History - The Airline

Capital Airlines started as Pennsylvania Airlines which was in operation in 1931 and run by Clifford Ball. P.A. merged with Cental Airlines (started in 1934) on 1 November 1936 to become Pennsylvania-Central Airlines - P.C.A. Both Central Airlines and PCA were in stiff competition in the Washington - Detroit area and the merger strengthened both businesses and became the fifth largest airline in the country at that time.

PCAs main route was between Washington and Buffalo with three stops in between. 1939 saw the airline making extensions to this basic route, going southwards toward Knoxville using the Boeing 247D twins.

By 1942 PCA was flying two Boeing 247D twins and sixteen Douglas DC-3s, the latter to compete with the larger airlines flying against it. United began a route with DC-3s on the Chicago to Washington in 1943 and the airline needed some way of competing against the giants of US aviation.

In 1944 the US C.A.B. allowed PCA to compete on the New York - Chicago (via Pittsburgh and Detroit) route in competition with United Airlines (DC-3s), TWA (Stratoliners and Constellations) and American Airlines (DC-3s).

The direct route between Washington and Chicago was finally awarded to PCA in 1945 and PCA flew DC-3s against the United Air Lines service that had been established two years earlier.

In 1946 PCA introduced Douglas DC-4s in an attempt to gain ground on its competitors.

On April 21 1948 PCA changed its name to Capital Airlines. On November 4 1948 Capital Airlines made a 'first' in American airline history when it introduced a new low-fare 'coach' service - called the 'Nighthawk' service.

By the 1950s Capital Airlines was flying Douglas DC-3s, DC4s and Lockheed L-049 Constellations. The airline was looking forward again in the early 1950s when it ordered sixty Vickers Viscount 700 turboprops in 1954 and 1955 after consulting with the aircraft's launch customer, British European Airways, which had ordered a large fleet and were flight testing them on the London - Paris route with great success.

The first Viscount saw Capital service on 26 of July 1955 on the prestigious Wahsington to Chicago route with flights initially three a day. This new aircraft gave Capital a real gain over its competitors.

Capital Airlines ordered another 15 Viscounts to its great success, along with orders for another British airliner, the De Havilland Comet 4 and 4C long-haul jet. But these orders were cancelled when the airline recognised it was moving too fast. The airline was not making the profit it expected despite the amazing success of the Viscount which flew three quarters of the airline's seat-miles. It could not survive in competition with the 'big four' airlines and the rulings by the CAB which limited it (ed. - route restrictions, engine overhaul every 500+ hours of operation).

So in July 1960 United Air Lines took over Capital Airlines and its Viscount fleet** making UAL the largest free-world airline of the time.

** United acquired 46 Viscounts on July 1961 as part of the merger with Capital Airlines, the balance of the fleet were returned to Vickers. They were all 745D models so far as I can determine, though Capital had at least one other model (series 744 and possibly 812D) which left the fleet before the merger. Scanning the histories, it looks like all of them left the United fleet by 1970, although most left in 1968/69. Northeast ceased Viscount service in 1964 as did Continental in 1967.

History - THE Aircraft

CAPITAL Air Lines Vickers Viscount 700 series.

The Viscount is still Britains most successful commercial transport aircraft, with 444 aircraft being built. It is also famous as the worlds first production turboprop airliner. Combining speed, passenger appeal and operating economics, Viscounts formed the basis for many airlines until replaced by pure jet equipment.

On 16th July 1948, the prototype Viscount 630, G-AHRF, took to the skies. The Viscount was designed to fill the need for one of the airliner types specified by Britains Brabazon committee. This called for a pressurized turboprop airliner carrying 24 passengers over distances of up to 1,750 miles at 200 m.p.h. British European Airways (BEA) required a 32 seater, resulting eventually in the Viscount prototype. This aircraft was awarded a restricted Certificate of Airworthiness on 15th September 1949, followed by a full Certificate on 27th July 1950. The second prototype was built as a test bed, with two Rolls-Royce Tay turbojets in place of the four Darts.

The prototype 630 was put into service flying fare paying passengers from 29th July 1950 until 23rd August the same year. This enabled BEA to gain experience in operating the aircraft, before the delivery of the 20 Viscount 700 aircraft ordered. These flights proved the reliability, and popularity with passengers, of the aircraft.

With subsequent Darts delivering more power, Vickers stretched the aircraft to the Viscount 700 specification. First flown on 28th August 1950, the prototype 700 was demonstrated at Farnborough with three of its four engines feathered! Passenger capacity was from 40 to 48 passengers in four abreast, or up to 53 with some five abreast configurations. Later increases in Dart power were utilized in the 700D series of Viscounts, which operated at higher weights, but were the same overall size as the 700s.

Viscount N7440 was delivered to Capital Airlines in 1956. Upon merger with UAL in 1966? (1961), all Viscounts served with UAL in medium to short haul capacity. This and most of United's Viscounts were sold in 1968-70, and N7440 went to Columbia. Her flying days ended when damaged beyond repair in Feb. 1988.


