Airline Expansion and Innovation(1927 - 1941)

Early Airlines

After World War I, many people began to operate commercial airlines. But every one of these early efforts failed because of high operating costs.

Airlines could not make enough money carrying passengers or cargo. They needed financial help-subsidies-until technological and organizational improvements could enable them to become self-sufficient and profitable.

"Yesterday I flew to Cleveland for lunch in the "Buckeye."
an 11-passenger flying limousine....It's Magic!... It was like
being in heaven."

-Miss "Peggy" MacLean on flying Aeromarine from Detroit to Cleveland in 1922

 

Aeromarine Header
National Air and Space Museum Archives

 

Aeromarine Airways

For four years starting in 1920, Aeromarine Airways carried wealthy passengers from Miami to Nassau in the Bahamas and Havana, Cuba, aboard flying boats. The overseas flights were a popular way for many to drink legally during the Prohibition era.

During the off-season, Aeromarine flew between Cleveland and Detroit. Despite its initial success, the airline eventually ran out of money. It ceased flying in 1924 after safely carrying 17,000 passengers.

Aeromarine Pilots
National Air and Space Museum Archives

Aeromarine Airways' three Miami-based pilots and two mechanics pose on the fuselage of an Aeromarine 75 flying boat.

Aeromarine Cordeaux
National Air and Space Museum Archives
Aeromarine Columbus
National Air and Space Museum Archives
Aeromarine Buckeye
National Air and Space Museum Archives
Curtiss MF Seagull
National Air and Space Museum Archives

Chaplin Air Lines flew wealthy passengers in Curtiss MF flying boats between Los Angeles and Catalina Island briefly in 1919. It was the first scheduled airline to fly in California.

Aeromarine Airways Departs
National Air and Space Museum Archives

Aeromarine Airways' Model 75 flying boats Pinta and Santa Mariaprepare to depart New York for Miami in 1920.

Aeromarine Facilities
National Air and Space Museum Archives

Aeromarine Airways staff in Miami consume an undelivered shipment of ice cream.

Curtiss HS-2L Cherry
National Air and Space Museum Archives

Starting in 1920, Pacific Marine Airways operated between Los Angeles and Catalina Island for eight years. Passengers and crew would take the occasional break to fish for tuna.

Gulf Coast Airline Curtiss HS-2L
National Air and Space Museum Archives

The Gulf Coast Air Line flew from New Orleans to Pilottown, at the tip of the Mississippi Delta beginning in 1923. It provided a mail link with steamers traveling to or from Cuba, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

Who Flew?