The Stratocruiser

Air travel was a big deal in the 1950s – and a bigger deal to the Hawaiian Islands. What United Airlines called the Stratocruiser was The Boeing 377 – a pressurized, two-level, long-range airliner derived from the C-97 Stratofreighter and the B-29 Superfortress after World War II. The Stratocruiser first flew in 1947 and it flew nice, powered by four piston engines. Up to 114 passengers were comfy and cozy in a pressurized cabin, in a plane that could fly as fast as 375 MPH and as high as 32,000 feet. Service to Hawaii began in 1949, and the airlines were in competition with Matson and other cruise liner services – so the airlines offered elegant touches like this passenger list.


The Stratocruiser had its problems however, and in 1956 a Stratocruiser was forced to ditch in the middle of the Pacific Ocean – the 50s equivalent of Sully Sullivan ditching in the Hudson. Pan Am Flight 6 lost two engines but was able to land in the ocean near the Coast Guard vessel Ponchatrain. All 31 passengers and crew survived the ditching.