Once considered as one of the “big four” US carriers, along with the US, Delta and United, it was innovative and highly successful and has evolved into the world's second largest airline in its six-year history.
Tracing its origins to Pitcairn Aviation, which was created on September 15, 1927, it launched air mail the following year between Brunswick, New Jersey and Atlanta with an open cockpit of PA-5 Mailwings.
But North American Aviation, a holding company for several emerging carriers and aircraft manufacturers, bought it a year later and, after changing its name to Eastern Air Transport, started passenger transport with Ford 4-AT Trimotors on a multi-industry hop from Newark to Washington via Camden, Baltimore, Washington and Richmond on August 18, 1930. The acquisition of Curtiss Condor allowed her to extend her journey to Atlanta.
After joining Ludington Air Lines three years later, he was able to incorporate a triplet from New York, Philadelphia and Washington into his system.
The growth of the East, like many other carriers, was initiated by the Air Mail Act of 1934, which entailed the award of government contracts to private mail carriers, while the US Postal Service chose them on the basis of a bid submitted in competition with others. Although this led to the establishment of start-up companies to operate air mail routes in the hope of being selected, it still required separation of the then joint ownership of the aircraft manufacturer and the carrier.
Initial air traffic, which circumvented the restriction imposed on it as a result of attending the Spoils conference with CEO Walter Folger Brown, changed its name in 1934 to a name known throughout its history, Eastern Airlines.
Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, a flying ace of the First World War that won the Congress Medal of Honor, bought the plane from North American Aviation holding for $ 800. 000 and took over the rudder, implementing the program of aircraft modernization.
In the construction of his soon famous Great Silver Fleet, he quickly replaced the slow biplanes Curtiss Condor with all-metal Douglas DC-2, one of which became the first landing at Washington's new airport in 1941. He left his imprint on the expanding east -Miami sector with wider-cabin, 21-passenger DC-3s in 1937.
Like many American airlines whose growth was interrupted by the necessity of World War II imposed on it and the requisition of its military aircraft, in 1942, it launched its own military support flights linking the three states of Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas, expanding wings to Trinidad in the Caribbean and eventually formed a military transport division based in Miami, for which he received the Curtiss C-46 Commandos.
The seed of its pioneer, a three-seater northeast shuttle, was planted two years later when the Civil Aviation Council (CAB) granted him a New York-Boston route across the American.
The technological advances of the 1950s, expressed in terms of range, payload, speed, comfort and increased safety, occurred so quickly that at the time of aircraft production, the replacement was already on the drawing board.
The four-engine DC-4 engine soon added its 39 twin-engine DC-3 engines, and its network now included Detroit, St. Louis. Louis and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Lockheed L-649 Constellation, which was put into operation in 1947, came to the large-capacity L-1049 Super Constellation, which from December 17, 1951 signed the route of New York-Miami. Martin 4-0-4s replaced DC-3s and by the middle of the decade, the first DC-7B turned to eastern rent.
The acquisition of Colonial Airlines allowed access to New York, New England, Canada, Bermuda and Mexico City.
Propjet took the form of a four-engine Lockheed L-188 Electra, which was inaugurated on January 12, 1959 between New York and Miami, and a clean jet beam in the form of a four-engine Douglas DC-8 only one year later. speed Boeing 720.
Eastern was the first of four large US carriers to operate a three-lane "Whisperliner" 727-100 – specifically in Philadelphia, Washington and Miami, and a twin-engine DC-9-10.
The famous one-hour flight shuttle in New York, Boston and Washington was launched on April 30, 1961, using the L-188 Electra, for which he recommended: “No need to make a reservation. Just show and go. ”All sections have backup planes to make room for everyone waiting at the scheduled time of departure. ""
The one-way weekly fare was $ 69.00 to Boston and $ 42.00 to Washington, while the weekend return rates were $ 55.00 for adults and $ 37.00 for children for both sides.
The shuttle was eventually operated by DC-9-30, 727-200 and A-300 aircraft.
In the late 1960s, it broke down its shackles on the east coast and, after the acquisition of Mackey Airways, it expanded to Seattle and Los Angeles on the west coast, to Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas, and after purchasing Caribair to several Caribbean islands.
Captain Eddie Rickenbacker gave the torch to another famous aviation figure and gave up control to Colonel Frank Borman, who bypassed Earth in Gemini VII in 1966 and Apollo VIII a month two years later.
The East entered the wide-body era with the Lockheed L-1011-1 TriStar in 1972, becoming the first US carrier to operate the European Airbus Industrie A-300 in 1978 when it ordered 23, and was a starter customer for the Boeing 757-200.
Having acquired the Latin American routes of Braniff International and established a San Juan hub in 1982, he became the second largest carrier in the world in terms of Aeroflot annual passengers, setting up hubs in New York, Charlotte, Atlanta, Miami and San Juan and toting his slogan "We have to earn our wings every day".
But even though he may have earned wings, he did not necessarily earn profits to support their rise. The debt from the purchase of aircraft needed for its expansion and labor disputes required the purchase of $ 615 million by Texas Air Holdings, which also owned Continental in 1986, and Eastern became the fodder carcass. The aircraft was sold. Employees were dismissed. The assets were transferred to Continental. And his image deteriorated quickly, especially as he practically eliminated flight duty to reduce costs.
By declaring bankruptcy in 1989 and ending operations two years later, on January 19, the one-time "wings of man" became deregulation after six decades of flight.