtitled "Before, Braniff and After"), by Robert C. Booth (Paladwr Press, 1998).

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Last updated 05.3.2016