EAL Golden Falcon Electra L-188
Eastern Airlines, Commemorative glasses,
with Captain Eddie Rickenbackers signature, to commensurate with the delivery and introduction of
Eastern's Golden Falcon Prop-Jet Electra service issued in 1959.
The glasses depicted here are as Rare as the Aero line and Plane
Themselves. These could be even more Difficult to locate, and are rarely seen, But here they are,
Depicted Front and Back, side by side, His and Hers, They were both purchased at auction on Sat, 07 Sep
2002 for USD$30 and flew off to Louisiana to remain in the family, an EAL Employee of Thirty Five years.
Who was so excited about winning these glasses.
Now for an Historic Flight linking The Great Airline, with The Great Pioneers, and Manufactures of State
of the Art Stellar Aircraft Back in the day:
A race car driver, World War I Ace fighter pilot, and chairman of Eastern Airlines, Eddie Rickenbacker
always managed to keep death at bay.
"I have probably cheated the Grim Reaper more than any other man," he once said. "Twice I was actually
dying. But each time, as I moved closer, I began to fight harder. It is the easiest thing in the world to
die. The hardest is to live."
Edward Vernon Rickenbacker was born in 1890 in Columbus, Ohio, to Swiss immigrants. By the time his father
died in 1902, Rickenbacker was working odd jobs to help support the family. As a headstone carver, he
carved the marker for his father's grave.
As commander of the 94th Aero Pursuit Squadron in World War 1, Rickenbacker shot down 26 enemy aircraft,
becoming a five-time ace. The man who had learned to fly in 17 days became America's most decorated pilot.
After the war, Rickenbacker joined General Motors, where he was made general manager of its subsidiary,
Miami-based Eastern Airlines, Inc. as incorporated in Delaware on March 29, 1938
When, Rickenbacker and some investors bought Eastern. They selected popular destinations for a public just
getting used to the idea of air travel, turning the airline into a money-maker. Rickenbacker forsaw that
Eastern's flights to Florida would one day make millions for the company.
"Someday Florida is going to be the greatest winter air travel market in the country," he said. "Who the
hell wants to spend 30 hours getting there on a train when they can fly from New York to Miami in a third
of the time?" However its very doubt full that he knew it would become the official Airline of a type of that Walt Disney
World near Orlando, Florida.
Rickenbacker was still so well-known that he always attracted crowds as a speaker. He is credited with
helping to persuade the city fathers of 25 cities to develop airports, including one in the nation's
capital. In 1926 he got his first experience in commercial aviation when he and several associates formed
When that venture folded, Rickenbacker was appointed vice president of General Aviation Corporation
(formerly Fokker), followed in 1933 by vice president of North American Aviation and general manager of
its subsidiary, Eastern Air Transport.
Rickenbacker made national headlines again when President Franklin D. Roosevelt canceled the commercial
airlines' air mail contracts in February 1934 and announced that the Army Air Corps would take over those
routes. To show that the airlines were better qualified to fly the mail, Rickenbacker--with Jack Frye,
vice president of TWA, and a contingent of journalists--flew coast-to-coast in the one and only Douglas
DC-1, granddaddy of all "Gooney Birds," in 13 hours and two minutes, a transcontinental record for
commercial planes. It was a public protest against what Rickenbacker bitterly denounced as "legalized
murder," since three Army pilots had died trying to get to their assigned stations.
The Air Mail Act of 1934 was passed after several more Army pilots were killed because they were untrained
in instrument flying and their aircraft were inadequately equipped. The legislation changed the structure
of U.S. civil aviation, establishing the Civil Aviation Authority, which was granted control over
airports, air navigation aids, air mail and radio communications. Under the terms of the act, General
Motors had to divest itself of most of its aviation holdings, but it was permitted to retain General
Aviation Corporation and a reorganized Eastern Air Transport, with its name changed to Eastern Air Lines.
