Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Northern Airway ...

I did a series of posts last year featuring historic railroad-related advertising and graphic art ... so in the spirit of granting equal time I thought I'd do a few airline posts over the next few days. Not quite as cool as the train stuff, but pretty interesting nonetheless.

Today's graphic is the logo of an airline you've almost certainly never heard of: Mamer Air Transport. The company was founded in the late 1920s by Nick Mamer, one of the Pacific Northwest's most intriguing aviation pioneers ... he's best remembered for piloting a biplane called the Spokane Sun-God on a world-record, nonstop 7,200-mile flight in 1929.

By 1930, Mamer Air Transport had pioneered one of the first long-distance airline routes across Montana. Dubbed "The Northern Airway," the route combined daytime air travel with overnight train journeys to enable faster travel between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest. Passengers took a night train to Minneapolis, boarded a "Buhl Air Sedan" for an all-day flight to Spokane, and then caught a second overnight train the rest of the way to the coast. The plane's Montana stops included Miles City, Billings, Butte, and Missoula, and passengers were treated to lunch at the airport in Miles City.

The Northern Airway route apparently operated only briefly, made obsolete by ever-faster aircraft and advances in nighttime flying. By the early 1930s, Mamer had abandoned his venture and taken a job as a Northwest Airlines pilot, flying nearly the same route across Montana. And in January 1938, Mamer's plane crashed in the Bridger Mountains north of Bozeman, killing all aboard ... the state's first commercial airline disaster.


  1. I'm so glad you didn't post this before I took the Great Lakes flight out of Miles City to Denver...

    That's a very cool logo, though!
    And it's so interesting to read about this little chunk of history. So much I don't know about my own state...

  2. Oh, travel should always be an adventure. :)

    And that's the great thing about Montana ... we have enough material up here to keep a blogger busy for decades!