Henry’s is formed at Concordia, Kansas, in the summer of 1965 to offer nonscheduled Cessna lightplane services to Kansas City. FAA certification to provide scheduled daily passenger and cargo roundtrips is received on August 17.
Revenue commuter flights commence on May 15, 1966 and continue until 1968.
HENSLEY FLYING SERVICE: United States (1944-1978). Walter Hensely establishes an FBO at Havre, Montana, in 1944, adding charter flights, which continue to be offered for the next 30 years. In 1974, the company is purchased by James Stroh, who continues to provide non-scheduled air taxi services for the next two years.
Cessna 206 scheduled services to Great Falls are introduced in 1976 and maintained, along with the charter network, until the company’s certificate is sold to Big Sky Airlines in late 1978.
HENSON AVIATION: United States (1962-1993). Richard A. “Dick” Henson begins Hagerstown Commuter on October 1, 1962 as a division of his successful FBO operation, originally started in 1931. A Beech 18 in bright yellow livery together links the western Maryland city four times Monday-Friday with Washington, D. C. (DC A). The Beechcraft is initially unprofitable and beginning in 1963 it is supplemented by an Aero Commander 680 and a Beech Bonanza. Operations continue apace in 1964-1967, during which years Henson captures over 70% of the Hagerstown traffic.
In August of the latter year, Henson enters into the first “Allegheny Commuter” associate agreement with Allegheny Airlines. The third-level carrier will now provide four per day scheduled flights from its western Maryland base to Washington, D. C. (actually, Baltimore’s Friendship Airport). For its part, the larger local service carrier agrees to help with reservations and ticketing, station handling, market planning, and accounting, and to offer a two-year financial guarantee against loss.
Employing a Henson Beech B-80 Queen Air with the words “Allegheny Commuter” painted on its white fuselage sides in red, what will become the nation’s most successful interline operation begins on November 15, replacing the heavier (and more expensive) Fokker F.27 service of Allegheny Airlines (1).
The third-level contract quickly proves its worth. Within a year, Allegheny Airlines (1) is able to withdraw its $58,000 annual subsidy. On June 1, 1968, Beech 99s, in suitable livery, increase capacity. After two promotional flights, they launch seven-times-per-day frequencies between Salisbury, Maryland, and Washington, D. C. (DCA). Traffic increases dramatically over the next decade as a variety of new destinations are added, including Pittsburgh, Hagerstown, and Philadelphia.
Operations continue apace in 1969-1973 and, by 1974, enplanements are 126,380.
Airline employment in 1975 stands at 68. A new hangar and terminal are dedicated in November at Salisbury. The carrier’s five Beech 99s transport 142,369 passengers on the year, an increase of 11%.
The workforce is increased by 30% in 1976 to 80. Although a sixth Beechcraft is acquired, termination of Beech 99 production requires the company to begin seeking different equipment.
Passenger boardings accelerate 30% to 184,932. Freight traffic rises a spectacular 179.8% to 21.6 million FTKs.
In 1977, enplanements reach 219,179.
Airline employment is increased by 8.1% in 1978 to 134 as service is maintained over the carrier’s 435-mile route network.
Passenger boardings increase by 17.1% to 256,769; however, cargo is down by 17.1% to 822,000 pounds.
Beginning on June 1, 1979, service is inaugurated from Baltimore (BWI), Norfolk, and Newport News to many of the communities on the Virginia peninsula.
The carrier’s 8 aircraft are able to boost enplanements by 34% to 343,986; they cannot carry more freight, which falls by 26.6% to
As the airline grows, so does its workforce, reaching 235 in 1980. William P. Gombe is now appointed vice president-operations and the fleet grows to include 1 de Havilland Canada DHC-7-102, 4 Shorts 330s, and 6 Beech 99s, with orders outstanding for another Dash 7 and 6 Dash 8s. Service is extended into the Shenandoah Valley on September 15, with emphasis on the Virginia capital of Richmond.
Bookings advanced 16% to 400,676. On revenues of $8.85 million, expenses are $7.3 million, leaving a $691,906 profit.
Airline employment is increased to 267 in 1981. Two more Dash 7s arrive in early spring to join the four Shorts and one less Beech 99. Services are inaugurated from Richmond to Pittsburgh and Washington,
D. C. (DCA) via Newport News; and from Baltimore (BWI) to New York City (JFK). Corporate headquarters are transferred to Salisbury, as a new $1-million multipurpose facility is opened.
Traffic increases by 24% as 495,945 passengers are flown. Revenues advance 36.2% to $11 million and expenses by 36.3% to $10 million, leaving a profit of $931,238.
The payroll is increased another 38% in 1982 to 363. In January, the company receives the 1981 “Regional Airline of the Year” award from Air Transport World magazine.
During the year, founder Henson begins looking for a buyer who can assure the future of his carrier. Early in the spring, a new market is initiated at Harrisonburg, Virginia, and the move is followed by a June launch of service to Charlottesville.
On June 23, a woman, claiming to be armed, approaches the copilot of a Dash 7 as it prepares for a commuter service from Staunton, Virginia. When the man calls her bluff and refuses to immediately depart, she walks back into the terminal, where she is arrested on attempted hijacking charges by security police.
