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The various Moon sights accessible to the tourists travelling with Trans International Airlines Incorporated. Arthur Prévost, “ Arthur Prévost a fait sa demande pour aller sur la Lune; c’est accepté…” Le Petit Journal, 25 May 1969, 7.

A big hello, my reading friend. You will be happy to hear (read?), or not, that our subject of the week has, oh surprise, a direct link to the main fields of activity of my august employer, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum of Ottawa, Ontario. Yours truly found said subject as I was going through Le Petit Journal. Specifically, I was going through the 25 May 1969 issue of this weekly from Montréal, Québec, no longer published today.

Would you like to be on the Moon to spend your holidays, my reading friend? To be or not to be, that is the question, if I may quote, out of context, the great William Shakespeare.

Arthur Prévost showing his reservation for the first organized trip to the Moon. Arthur Prévost, “Sur la mer des Pluies sans… parapluie – Arthur Prévost a fait sa demande pour aller sur la Lune; c’est accepté…” Le Petit Journal, 25 May 1969, 7.

Arthur Prévost showing his reservation for the first organized trip to the Moon. Arthur Prévost, “Sur la mer des Pluies sans… parapluie – Arthur Prévost a fait sa demande pour aller sur la Lune; c’est accepté…” Le Petit Journal, 25 May 1969, 7.

A Montréal journalist who retired in January 1969 answered this question in the affirmative a few months later. In fact, he would be part of the first contingent of lunar tourists. This versatile, one-of-a-kind, fun loving, food loving and curious press man was named Arthur Prévost. During a remarkable career that began in 1936, this great traveler before God worked for a multitude of dailies and weeklies, virtually all gone today: Le Canada, Le Devoir, Le Jour, Montréal Matin, La Patrie, Le Petit Journal, Photo-Journal, Le Samedi, Samedi-Dimanche, etc. Have you identified the publication that still existed in 2019, my reading friend? Le Devoir, you say? Congratulations. Drink a big glass of water to my health.

Would you believe that Prévost’s last article was apparently entitled, when translated, “At the time when Guy Mauffette was carrying a potato to cure his rheumatism?” If I may allow myself a brief digression, Mauffette was a well-known Quebec theatre and television actor, radio host, poet and radio producer. As for the potato, I suggest that you do not chuckle too fast. The application on a painful joint of a poultice made of peels of this humble tubercle, all of it held in place all night by a tight band of tissue, was indeed among the remedies of some of our grandmothers, but let’s go back to our story – and to our trip to the Moon.

In the spring of 1969, the American charter company Trans International Airlines Incorporated (TIA), a subsidiary of a large insurance company, Transamerica Corporation, since 1968, sent an official reservation and a pamphlet entitled TIA Travel Guide – Charters to the Moon to Prévost. Entirely fictional, the pamphlet provided information about a trip to the Moon in the near future.

TIA seemed to be the first airline to embark on the adventure of lunar tourism. And yes, my sometimes a bit too serious reading friend, one had to wonder if TIA, “the innovative air carrier,” acted in this way for purely advertising purposes.

It should be noted that TIA may have been the first charter airline to used jet airliners, in the 1960s. During this same decade, this company introduced very popular economic fares on its transatlantic flights, but let’s go back to our story.

TIA chose the first flight attendant for its lunar voyages in July 1969, the very month when 2 of the 3 Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the Moon. Employed by the company for a few months, this young woman was named Darlene Robertson. A photo showed Miss Around the World, a title won at a beauty contest held in Hollywood, California, wearing a more or less zany space suit, the Environmental Variance Equalizer.

What is it you say, my reading friend? TIA was not the first airline to embark on the adventure of lunar tourism? No kidding? Do tell.

This story began in 1964, in Vienna, Austria, when a journalist and author, Gerhard Pistor, visited a travel agency to buy an airplane, uh, rocket ticket, for the Moon. Somewhat puzzled, and / or amused, said agency contacted Pan American World Airways Incorporated, an airline mentioned in November 2017 and May 2019 issues of our blog / bulletin / thingee. Somewhat puzzled, and / or amused, the airline nevertheless accepted the reservation about 2 weeks later, adding that the flight to the Moon should take place around the year 2000.

