Panair Do Brazil S-38B P-BDAL

Panair Do Brazil, S.A.: First hijacking of an Airline

Pan American Airways (PAA) acquired its short-lived rival New York, Rio and Buenos Aires Line (NYRBA) and its Brazilian subsidiary NYRBA Do Brazil on 15th September 1930. This new subsidiary of PAA was recognized by the Brazilian government after a name change to Panair Do Brazil. The fleet of Panair Do Brazil consisted of four Consolidated Commodores and four Sikorsky S-38 flying boats inherited from NYRBA.

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USAAF CG-4A Glider

Winged Cargo Inc.: First commercial freight glider service

Shortly after the end of World War II, surplus military aircraft entered the civilian market in large numbers. This triggered an explosion of airlines, often flown by the abundant number of veteran pilots. The Douglas C-47 was a mainstay in many of these airlines and freight companies. Not satisfied with simply transporting cargo, two former Air Corps officers, Fred P. Dollenberg and Raymond W. Baldwin Jr. set up Winged Cargo Inc. with its headquarters at NorthWest Philadelphia Airport. This company utilized gliders to carry extra cargo.

WInged Cargo Waco Glider CG-4A
Winged Cargo Inc. takes off while towing a Waco CG-4A glider | Source

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Deutsche Luftschiffahrts, A.G.: First airline with fare-paying passengers

The Deutsche Luftschiffahrts, A.G. (German for “German Airship Travel Corporation”) was the first airline with fare-paying passengers. It was founded on 16th November 1909 and operated airships including the famed LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin and the ill-fated LZ 129 Hindenburg which was destroyed at Lakehurst, New Jersey.

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Imperial airways

Imperial Airways: First British national airline

Imperial airways, was formed on 1st April 1924. This was the manifestation of the British government’s determination to develop air transport, and the company was to receive $1 million in preferential air subsidies over ten years. Having acquired the businesses of British Marine Air Navigation Co., Daimler Airways, Handley Page Transport and Instone Air Lines, the British government created some order in the multitude of startup airline and mail carriers. Based in Croydon, a center for early aviation, the airlines undertook scheduled flights to Paris Le Bourget beginning in 3rd of May 1924. The first scheduled flight on this route had begun in 1919. The Chairman to head the company was Rt Hon Sir Eric Geddes GCB, GBE. He had accomplished much as the head of military transportation in WW1 and had a reputation for getting things done.

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Aeromarine Airways: First airlines to transport an automobile

The Biltmore flying boat (Aeromarine model 85/80) at Lake George, NY in the summer of 1921 | (Photo courtesy of Jon Krupnick)

The Aeromarine Plane and Motor company was an early American aircraft manufacturer that was formed in 1914 and pioneered the civilian aviation market. Its subsidiary, Aeromarine Airways, started regularly scheduled flights between major US cities. By the summer of 1922, Aeromarine Airways operated daily flights between Cleveland and Detroit. Within two months, the aircraft had carried 4388 passengers thereby sparking optimism within the company that the general public would accept aviation as an attractive and integral part of transportation. However, this optimism was soon dashed as the flying boat Columbus (Pictured far top) suffered engine trouble and crash landed on heavy seas, claiming the lives of four passengers. Soon after, one of the flying boats from the Aeromarine fleet was destroyed in a Havana Harbour due to a storm.

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Aircraft Transport Travel

Aircraft Transport and Travel Ltd.: First Airline to receive an air mail contract awarded by the British post office

Air travel and Transport
Loading up before flight | Source:

Air Transport and Travel Ltd. (AT&T) was founded by aviation pioneer and newspaper proprietor, George Holt Thomas. He also founded the Aircraft Manufacturing company Limited (Airco) in 1911 and the company produced thousands of aircraft, mostly designed by Geoffrey de Havilland, for the British military. AT&T initially operated relief flights from Folkestone to Ghent using a fleet of former military Airco DH.4A biplanes but after the war entered the growing market for civilian aviation.

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Trans World Airlines: First airline with regularly scheduled inflight motion pictures (spoken)

Before the advent of regular scheduled inflight motion pictures, passengers had little to do besides talking, reading, sleeping or peering out of the window. Although, the mode of transportation was the most advanced for its time, it was found lacking in the entertainment department. The first movie screening was in 1921 when eleven passengers in an Aeromarine Airways flight onboard a curtiss F-5-L flying boat watched Howdy Chicago! , a film promoting the city of Chicago using a DeVry suitcase projector. Soon after, in 1925, passengers on board an Imperial Airways World War 1-era Handley-Page Bomber watched part of The Lost World , a 70 minute film, during a 30-minute flight near London. Transcontinental Air Transport equipped their passenger aircraft with screens and projectors to show silent films onboard although the noise of the huge radial engines would have drowned out the sound anyway. All these efforts were experimental and movies were not shown regularly.


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British Midlands Airways Ltd.: First airline to sell its tickets over the World Wide Web

Following the discovery of the World Wide Web by Tim Berners Lee in 1989, the use of computers spread to the common man. The web enabled customers to communicate with machines like never before and the need for the travel agent was negated as Airlines rode this wave of efficiency to save costs and boost service times.

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China Airlines A300

China Airlines Ltd.: First airline to operate the advanced Boeing 767 and Airbus A300B4 widebodies simultaneously

China Airlines, based in the Republic of Taiwan, was set up by a group of retired Chinese Air Force Officers beginning with two PBY-5A Catalina flying boats and 26 employees. The company, setup in 1959, carried out military roles before acquiring  a few demilitarized C-47 and C-46 transports which was used to ferry passengers around the island. The airlines started its first international flight route to Saigon, Vietnam and catered to the Japanese tourists with flights from Japan to Hong Kong and Taiwan.

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Trans World Airlines

Trans World Airlines: First airline to operate across the Atlantic without a professional navigator

On October 1, 1962, Trans world Airlines (TWA) inaugurated the first fully automatic doppler radar system of navigation on scheduled transatlantic flights. The New York to London flight held the honour of being the first transatlantic flight to operate without a professional navigator as part of the flight crew.

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