When Rickenbacker was named Eastern's general manager, he wanted to make the airline independent of
government subsidy. He began to build the airline by improving salaries, working conditions, maintenance
and passenger service, and making stock options available to employees. A modest profit ($38,000) in 1935
proved the worth of the changes he had instituted. Ten new 14-passenger DC-2s, the beginning of "The Great
Silver Fleet," were ordered to replace Stinsons, Condors, Curtis's King birds and Pitcairn Mailwings.
Rickenbacker co-piloted the first DC-2, Florida Flyer, on a record-setting flight from Los Angeles to
Miami on November 8, 1934.
Eastern at the end of 1934 was setting the pace for air transportation by flying passengers, mail and
express on eight-hour nighttime schedules between New York and Miami and nine-hour schedules between
Chicago and Miami to make connections with Pan American's system to South America and the Caribbean. In
April 1938, Rickenbacker and several associates bought the airline for $3.5 million and he became its
president and general manager. He promptly sat down and wrote a paper titled "My Constitution," which
outlined 12 personal and business principles that would guide him in leading the airline. One of them was
indicative of his work ethic: "I will always keep in mind that I am in the greatest business in the world,
as well as working for the greatest company in the world, and I can serve humanity more completely in my
line of endeavor than in any other."
A weather reporting and analysis system was inaugurated, and radio communications were improved. A
reduction in fares brought an immediate increase in passenger traffic. The company became a bonded
carrier, the first airline in the world to take such an action. It meant that goods entering the U.S. by
air or surface craft could be transported by Eastern under bond for delivery to any city having a custom
house. As Rickenbacker saw it, Eastern was the first airline to operate as a free enterprise company
without government subsidy; for many years, it was the only one. In 1937, it was also the first airline to
receive an award from the National Safety Council, after having operated for seven consecutive years
1930�1936, and flying more than 141 million passenger miles without a passenger fatality. However, that
record ended in August 1937 with a fatal DC-2 crash at Daytona Beach.
When it appeared that victory in World War II was on the horizon in late 1944, the airlines began to
return to normal operations. Rickenbacker encouraged Eastern's expansion and placed orders for Lockheed
Constellations and Douglas DC-4s. Those were followed by Martin 404s and Lockheed Electra's. The Cold War
began with the Berlin Airlift, followed by the Korean War, which forced more changes upon the airlines.
Rickenbacker reluctantly retired from Eastern on the last day of 1963 at age 73. He bought a small ranch
near Hunt, Texas, but it proved to be too remote, especially for his wife, Adelaide. After five years,
they donated the ranch to the Boy Scouts, lived in New York City for a while, and then moved to Coral
Gables, Fla. Rickenbacker suffered a stroke in October 1972, but his famous luck held once more, and he
recovered enough to visit Switzerland. He died there of pneumonia on July 23, 1973.
Captain Eddie's eulogy was delivered in Miami by General James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle; his ashes were buried
beside his mother in the Columbus, Ohio, family plot. Four jet fighters flew overhead during the ceremony.
One turned on its afterburners and zoomed up and out of sight in the traditional Air Force "missing man"
salute to a brother pilot.
In an obituary published in a national magazine, William F. Rickenbacker, one of Captain Eddie's two sons,
wrote: "Among his robust certainties were his faith in God, his unswerving patriotism, his acceptance of
life's hazards and pains, and his trust in persistent hard work. No scorn could match the scorn he had for
men who settled for half-measures, uttered half-truths, straddled the issues, or admitted the idea of
failure or defeat. If he had a motto, it must have been the phrase I've heard a thousand times: 'I'll
fight like a wildcat!'"
The Lockheed 10-A Electra was flown along Eastern's routes 1934-1936, although it was only for a brief
time, it contributed to Eastern's first net profit. Eastern Airlines 10A's were was eventually replaced
by the DC-3 in 1936
In the words of Mr. Marshall
Massengale, "The commemorative glasses of The "Golden Falcon" emblem of the later fifties was
stylized and simplified from the earlier falcon motif that graced the Connies and "Silver Falcon" Martin
The single, unbroken and straight up and down or 90 degree wing profile was used. The legs of the falcon
were no longer apparent as in the earlier motif, but were suggested by a streamlined "fairing" that curved
backwards and below gracefully from the front but then retreated sharply in an upward curved sweep back
toward the streamlined tail."
"Where this particular falcon motif appeared on the
tail assemblies of DC-7s and DC-6s, the area behind
the falcon was painted light blue. On the Electra,
the falcon appears against a solid white background.
This was, in my opinion, the smartest looking livery
ever designed for any airliner".
"Sadly, it was
short-lived as the Electra crashes of 1959 and 1960
helped bring about a redesign that, while attractive
and more reflective of the early jet age, was not as
"Eastern Electras, upon having undergone
modification of their wing structures, emerged in a
new livery bearing EAL 'Super Electra' titles with updated
falcon mascots having swept-back wings.
blue or so-called 'hockey stick' would supersede this
updated scheme less than four years later."
they were particularly pretty inside". "Golden Falcon
interiors were designed by Harley Earl, VP of Styling for General
Motors among whose notable designs were embodied in Cadillac automobiles".
Massengale adds, "Where the falcon mascot appears in a disc with dark
blue on one side and light blue on the other, these
two colors together symbolize the skies of night and
day. The more contemporary 'hockey stick' motif
retained these two colors in equal proportion and like
the former, the purpose was to demonstrate Eastern's
commitment to serve equally well by night as by day."
On December 6, 1957 the first prototype Electra was flown. the Electra was one of
the most tested airliners of its day, By that time already 144 orders had been placed by various airlines.
But the turboprop, after two unexplainable crashes shortly after it began service and although more
economical than the turbo jets, had already become second place to the new faster Jets that had come into
But The cause of the crashes were eventually determined, and Lockheed launched a massive recall program
through which all Electras underwent extensive wing and engine modifications to ward off a deadly force
known as "whirlmode".
The L-188 was powered by four wing mounted Allison 501-D13 turboprop. Allison Transmission's legacy of
technological innovation is rooted in Jim Allison's founding of the Indianapolis Speedway 500-Mile Race.
Allison founded the event in 1909 with three partners to test race car components.
In 1927 Eastern was originally founded September 15 as Pitcairn Aviation, Inc. In 1928 Jim Allison died,
and Allison Engineering Company was put up for sale. General Motors purchased the company in 1929. The
company became Allison Division of GM in 1934. In 1995, Indianapolis, Indiana-based Allison Engine
became part of Rolls-Royce plc of the Car and Eastern's L-1011 Fame.
The initial Electra version, designated L-188A was first flown in commercial service,
by Eastern Airlines on January 12th, 1959, and by American Airlines on January 23rd of that same year.
It was followed by the L-188C, with increased
fuel capacity to offer greater range, and this type later entered service later in 1959. KLM was the only
European customer to order the Electra. Electra finally earned back her reputation and regained public
confidence by delivering comfort, speed and style to all air travelers who entered her spacious cabin. She
was known as "a pilot's airplane" by most pilots who flew her
The majority of Electras were retired from first line service by 1975, at that time EAL carried 27 Million
passengers, and 32,000 Employee's. According to the Eastern Airlines Fact Sheet of July 1976, Eastern
Listed 15 Lockheed Prop-Jet Electras in its fleet.
Eastern Airlines was the last major U.S airline to operate the Electra in regular passenger service. On
November 1, 1977, Eastern retired its last L-188 from the Washington - New York Shuttle.
Historic Eastern Airlines Turned 50 in 1978. Frank Borman, The Astronaut and President of Eastern at the
sign's off on the Medal and the paper momento about Easterns Fifty Years.
Mint and Boxed in pristene, original problem free Condition.
This special 50th Anniversary Medallion Depicts a Pitcairn Mailwing, Over Eastern Airlines first
route map of the United States East Coast, with dates.
Obverse shows the inscription. This Medallion is made from most of the aircrat Eastern had flown since
The Pitcairn Mailwing, and from the Apollo 8 Spacecraft as
Page Est. 01 August 2002. Updated April 2017.
©1996–2017 Mark S. Ohberg
Former member of the American Numismatic Association
Background Original Photo ©2002 by Nicolai Musante Larsen.