(From Janes All The Worlds Aircraft 1954-55, pages 102-104)
	Span: 	93ft. 8  in.
	Length:	81 ft. 2 in.
	Height:	26 ft. 9 in.

Weights (3 crew, 40 passenger layout) (ed. CAP was 44-48 psgrs.)
	Weight empty (equipped - includes crew, oil, etc.) 36,164 lb.
	Max. payload and catering allowance 	12,836 lb.
	Max "Zero Fuel" weight 	49,000 lb.
	Max. all-up weight 	60,000 lb. (ed. CAP was 63-64,000 lb)
	Max. landing weight 	54,000 lb. (ed. CAP was 57,500 lb)

	Four Rolls-Royce Dart 510 turboprop engines, each driving a four 
blade Rotol fully-feathering 10 ft. diameter paddle-bladed airscrew. Max. 
output per engine 1,550 h.p. plus 365 lb. of jet thrust.

Fuel Capacity
	1,950 Imp. Gallons in bag-type tanks forward and aft of main wing 
spar. Water-methanol system for boosted take-off: total capacity 75 Imp. 

    Cruising speed on max. continuous power at 54,000 lb. at 20,000 ft. 
    under I.C.A.N. conditions 	332 m.p.h. Cruising speed on recom-
    mended power at 54,000 lb. at 20,000 ft. under I.C.A.N. conditions 	
    321 m.p.h. Rate of climb on max. continuous power at 60,000 lb. 
    I.C.A.N. conditions flaps up, on four engines 1,280 ft./min. at sea 
    level 640 ft./min at 15,000 ft. Ceiling I.C.A.N conditions at 54,000 lb. 
    on max. continuous power 27,500 ft.


1.  A smooth take-off to ensure passenger comfort should be always 
attempted when conditions permit.  The take-off technique will naturally 
depend upon the local conditions-altitude, runway length, obstacles in 
the flight path, etc.  The procedure set out below is recommended to meet 
some of these varying conditions.  If an engine fails at the critical point, 
the start-to-stop distance at 56,000 lb. A.U.W. will be approximately1,650 
yds. And the distance to 50ft is the same.

2.  Set the flaps to 20o (43%), run the engines to 12,000 r.p.m.,release 
the brakes and open the throttles to maximum revolutions to give a 
smooth increase in acceleration to full power in the time taken to 
reach a speed of 50 knots. Keep the nose-wheel in contact with the 
ground until the critical speed is reached and unstick at approximately 
105 knots, climb away at 112 knots. Under conditions of aft cg down 
elevator must be applied to obtain nose-wheel steering power. TAKE-

3.  Set the flaps to 20o (43%), run the engines at maximum take-off re-
volutions for several seconds before releasing the brakes and com-
mencing the take-off run. Hold the nose of the aircraft down, nose-
wheel on the ground until the take-off safety speed is nearly reached, 
air speed at climb-away is practically constant at a speed equal to 
take-off safety speed.

4.  The technique adopted should be the same as para 2 above co-
upled with the use of the water/methanol system to obtain maximum 
power.  The take-off procedure described calls for the minimum of 
judgment on the part of the pilot, as he only has to concentrate on 
one speed. It also provides the best technique for making an ac-
celerate-to-stop since the nose-wheel is always in contact with the 
ground to give good directional control and as soon as the throttles 
have been closed wheel braking can be applied without having to 
land the aircraft.

5.  With all engines operating at 13,000 r.p.m. the economical climbing 
speed is 150 knots at sea level and the corresponding rate of climb is 
approximately 1,000 ft per minute at 56,000 A.U.W.  With one engine 
cut the best climbing speed is 140 knots.

6.  The recommended cruising setting is 13,300 r.p.m.: the fuel con-
sumption is 0.655 nautical miles per gallon when cruising at 5,000 ft at 
a speed of 242 knots or 1.08 nautical miles per gallon when cruising at 
25,000 ft at 264 knots.Whenever possible cruising should always be 
carried out at the highest practicable altitude. 

The normal design speeds are given below:-
Normal Operating Limit Speeds
238 knots IAS	46,000lb
227 knots IAS	47,000lb  0-15,000 ft
220 knots IAS	48,000lb reducing to 190 knots at 35,000ft.
Never exceed speed 260 knots IAS 0-15,000 ft, reducing to 210 knots 
at 35,000ft.
Range of speed in turbulent air based on 66 ft per second gusts.
155-185 knots IAS.       Maneuvering Speed - 164 knots

8.  The approach should be made at about 1.2 Vs1 (Vs1=stalling speed) 
and a flap setting of 
40o (85%) with power on to give a suitable rate of descent.  The final 
approach should be made at about 105 knots with 40o (85%) of flap 
at suitable r.p.m.