Later, flights begin from Baltimore (BWI) to New York (LGA) and Ocean City. The outstanding Dash 7 is delivered and a new livery and logo are introduced during December.
Enplanements for the year jump 31.1% to 650,290 and income of $35 million is reported.
Airline employment jumps 37.6% in 1983 to 494 and the fleet now includes 4 Shorts 330s, 7 Beech 99s, and 6 Dash 7s. Orders remain outstanding for eight DHC-8s. Long Island, Roanoke, and Norfolk join the route market.
Henson concludes its 15-year-old arrangement with USAir and signs an agreement on October 30 with Piedmont Aviation, holding company for Piedmont Airlines (1).
The North Carolina-based national will now acquire full ownership of the regional through five annual 20% stock transactions to be concluded in 1987. Henson will continue to operate under its own name as Henson, the Piedmont Regional Airline, becoming, in essence, a dedicated feeder, transporting passengers for its new owner, especially to Baltimore (BWI), where its schedule is integrated with the national’s. These “Piedmont Commuter” services commence in November.
Bookings rise 7.6% to 699,437 and cargo jumps 10% to 983,000 pounds. A private company, Henson chooses to no longer release financial data.
The payroll ascends 18.6% in 1984 to 554 and the fleet includes 7 Shorts 330s, 5 DHC-7-102s, and 9 Beech 99s. The route system is extended from Boston to North Carolina; among the new destinations visited are the Pennsylvania cities of Allentown, Wilkes-Barre, and Harrisburg; MacArthur Airport on New York’s Long Island; the West Virginia resort area of Greenbrier; and the Virginia communities of Lynchburg, Norfolk, and Roanoke.
Enplanements jump 4.9% to 733,569, but freight declines 2% to
The employee populations increases again in 1985, climbing 72.3% to 672 and the fleet is enhanced by the delivery, through the year, of 5 DHC-8-102s and 5 Shorts 330s. Six cities circling Piedmont’s Charlotte, North Carolina, hub receive initial service beginning on March 15, as do markets at Bridgeport, Connecticut, and White Plains, New York. Also in March, a fifth frequency is added from Baltimore (BWI) to Wilkes-Barre and Scranton. The first DHC-8-102 enters service on May 2 between Salisbury and Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Later in the month, frequencies begin to Florence and New Bern, South Carolina.
Flight 1517, a Beech 99 with 2 crew and 12 passengers, crashes into the side of a 2,400-ft. high mountain in Shenandoah National Park, 5 mi. E of Shenandoah Valley Airport in Weyers Cave, Virginia, on September 23; there are no survivors. Flights to Hilton Head, South Carolina, also commence in September.
Passenger boardings swell 19.8% to a record 878,659, but cargo plunges further, down 31% to 664,000 pounds.
Airline employment rises 21.1% in 1986 to 814. Fellow commuter Jetstream International Airlines is acquired, allowing the Piedmont Airlines affiliate to extend its influence west toward Dayton and the Midwest. A reorganization plan is initiated, with Jetstream International Airlines remaining an independently named Henson subsidiary.
In July, company officials, seeking a new aircraft, sponsor a fly-off between the British Aerospace BAe Jetstream 31, the Fairchild Metro III, and the Beech 1900C. By September, Henson flies farther north, south, and west than any other regional airline on the eastern seaboard.
Donald Curtis Smith becomes president in October and in November it is announced that Henson will implement a Piedmont Shuttle Link service in Florida, under the direction of long-time Eastern Air Lines official Joseph Chornyel, beginning early the next year.
Customer bookings jump 31% to pass the one million-mark in annual boardings for the first time (1,151,027). Cargo also accelerates, by 24%, to 910,000 pounds.
The workforce is increased by 26% in 1987 to 1,028 and the fleet comprises 9 DHC-8-102s, 4 Dash 7s, 11 Shorts 330s, and 7 Beech 99s. Orders are outstanding for 9 additional DHC-8s. From a headquarters at Jacksonville, the Piedmont Shuttle Link service is inaugurated in Florida on February 1; 11 Sunshine State cities and 5 Bahamian destinations are connected by DHC-8-100 with the major’s intrastate route network.
The system is expanded on March 15 and by June, over 60 daily frequencies are available. The incremental stock purchase signed with Piedmont Airlines in 1983 is now completed and in October Henson becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of the major.
Passenger boardings advance by 15.2% to 1,325,917, including
200.000 flown in Florida.
The employee total is cut by 2.5% in 1988 to 1,000 and the fleet now includes 20 DHC-8-102s, 5 DHC-7-102s, and 6 Shorts 330s. Service is inaugurated in February from Fort Lauderdale and Orlando to Treasure Cay and Marsh Harbour, in the Bahamas. Trenton, New Jersey, becomes the 39th point on the route map in March, with a service to it from Washington, D. C. (DCA).
