Passenger flights an anachronism in Raiders of the Lost Ark

I caught a TV showing of Raiders on Friday night.

After Indy agrees to go to Egypt to find the Ark, he hops a passenger flight to his destination. Is this an anachronism? I believe that the film is set in the late 1930’s, before the U.S. has entered the war but after we have decided that Hitler is bad news for us and our allies. Were trans-Atlantic passenger flights common or even in existence then? Small planes figure heavily in the film, but this was a jetliner with comfy seats.

Thanks. (And it’s good to be back)

In 1932 PanAm became the first American airline to develop and operate four engine flying boats, in 1935 they did transpacific flights. and I assume that transatlantic ones where done earlier. of course, when WWII started, all those flights stopped.

Wow, thank you, GIGObuster.

From the Pan Am site.

So Indy was 3 years early for the flight.

…but if I remember correctly, he went transpacific, which had already started by 1936. From the same site:

Actually, the movie got the dates and planes right, but they did other mistakes:

don’t ask and the OP are forgetting the real DIRECTION Dr Jones took to get to Egypt:
Jones boards a Pan American clipper sea plane for a flight westward over the Pacific from San Francisco [Where is Indy’s university? How did he get from his university to San Francisco?] to Hawaii, Wake Island, the Philippine Islands, and then to his final destination - Nepal (traced by a moving red line on a map - used many times in old serials - and a super-imposed airplane in flight). [Since this is 1936, the map label ‘Thailand’ should be Siam.] His goal is to get to Nepal.

And after that, Indy goes to Egypt still on a westward direction.

On preview I see galen got the info also.

Do’h! Two final notes:

Pretend there is a quote in the paragraph after the link in the last post.


The passenger planes in 1936 were all propeller-driven and not jetliners.

IIRC, Indy’s school is in Connecticut.

I saw the film on Swedish TV last night and this is exactly how it happened. It even had the “Thailand” error. After kicking some ass in Nepal, he and Marian flew to Baghdad and on to Cairo from there.

I’ve always assumed that Indy’s university was a thinly-disguised version of Berkeley. Or maybe not even thinly disguised – they never name it.

Indy’s school is the Uof Chicaco. At least it is in all of the books and other movies, and IIRC it is during Raiders as well. As to how he got to San Fran, no idea, either train or plane I supose.

And after that, Indy goes to Egypt still on a westward direction.

Am I just reading this funny or is it implied there is an error for having Indy going west from Nepal to Egypt? I mean, somehow I read this as going west from Nepal to Egypt is a bad thing to do (like going say north would be the correct answer???:confused:

Sorry, Maggie (can I call you Maggie? If not, no offense…) but the film shows a prop-driven plane in the outside shots, and the interior shots feature the droning sound effect of multiple propeller engines. No jets appear in any of the Indiana Jones movies.

Everything else you mentioned has been addressed. Passenger service existed - in fact, many of the Luftwaffe’s bomber designs in World War II had been modified and put into service as airliners. When Germany was ready to become belligerent, these airliners were overhauled and re-born as the bombers they had originally (secretly) been designed as.

Thanks, “Kiltie” - I’ve been duly corrected on the jetliner thing and glad of the information everyone has offered!

The aircraft used for filming in Raiders is a Sikorsky VS-44a. it is one of the last passenger flying boats still inexistance and has been retired to The new england air museum http/

As far as the school that Indy teaches at it is not U of Chicago. According to this Indiana Jones fan site the school he teaches at is Marshall College in Connecticut, but the name wasn’t static during the series (see question #23).

According to the same trivia quiz, Indy studied at U of Chicago under Nazi stooge Abner Ravenwood.

Kilt-wearin’ Man said:

Lufthansa rep, circa 1936:

“…so you zee chentlemen, our new Heinkel Eagle saves the passenger ze time und touble of landing and shtanding in ze aisles waiting to deplane, by using zis revolutionary “jettison” system. Clever, ja?”

The filmmakers weren’t far out on the Siam/Thailand thing, really: the country officially changed its name in 1939.

Just a little note, although it’s not relevant to the question at this point (as it’s been established that Indy hopped a trans-Pacific flight): the quote above refers to scheduled flights. That doesn’t mean that nobody provided charter or irregular passenger service prior to that date …


Where can I find some good photos of the Nazi Flying wing
design from Raiders ?
Was this derived from a real design? :confused:

The Nazi flying wing frim Raiders was not an actual aircraft design. It was designed by ILM and looked damned cool, and was a “likely” design based on some of the exotic aircraft the German aircraft industry was coming up with during the war - asymmetrical designs, rocket-propelled fighters, and giant flying-wing “America Bomber” designs intended to drop munitions on New York City.

Magdalene- you can call me “Kiltie” all you want, but I don’t want to offend you by calling you “Maggie” if it actually bugs you. Trouble is, I can’t reliably type “Magdalene” without transposing letters right and left…