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Early Flight Dispatch History:

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Technically, the first dispatchers worked for the Post Office Department and their history dates back to 1920, when the Post Office Department issued orders to establish the first air mail radio stations along the transcontinental air mail routes. Air mail radio station personnel provided an early flight following service, with the departure time and a coded flight plan teletyped to all stations along the route. They also provided weather observations to the pilots. When the Air Mail Act of 1925 authorized the Post Office Department to contract with airlines to carry the mail and this legislation facilitated the creation of a profitable commercial airline industry. The new airlines hired dispatchers. From the chronology below, the first dispatchers probably were hired in 1926-1927.

April 15, 1926: Charles Lindbergh, Robertson Aircraft Corporation’s chief pilot, flew a bag of mail in a De Havilland DH-4 biplane from Chicago to St. Louis. This flight is regarded as the first regularly scheduled flight of what was to become American Airlines. On January 25, 1930, four holding companies (Universal Aviation Corporation, Colonial Airways, Incorporated, Aviation Corporation, and Southern Air Transport, Incorporated) were consolidated into American Airways, the immediate forerunner of today’s American Airlines.

June 2, 1927: Juan Trippe formed Aviation Corporation of America. Atlantic, Gulf, and Caribbean Airways formed on October 11, 1927, and several army officers, including Major Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, founded Pan American Airways. On June 23, 1928, the three airlines merged into the Aviation Corporation of America with Pan American Airways as the main operating subsidy.

July 1, 1927: Boeing Air Transport started commercial air service between Chicago and San Francisco. On October 30, 1928, Boeing Airplane - Transport Corporation incorporated and acquired Boeing Air Transport, Pacific Air Transport, and the Boeing Airplane Company. On February 1, 1929, Boeing Airplane - Transport Corporation changed its name to United Aircraft and Transport Corporation and acquired several new subsidiaries. On March 28, 1931, United Air Lines, Incorporated, became a management corporation formed to coordinate operations of United Aircraft and Transport Corporation’s airline subsidiaries.

September 15, 1927: Pitcairn Aviation was created. Clement Keys bought the airline in early 1929 and then sold it to North American Aviation, a holding company for a number of airline and aircraft companies of which he was a major shareholder. On January 17, 1930, Pitcairn’s name was changed to Eastern Air Transport, which ultimately became Eastern Airlines.

September 15, 1927: Pitcairn Aviation was created. Clement Keys bought the airline in early 1929 and then sold it to North American Aviation, a holding company for a number of airline and aircraft companies of which he was a major shareholder. On January 17, 1930, Pitcairn’s name was changed to Eastern Air Transport, which ultimately became Eastern Airlines.

ADF would like to thank Dr. Terry Krause, FAA Historian and FAA DIspatch-ASI James Jansen for sharing this historical info with us.