Excerpt from the book Midway Airport

In the late-1940s, development on the DC-4 resulted in the DC-6, and Lockheed's further development of their postwar 049 Constellation resulted in the 649, 749, then the 1049 in 1952. The four-engine giants were aircraft with greater ranges, more power and increased capacity for carrying passengers.

    TWA, United, American and Pan Am were in competition for transatlantic passengers and offered the best comfort, luxury and cuisine in air travel imaginable. In 1950, TWA introduced Sky Coach on one end of the affordability and travel spectrum, for transcontinental passengers. TWA Sleeper Connie service came in 1951, a whole, new way to fly. For the air traveler, you could take the train, but flying was something else entirely; traveling by air was as comfortable and exciting as vacationing at the destination.

    In 1957, the thrill of the flying came to an end for Monarch’s Scotty O’Carroll, as news was received that he’d suffered a stroke. The man who had so much history with the airport and aviation was now in the trenches. He had welcomed Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and Orville Wright here. Monarch had hosted Jimmy Stewart during the filming of his 1946 movie. He had flown Hollywood greats such as Orson Welles and Ingrid Bergman. And now he was grounded.

    By 1958, at least twenty major airlines were using Midway, including the domestic, international and freight lines. Mike Berry was now airport manager. The airport featured instrument approaches, airport and runway lighting, and navigational aids for all-weather flying. The majors such as United and Capital had also begun using O’Hare not only as a reliever for many of their flights now, but the international flights began using ORD as a terminus. A TWA Super-G Constellation, nonstop from Paris, was the first international flight to land at O’Hare’s international terminal on August 8th, and the pilot was Harold Neumann — the same Harold Neumann who had flown against Benny Howard and Mr. Mulligan in the 1935 Bendix trophy races, and lost. Now, he was a part of the new Jet Age at the new Chicago airport. Two years later, all the internationals would transfer to O’Hare.  

The brightest
Hollywood stars have walked the tarmac of Midway; and in summer 1958, Cary Grant and Leo G. Carroll were on location there, filming a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s timeless North by Northwest. Twelve years before, Jimmy Stewart and crew had filmed in front of the Monarch hangar, only a couple of blocks from where these two now walked, at the North Terminal gate complex.  

The air Age was truly magical. Movies like
ChinaClipper, Casablanca, Captains of the Clouds, Flying Tigers, The High and the Mighty, and Island In the Sky were favorites of all ages. Wide-eyed boys watched The Whirlybirds, Sky King, and Steve Canyon on television every week. On radio, boys listened to Captain Midnight and Uncle Ned’s Squadron, with guests such as young Robert Jesko — who would go on to work for Braniff International at the World’s Busiest Airport, only eight years later. 

All the movies and TV shows of that era depicted heroic men and women pilots living lives of great adventure — and all of
America loved aviation. Private flying was at an all-time high as well. In the 1950s, the dream of flight became a reality for people of ages and walks. Flying vacations and romantic excursions to far-off ports of call were now possible, and Midway Airport was the gateway to realizing those dreams of romantic, worldwide air travel.   Images of Aviation: Midway Airport by David E. Kent