The Making of the President 1972 opens with Nixon flying cross country on election day. This quote is striking:
“It had taken Nixon only four hours and fifteen minutes to fly from Southern California to Washington. When he had first made that flight after his first election twenty-six years ago, it had taken thirteen hours.”
So … how long does it take you to fly the same route? Nixon took off from an air force base near what is now John Wayne Airport. There are no direct flights to the Washington Area from SNA, but this search from LAX to that area shows flights taking around four hours 45 minutes.
On the one hand, Nixon was president. They probably gave him the whole can of Coke and as many pretzels as he wanted.
On the other hand, he was flying a Boeing 707 which entered service in 1962.
Here is a Pan Am schedule from 1969. If I am reading it correctly, the San Francisco to New York flights lasted 5 hours.
Here are current listings for SFO to JFK. The flight lengths vary from 5:15 to 5:30.
There’s more to White’s quote. It’s almost painful to transcribe:
“If the supersonic plane — which he secretly hoped to set on the drawing boards in his second administration — came about, then the flight from coast to coast would take an hour and a half or two hours”
Instead, during my lifetime, travel speed has decreased. Welcome to your future, poorer and shabbier than your past.