Jet Set: Aviation's Glory Years
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Jet Set: The People, Planes, Glamour, and the Romance in Aviation's Glory Years
When Pan American World Airways began regular scheduled flights from New York to Paris in 1958, courtesy of its new Boeing 707, the well-heeled celebrities of the era quickly made Europe their playground. Instantaneously, the dream of international travel came true for the many who longed to emulate the “jet set” lifestyle, ushering in the age of mass tourism.
These days, unless you fly by private jet there is absolutely nothing glamorous about air travel. Crowded airports, terrorist threats, queues, intrusive body checks, packed aircrafts with little legroom…. You know the deal!
But once upon a time there was a golden era of travel when aviation held enormous romantic appeal and the introduction of the jet engine dramatically cut transatlantic flying times, and thus opened up the world to the masses. Leading the charge was the so-called Jet Set - celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Jackie Kennedy, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor - who zigzagged their way across the Atlantic alongside the famous moguls, financiers, and playboys who transformed transatlantic travel into an undeniable right.
Bestselling author and Vanity Fair contributor William Stadiem so eloquently brought that Jet Age dream to life again in his book ‘Jet Set’, which reminded us about the glamorous decade when explorers took to the skies in massive numbers as never before, with the rich and famous elbowing their way to the front of the line.
Dishy anecdotes and finely rendered character sketches re-create the world of luxurious airplanes, exclusive destinations, and beautiful, wealthy trendsetters who turned transatlantic travel into an undeniable right. It was the age of Camelot and “Come Fly with Me,” Grace Kelly at the Prince’s Palace in Monaco, and Mary Quant miniskirts on the streets of Swinging London. Men still wore hats, stewardesses showed plenty of leg, and to catch a sight of Bardot at the beach at Saint-Tropez was merely a few hours away.
Jet Set reads like a who’s who of the fabulous and well connected, from the swashbuckling “skycoons” who launched the jet fleet to the colourful backdrop of travellers who kept it flying.
Among the bold-face names on the passenger manifest: Howard Hughes, Cary Grant, and gangster Pat DiCicco who made world headlines only slightly smaller than Pearl Harbor in 1941 by marrying the seventeen-year-old heiress Gloria Vanderbilt.
Also mentioned is future James Bond producer Albert Cubby Broccoli, who led to the discovery that Hughes's suite at the Carlton Hotel in Washington had been bugged, an invasion of privacy that made Hughes paranoid for the rest of his life.
Juan Trippe, the Yale-educated WASP with the Spanish-sounding name who parlayed his fraternity contacts into a tiny airmail route that became the world’s largest airline, Pan Am; couturier to the stars Oleg Cassini, the Kennedy administration’s “Secretary of Style,” and his social climbing brother Igor, who became the most powerful gossip columnist in America—then lost it all in one of the juiciest scandals of the century; Temple Fielding, the high-rolling high priest of travel guides, and his budget-conscious rival Arthur Frommer; Conrad Hilton, the New Mexico cowboy who built the most powerful luxury hotel chain on earth; and Mary Wells Lawrence, the queen bee of Madison Avenue whose suggestive ads for Braniff and other airlines brought sex appeal to the skies.
Like a super-fueled episode of Mad Men, Jet Set evokes a time long gone but still vibrant in American memory. This is a rollicking, sexy romp through the ring-a-ding glory years of air travel, when escape was the ultimate aphrodisiac and the smiles were as wide as the aisles. Order Jet Set here.
Watch the video of best selling author William Stadiem talking about his book, Jet Set.
If you feel like experiencing the Golden Age of Travel but fear you've missed out, the good news is that flying private is even better. The benefits of private aviation over commercial aviation of any era include:
- Your choice of aircraft and interior
- Fly when you want to
- No security queues or intrusive searches
- Privacy - you choose the passenger list, if any
- Your menu your way - catering of your choice
- Land closer to your final destination - private jets can use smaller airports closer to towns and cities
The benefits of private aviation are almost infinite. But the downside could be cost. Whilst it's cheaper to fly commercial airlines, splitting the cost of a private jet with friends, family or business associates could make private aviation much cheaper than you think. If you're flying on an empty leg flight then splitting the cost of a private jet often brings it very close to, or on par with, commercial airline prices. When you factor in the time saving element, it's a no brainer. Next time you're planning a holiday or business trip let superFLY give you a private flight quote. You may join the growing number of travellers who are pleasantly surprised.