Braniff History Today - 11/23/1900

BRANIFF HISTORY TODAY - Happy Birthday to Braniff International Airways President Charles Edmund Beard, born November 23, 1900. Today we celebrate the 117th Anniversary of Mr. Beard's birth. Mr. Beard assumed leadership roles at Braniff during two of the most critical times in the Airline's celebrated history.

In 1935, Mr. Beard assumed the role of General Manager of Braniff Airways, Inc., after company cofounder Paul Revere Braniff left the company. Under his and Tom Braniff's management, the airline quickly added new routes and new airliners to the airline including the company's first twin-engine aircraft, the Lockheed L-10 Electra in 1935, which was followed by the Douglas DC-2 in 1937.

Mr. Beard again, brilliantly guided Braniff Airways through a highly difficult period beginning in January 1954, when co-founder Thomas Elmer Braniff was killed in a private plane crash in Louisiana. Charles Beard was instrumental in ushering Braniff into the Jet-Powered and Pure Jet age, which included placing orders for the Lockheed L-188 Electra turboprop and Boeing 707 turbojet aircraft in 1955. He also placed two orders for the planned US built Supersonic Transport.

In April 1964, Braniff President Beard officially placed deposits for two US made Supersonic Transport Aircraft in the amount of $100,000 USD for each aircraft. This officially assigned Braniff slots number 38 and 44 when the SST aircraft was scheduled to begin production.

At the time this deposit was made, the SST program was being financed by the US Government under an edict from President Kennedy. Three US makers including Boeing, Lockheed, and North American were vying for the contract to produce America's first supersonic airliner. Unfortunately, the program was cancelled under the direction of Congress in 1971.

As a result of the cancellation of the US SST program, the British/French Concorde became the mainstay for high speed jet travel. In 1978, Braniff Chair Harding L. Lawrence negotiated a unique interchange operation with British Airways and Air France to operate Concorde from DFW to London and Paris via Washington Dulles. Unlike the US SST, Concorde could only carry 100 passengers and its economic viability due to two major fuel crisis during the 1970s since its first flights crippled the aircraft's sales. Only British Airways and Air France would ultimately own Concorde aircraft.

President Beard noted that the two US SST aircraft that Braniff placed deposits on would be used on the carrier's long range US to Latin America services where the sleek new Boeing 707 was already traversing quite satisfactorily. In addition to the three airframe designs submitted, General Electric, Curiss-Wright, and Pratt and Whitney would also submit proposals for super high powered turbojet engines capable of moving the massive SST at Mach 3 or 2000 mph. The required four engines would need to be capable of producing 50,000 lbs of thrust and capable of operating at altitudes of up to 70,000 feet and be able to carry 200 passengers.

Braniff Airways Foundation has authored a Wikipedia article chronicling the fascinating and impressive life of Charles Edmund Beard and created a Find A Grave Memorial page in his honor. Both can be viewed at the following links:

Photo: Mr. Beard, on left, is congratulating Mr. Aubrey Costa of Dallas, Texas, on July 22, 1960. Mr. Costa was the 20 millionth passenger to fly on Braniff Airways. A striking polished aluminum model of the Boeing 707-227 El Dorado Jet was presented near the Dallas Love Field Ticket Counter by Mr. Beard for Mr. Costa's milestone flight aboard Braniff International Airways.

Braniff Airways Foundation
Copyright 2012 2017

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