October 9, 2014

Airstream Visits the Largest Waterfall in the World

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Airstream Visits the Largest Waterfall in the World

When you’re raised on Tarzan movies, your idea of Africa is what you’ve seen on the screen: stage settings, Tarzan and Jane, and wild animals. I had also seen stock footage showing charging elephants, tribal warriors with painted faces, and filler footage that showed vast forests and bright jungles. In the classroom and in National Geographic magazines, you see that Africa is really so much more. I read about the Boer War, the Kimberly Diamond Mine, Kruger National Park, Dr. Livingstone, the Tutsi and Maasai peoples, the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, the pyramids, and Victoria Falls. In 1959, Wally Byam

The Caravan Enters Turkey

Planning for the African Caravan had been completed. It had been decided that the Caravan would travel from Cape Town to Cairo, Egypt, then through the Middle East and on to Europe. The Middle East was intriguing. The area that had been home to ancient civilizations that flourished, rich cultural traditions with wide-rippling historical impacts, centuries of nations at war, and religions that spread all over the world. Wally Byam had brought the Caravan back into ancient times, when Egyptians, Assyrians, and Romans ruled the world. When the Caravan reached the northern region of Asia Minor, we were ready to

Airstream: an Advertising Legend

How did Airstream become an American icon? Let’s trace its roots in advertising and the way it created a visual experience of the road from its origins to today. In 1919, an up-and-coming advertising man named Wallace M. Davis, the advertising manager for The Daily Palo Alto, wrote a letter to Society Brand Clothes. An excerpt from that letter, soliciting a sale of advertising space, read: “The average Stanford Man wants his clothes stylish…we believe Society Brand Clothing to be well worth the expenditure; no other national clothiers are advertising on the campus.” After graduation, Davis changed his name back

Airstream and…Bikinis?

The 1956 European Caravan provided many eye-opening experiences. Imagine rows and rows of shiny aluminum Airstreams reflecting the pure blue of the sky. They lined up at campsites and dot-dashed all over the countryside. The Caravan ultimately arrived in the Netherlands after having traveled through Germany, Luxembourg, France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. There were headlines, crowds, and receptions. We saw cathedrals, castles, quaint and reserved cities, art galleries, tall mountains, and scenic seasides. We tasted wonderful culinary delights, fine wines, schnapps, and most importantly of all, formed new friendships. Wally Byam hired an advance scout and

The Jack Rabbits

There is truth in the statement that things don’t just happen  – people make things happen. In 1951, Wally Byam organized and conducted the first Airstream Caravan to Mexico and Central America. This created a tradition of Caravans spanning the globe, traveling across Africa, Europe, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the Middle East. I first met Earl and Pauline Arborn on the first Caravan in 1951. They enjoyed the camaraderie being with like-minded travelers. Sometime after the first Caravan, a group of Airstreamers formed a small group for get-togethers to enjoy their Airstreams and to talk about the wonderful times they had on Caravans. 

Wally Byam’s Portrait

In 1956, Airstream moved from their Main Street location in downtown Los Angeles to Norwalk, which was later annexed by the city of Santa Fe Springs. At that time, Wally Byam was leading the European Caravan. By the time he returned home, his company was already manufacturing in their new facilities. The main office and lobby had a small store and a receptionist. On the wall was a striking painting: a portrait of Wally Byam. It was painted by an Airstream employee named Marius Hansen and was based on a photograph that had been taken of Wally years before. It showed

Wally and Helen

She was born on August 8, 1904 in Baker City, Oregon. What does it mean to live an interesting life? Some say it’s how far you travel, or the enriching experiences you have. Some say it’s the friendships you form and the love you share with others. Well, no matter what definition you place on it, her life was full of adventures and excitement. It’s notable that Helen Byam’s paternal lineage came to America in the 17th century. They were farmers, from England, and they served in the Revolutionary War, the Battle of 1812, and in the Civil War. Of her

Airstream and the Sea

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain Over the years, Airstream has always used nautical names in their product lines. A few names are Clipper, Land Yacht, Liner, Caravel, Trade Wind, and Flying Cloud. Even the interior structure walls are bulkheads. As a young man, Wally Byam was drawn to the seas. In joining the Seaman’s Union, he sailed the South

Wally Byam and The Caravanner

During his Stanford University days, Wally Byam worked on the Stanford Daily newspaper as the advertising manager. He continued with advertising with the Los Angeles Times and Cornelius Vanderbilt Jr.’s “penny” newspapers. Before Airstream, he went into the publishing business. In 1954 Wally Byam launched the Airstream newspaper, The Caravanner. He knew the power of the printed word – and having access to a subscribers list. Wally wanted to discuss Airstream and the Caravan life that began in 1951. The mailing list included Airstream owners, Caravanners, prospective customers, and stacks for dealer showrooms. At one time, there were 500,000 names on the

Wally and Jean-Pierre

A face-to-face meeting with tribal leaders, their rich culture, their customs, their unique dances, and beating drums were the highlights of the 1959 Airstream Wally Byam African Caravan. One of the places that had the largest impact on us was the Belgian Congo. Our guide, Jean-Pierre Hallet, took us to places the average tourist didn’t, shouldn’t, and even couldn’t go. Jean-Pierre, who was already familiar with the Airstream Caravan, attempted to have a Congoland USA developed in Kern County, California. The area would be a refuge for the pygmy peoples of this part of Africa, who were endangered by constantly warring factions