75 years of innovation and impact
It all officially started with a 19-hour flight from New York City to Southern California. On Oct. 15, 1944, we loaded up a DC-3 with more than 6,000 pounds of cargo and flew the first scheduled air cargo flight from LaGuardia Field to Burbank, California.
Before that, we can trace our lineage back to an association of air transport companies that merged to become American Airways, the direct predecessor of American Airlines. The first cargo flown by our predecessor was a mail contract route from Chicago to St. Louis flown by none other than Charles Lindbergh.
Our innovative spirit
Over the years, we've introduced some truly game-changing technologies. That includes:
- The first scheduled air cargo service in the world
- The first air cargo tariff, which established service based on density, volume, value and perishability
- The first coast-to-coast all cargo flight, from New York to California
- The first air freight loading conveyors, soon followed by portable motorized loading conveyors
- The first corrugated containers for shipping ready-to-wear clothing
- The first unit load device (ULD), known as the Paul Bunyan Box
- The first air hub and spoke system
- The first air freight terminals
- The first scissor-lift system and pet carrier container for air travel
- The first coast-to-coast jet service
- The first in-plane roller system
- The first powered cargo loader - the Astroloader for the 707 Aircraft
- The first super-sized cargo container for the 747 aircraft
- The first "igloo" cargo container
- The first refrigerated cargo container
- The first U.S.-based passenger carrier approved to carry the temp-controlled Envirotainer e2 unit
A rich history
It's been 75 years since that first flight in 1944, and there hasn't been a shortage of milestones. Click through our timeline to get a glimpse of our past 75 years.