Piedmont Airlines Takes Flight

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On February 20, 1948, Piedmont Airlines launched its first passenger flight. The flight took off from Wilmington and arrived in Cincinnati after making several stops.

Piedmont Airlines’ roots stretch back to 1940, when a struggling aviation company called the Camel City Flying Service was reincorporated by Thomas H. Davis as Piedmont Aviation. Piedmont Aviation’s initial focus was training pilots and flight instructors to meet the needs of America’s involvement in World War II, but as that conflict wound down the company sought to change its focus to passenger service.

After problems over a contract, Piedmont Airlines took the federal government’s airline regulator—the Civil Aeronautics Board—to court. The case rose to the level of the U.S. Supreme Court and eventually ended in the airline’s favor, allowing the first commercial flight to go forward.

The airline grew steadily, and acquired a unique reputation for simultaneously having excellent customer service and bare-bones airplanes and other equipment. Piedmont Airlines was sold to U.S. Airways in 1989.

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