Retired Pilot Calls McDermott Library Home for Researching Airline
Richard Cass is working on a coffee-table book filled with images of the glamorous fashion and art associated with Braniff.
Aviation has been a constant for Richard Benjamin Cass. With the help of resources at Eugene McDermott Library at UT Dallas, the retired pilot is penning articles and books about Braniff International Airways.
The Special Collections Department within the library houses many collections including a world-renowned History of Aviation Collection. Various Braniff images, documents and other rare materials are located there and serve as a vast archive for those interested in the history of the airline.
“I need to come here and go through every last bit of it,” Cass said. “I’m a third of the way through documenting what’s in their collection.”
In 1972, a casual trip to pick up his grandmother at Love Field made an impact on Cass’ childhood. The backdrop of colorful planes sparked a passion that set a course for his professional life.
Cass, who grew up in Dallas, became enthused with planes, especially the vivid Braniff planes he saw that day. As a child, he started writing to Braniff, requesting any memorabilia it could provide. He soon amassed a sizeable collection of photos, slides and other items.
The luxurious glamour that captured Cass’ eye also gained the attention of customers worldwide. The sleek art designs and colors of the planes were all part of a plan to overhaul the airline’s image. Braniff, which started in 1928 as a small carrier based in Oklahoma, skyrocketed to become a major international airline with a final home in Dallas. Braniff continued operations until 1982.
“The fashion worn by the attendants was just amazing as well as the interior plane designs and the colors,” Cass said. “Designers such as Pucci, Halston, Harper and George, and Herman Miller all helped transform uniforms, aircraft furniture, and exteriors.”
Cass has written more than 3,000 articles on the history of Braniff, and his first book, “Braniff Airways: Flying Colors,” was published in 2015.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical sciences and business administration from Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Cass worked in aviation for 20 years. His career path included training pilots, flying cargo planes and serving as captain and flight operations administrator for Martinaire, a company owned by former Braniff CEO Ed Acker. Cass also founded and managed many aviation businesses, including the Braniff Airways Foundation.
Cass has written more than 3,000 articles on the history of Braniff, and his first book, “Braniff Airways: Flying Colors,” was published in 2015. It tells the story of Braniff, how it started in Oklahoma and its journey around the world.
Cass said he is working on a coffee-table book filled with images of the glamorous fashion and art associated with Braniff.
Cass said he still has more research to do and will continue coming to the library every Wednesday.
“I love this stuff. I really do,” Cass said.
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