PIPER TWINAIR: United States (1966-1968). William “Bill” Piper’s son-in-law Thomas Hartford, chairman of the Castanea Corporation, purchases Monmouth, New Jersey-based Air Taxi Associates (Eastern Air Taxi) in 1966, renaming it in honor of the famous lightplane designer. Daily roundtrip commuter services, flown by Piper PA-23
Aztecs, PA-32 Cherokee Sixes, and PA-31-310 Navajos, are maintained between Monmouth County Airport and New York (JFK).
In 1967, a feeder arrangement is signed with Trans World Airlines (TWA) and in 1968 the company is sold to Charles Robertson, who renames it Monmouth Airlines.
PITCAIRN AVIATION: United States (1925-1930). Pitcairn Aviation is started, initially as a flying school and aircraft manufacturing concern, at Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, in 1925. It is a subsidiary of the Pitcairn Company, holding company for Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, and is operated by Harold F. Pitcairn, son of the holding company’s owner. During the next two years, Pitcairn specializes in the manufacture of mailplanes, winning praise for his PA-1 through PA-4 Fleetwing mailplane series.
Early in 1927, Pitcairn seeks the U. S. Post Office contract to fly mail over 792-mile Contract Air Mail Route (CAM) No. 19 from New Brunswick, New York, to Atlanta. The government award is made on February 28. To fly his $3-per-pound contract, the aircraft builder now designs the PA-5 Mailwing and begins to construct 12 of them.
While the U. S. Commerce Department attempts to overcome a delay in lighting the airway between New York and Atlanta—a requirement if the company is to fly at night—Pitcairn spends the remainder of the year preparing for route inauguration. Between May and December, FBO and flight service bases are established at Richmond, Greensboro, Spartanburg, and Atlanta.
In October, the decision, based on the continuing delay in airway lighting, is made to sell 9 of the 12 Mailwings, beginning with 4 to Texas Air Transport. In late October, the company also bids on a 641-mile Atlanta-Miami via Jacksonville segment (CAM-25) pioneered by the inactive Florida Airways Corporation. That award is won on November 23, giving the new entrant the longest north-to-south route in the industry. During the year, the company hauls 16,051 sight-seeing and charter passengers and trains 118 pilots.
Early in 1928, six Southern pilots and a Californian are hired, World War I veterans and barnstormers among them, and the initial workforce reaches 44. On April 30, the government’s lighted airway, consisting of 2 million candlepower beacons located every 12 miles, is nearly completed and thus a 1,411-mile “eastern airline” is born.
At daylight on the May 1 launch date, Pitcairn finds so much mail on hand that it has to operate double schedules, both northbound and southbound. Two Mailwings take off from Atlanta’s Candler Field that night heading north, while another pair leaves Hadley Field at New Brunswick for the Dixie flight. Crowds numbering in the hundreds turn out at the scheduled stops along the way—Washington, D. C., Richmond, Greensboro, and Spartanburg. On May 7, a PA-5 crashes into Stone Mountain, Georgia; pilot John Kytle escapes serious injury.
The first company fatality occurs on May 22 when pilot Ed Morrissey, en route to Washington from Richmond in a PA-5, becomes lost in heavy fog and crashes. Four days later, James R. Reid is killed when his Mailwing crashes at Richmond while attempting to make an emergency night landing. During the first month of service, a total of two tons of mail is transported. The first of four PA-6 Super Mailwings is placed on the route in July. Blown off course, pilot John Kytle survives his second “unscheduled” landing of the year on August 15 when his PA-5 hits a mountain near Old Fort North Carolina.
On December 1, CAM-25 is opened from Atlanta to Miami via Jacksonville, again in the daytime, pending completion of the lighted airway. Once the company’s four new PA-6 Super Mailwings are in operation, the time required to get mail from Miami to New York shrinks to 16 hours from the railroad’s 48 hours. Furman A. Stone is badly hurt when his PA-5 goes out of control over Waycross, Georgia, on December 16 and crashes.
For the eight months of flying time, the company’s books show that 85,153 pounds of mail (no passengers) have been carried over 369,417 miles. The carrier has met 93% of its schedules and Pitcairn is the largest line operated by one company east of the Mississippi River.
Airline employment in 1929 totals 91 and the monthly payroll now averages $16,000. During the spring, the company adds stops in Daytona Beach, Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Macon. On March 1, a PA-5 suffers engine failure while taking off from Daytona Beach, Florida; pilot C. J. Faulkner is not hurt. When his PA-6 suffers engine failure over Blue Plains on April 25, pilot Verne Treat parachutes safely; the plane wreckage is repaired.
In early June, Pitcairn decides to concentrate on manufacturing planes, being intrigued by a new autogiro being developed in Spain. Determined to escape a hostile takeover by other operators, Pitcairn sells his company to the airline and aircraft manufacturing magnate, Clement M. Keys, for $2.5 million on June 12.
Operations continue without inspiration, but with serious human loss. On July 8, pilot Thomas Gurley is killed when his PA-5 crashes at Berlin, New Jersey, when a spark from the aircraft’s experimental 10-ft. aerial mast ignites the aircraft. Keys sells Pitcairn Aviation to his North American Aviation group on July 10.
After only a week with the company, pilot Vivien M. Jones, while test flying a PA-5 in aerobatics over Tampa, Florida, experiences wing failure; he is killed in the crash of the aircraft. Arriving from New York on September 13, pilot Syd Molloy is killed when his PA-6 crashes into the radio tower at Fort McPherson, Georgia. A total of 111,428 pounds of mail are carried during the year.
On January 17, 1930, Pitcairn’s air transport concern is renamed Eastern Air Transport.
PITT AIRLINES: United States (1967-1969). Connelsville-based Pitt Airways is reformed and renamed on August 3, 1967. Employing a Beech 18, the company continues to provide passenger shuttles between Pittsburgh’s two major airports. A Piper PA-31-310 Navajo is added in 1968, as are flights to local destinations ringing the western Pennsylvania metropolis. Planning to offer services to regional destinations, the company is renamed Keystone Commuter in 1969.
PITT AIRWAYS: United States (1965-1967). Pitt Airways is established at Connelsville, Pennsylvania, in early 1965 as the flight service division of the FBO Miller Aviation Center. Employing a Beech 18, Pitt inaugurates scheduled shuttle flights on March 1 linking Pittsburgh’s two airports.
Operations continue apace until August 3, 1967, when the company is reformed and renamed Pitt Airlines.
PITTSBURGH AIRWAYS: United States (1929-1931). PA is formed at its namesake city in the fall of 1929 to offer multistop, scheduled passenger service to New York City via York and Philadelphia. Equipped with a pair of Travel Air 6000s, the carrier inaugurates flights on November 1.
The Ford Tri-Motor 4-AT-54 is purchased from Pennsylvania Airlines on May 27, 1930, but the company’s newest and largest aircraft is lost in a crash at Jennerstown, Pennsylvania, on December 20. Travel Air frequencies are continued in 1931 and on October 13 Pittsburgh joins with USAirways to form United Aviation.