In May, the company inaugurates flights from Nassau to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Two daily flights are added in September between West Palm Beach and Freeport, Grand Bahamas. During the same month, a DHC-8-102 is ferried north one day per week from Jacksonville to Charlotte; from there it undertakes a roundtrip shuttle to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
Four-times-per-day DHC-8-102 frequencies are initiated in October from Brunswick’s Glynco Jetport to Charlotte’s Douglas International Airport; thrice-daily Shorts 330 flights begin from Mercer County Airport at Trenton to Washington, D. C. (DCA). Service is also launched from Washington, D. C. (DCA) to New York (JFK). Flights are now provided to 42 airports in 12 states, the District of Columbia, and the Bahamas. Founder Richard A. Henson retires at year’s end and is succeeded as president/CEO by Ronald Holley.
Customer bookings hit a new record as 1,586,142 passengers are flown, a 19.6% boost.
The USAir subsidiary replaces its Shorts 330s in 1989 with 13 additional DHC-8-102s. In April, four daily DHC-8-102 frequencies are added from Naples Municipal Airport to Tampa. On July 1, the Piedmont Airlines merger into USAir is completed.
The new services help the operator to establish yet another new traffic record for itself as enplanements climb 16.8% to 1,852,530.
The fleet in 1990 includes 7 DHC-7s and 33 DHC-8-102s. The last four remaining Shorts 330s are all chartered to Allegheny Commuter Airlines. In April, the company’s flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), overwhelmingly accept their first contract with the airline. Passenger boardings for the year expand another 8.3% to 2,006,069.
The largest “USAir Express” carrier withdraws two DHC-7-102s in 1991. In January, the company becomes the first regional certified to use TCAS in scheduled U. S. airline service.
The year’s enplanements move ahead by 2.6% to 2,058,329.
The fleet in 1992 includes 44 aircraft: 39 DHC-8-102s and 5 DHC-7-102s. Passenger boardings swell 9.1% to 2,246,195.
A new $1.6-million maintenance facility is opened at Jacksonville, Florida, in January 1993. In honor of its onetime owner and code-sharing partner, Henson is renamed Piedmont Airlines (2) later in the year.
HERMEN’S AIR: United States (1970-1990). Established at St. Mary’s, Alaska, in 1970 by Stanley Hermen, HA develops an nonsched-uled route network that links its base with Nome in the north, Holy Cross, Dillingham, and Bethel in the south, Toksook in the west, and St. Michael in the east. By 1977, company employment is 12 and the fleet comprises 5 Cessna 207s, 1 Piper PA-18 Super Cub, and 1 Piper PA-24 Seneca II. Enplanements for the year are 2,292.
Boardings fall a significant 17% in 1978 to 1,956. Following the introduction of scheduled passenger and cargo flights late the previous year, enplanements rebound in 1979, advancing by 114% to 4,178.
The fleet is increased in 1980 by the addition of several de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beavers and DHC-3 Otters and a feeder arrangement is entered into with Wien Air Alaska. Bookings skyrocket 180% to 7,513, but grow by only 8 bookings in 1981.
Bethel becomes a major hub in 1982 and operations continue apace, despite the loss of the feeder arrangement with Wien Air Alaska upon the national’s failure in 1984.
By 1985, the fleet comprises 8 Cessna 207s, 2 Cessna T-1040s, 1 Cessna 185, 1 Cessna 402, 1 Piper PA-34 Seneca, 1 Cessna 172, and 1 de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver.
Just after takeoff from Bethel on November 1, a Cessna 208 with a pilot and three passengers suffers a total loss of power and crashes; there are no survivors.
Flights continue without incident in 1986, but tragedy again occurs on August 8, 1987. While en route to Red Devil, a Cessna 207A becomes lost in fog and crashes at a point 9 mi. S of Crooked Creek, along the western shore of the Kuskokwin River; the pilot is killed and the aircraft is destroyed.
Galena Air Express is purchased and merged on June 27, 1989.
Having found it necessary to relocate its two Cessna T-1040s away from Fairbanks International Airport, the carrier, on August 1, discontinues passenger services from that point to Anaktuvuk Pass, Bettles, Fort Yukon, Galena, Ruby, and Tanana.
In 1990, the company is sold to MarkAir, which reconfigures its new wholly owned subsidiary as Hermen’s MarkAir Express. Stan Hermen remains as president and the fleet is altered to include 10 Cessna 208 Caravan Is, of which 6 are leased from the new parent.
HERON AIRLINES (PTY.), LTD.: Australia (1991-1993). Heron is established at Sydney in 1991 to offer charter and local tourist flights. Revenue services commence with a pair of de Havilland DH 114 Heron 2s and continue for approximately two years.
HEUSSLER AIR SERVICE: United States (1977-1983). This Buffalo, New York-based air taxi and air ambulance operator is formed by Richard A. Hammond in early fall 1977. In addition to its charter flights, Heussler also offers, beginning in October, a scheduled service from Erie, Pennsylvania, to Detroit. The fleet employed comprises 1 Cessna Citation executive jet, 1 Cessna 402, and 4 Bell Model 47G helicopters.
Unable to weather the recession of the early 1980s, President Hammond’s company folds in 1983.