The history of Civil Air Transport (CAT) is exceptional and atypical in aviation history. Formed after World War II in China by General Claire L. Chennault and Whiting Willauer, the airline used surplus aircraft from the war, such as the C-47 Dakota and the C-46 Commando, airlifting supplies and food into war-ravaged China beginning in 1946. The San Diego Air and Space Museum has two posters advertising commercial flights for CAT in our collection. These posters show the unique nature of this intriguing airline. CAT started to operate scheduled passenger services, beginning with international flights to Hong Kong, then to Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Thailand, as well as domestic routes within Taiwan.
Many of our Curatorial artifacts shed light on the society that created them. One example is SDASM's World War One Y.W.C.A. poster. The feminine stance and figure in this poster is saying a woman's femininity will not be compromised due to working in factories.
On Nov. 11, 1935, Captain Albert W. Stevens and Captain Orvil A. Anderson broke the world altitude record when they reached 72,395 feet above the earth in the Explorer II balloon. The Museum's Curatorial collection holds a very unique artifact that tells the story of this audacious feat.
The Museum's popular stewardess or flight attendant uniform collection serves as a wonderful illustration of changing times. With over 250 uniforms in the collection, dating from the 1920s to the 1990s, they illustrate what was culturally or socially appropriate through the years. Our 1944 Trans World Airline uniform is especially illustrative of the breath of the Museum's collection.
The Museum's artifact collection houses a rare short snorter donated by the Distinguished Flying Cross Society (DFC) and is remarkably well preserved for its age.The name "short snorter" comes from the tradition that if you signed a short snorter and that person could not produce it upon request, they owed you a dollar or a drink (a “short snort”), or a drink that was less than a full shot, as alcohol and aviators did not mix well.