Eastern Air Lines

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Eastern Air Lines was a major United States airline that existed from 1926 to 1991. Before its dissolution it was headquartered at Miami International Airport in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, Florida.[1]



Eastern Air Lines was a composite of assorted air travel corporations, including Florida Air Ways and Pitcairn Aviation, the latter of which was established on April 19, 1926, by Harold Frederick Pitcairn, son of Pittsburgh Plate Glass founder John Pitcairn, Jr.[citation needed]

In the late 1920s, Pitcairn Aviation won a government contract to fly mail between New York City and Atlanta, Georgia, using Mailwing single-engine aircraft. In 1929 Clement Keys, the owner of North American Aviation, purchased Pitcairn. In 1930, Keys changed the company's name to Eastern Air Transport, soon to be known as Eastern Air Lines after being purchased by General Motors and experiencing a change in corporate leadership brought on by the Airmail Act of 1934.[2]

In 1938, the airline was purchased by World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker from General Motors. This very complex deal was concluded when Rickenbacker presented Alfred P. Sloan with a certified check for $3.5 million. Rickenbacker pushed Eastern into a period of prodigious growth and innovation. For a time, Eastern was the most profitable airline in the post-war era, never needing state subsidy. In the late 1950s, Eastern's position was eroded by state subsidies to rival airlines, increasing industry regulation and the arrival of the jet age. Rickenbacker's position as CEO was taken over by Malcolm A. MacIntyre, 'a brilliant lawyer but a man inexperienced in airline operations'.[3] on October 1, 1959. His ouster was due largely to his reluctance to acquire jets, feeling that they were unnecessary and expensive. A new management team headed by Floyd D. Hall took over the operation on 16 December 1963, and Rickenbacker left his position as Director and Chairman of the Board on December 31, 1963 aged 73.[3]

During the beginnings of World War II, military aviation equipment had not been widely produced in the United States. The United States war effort required civilian resources. Due to the efforts of Eddie Rickenbacker, Eastern Air Lines provided the United States with aircraft and personnel.[citation needed]

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