Air Travel Before the Jet Age

Boeing 747 at gate. Source: (

Love it or hate it, commercial air travel is a staple of modern life. Even small and medium-sized cities around the world enjoy direct flights that can connect them to distant family and friends within hours. Despite the cramped seats and sketchy food, the long lines, discourteous seatmates, and apathetic customer service, aviation is a marvel and something to be celebrated.

Aviation industry publications estimate that more than 500,000 humans are cruising thousands of feet in the air at any given time, and more than 8.3 million of us fly every single day—that's more than the population of Denmark!

So how did we get here? Getting on an airplane is second nature, but few of us know how the industry operated before the jet age. It's a fascinating story of innovation and progress, and the one that we're going to explore today.