History Of Capital Airlines
was an airline serving the eastern
Ball sold his interests in November 1930 to Pittsburgh Aviation
Industries Corp., and the airline became Pennsylvania Air Lines (PAL).
It was reorganized as Pennsylvania Airlines after the Air Mail scandal
of the early 1930s. Central Airlines, otherwise notable for hiring Helen
Richey, the first female commercial pilot in the
Pennsylvania Central Airlines
PCA, based at the new
In 1946, the airline became the launch customer for the Douglas DC-4. In
1948 it created the "Nighthawk," the first coach class service, designed
to compete with the railroads between
In 1948, the first airborne television was installed on a Capital
airplane. In 1950 Capital Airlines received its first Lockheed
Constellations, enabling it to compete more effectively on longer
distance routes. In 1955 it became the first
On July 20, 1952, a Capital pilot reported seeing a blue-white ball in
the sky. The Unidentified Flying Object reports caused a sensation in
The airline also encountered labor difficulties. Maintenance personnel went on strike in 1958, crippling operations for 38 days. On April 1, 1960, the New York State Commission Against Discrimination faulted Capital Airlines for failing to hire Patricia Banks, an African-American woman who had been denied employment as a flight attendant despite meeting all job requirements. She became one of only two black flight attendants in the country.
These problems compounded slow revenue growth in the late 1950s, and the airline began to struggle financially. In May 1960, Vickers foreclosed on Capital's entire fleet of Viscounts, and bankruptcy for the airline seemed certain. However, on July 28, 1960, it announced a merger with Chicago-based rival United Airlines, saving it from that fate. When completed on July 1, 1961, it was the largest airline merger in history.
In 1981, former employees formed the Capital Airlines Association to
preserve their memories of the old carrier. A retired United Airlines
pilot, Milt Marshall, bought the Capital trademark and operated a
charter business under the Capital name out of
In a bizarre final chapter to the brand's story, in July 2004 Capt.
Marshall was transporting a passenger in a Capital Airways Piper Navajo
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