Eastern Airlines Big E Pilot Hat Badge Prototype

New York, NY & Miami, FL 1927-1991

In 1927 Pitcairn Aviation won a contract to fly mail between New York City and Atlanta, GA on Mailwing single-engine aircraft and flew their first flight on May 1, 1928. In 1929 North American Aviation purchased Pitcairn. In 1930 North Americans 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 leadership after the Airmail Act of 1934. Ludington Airlines was absorbed in 1933.The airline purchased Wedell-Williams Air Service in December, 1936. In 1938 the airline was purchased by Captain Eddie Rickenbacker and his associates from General Motors. Rickenbacker pushed Eastern into a period of prodigious growth and innovation. Colonial Airlines was purchased in 1956. Rickenbacker's position as CEO was taken over by Malcolm A. MacIntyre on October 1, 1959. A new management team headed by Floyd D. Hall took over the operation on December 16, 1963. Captain Rickenbacker left his position as Director and Chairman of the Board on December 31, 1963, aged 73. The Mackey Airlines merger occured 1967 and the merger with Caribair occured in 1973. After Frank Borman became president of Eastern Air Lines in 1975, he moved Eastern's headquarters from New York City to Miami, Florida. In 1982 Eastern acquired Braniff's South Amerian route network. After much financial trouble, in February 1986, the airline was sold to Frank Lorenzo's Texas Air. In 1988 Phil Bakes, the then president of Eastern Air Lines, announced plans to lay off 4,000 employees and eliminate and reduce service. During Lorenzo's tenure, Eastern was crippled by severe labor unrest. Asked to accept deep cuts in pay and benefits, on March 4, 1989, the IAM went on strike and the pilots and flight attendants honored the picket line. As a result of the strike, weakened airline structure, high fuel prices, inability to compete after deregulation and other financial problems, Eastern filed for bankruptcy protection on March 9, 1989. The airline stopped flying at midnight Saturday, January 19, 1991.



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