Things stayed there until around 1968. The colossal success of the Apollo 8 mission, not to mention the equally colossal one of 2001: A Space Odyssey, changed things. Let’s not forget that the space plane of this classic of science fiction moviemaking bore the colours of Pan American World Airways. The airline’s management therefore decided to promote its waiting list to the Moon, both on the radio and on television. As the fascination of the public continued to grow, Pan American World Airways created the First Moon Flights club. In a letter sent to all members, the airline warned them jokingly that fares were not fully resolved, and might be out of this world. And yes, 2001: A Space Odyssey was mentioned in July 2018 and January 2019 issues of our blog / bulletin / thingee.

Between 1968 and 1971, Pan American World Airways issued no less than 93 000 First Moon Flights members’ cards to enthusiasts from over 90 countries as diverse as Ecuador, Ghana, Iceland, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Pakistan and United States. Some of these people were well known to the public. Just think of Walter Leland Cronkite and Ronald Wilson Reagan. In 1971, faced with financial problems that no longer allowed it to respond to all requests, Pan American World Airways was forced to stop accepting new members. This being said (typed?), the airline still insisted in 1989 that it would redeem First Moon Flights membership fees. Its bankruptcy in 1991 put an end to this great dream.

A big thank you for this information, my reading friend. Would you like to explore the mountains and the valleys of the TIA pamphlet? Very good.

This booklet was prepared especially for the travel agent as a guide to use in planning, for his clients, future-out-of-this-world charter travel. As the leading air charter carrier, TIA is proud to help travel agents to prepare for the future, just as we work together in the present.


the moon : vacation land for the whole world

¤ Enjoy your stay on the Moon, one of the most relaxing resorts in the Universe. Its unique attributes include: smog-free atmosphere, no rain or snow, no breath of wind, and profound silence. ¤ Your hotel, the Luna, is located in the Sea of Showers – which is, of course, not a sea (nor does the Moon have showers)… many of the outstanding geographical features of the Moon, such as the Ocean of Storms and the Sea of Moisture, were named before it was known that there is no water here. ¤ Before setting out on a trip to the Moon surface, (and be sure to travel with an experienced guide), remember that the sun remains above the horizon two weeks at a time – so make arrangements to get back to your hotel before sundown, because the two-week night is the deepest, darkest black known to man. And, whereas your space suit will keep you comfortable in the usual daytime temperature of [101° Celsius] 214 degrees [Fahrenheit], night temperatures fall to a chilly [– 157° Celsius] 250 below zero … which would liquefy the air if there were any. ¤ Since there is no water and no air here, there are no variations in the weather – never a cloud, never a storm. The weather is always the same – cold on the dark side of the Moon, hot on the light side.


Points of interest: Moonsights you’ll want to see

Certainly one of life’s most dramatic experiences!

The most prominent features of the lunar satellite are the thousands of walled plains or craters. Lofty mountains tower into the black sky; the Moon’s surface is pitted with craters from [a metre or so] a few feet across up to one big enough to hold Connecticut. The parts of the Moonscape that we used to view through telescopes as “dark areas” are, as you will recognize, seas of lava that spread over the surface millions of years after the formation of the craters, which are great circular pits with sunken floors and rimmed with high mountainous ramparts. You will visit:

The Plain of Bailly – The largest Moon crater, [almost 275 kilometres] over 170 miles in diameter. Inside its walls, the crater is not really a pit, but a gently saucer-shaped plain.

Tycho Crater – Big enough to hold all of Rhode Island. The walls tower [4 575 metres] 15,000 feet above the floor. Inside the crater is a huge and jagged mountain range. Ridges of lava radiate out from the crater like spokes of a wheel.

Newton Crater – The walls are not high above the surrounding terrain. Newton looks like a rimmed hole – but what a hole! It is [9 515 metres] 29,000 feet deep. If we dropped our largest Himalayan mountain into it, even Everest’s peak wouldn’t poke out.

