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Aviation images for the ages

At a nondescript Boeing facility near Seattle, a reporter is transfixed by a collection of wonderful vintage-style airline posters. Photos: Vintage-style airline shots

RENTON, Wash.--On a recent trip here to be among the first public witnesses to the proposed interior of a forthcoming Boeing über-jet, I found something even more fun to look at.

While standing around the Boeing facility in an office park in this Seattle suburb, waiting with other reporters to be ushered in for the unveiling of the 747-8 Intercontinental interior mockup, a group of 12 stunning aviation posters caught my eye.

Under glass and in the glare of understated spotlights, the posters were in perfect condition, and they invoked a sense of the wonder of airplane travel that folks in the '30s and '40s must have experienced. That's partly because they captured images of a luxurious style of air travel that probably doesn't exist anymore--of course, I don't travel first class, so what would I know?

In one image, a Pan American Airways poster titled "Havana," a well-dressed gentleman lounges in a seat that looks as spacious as the back seat of a luxury sedan, looking out the window at what is, presumably, the Cuban capital. The picture is beyond words.

Another captivating poster, done in an art deco style, shows a seaplane in front of one of the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge. Since I live in San Francisco, and the bridge has always been my very favorite thing in the world, I was left a little speechless.

Other posters extolled the virtues of flying to New York, Peru, Africa and other faraway locations.

To my untrained eyes, I figured these posters were original, vintage works, lovingly maintained by a company that would have every reason to do so.

Alas, I was later informed by Boeing that they were all either reproductions or modern works done in a vintage style.

Still, the posters are beautiful, and they were wonderfully presented in exactly the place where you would expect to see them: the lobby of one of the world's most important aviation companies. So I thought I would share them with the world. Those of you frequent flyers who never knew the romance of aviation, rejoice!