Most airline timetables included some form of a systems or network map from their inception in the early 1920s to their replacement by the internet around 2000. Airline timetable maps ranged from simple, artfully designed pictorial or schematic maps on timetable covers, often issued by start-up airlines, particularly after airline deregulation began in the United States in 1978, to complex double-page maps published by the major international carriers, some indexed to text or thumbnail maps.
One of the more elaborate and fascinating examples is this centerfold double-page map prepared for Pan American World Airways (PAA) by noted cartographic artist Richard Edes Harrison in 1947. In the immediate period following World War II, the look of both airline souvenir and timetable maps changed as major American airlines extended their routes worldwide and the barriers of time and distance were dramatically reduced with the introduction of long-haul aircraft with pressurized cabins, such as the four-engine Lockheed Constellation with which PAA opened the first round-the-world airline service from New York eastward to San Francisco on June 17, 1947.
A leading advocate of using “air-age” map projections during World War II to show the impact of the airplane on global geography and transportation, Harrison selected the Aitoff Equal Area oval projection for this map to depict PAA’s extensive route structure, the largest then in existence. The Aitoff Equal Area oval projection, which correctly depicts both land and water areas, is particularly effective in displaying the vast oceans that separate the continents, a favorite theme of Harrison in the extraordinary series of global maps that he prepared for Fortune magazine during World War II.
Designed for quick reference and planning purposes, this timetable map is basically an outline map with PAA’s airline routes highlighted in bold red colors. The dashed red lines labeled “proposed service” that link major American cities reflect the Airline’s aspirations rather than actualities since PAA did not acquire domestic United States routes for another 32 years.