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Going to Africa takes planning – but it’s worth it

There are endless hours put into planning, executing, and getting on the road for an Airstream Wally Byam foreign Caravan. Up until 1959 Caravans were mostly traveling through Mexico, Central America, Canada, and Europe. When Africa went into planning the details had to be meticulously crafted. Considerations were many dealing with nations, cultures, religions, roads, significant events, and planning for the unexpected. It was no easy task, considering they were traveling from the converging waters of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, to the Mediterranean Sea. In 1959 the Shembe Festival was held near Durban, Natal, in the Union of South

Airstream, the Vanderbilts, and politics

In the early 1920’s, Wally Byam met Cornelius “Neil” Vanderbilt, Jr. for the first time. Their friendship would last for the rest of their lives. In 1948 the two men toured a Europe still recovering from World War II with an Airstream. Vanderbilt, as a writer and ‘filmographer,’ recorded the aftermath of the war through journalistic eyes. Wally and Neil designed the Commodore together. This state-of-the-art Airstream would then appear in Chicago during the Democratic and Republican Conventions of 1952. It was party time, and it not for political parties – it was a time of entertainment and socializing with

Handle with care

There is now conclusive proof that since 1931, Airstream has been hanging around the RV industry. In February 1960, the Airstream Wally Byam African Caravan was embarking from Alexandria, Egypt for Beirut, Lebanon. To load our Airstreams on the passenger freighter it was necessary to use a barge with a crane. A disclaimer: please don’t try this at home. Our Caravan moved north from the Atlantic/Indian Ocean in South Africa and the Southern Hemisphere, to the Mediterranean and Northern Hemisphere. In the U.S.A. our rigs were loaded with land based cranes onto freighters, and unloaded with the same in Cape

Airstream Expands Coast to Coast

Airstream’s history began on the pages of Popular Mechanics. By using and improving the mail order blueprints, Wally Byam began his first Airstream in 1931. From his garage on St. Andrews Place in Los Angeles in 1931, his dream became reality. There were many factory locations before the company began manufacturing on North Main Street in Los Angeles, California. In 1952, it became apparent that the Main Street plant couldn’t reach a production level to keep up with their national market and sales. The first step that Wally took was the opening  of the Ohio factory in Jackson Center, Ohio.

Three Wise Men at the Bemidji International Rally

The Wally Byam Caravan Club annual International Rally was held in Bemidji, Minnesota in 1963. From left to right are Enos Axtell, the WBCCI’s 9th President [1]; Hubert H. Humphrey, Minnesota Senator and future 38th Vice President of the United States; and Bob Smith, the WBCCI’s outgoing 8th President [2]. The first WBCCI International Rally was held in 1958 at Bull Shoals, Arkansas. There were deep roots leading up to this first International Rally in the United States. Wally Byam had attended International Rallies in Europe from 1953 to 1956. Until 1956, Wally was the sole representative from the United States. He

Roads? Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads

Wally Byam wanted Airstream owners to enjoy the world. He wanted them to experience a sense of adventure, freedom, and excitement throughout their lives. Mexico, Central America, Canada, Europe, and Africa hosted Airstream Caravanners over the years. The Caravanners enjoyed metropolitan cities, villages, and nomadic lands. Their highways were paved, cobblestones, dirt, washboards, rocky, rutted, and sand. When there were no roads, the Airstream Caravans made it through anyway. This early picture from 1951 points out that even the most primitive ferry boat couldn’t restrict the Caravan from getting through. Wally was a leader. He had that unquestionable charisma and

Rough Roads? No Problem.

Wally Byam stood by his Airstream. If you had an automobile that could make it over any road condition, then you could take your Airstream with you. Of course, this was the early days – before four wheel drive and heavy duty utility vehicles. In planning the first Airstream Caravan in 1951, which traveled through Mexico and Central America, Wally knew the roads were going to be rough but passable. He knew that the Pan American Highway had not been completed and in Southern Mexico, the Caravan had to travel by rail on flat cars to the Guatemalan border. Wally

The Frosch Family – Farming Adventurers

The Airstream caravan is about adventure. It’s about experiencing life to its fullest. And it’s about family. This photo was taken during the 1959 Airstream Wally Byam Caravan. This is Al Frosch, and he’s hanging up the family laundry. However, the real story begins months before the Caravan begins. One evening, Al came literally running into his home and announces to his wife, “Mildred, we are going to Africa!” He had seen a Caravan that traveled through Mexico and Central America. The group, of course, was the Airstream Caravan, led by Wally Byam. So Al has decided their family will

Wally and His Burros, Pike and Jenny

The stars twinkled in the evening sky as a young Wally Byam rolled out his sleeping gear for the night. It had been a warm day, the sheep had settled in and he was satisfied that as adolescent, this met the expectations that his grandfather James Biswell had entrusted to him. Throughout Wally’s life, this love in being close to nature never diminished. Camping is probably in part, a segment for the master plan, leading to the spark igniting Wally’s Airstream. He provided the Airstream for those wanting to travel and to leave the mundane behind. For himself, it was

Wally and the Curtis Wright Trailer – His Post-WWII Legacy

Sometimes the art of business is difficult to explain. Why did Wally Byam design and work for Curtis Wright at the end of WWII? Why didn’t he start up Airstream? Why did Wally ever go back into manufacturing trailers? When the war began, essential materials were diverted from non-strategic industries into the war effort. Airstream, along with hundreds of other manufacturers, shut their doors until war’s end. Wally went to work for Lockheed in Burbank. Towards the end of the war Wally compiled a very interesting notebook. On the pages, he entered everything required to open an Outdoor Camping Store