Crater Linné – Another unique Moonscape. Linné is a deep, smallish pit in the crest of a dome that is surrounded by a white desert. It 1843 it was seen as a deep, prominent crater in the middle of the Sea of Serenity. In 1865 a German astronomer saw it as it appears now. What happened? Probably a Moonquake, causing the walls of the old crater to collapse into the desert-like deposit that now surrounds the smaller crater. Linné presents the only change in the Moonscape since the development of the celestial telescope hundreds of years ago.


added notes on the Moon tour itinerary

For those individuals who wish to tour the Moon on the “free days” of their tour… at a leisurely pace, on their own time… and for those who wish to discover many pleasant and unforgettable surprises not usually experienced on ordinary tours: consider your own Budget Rent-a-Mooncar.

The photomap of the Moon within this folder, complete with tour routes and numbered points of interest, give you all that is needed for an enjoyable, memorable visit to the beautiful Moon.

After your restful 63½- hour trip by TIA “949” Super Spacecraft (you travel at speeds up to [57 930 kilometres/hour] 36,000 miles per hour – six times the speed of the fastest bullet!), and after relaxation in your Luna luxury resort hotel, remember – Budget Rent-a-Mooncar serves all the Moon, with the latest model surface vehicles. Offices: Copernicus Crater.


take a walk on the Moon

For a unique experience, try a “Moonhike.” The supporting strength of the lunar surface is much greater than previously suspected,

You will find that the Moonground is a dark, porous, hard, lava-like bed. There is no thick layer of white dust; in fact, no dust whatever.

You can walk easily and effortlessly on the Moon surface. But don’t walk too vigorously, and don’t try to run or you may literally “take a flying jump at the Moon” – because here the force of gravity is only one sixth of Earth’s.

Isn’t the content of this pamphlet fascinating, my reading friend, and this despite a few small errors, quite understandable actually? The Moon, for example, is both warmer and colder than most people thought in 1969: about 123° Celsius (about 253° Fahrenheit) during the day and about – 233° Celsius (about – 387° Fahrenheit) at night.

Given that air liquefies at about – 194° Celsius (about – 350° Fahrenheit), the author(s) of the pamphlet were in error when they said that this life preserving mixture of gases would be a liquid on the dark side of the Moon. Ironically, what we know today about our satellite and its coldest temperatures confirms that air would be a liquid on its dark side, provided that it be inside in a sealed container.

As for Newton crater, the deepest on the visible side of the Moon, recent work established its depth at about 6 100 metres (20 000 feet). If we dropped our largest Himalayan mountain into it, the peak of Mount Everest / Chomolungma would poke out.

As for Linné crater, it was in 1866, and not in 1865, that an astronomer and astrophysicist who knew the Moon very well, Johann Friedrich Julius Schmidt, made his astonishing and controversial discovery. It turned out that the appearance of the crater had not changed. It was / is simply difficult to observe.

Yours truly must also admit that I was surprised by the speed of the bullet mentioned in the pamphlet. No projectile fired by a firearm in 2019 goes that fast.

Contrary to what the TIA brochure stated, there is dust on the Moon. And what dust! It is as fine as flour but as rough as abrasive paper. It may be difficult to clean camera lenses and helmet visors without scratching them. Even worse, lunar dust can gum up the joints of space suits and wear out some of their outer surfaces. It is also possible that it is toxic if one is exposed to it for a long period of time.

The importance of protecting astronauts and tourists alike means that space suits tend to be quite heavy and cumbersome. If the low gravitational force of our satellite makes things easier in terms of weight, astronauts and, more importantly, tourists must exercise caution when traveling. Getting up after a fall can be difficult.

Before I forget, you will of course remember that Tycho crater was the place where the magnetic anomaly at the heart of the aforementioned 2001: A Space Odyssey was located.

It is to be hoped that Prévost did not spend a large sum to get his out of this world reservation. Indeed, the lunar journey proposed by TIA remained a simple project – assuming of course that this company was seriously considering sending tourists to the Moon. In fact, no tourist had set foot yet on our satellite when Prévost left this world, in November 2004, at the age of 94. This situation was still true in 2019.

And no, I have no intention of buying a ticket to go to the Moon, let alone Mars.


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Rénald Fortier