American has a long history of carrying cargo and passengers around the world. As engineering and technology have improved since our first flight in 1934, we’ve continuously brought new state-of-the-art airplanes into our fleet. One of the best ways to understand how American and its cargo capabilities have grown over the years is to see it for yourself. Here is a photo tour of American’s fleet through the ages.
Some of the first flights in American’s long history lifted cargo, not people. In 1926, Charles Lindbergh flew a bag of mail in his DH-4 biplane from Chicago to St. Louis. Lindbergh’s aviation company consolidated with others to form American Airlines in 1934. Above is Lindbergh with his DH-4 in 1928. Credit: Boston Public Library.
American’s first fleet boasted planes from aviation designer and manufacturer Donald Douglas. Using propeller engines, these planes made possible cross-country routes, such as the non-stop New York to Chicago flight in this 1937 advertisement. Credit: National Air and Space Museum Archives.
The DC-3 was one of the most successful planes of its time, with increased speed and range that made it a highly effective flying machine. Interestingly, it was a call from American Airlines CEO C. R. Smith in 1934 that convinced airplane designer Donald Douglas to create the DC-3. Courtesy National Air and Space Museum Archives.
In 1953, American expanded its fleet with the Douglas DC-7 and became the first airline to offer coast-to-coast service, non-stop from New York to Los Angeles. Though phased out as a passenger plane with the advent of turbine engines, American continued to use the DC-7 as a cargo plane. Pictured above is the DC-7 Flagship Missouri. Courtesy National Air and Space Museum Archives.
In the tense social atmosphere of 1964, American set an example for the country and hired Dave Harris, the first African-American pilot to fly for a major carrier.
Also in 1964, American hired Joan Dorsey, the first African-American flight attendant.
The photo tour continues – next page.