On the evening of Friday 16, October 2015 the final US Airways flight took to the skies, marking the end of one of America’s oldest and most well know airlines.
Operated by an Airbus A321, Flight 1939 named for the airlines founding year, departed San Francisco for its red-eye flight to Philadelphia. The aircraft had left its home base Philadelphia a day earlier for its nostalgic round trip journey, making scheduled stops in Charlotte, North Carolina, which had grown to become US Airways biggest base in the past decade; Phoenix, former home of its 2004 merger partner America West and finally San Francisco.
Celebrations were held along the route, with passengers on the final flight raising a champagne toast to the airline. “We definitely wanted to give a nod to US Airways and everyone that helped us build this airline,” American Airlines spokeswoman Martha Thomas told USA TODAY. “We wanted to make it a special experience for employees and customers”.
In February 2013 it was announced that US Airways would be merging with American Airlines, creating the worlds largest airline. Although US Airways flights are now consigned to the history books, certain parts of the carrier will hang on a little longer. It will take American until “late 2016” to repaint all of its planes in the colors of the new American and flight attendant uniforms will remain until updated uniforms for all cabin crews are introduced sometime next year.
Here in our US Airways photo gallery, we take a look back at the history of one of America’s biggest airlines and yet another iconic name to disappear from our skies.
Simply click on one of the images below to view –
US Airways can trace its history back to 1939, when the small Pennsylvania-based airmail outfit All American Aviation Inc, founded by Dr. Lytle Schooler Adams, took to the skies.
On January 1, 1953 the airline was renamed Allegheny Airlines and commenced a rapid expansion program.
Contributing to the airlines growth, in 1968 Allegheny purchased Indianapolis based Lake Central Airlines.
In 1972 Allegheny purchased Mohawk Airlines. The carrier had made history on February 11, 1958 when Ruth Carol Taylor became the first ever African-American flight attendant in the USA. You can read her incredible story here http://wp.me/p2lvHM-8D
As airline deregulation loomed in America, Allegheny decided to shed its regional image and re-brand as US Air on October 28, 1979.
From Allegheny to US Air overnight.
US Air became the launch customer for the Boeing 737-300, taking delivery of its first plane on November 28, 1984. The aircraft formed the back bone of the airlines fleet for over 28 years.
In 1987 US Air purchased San Diego based Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA). With its colorful livery and iconic flight attendants, the airline had a loyal passenger following and even today remains one of the most widely recognisable and iconic airlines in history.
North Carolina based Piedmont Airlines was formed in 1948. Its acquisition by US Air in 1989 was, at the time, the worlds largest airline merger and led to US Air becoming one of the worlds biggest carriers. Pictured here is one of the last ever Piedmont Airlines flights.
In 1997 the airline changed its name to US Airways and carried out a massive re-branding which included a new livery for its fleet seen here on one of its fleet of Boeing 767-200 aircraft.
After the downturn in the aviation industry following the 9/11 terrorist atrocities, US Airways filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy twice in as many years. The airline was in desperate need of a merger and in 2005 was purchased by Phoenix based America West. But it was the US Airways name and branding that survived the subsequent take over with only the carriers iconic call-sign ‘CACTUS’ remaining.
On January 15, 2009 US Airways flight 1549 from New York La Guardia to Charlotte struck a flock of birds shortly after take off and lost power to both engines. Under the command of Captain Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger the Airbus A320 managed to successfully ditch in the Hudson River. All 150 passengers and 5 crew members escaped with only minor injures. New York’s Governor Paterson described it at the time as “the miracle on the Hudson”.
As praise was heaped on the flying skills of Captain Sullenberger, the bravery and actions of the three FA’s was rarely discussed, yet it is thanks to them that everyone managed to evacuate the aircraft safely and before the Airbus sank. Pictured here from left to right – Donna Dent, Doreen Welsh and Sheila Dail. You can read their incredible story here – http://wp.me/p2lvHM-6A
On February 14, 2013 US Airways Group and AMR Corporation announced that the two companies would merge to form the largest airline in the world. Sadly only one airline name and brand would be carried forward and it was soon announced that American Airlines would survive the merger.
On the evening of Friday 16, October 2015 the final US Airways flight took to the skies, marking the end of one of America’s oldest and most well know airlines. Flight 1939 received the obligatory water cannon salute from the fire team at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Take a look at our US Airways picture gallery https://confessionsofatrolleydolly.com/2015/10/19/farewell-us-airways/
US Airways operated an extensive international and domestic network, with 193 destinations in 24 countries in North America, South America, Europe and the Middle East; operated by a fleet of over 300 aircraft.
Repainting of US Airways’ planes into the American Airlines scheme is expected to take until “late 2016,” and new flight attendant uniforms should be introduced next year, at which point the US Airways brand will no longer be displayed on any of its former planes, employees or assets.
So farewell US Airways, your name may be gone from our skies but your legacy will live on forever.
Also, check out our ‘Angels of the Sky’ stories relating to US Airways, starting with Ruth Carol-Taylor, America’s first black flight attendant and the incredible and often forgotten story of three flight attendants who helped saved the lives of everyone onboard Cactus 1549, the miracle on the Hudson.
© confessionsofatrolleydolly.com by Dan Air.