Delta Air Lines in Final Jeopardy!

N o, no, no — Delta Air Lines is not in trouble, to my knowledge. Rather, the answer posed by Alex Québec — er…I mean Alex Trebek — as host for the venerable game show Jeopardy! during an episode which aired on broadcast television yesterday, Monday, June 19, 2017 was as follows:

On June 17, 1929 this airline’s first passenger flight left Dallas, making stops at Shreveport, Monroe & Jackson

Delta Air Lines in Final Jeopardy!

The topic of Final Jeopardy! was airlines, to which I immediately said that I would wager everything. Of course, I blurted out the question “What is Delta Air Lines?” instantly before Alex Trebek even finished reciting the the answer.

The first passenger flight operated by Delta Air Lines occurred at 8:00 in the morning on Monday, June 17, 1929 from Dallas, Texas to Jackson, Mississippi with stops in Shreveport and Monroe in Louisiana — an itinerary which spanned 427 miles and consumed approximately five hours — and used a Travel Air S-6000-B airplane which could carry one pilot and up to five passengers. The tail number of that aircraft was NC8878.

The roundtrip flight operated by Delta Air Service, Incorporated — as the airline was known at that time — was $90.00; and to travel one way would have cost $47.25. As of the time this article was written, the lowest airfare between Dallas and Jackson is $264.00, which is a dreaded Basic Economy fare offered by United Airlines with a stop in Houston.

The Travel Air 6B Sedan

“The 6B Sedan and S-6000-B models were built from the same design, but Curtiss-Wright acquired Travel Air Manufacturing Co. in August 1929 and rebranded. Same plane; different names.” The official text of the Delta Flight Museum pertaining to this airplane — which is on exhibit indefinitely — continues with “One of only four 6B Sedans still intact. Built in 1931, and carried executives of a pipeline company for the next decade. Fought fires in Montana for 31 years, from 1941-1972, hauling smoke jumpers and supplies.”

TravelAir 6B Sedan airplane Delta Air Lines

Joe Maknauskas — shown on the right with his right hand on the door of the airplane — proudly shows off the Travel Air 6B Sedan aircraft at the Delta Heritage Museum. Photograph ©2009 by Brian Cohen.

Joe Maknauskas — who sadly passed away peacefully on the morning of Sunday, October 21, 2012 after suffering complications from brain surgery two months earlier — was a member of the team which painstakingly restored the vintage aircraft. He invited me to climb on board of this restored Travel Air 6B Sedan aircraft — nicknamed the “Gull Wing” — symbolizing the first passenger aircraft of Delta Air Lines.

TravelAir 6B Sedan airplane Delta Air Lines

Photograph ©2009 by Brian Cohen.

Thanks to Joe, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to sit in the rear seat of the 1931 Travel Air 6B Sedan — which was on display of what was then known as the Delta Heritage Museum — almost exactly eight years ago back on Thursday, June 25, 2009.

TravelAir 6B Sedan airplane Delta Air Lines

Photograph ©2009 by Brian Cohen.

The pilot was literally a dummy. I believe that he is no longer a part of the current exhibit…

1931 TravelAir 6B Sedan Delta Flight Museum

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

…and I also believe that visitors to the Delta Flight Museum are no longer permitted to board the aircraft, as indicated by the dummies blocking the entrance of the airplane. Note the tail number on the airplane, which pays homage to the one on the original airplane back in 1929.

Delta Air Service Delta Flight Museum

Photograph ©2009 by Brian Cohen.

A small courtyard setting known as the Monroe Café is in front of a replica of the first offices of Delta Air Service, Incorporated in Monroe, Louisiana in 1929.

Delta Air Service Delta Flight Museum

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Although the replica is still located in Hangar 1 in the Delta Flight Museum, it has been moved from the west wall to the north wall.

Summary

By the way, the exclamation point is included in the headline of this article because the game show is known as Jeopardy!

Of the three contestants, one of them guessed American Airlines. Another contestant guessed TWA, or the now-defunct Trans World Airlines. The winner first guessed Southwest Airlines before crossing it out and responding with Delta.

For the record, there was an airline called Southwest Airways, which was founded in 1946 and eventually became a part of Delta Air Lines through a series of name changes and mergers and acquisitions. In 1958, Southwest Airways became Pacific Air Lines. In 1968, Pacific Air Lines merged with Bonanza Air Lines and West Coast Airlines to become AirWest, which then became Hughes Airwest when the airline was purchased by Howard Hughes in 1970. Republic Airlines — which purchased Hughes Airwest in 1980 — was purchased by Northwest Airlines in 1986; and, of course, Northwest Airlines was acquired by Delta Air Lines in 2008.

I wonder, though: would you be interested in a future article in which I ask trivia questions pertaining to travel for you to guess the answers? Imagine a version of Jeopardy! which deals solely with travel trivia…?!?

In the meantime, more information pertaining to the Delta Flight Museum can be found in these articles:

All photographs ©2009 and ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *