Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jetscalator (1960)

Reader Tom Z sent in this March 27, 1960 edition of Closer Than We Think, featuring the "Jetscalator." Tom explains:
This CTWT has held special significance for me (and anyone else who has used Dulles until quite recently). I haven’t flown in years, but I understand that the famous “Mobile Terminals” are finally gone, a case of a futuristic idea that didn’t work all that well in the real world.
The handful of times that I've been through the Dulles airport I've felt that I was going to miss my flight because of those slow moving shuttles. I hadn't heard that they might be doing away with the mobile lounges. Can anyone confirm that this is true?

The text from "Jetscalator" appears below:
Jet planes and the number of passengers they carry are getting bigger and bigger. Distances between terminals and loading docks are getting longer. The answer is a traveling waiting room with a moving ramp. Such a project is already being developed by the Chrysler Corporation, and it may be used at the new Washington, D.C., terminal now being designed by Eero Saarinen.

The "jetscalator," as it might be called, would move on wheels higher than a man.

It would have an up-or-down ramp and capacity for about 100 people. When departure time is at hand, travelers wouldn't have to stir from their chairs - they'd be transported in the "jetscalator" right to the side of the plane.

Next week: Cellar-size Scoopers

Read more:
Luggage Blowers (1961)
Airport of the Future (1967)
Fuller's Traveling Cartridge (circa 1960s)
Passenger Air Travel (1945)
Closer Than We Think! (1958-1963)


Anonymous said...

Yep, IAD is killing the Mobile Lounges soon as part of the D2 project. They're being replaced by a train, just like every other big American airport has these days.

Unknown said...

They're rarely if ever used in the original manner, anyway--in which the Mobile Lounge directly docks with the plane. Ever since the midfield terminals were built, the Mobile Lounges are just shuttles from the Saarinen terminal to the other terminals, where you use a conventional jetway. The train's going to make them superfluous even for that.

The early ones came in different varieties; some had ramps (not escalators) that tilted up and docked with the plane, and others could jack their whole bodies up to different heights.

They functioned as a sort of mobile holding pen back then, and you would sometimes have to wait in there for quite a while. I hope that one in the Radebaugh drawing has a powerful air conditioner. The real ones got uncomfortably hot inside when they sat out in the middle of the tarmac in a Virginia summer, and they had pretty small windows, not a huge glass canopy.

Unknown said...

...Hmmm, the Wikipedia page on Dulles says that some "plane mate" lounges are in fact still in use (especially for international flights), and will be used into the future. It's the lounges that go between terminals that are being phased out.

I should have mentioned that there's already an underground moving walkway to one of the closer concourses.