I just accidentally discovered a few pictures on the web, that seem to imply that there was some sort of airport security checks on passengers all the way back in the 1960s. It was always my general understanding that airport security screening was not a thing before the Hague and Montreal conventions in the early seventies and the various national regulations that followed, so I was really quite surprised about the photos, but I have a suspicion that they could be dated incorrectly or the descriptions might be wrong.

For example, here is a press article photo, of what apparently is an early metal detector. The description on the back of it clearly says that this device is to replace searching passengers at the airport. Does that mean that all the passengers boarding aircraft were searched in some other way before that?

Here is another picture that left me puzzled. It seems to be taken at Zurich Kloten airport, with passengers queueing for some booths, where they will be "inquired on weapons". What does that mean, what is happening inside those things? Was there some kind of security procedure, exclusive to Swissair flights, or to the Swiss airports? If such a thing existed, when did they drop that, in favor of the normal screening? Those "ladies" and "gentlemen" signs look really weird...

And one more picture. The uploader claims they found it on the Atlanta airport website, which then claimed this was a test of some airport security machine as early as 1960! I mean that was before the first hijacking of a commercial flight in the US, if I am not mistaken! I think this one could probably be fake or a joke, or just something irrelevant to airport security. I do not think I see any electronic equipment here except for the data logger in the front, yet judging by the way the people are dressed this seems to be taken in the sixties, even though I am no fashion expert. The picture circulates in the web with this description, but I could not find any more information on it. And that just makes me even more interested to know what is actually happening there.

If anyone knows what these things are all about, and how it used to work back then, I would absolutely love to hear that. So any explanations strongly appreciated! Thank You!

  • 2
    You may or may not get a better answer at the History stackexchange since we usually focus on contemporary travel issues here. That said, this is a fascinating question. Commented May 23, 2018 at 3:54
  • 2
    Before 9-11 there was security, but not as much as later. Hijacking planes had been a problem before and actions were taken against it.
    – Willeke
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 9:25
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic, although it does relate broadly to travel; it might find an answer on Aviation SE
    – Giorgio
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 13:14
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    I am not sure how this question is off topic. The help center specifically says the questions about various customs and immigration and such procedures are on topic as well as those about specific modes of transportation and travelling. Also airports airport security and history all seem to be accepted tags in this community and a search on those tags shows that numerous questions about those things have been answered before. So how is this question any different?
    – Kit Smith
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 19:33
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    Aviation.SE seems to have accepted it.
    – choster
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 13:15


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