Biographical / Historical
Captain Michael Gitt (1908-2002) was a pilot for several airlines from 1940 until 1968, most notably Colonial Airlines and Eastern Airlines.
Michael A. Gitt learned to fly on a Brunner-Winkle Bird at the Flushing Flying School in 1931. In November 1931, he bought a Buhl Flying Bull Pup and a Taylor Cub E-2 in March 1935. He earned his transport license in 1937. He studied with the Aircraft Radio and Instrument Company at Roosevelt Field. Between 1938 and 1940, he was employed by Aero Service for aerial photography, Bennett Air Service, and Standard Flying Service at Somerset Hills Airport in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.
In August 1940, Gitt began his career as a commercial airline pilot with Canadian Colonial Airwayss, which was renamed Colonial Airlines in 1942. In 1956, Eastern Airlines purchased Colonial and Gitt continued his employment with Eastern until he retired as a Senior Captain in 1968.
Gitt was also extremely active with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) union from 1946-1956. He served as chairman of numerous negotiating committees, including the retirement committee and the Colonial #28 Council. Gitt filed many grievances with the airlines on his own behalf over issues such as vacation time, compensation, and seniority. In 1969, he filed one of the first airline pilot age discrimination suits against Eastern Airlines in response to the "Age 60" mandatory retirement rule for pilots.. F. Lee Bailey served as one of his lawyers. His suit was not successful and the mandatory retirement age for airline pilots remained 60 until 2007, when it was changed to 65.
After his retirement from the airlines, Gitt began a second career as director of Marine Activities for the Park District of Great Neck, Long Island, New York. Besides his work and many civic and community organizations that he was involved with, Gitt also fulfilled a dream during the 1970s by earning his glider pilot license. He also was a member of the Retired Eastern Pilots Association (REPA).