Chapter 1

Introduction

Background

The airline industry is one of the most fascinating in the world, with roots going back to the earliest years of the 20th century. Not long after the Wright brothers flew successfully for the first time in 1903, interest in aviation for military and commercial purposes began. Following World War I, the U.S. government began offering potentially lucrative airmail contracts to start-up air carriers, who competed vigorously for them often with disastrous results. Given the crude aircraft, lack of navigation and weather forecasting services, and poor pilot training, crashes became the rule rather than the exception. Despite the rocky start, the carriers persevered and by the 1930s were beginning to look like the ...

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