Flying "Anything, Anywhere, Anytime"
Several military contracts were awarded to Transocean during its early years. One awarded in December 1948 kept airline personnel working around the clock for days, helping fly more than 30,000 U. S. Army personnel and their dependents across the Atlantic.
Operation Flying Bride
There was almost no way for TAL to plan ahead for business. The unexpected job came when Congress voted not to renew the Immigration Act that permitted German girls who marry American soldiers to become eligible automatically to enter the United States. The U.S. Army officers were frantic. They had only a few days to make arrangements to fly thousands of war brides out of Germany before the expiration of the act on Christmas Day.
As Transocean was the only American airline with a station in Munich at the time, it was the first to participate in "Operation Flying Bride." Eventually, eight other airlines participated in this contract. Mechanics were rushed from Transocean's East Coast division to Germany, and locals were hired to handle the baggage. During that first week, Station Manager Don McAfee was so busy that he didn't have time to take his shoes off. Sleep came in winks on a cot at the office during the entire airlift; while his wife Dorothy took innumerable telephone calls, answered questions and briefed flight flight crews in order to keep the aircraft departing on schedule.
"We were getting a planeload out every hour on the hour, around the clock," said McAfIee. "And by the end of it, I was so tired I felt paralyzed."
When hostilities broke out in Korea in 1950, records at the Fairfield-Suisun Air Base (now called Travis Air Force Base) in northern California showed that at 6:15 p.m. on June 30, 1950, a TAL Skymaster was the first airplane to take off for Korea and that the second TAL airplane was actually Korea-bound before other carriers had started. That first aircraft carried a cargo shrouded in secrecy: 3.5 inch bazooka rockets. (Some thought Seaboard & Western put the first plane into the sky in the Korean Airlift, but Transocean was first according to Howard Mingos in an article in Esso Air World, March/April 1951).
Subsequent TAL planes carried blood plasma, ammunition, and spare engines to the war zone. On their return to the U.S. mainland, they carried wounded personnel and equipment for repairs. This was in support of the Military Air Transport Service (MATS).
During the first twenty-one months of the Korean Conflict, Transocean airplanes carried 7,112 fitter patients, 20,000 military passengers, and 9,960,095 pounds of military cargo on 673 flights between Travis Air Force Base and Tokyo. At the height of the conflict, Transocean used seven DC-4s, garnering nearly 14 percent of the airlift activity on the transpacific shuttle
Under contract with the military, Transocean flew hundreds of servicemen back to
Travis Air Force Base, Sacramento, California. Photo: Ralph Lewis
*From Folded Wings, A History of Transocean Air Lines by Arue Szura