Please Fasten Your Seatbelts and Turn Off Your Transistor Radios

By Paul Riegler on 4 April 2016
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While much has changed in flying over the past hundred years, much has remained the same. While today‘s passengers, in most cases on most flights, are welcome to use their smartphones during taxi and in airplane mode or connected to in-flight Wi-Fi once airborne, it was not that long ago that passengers were told to keep them turned off once on board the aircraft.

Recently I came across a “Welcome Aboard” pamphlet from American Airlines from 1959, the dawn of the jet age. The booklet was produced in part to celebrate American’s new fleet of Boeing 707s and the airline’s leadership, as it was the first airline to offer coast-to-coast jet service, starting on January 25, 1959, thanks to that aircraft.

While the booklet goes on to explain various aspects of air travel including detailed information about the 707, which measures 144’ (44 meters) with a wing span of 130’ (40 meters), and four Pratt & Whitney jet engines, it also warns passengers to expect to see the wings flexing, adding that the engine pods will “flex up and down with them.”

What I found of even greater interest was an insert entitled “A Message of Importance” tucked into the back pocket of the pamphlet.

“If you carry a portable radio with you on your flight, we have a favor to ask you. Please do not operate your radio while the aircraft is airborne.”

The insert continues: “Many portable (and other) radios have circuits which radiate signals. These act like miniature broadcasting stations. In some cases, these signals are strong enough to interfere with the aircraft’s electronics systems and cause erroneous readings of the navigation instruments.”

However, there’s no need to worry, the insert continues on to say that the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics is working on a solution.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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