Anstey Montrose, Amelia Earhart’s ‘finest whirling drifter’

Written by Staff Writer

The Anstey Montrose is a plane that once flew at 10,590 feet above the Adriatic Sea.

Newly on display in Florence at the Palazzo Bellini, the plane is part of the Anstey Collection , a collection of historical aviation relics.

On display alongside the Anstey Montrose is the Pan American Airways Boeing 314, which is known as Amelia Earhart’s plane. It was one of several that the aviator used while trying to circumnavigate the globe.

The restored airplane will have a temporary home at Florence’s Museo del Sogno. It will also be on display in the Museo degli Airi at Venice’s Fondazione Circhi during this year’s Venice Biennale . It will go on permanent display at the Uffizi Galleries’ VAG Venice in 2022.

Chloe Lauterbach, travel writer and graduate of the Emily Post Institute, consulted the collection while researching her upcoming book, “Chaos and Convenience: The Suitcase That Changed the World.”

“At the time that the collection was put together, interest in aviation was big,” Lauterbach told CNN. “It was at its height and the world was a smaller place because people could travel around the world so quickly.”

In 1933, Pan Am’s aircraft division was formed, and the company launched its first commercial trans-Atlantic flights the following year. The age of air travel had arrived and, as it had happened prior to the end of World War II, the much-anticipated period of economic growth was finally upon us.

New York Times World War II correspondent James D. Anstey reported on the arrival of General Dwight D. Eisenhower aboard a Pan Am plane at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on April 21, 1944.

From travelers to military

The era was also short lived. Anstey’s intercontinental flight came to an end as planes were required to depart fixed airports to combat the Nazi threat.

World War II set the stage for new innovations and for this only new thing on international travelers’ minds was safety. In time, the need for overnight holds was eliminated and passengers were once again free to make their own arrangements.

The plane that this magnificent aircraft used to make these pioneering intercontinental journeys — Amelia Earhart’s P-39 — was one of the last of its kind.

The sleek biplane became known as the “Finest Whirling Drifter” and went on to transport many key players to and from the front lines.

Air travel of the 1950s was vastly different from what’s offered today. Most flights were run at turboprop speeds and passengers and crew members were expected to be on their best behavior.

“It was definitely much different from what we think of now — the fast and frequent travel is part of that,” said Lauterbach. “It’s also much less structured and time-consuming.”

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