Around the World with Transocean
Iran was yet another country to benefit from Transocean's assistance. TAL first began operations there in 1948 by training Iranian Air Lines pilots and providing aircraft maintenance. In addition to flying the Moslem pilgrims to Jeddah, they often flew the Shahansha of Iran, His Imperial Majesty Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, on journeys to Rome, Geneva, Rabat, Formosa, Japan, or other destinations.
The first flight by the polar route from Oakland International Airport was made to deliver a TAL DC-4 to Iranian Air Lines in Teheran. The aircraft departed on January 7, 1955, with Orvis Nelson in command with a crew of six. On board were 8,000 pounds of cargo that included spare engines and arctic survival gear.
The first stop was at Duluth, Minnesota, for final clearances and special winterizing of the plane. There, de-icing gear and special fluids to resist the cold would be installed. The polar route chosen by Nelson was similar to the one flown by Scandinavian Airlines Systems (SAS). It penetrated 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle which saved more than 400 miles on the 10,000 mile flight. The course took them within twenty miles of Bluie West 8, code name of a U.S. military air base in Greenland. Their next stop was Keflavik, Iceland. Then they proceeded to Beirut via Dusseldorf, Geneva, and Athens.