Northwest Orient Airlines

Northwest Airlines began operating on October 1, 1926, flying airmail between Minneapolis/St. Paul and Chicago. Used were two rented planes, an OX-5 Curtiss Oriole and an OX-5 Thomas Morse, both open cockpit planes. The first “fleet” consisted of three 85-mph Stinson “Detroiters,” which carried three passengers (the first closed-cabin planes used by a commercial airline). Passenger service was inaugurated in July, 1927. That year the company carried 106 passengers.

In 1928, Northwest Airways began the route expansion that saw it develop in 20 years into Northwest Orient Airlines, carrying about 2 ½ million passengers yearly. Service to Hawaii was inaugurated on December 22, 1948.

Northwest became a prime contractor in the Korean Airlift in 1950. Flying DC-4 aircraft, Northwest completed 1,380 Korean Airlift round-trip trans-Pacific crossings, more than 13 million miles. During this period they flew 40,000 soldiers and 12 million pounds of cargo across the Pacific at no interruption to their regular commercial trans-Pacific schedule of flights.

Service was in DC-4 aircraft, on the Seattle/Tacoma-Portland-Honolulu routing. Stratocruisers were placed on the run subsequently, and in December, 1953, Northwest began service with DC-6Bs. DC-8 jets went into operation in September, 1960; service was interrupted by a strike and the present 720B service was begun in June, 1961. In 1966 Northwest operated a daily round trip through-plane service linking New York, Chicago, Seattle-Tacoma, Portland and Honolulu.

Excerpted from the book Above the Pacific by Lieutenant Colonel William Joseph Horvat, 1966.

Terms & Conditions

Please read the following Terms & Conditions of Use carefully before using this website. You are required to expressly accept the following Terms and Conditions of Use, without any modifications, prior to each use of this website. The State of Hawaii Department of Transportation Airport Division (the “HDOTA”) may revise the Terms and Conditions of Use without any specific notice to you. The Terms and Conditions of Use posted at the time of your use of this website governs that use. If you do not agree with any part of the following Terms and Conditions of Use, you will not be permitted to use this website.

The images and other content, (the “Media”), on this site,, are protected under applicable intellectual property laws. Unless otherwise stated, intellectual property rights in the website are administered by HDOTA on behalf of itself and the State of Hawaii.


You are prohibited from using the Media for any commercial purpose. Any use, whether or not commercial, that may tend to degrade, tarnish the reputation of, or embarrass the content creator (photographer, videographer etc.), the State of Hawaii, or HDOTA is strictly prohibited.


The following are general examples of what Media may not be used for or in connection with. The following list is not exhaustive.

  • Taking or attempting to take Media for commercial, marketing, self-promotion, or novelty applications;
  • Taking or attempting to take any action that results in editing or altering images -cropping is acceptable;
  • Taking or attempting to take any action that compromises the website;
  • Taking or attempting to take any action that involves reprinting on coffee table books, garments, posters, mugs, or any medium.

You agree that, upon notice from HDOTA, you will immediately cease all use of the Media and, to the extent possible, remove all Media from any and all materials in which they appear.

Credit is required for each of the Media as specified on this website. Credit must be placed adjacent to any use of the Media.

You, your successors and assigns, agree to release, indemnify and defend HDOTA and the State of Hawaii from and against all costs, liability, loss, damage, and expense, including all attorneys’ fees, and all claims, suits, and demands therefor, arising out of or resulting from your acts or omissions under these Terms & Conditions of Use and your use of the Media.