“He’s a day away from Montreal” reads the main sell line of a British Overseas Airways Corporation ad in the October 1957 issue of the Canadian Geographical Journal (Canadian Geographic magazine’s former moniker). But the airline technology being promoted and the image accompanying the ad are a world apart from today.
The BOAC (today’s British Airways, following a 1974 merger with British European Airways) was boasting of its “superb jet-prop Britannias offering connecting services from Britain to Africa (and elsewhere) at speeds of 6 miles a minute.” That’s about 161 kilometres per hour. The typical cruising speed of a long-distance commercial jet today is much faster, clocking in at around 900 kilometres per hour. How far we’ve come in 60 years.
That distance, however, pales in comparison to the societal gap that likely exists between then and now when it comes to the image used in the ad — that of a big-game hunter and guide hovering over a downed rhino, presumably, given the ad copy “on safari.”
Set aside your opinions on trophy hunting, and it’s still extremely unlikely such an image would appear in an ad in Canadian Geographic today. Such images are rarely even found in North American hunting magazines these days. The Cecil the Lion saga—the killing of a famed lion known to have frequented Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park by a hunter from Minnesota in July 2015—has only heightened attitudes around big-game and trophy hunting.
While Africa is still only a day away from Montreal, airline technology and society have certainly changed in the 58 years since October 1957.