Ninth Braniff Trail Plaque Dedicated

NINTH BRANIFF TRAIL PLAQUE DEDICATED - On Wednesday, November 1, 2017, Braniff Airways Foundation dedicated the ninth Braniff Trail Historical Plaque at San Francisco, California. The plaque was placed at the SFO Aviation Museum located in the International Terminal at San Francisco International Airport. This plaque follows the eighth Braniff Trail Plaque, which was placed in the Braniff Gallery at Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas, on August 18, 2017.

The ninth plaque was dedicated to mark the years of service that Braniff provided to the San Francisco area. Braniff first began serving the Bay Area in 1955 in conjunction with Trans World Airlines. The Braniff/TWA Interchange Service operated over a route that originated with a Braniff airliner at Houston, Texas, and then continued to Dallas Love Field and Amarillo, Texas. At Amarillo, a changeover to a Trans World Airlines crew was made who flew the aircraft on to Los Angeles and finally San Francisco International Airport.

Braniff operated this interchange service for only fourteen months but service was again resumed in February 1967 as a result of Braniff's merger with Pan American Grace Airways. Braniff was the surviving carrier and assumed Panagra's interchange route with Pan American World Airways to Latin America that originated at San Francisco and then continued to Los Angeles and then Panama City, in the Canal Zone. The flight continued to South America after its stop in Panama City.

In February 1969, the Civil Aeronautics Board awarded Braniff its own route from San Francisco to Los Angeles and then Latin America and the interchange route with Pan American was discontinued. Braniff continued to operate this route for the next thirteen years. In January 1982, Braniff inaugurated new Non-Stop service between Dallas/Ft. Worth Regional Airport and San Francisco International Airport. This was the last new route that Braniff inaugurated before the company ceased operations on May 12, 1982.

In 2016, Braniff Airways Foundation was asked by SFO Museum to assist them with a planned exhibit of flight attendant uniforms. The museum was searching for one of Braniff's iconic Raindome Bubble Hat for its Braniff section of the exhibit. At that time, all of the Foundation's Bubble Hats were being used for displays and a loan was not possible. However, it was decided that the two groups would work together on a future project. In early 2017, the Foundation chose SFO as another site for a Braniff Trail Historical Plaque and it was decided that SFO Museum would be the best place for the plaque placement because of its convenient location within SFO Airport.

Braniff Airways Foundation Founder and President Ben Cass, contacted the curators of SFO Museum about the placement of a Braniff Trail plaque at SFO and they were very interested in having a plaque in their collection. Mr. Cass planned a trip to San Francisco to discuss the plaque with museum officials. On March 24, 2017, a meeting was held in the lobby area just outside of the entrance to the SFO Museum in the International Terminal Departure Area 3. At the meeting, the proposed plaque was discussed and a sample plaque was also presented for reference. Besides the proposed plaque, it was also decided that the two historical preservation groups would create a unique exhibit to celebrate Braniff's 90th Anniversary, which will be celebrated throughout 2018.

The meeting was highly successful and the SFO Museum officials agreed to submit the plaque to their Board of Directors and begin planning a joint exhibit, which would begin in the fall of 2017. In April 2017, the museum began discussions internally about what type of Braniff exhibit would be best to convey the essence of Braniff Airways during its 90th year and it was decided that a display of vintage advertisements would best meet that criterion. SFO Museum requested an Object List of possible advertisements from the Foundation and the exhibit process officially commenced along with the new SFO plaque.

In May 2017, the Foundation provided sample text for the proposed plaque. The text provided the reader an overview of Braniff's longtime service to the Bay Area with emphasis on its 1955 interchange route to the area in conjunction with TWA and the beginning of its second interchange route with Pan Am in 1967. The museum selected the classic 12"x12" and 1/4" stainless steel plaque and approved the text.

The approved text was sent to Foundation Board Member and graphic artist Romlee Stoughton. Mr. Stoughton took the text and placed it onto an artistic depiction of how the plaque would actually look once it was engraved. Once the sample plaque artwork was completed it was submitted to the museum for a final proofreading and approval. A final approval was received from museum administrators on August 2, 2017, and the artwork was sent to the engraver.

Once the artwork has been sent to the engraver, it generally takes four to five proofreads to ensure that the final plaque will be free of spelling and grammatical errors and will look appropriately spaced. The final proofread is the most critical because at this point it becomes the responsibility of the Foundation to ensure that there are no errors. If an error is found after the plaque has been engraved then the Foundation becomes responsible for a replacement. Fortunately, this has only happened once and thankfully the engraver graciously shared the cost of the second plaque with the Foundation.

The final proof was read and approved for engraving on September 28, 2017. Engraving one of the Braniff Trail Historical Plaques generally takes about one week, but the proofreading process can take up to two months in some cases depending on the complexity of the plaque and the availability of Foundation personnel to proofread. Most of the plaques are 12"x12" in size, and cost approximately $250, plus $70 for the 3/4 stainless steel raises (raises plaque 3/4 inch off of wall surface) and mounting hardware. However, some of the largest plaques cost close to $1000 plus mounting hardware. All of the cost of Braniff Trail is absorbed by the Foundation and its donors.

Once the engraving is completed, the engraver ships the plaque to the Foundation. The SFO plaque was received at the Foundation during the first week of October 2017. The first publicity photos were taken at that time and then the plaque was shipped to SFO Museum in ample time for the plaque dedication on November 1, 2017, which was three days after the Braniff advertising exhibit was debuted on the second floor.

SFO Museum enlisted their maintenance department to mount the plaque inside an attractive glass enclosed case that sits on a brushed aluminum stand. This enables the museum to have the ability to move the plaque when necessary. Currently, the plaque sits on the second floor of the museum at the entrance to the Braniff International: When You Got It - Flaunt It ad exhibit, where it will stay until the exhibit concludes on May 17, 2018. At that time, it will be relocated to one of the many amazing exhibit areas at San Francisco's famous aviation museum, which now serves as the site of the ninth Braniff Trail Historical Plaque.

Braniff Airways Foundation
Copyright 2012 2017

Photo: Private Collection, Copyright
Braniff Flying Colors Collection, Curator