2011 / 2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017 /
Airlines merge, get bought out and change names. It’s difficult to keep the genealogy straight.
I was thinking about Oneida County’s airline genealogy not long ago. I had just boarded an American Airlines, Airbus 320 and was in seat 17-C.
Alas, this boarding took place in Onondaga County because only Oneida County residents with gray in their hair can remember back when this area had scheduled airline service.
Anyway, I was sitting there in 17-C thinking about the history of airline service in Oneida County. The first to come here and stay was Robinson.
Robinson Airlines was founded in 1945 and began operations with a single-engine Fairchild F-24, which carried one pilot and three passengers. At its beginning, Robinson flew just one route, Ithaca to New York City.
By 1952, Robinson had changed its name to Mohawk Airlines and routes had been extended into New England. Mohawk, as did many other airlines of the time, capitalized on the great availability of war-surplus DC-3s to expand its fleet.
Mohawk grew fast and by 1958 had completed its new $3 million headquarters at the Oneida County Airport in Oriskany. It was around that time that Mohawk coined the term “regional” to describe its role, a term that would later be adopted by other airlines and which is still used today.
By the early 1960s, Mohawk, under the leadership of company President Robert Peach, himself a pilot, was using the Oneida County Airport as the site for its executive offices, maintenance and reservations centers. Yes, all of it was in Oneida County.
By the way, Mohawk was the first U.S. airline to centralize its reservation system, and the first regional carrier to use computers to support its reservation agents.
Speaking of firsts, Mohawk was the first regional airline to purchase flight simulators, which the company installed in the $4 million Edwin A. Link Training Center, located just yards away from the Oneida County Airport passenger terminal.
Another first: Mohawk was the first regional airline to enter the jet age. This came in the mid-1960s when Mohawk purchased BAC 1-11 jets in England. By 1969, Mohawk had one of the largest jet fleets among the regional carriers.
There had to be a place to house all the Mohawk pilots and stewardesses, which is what flight attendants were then called, and passengers using the Oneida County Airport. All this traffic at the airport is what gave rise to the Horizon Hotel, built across the road from the Link Training Center.
Another first: Mohawk was the first airline to hire an African-American stewardess.
By the end of 1969, Mohawk had retired the last of its piston aircraft and was flying 20 BAC 1-11 jets and 17 FH-227 turboprop aircraft. The transition to an all-turbine fleet required an investment by Mohawk of more than $53 million, which up to that point was the largest ever undertaken by a regional carrier.
Mohawk used those airplanes to cover 5,000 route miles in 10 states, Washington, D.C. and Canada. Its 37 aircraft carried more than 2.5 million passengers.
This is where we get back to genealogy. In 1971, Mohawk Airlines merged into USAir, which later became USAirways, which was originally named Allegheny Airlines, which traces its roots back to All American Aviation.
And why was I thinking about all that Mohawk Airlines/USAirways stuff while seated in seat 17-C on an American Airlines Airbus 320?
Because a few years ago, USAirways merged into American Airlines. That’s the way it goes with airline genealogy.