The literature of modernity in the British Overseas Airways Corporation aircraft interior

O'Shea, Paddy (2016) The literature of modernity in the British Overseas Airways Corporation aircraft interior. In: Design and Time : Design History Society Conference 2016; 08-10 Sep 2016, London, U.K.. (Unpublished)


The five-year period immediately following the end of the Second World War was a complicated and divisive one in the history of the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), the former national airline of Britain (1939 - 1974). The Corporation encountered major problems concerning the availability of civil aircraft that were fit for purpose which, in turn, had a major impact on the type of passenger experience the airline could offer. However, despite this, BOAC’s own in-flight literature of the time provides a fascinating insight into how the airline positioned itself at the forefront of modernity even though the immediate post-war reality of its aircraft was markedly different. It was the moment when the ability of flight to dramatically reduce time and distance between locations was becoming a reality (on a global scale) and it was this moment of that BOAC wished to be seen at the forefront of. This paper, using a series of BOAC’s inflight magazines published between 1946 and 1948, Wings Over the World and Speedbird, will help to show that BOAC understood that its role went beyond the simple operation of aircraft and the transportation of passengers. It positions itself as an arbiter of modern taste, informing on British fashion, the strength of British industry, new and future modes of transport and the role that air transport in particular would play in the second half of the twentieth century.

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