Biographical / Historical
Eastern Air Lines was originally formed as Pitcairn Aviation, Inc. in 1927. In July 1929 it was acquired by the North American Aviation Corp. as the Eastern Air Lines Division and, in January 1930, was renamed Eastern Air Transport. By February 1933, Eastern had acquired Ludington Airlines, giving Eastern routes to most major eastern cities, including New York, Atlanta, Miami, Atlantic City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. In 1934 the airline was renamed Eastern Air Lines and introduced Douglas DC-2s on its longer routes. In 1937 Eastern began Douglas DC-3 service and acquired Wedell-Williams Air Service Corp., thereby extending its routes westward to Houston. North American sold its holdings in Eastern to a group headed by Captain Eddie Rickenbacker. By 1960 Eastern had extended its coverage to Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, as well as westward to Detroit and St. Louis. In January 1960 Eastern introduced jet service with Douglas DC-8s and, in April 1961, inaugurated "Air Shuttle" service between Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. with its propeller-driven aircraft. By 1975 Eastern's network covered 100 cities in 30 states, as well as Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. In 1986 Eastern was bought by Texas Air Corp., making Texas Air the largest airline in the United States. Following labor problems, including a strike by Eastern's machinists which was supported by the pilots and flight attendants, Eastern declared Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 1989.