Many airline dorks around the world remember the old Airchive website. It was a treasure trove of memorabilia and other goodies, but it disappeared for a long time. Now, several years later, the website’s founder Chris Sloan has brought it back, and I’m pleased that he chose Cranky to write a sponsored post about the new experience. If you want to play along, just head on over to theairchive.net to poke around.
The Airchive is really a testament to Chris Sloan’s ability to take an incredible number of photos of all things airline and then somehow organize them for public consumption. It couldn’t have been a simple task.
The site is divided up into multiple categories. You can really think of these categories as a way to help filter through all of the content without losing an entire night’s sleep going down the rabbit hole. The first category is — to the surprise of nobody — airplanes.
This area is mostly filled with photos of videos of many adventures. While most of these are from Chris’s past, he takes unique submissions as well. There are photos from several aircraft manufacturer lines and events, which I found interesting. But what I really liked in this category were the boneyard shots. Or I should say, I really hated them. This should be a crime:
And wait, is that a Metrojet airplane in the background? Ah, Metrojet.
You can also look through the cabins and cockpits of some aircraft. This Aloha 737-200 was striking to me. Despite this being the same tube as on new 737s, the interiors couldn’t look more different.
Fear not, if you’re a fan of airports, there’s plenty here as well. While there are plenty of airport photos from current times, there are also those from airports time forgot, like Hong Kong’s old Kai Tak airport. These are snapshots in time that can be a lot of fun to browse. You forget how quickly times can change. For example, this row of ticket counters at Burbank just isn’t something you’ve been able to find in over a decade.
If you know Chris, you know he has an unhealthy obsession with being on first and last flights, really any kind of special flight. He has documented them all and you’ll find a big long list here ranging from AirTran’s final flight to Qatar’s A380 inaugural. If you’re looking to find how airlines celebrate big moments, this is an easy way to find out.
Spoiler Alert: The answer is almost always “cake.”
If you’re curious about specific airlines, Chris has also been to plenty of airline headquarters and maintenance bases which he shares on the site. For those who’ve never had a peek inside, this might be worth your while.
The last category contains my favorite pieces. Chris has photos of all kinds of memorabilia. I got lost in the timetables and route maps, because those are just the most fun. He has some pretty old and obscure examples, though with timetables it’s usually just the cover. But route maps? Independence Air, anyone? Fun fact: The Independence Air income statement was probably only mildly better than what airlines are producing during the pandemic.
There’s a brochures section with all kinds of odds and ends. I stumbled on to this unfortunate ad and just had to share:
The thought of Air Florida cutting DC in half is just a little too… on the nose. Gives me the chills.
Chris has photos of museums, models, safety cards, menus, and postcards. As I scrolled through this, I could only think about how much money Chris must have saved once digital cameras were introduced. I repeat… this man takes a LOT of photos.
I briefly wondered how he found the time to do all this, but then I realized I don’t really care. I’m just glad he did. I mean, sure, if I wanted to find a Cubana IL-96 safety card, the internet could help. But I didn’t know how much I wanted to see one until I browsed right on by…
Chris describes this to me as a labor of love, and it really has to be. There isn’t money to be made here. This is just pure avgeekery, and I’m all for it.
In the meantime, rest up, find a good day with nothing on the calendar, and get ready to waste it all by browsing through. I might suggest finding a category you like and then scrolling to the bottom. You’ll find a condensed index that’ll help you find your way through more quickly. Or just ignore and wander your way through. The choice is yours.
Oh, and if you find something good, post in the comments!