Israel’s First Turboprop Passenger Airplane Lands at Lydda

The first of four new transatlantic airliners which will shortly put Israel among the leaders in transcontinental passenger service touched down today at Lydda, its new home base. It made the five-hour and 48-minute trip from England at an average speed of over 400 miles an hour, hitting a top of 450 miles per hour.

The ship, a British-manufactured Bristol Britannia, is expected to cut the time of the Tel Aviv-New York trip almost in half. The first of the new turboprop aircraft, nicknamed the “whispering giant,” is expected to be put into transatlantic service this December by El Al, Israel’s national airline.

When all four Britannias are in service, the American-built Constellations now used on the Atlantic run, will be put on the Tel Aviv-Johannesburg line and possibly will be used to transport immigrants.

The huge plane touched down lightly at 5:03 P.M. local time, guided by El Al’s chief pilots. All was in readiness for the new flagship of Israel’s national airline. Shops had been set up to care for its engines, electrical and hydraulic systems, radios and furnishings. Spare engines were waiting in racks. Maintenance crews, specially briefed in lengthy courses, were ready to go to work on any part of the ship.

The white-and-blue painted plane and its crew also found a crowd of 1,000 persons waiting to greet them. In the crowd were British Ambassador Sir Francis Randal, Israel Transportation Minister Moshe Carmel and top El Al management figures. An Army band was on hand to play Hatikvah while Chief Pilot Zvi Tohar received a bouquet of flowers from his young daughter.

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