Sunday, November 15, 2009

Northwest, the Polar Routes, c. 1954

Polar Projected Maps are somehow alluringly dynamic, especially when spanned by the daring navigations of the pioneering airlines of the post-war era. In this category, none is a better example than Northwest Orient, a carrier which early on challenged the limits of American intercontinental contact with an intrepidation rivaled only by the exotic ports of Pan Am.

Northwest has stayed true to its patron cities, as forty and fifty years on, NWA is still strong in Detroit, Minneapolis, Seattle, Milwaukee, and keeps its mighty Pacific hub at Tokyo (although now out at Narita, when at the time it was at Haneda).

The above Asiatic route crests at Anchorage, and with seemingly-necessary stops at the tiny, frigid island airstrips at Shemya and Chitose, before plunging down the rim of the Pacific to arrive at Tokyo, with an onward network spanning to Okinawa, Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, and Manila.

Northwest has a rich and proud history, which somewhat sadly is in the process of being painted over in Delta's livery, which swallowed NWA for its strong Asian presence, particularly its Tokyo hub.

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