Sequestration: How a 1951 railroad advert inspired our editorial

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I’ve received a number of comments about the unconventional design of Aviation Week’s March 18 editorial on how across-the-board budget cuts will hurt aerospace, defense and general aviation.  

Many commenters liked the design and a few hated it. But one thing is certain: the concept for it is not new. In fact, this design was inspired by an Aviation Week editorial that ran more than 60 years ago. The airline industry was still fairly new, and Pullman, a manufacturer of railroad cars, launched a national media scare campaign against air travel. “Don’t you feel a whole lot safer on the train?” it asked. 

In response, Aviation Week ran an editorial on December 3, 1951, with that advertisement, accompanied by three newspaper articles of train crashes. The prose was sparse but effective. “Let’s keep this straight,” it read. “Aviation has no monopoly on accidents; railroads have no monopoly on safety.”  

Indeed, advances in the coming decades would make flying on commercial airlines eminently safe, and the only place left in the U.S. where passenger trains truly compete with airlines is in the northeast corridor that runs from Washington to Philadelphia, New York and Boston.

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Our March 18 editorial was inspired by a 1951 response to the railroad industry. Click on the individual thumbs to view larger images.



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