When Memphis, Tennessee-based airline Chicago and Southern merged with Delta in 1953, its routes brought Delta its first international service—out of gateway city New Orleans to the Caribbean and Caracas, Venezuela.
Twenty years earlier, C&S had started out as a little local airline in California, flying between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Let's take a look at how C&S grew!
Open the Throttle: The Story of Chicago & Southern
"Good planes, good engines, cautious and capable personnel and then, just open the throttle and take off." C&S founder Carleton Putnam's formula for building an airline, 1945
Find out more about Putnam and his airline in this small booklet published by C&S in 1950, just after the launch of Caribbean service. Includes black & white photos. See the C&S Story.
Founded as Pacific Seaboard Air Lines
Chicago and Southern's founder, Carleton Putnam, began his career in law and politics before discovering aviation. While walking down a New York City street one day, he saw an airplane for sale and bought it. He arranged for flying lessons packaged as a cross-country flight, and by the time he reached California, Putnam had decided to try his hand in the field of air transportation.
Putnam's new airline, Pacific Seaboard Air Lines, made its first flight on June 25, 1933, without benefit of an airmail contract. Flying from Los Angeles along the seaboard route to San Francisco, the airline stopped at Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Paso Robles, Salinas and Monterey, California. Fares were "3½ cents per mile—cheaper than driving your car."
Chicago—New Orleans Route Won
In 1934, the U.S. Post Office's call for new bids on all airmail routes gave Putnam hope for financial stability, and he sought one of these contracts. When his bid for the Chicago—New Orleans route won, he shifted operations to the Mississippi Valley.
Putnam's airline inaugurated mail service between Chicago and New Orleans via Memphis, Tennessee, on June 3, 1934; passengers were first flown over the route on July 13, 1934. In 1935, the company name changed to Chicago and Southern Air Lines.