EN ROUTE honors Veterans Air Line logo art

The 1993 book EN ROUTE honors Veterans Air Line logo art.

1993 book EN ROUTE honors Veterans Air Line logo art from 1946

EN ROUTE book cover. Co-authors Lynn Johnson and Michael O’Leary. Published by Chronicle Books in 1993. Photo permission from Chronicle Books.

A book recently arrived in the mail. Published in 1993, it’s an aviation book dedicated to noteworthy “label art from the Golden Age of air travel.” The title is EN ROUTE. And inside, EN ROUTE honors Veterans Air Line logo art used on our company baggage labels.

How cool is that? And how cool is this gift?

Let’s go back.  On January 8th, an email with a two-word SUBJECT arrives. It says A Surprise and is from Jack Stettner’s eldest son, Al.  His intriguing message:

A Surprise…I ordered something from Amazon for you – keep an eye out for it. When you get it, look at pages 38, 41, and 112 – that’s all I’ll say!

Really???

Now I love surprises. But waiting definitely is not my strong suit. Daily, even before it was due to arrive, I “kept an eye out,” just as Al instructed. Then, January 17th, the postman finally delivers the gift.  Wow! A “surprise,” indeed!

EN ROUTE honors Veterans Air Line logo art from 1945 & 1946. A delightful, stunning honor! And intriguingly candid text!

In the chapter WINGS OVER THE WORLD, the book EN ROUTE honors Veterans Air Line logo art on Page 41. Also shown is Alaska Star Airlines' art.

WINGS OVER THE WORLD chapter in EN ROUTE features Veterans Air Line logo art on Page 41. WOW!

Remember, at this point, I still know nothing yet about the book’s content! And I have forgotten the page numbers that Al had flagged in his early email. But the book is so lovely, I am happy to just thumb through.

And then…Page 41 practically jumps out! WOW!  Our logo in living color! Veterans Air Line is in this book!

All over again, just telling you the story as it unfolded, I get the Gooney Bird Bumps!

Deliberately searching now, Page 112 is the next discovery…

While text explains that Veterans Air Line was formed by ex-military pilots in 1945, the page shows an unrelated vintage TWA advertisement featuring the Grand Canyon outside the passenger window.

Write-up #9 on Page 112 credits Veterans Air as formed by ex-military pilots and the company label art as bold and striking.

A dramatic graphic design of the Grand Canyon as seen through an airline passenger window dominates the page. It’s a reproduction of an old TWA advertisement.

And on that same page, in “company” with that “more established” behemoth, in item 9), EN ROUTE honors Veterans Air Line logo art as “striking in the bold imagery of a winged V…” Plus the authors home in on the very essence of founder Saunie Gravely’s dream…a cargo and passenger carrier “operated by ex-military pilots.”

Now…wait for it…the real stunner on Page 38…

The bold red and gold logo art of Northwest Airlines (circa 1934) and Eagle Airways of Britain (circa 1953) grace page 38 of EN ROUTE

Northwest Airlines Inc. and Eagle Airways of Britain logos grace page 38 of EN ROUTE while page text clearly states that Veterans Air Line and similar “brave experiments” were government “regulated out of existence.”

Page 38 contains the real stunner for me: The authors’ candid reveal “of the short-lived Veterans Air Line” demonstrates that these folks have really done their background homework on Veterans Air, not just chosen label art that struck their fancy.  I wonder how much more they know that the book’s limited space precluded them from publishing? (We’ll come back to this shortly!)

But first, please read this Page 38 EN ROUTE excerpt in its entirety…and we’ll discuss the last sentence when you come back…

Excerpted with permission of Chronicle Books.

Most of these brave experiments were, unfortunately, regulated out of existence by the government under pressure from more-established carriers.

The behemoths’ roles in “What happened to Veterans Airline in the end?”  Now that’s a doozy of an assignment!

I already have anecdotal evidence and (as yet unstudied, but voluminous) research garnered from the Library of Congress on this very issue. On the back burner in deference to family research, I repeatedly relegate the subject to generalities. Simultaneously, I dislike that my generalities come across as innuendo which I am still ill-equipped to substantiate or strongly defend.

I readily admit there’s a strong under-funding factor in their demise. But now almost 3 years into researching Veterans Air, I know enough about the caliber of men who joined Saunie, and the unwavering nature of my Dad himself. They would’ve found trustworthy investors. They were stellar enough and accomplished enough by mid-1946 to engender investor confidence. They were schooled and bruised enough about the vagaries, trials and travails of their endeavor that, had reasonable funding conditions been offered, they well might have risked acceptance in order to further their dream. If it weren’t for the stronger resistance beyond financing.

The behemoths – the United States government and the “more-established carriers” played roles both surreptitious and blatant.  And I’ve hesitated jumping into that indubitably touchy topic fraught no doubt with all kinds of rabbit holes! But authors  Johnson and O’Reilly’s wording of “regulated out of existence” was a gut punch and wake-up call. Uncovering the subject is unavoidable if I am to provide a fact-based answer to the inevitable question, “What happened to Veterans Air in the end?”  Looks like the “Assignment Desk” just handed me a doozy!

Lynn Johnson and I are both surprised by my call!

I decide to find and thank the EN ROUTE co-authors and begin to search for a phone number – normally, the toughest part of my research. So…Lynn Johnson and I are both surprised by my call. I’m gleeful that the phone number is still connected. Lynn is perplexed I am calling her at all given the book was published 25 years ago! And she’s further surprised that I am directly related (literally and figuratively) to the Veterans Air Line label.

Readily overcoming our surprise, we spend the next 45 minutes talking about a myriad of subjects.

Turns out, Lynn’s co-author, Michael O’Leary, is her husband. He also now owns Chronicle Books, the 1993 publishing house of EN ROUTE. Plus he is an aviation writer, historian, and publisher of four aviation specialty magazines.  I’ve fallen into grand company – again!  How I love this project!

“Thanks” to Lynn Johnson and Michael O’Leary — and especially Al Stettner!

Lynn and Michael, I am delighted with our new aviation connection. Thank you for choosing our logo for your noteworthy collection and for your professional research.  And a huge thank you to you, Al Stettner, for this most amazing surprise gift that keeps on giving!


 

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Then & There…

A RECOMMENDED READ and irreplaceable for me: "Memories of the Jing Bao & Beyond," Authors Choice Press, 2001. Written by our own JACK Z. STETTNER - Veterans Air Express Co-Founder, Investor, Pilot and Operations Manager. As well as his considerable WWII experiences, Jack's book revealed new details about Veterans Air Express...plus the spirit and character of this organization that Jack obviously loved!