|Ariana's logo- note the use of the Pan Am font|
Air services to Afghanistan were spotty at best and ad hoc for the duration of the Second World War and aside from a small air mail service using Hawker Hart biplanes, it would be an American businessman in India who would forge new air links into Afghanistan again at the end of the war. New York native Peter Baldwin had served with the US Army Air Force in India during the war and returned in 1945 leading a US government mission to oversee the disposal of surplus USAAF aircraft in the region. His job finished, he elected to stay in India and in 1947 formed a company in Bombay (Mumbai today) for the sales of light aircraft and airport equipment. By 1950, he had his own fleet of thirteen Douglas DC-3s that he was flying all over the region on charter flights all over India, the Middle East and as far as Africa. His small charter operation even operated Hajj flights to Mecca. It was in this capacity that he came into partnership with the Afghan government.
|The DC-3 services were a boon to a country without railroads.|
|During the Pan Am years, the Ariana chief pilot was a Pan Am pilot|
Ariana launched services to Europe on 11 September 1959 on what they called the "Marco Polo Route" which used the DC-4 on services to the Turkish capital of Ankara via Beirut. The flight then continued on to Prague and then terminated in Frankfurt. The airline had to replace its DC-4 with a larger DC-6B as adventurous European tourists began to fly the "Marco Polo Route" to Kabul. The airline soon found that it was more profitable for the DC-6B services to bypass Kabul and instead fly Kandahar to New Delhi. Political instability in the region in the 1960s resulted in the termination of services to Karachi and the services that connected Frankfurt to New Delhi could only be flown twice a month- soon after, European services were cut altogether with Ariana's westernmost destination being Beirut by 1962.
|Ariana Afghan 727-200|
|Ariana Afghan Airlines Tu-154- note the continued use of the Pan Am font!|
|Ariana's sole Douglas DC-10|
Source: Airlines of Asia Since 1920 by R.E.G. Davies. Palawdr Press, 1997, pp 84-88. Photos: Marc Riboud/Magnum Photos, Wikipedia, National Archives