The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum has released its entire collection of airline posters online. It features some 700 posters from the early days of flying including many from the 1920s and 1930s. Not only are many of them beautiful works of art but these are the posters that Herge would of seen as he started work on Tintin.
Aircraft play a significant role in many of Tintin’s adventure and flying was a very glamorous activity up until the 1950s. In these days of budget airlines and three hour check-in queues, it is very easy to forget just how enthralling the idea of flying was to Herge’s generation.
One of the problems I had in creating the Travels of a Boy Reporter map was working out how Tintin and Captain Haddock travelled from Belgium to Peru in between The Seven Crystal Balls and Prisoners of the Sun. At the end of book one we see them boarding a flying boat and at the start of Prisoners, they are in Peru. I hunted the web and aircraft forums for information on flying boat routes from Europe to South America but I could not find any. Consequently, I guessed at a route involving flying down to the Cape of Africa and across the South Pacific.
Now, thanks to the Smithsonian, I can update the map with a correct route. The poster above shows routes for Imperial Airlines (the main flying boat operator) in the late thirties and there is a route from Europe via the west coast of Africa to South America. This map also shows a similar route as does this airmail route map. These are the maps Herge would of seen as he planned Tintin’s adventures so I can confidently update my map.