Eastern Air Lines Book – History
The history of Eastern Air Lines is the story of an airline pioneer. Eastern was an innovator, with an impressive list of accomplishments that set industry standards and changed the way things were done. Now, the story behind these innovations, in the words of the people who were behind them, is preserved in a new book, The Wings of Man – The Story of Eastern Air Lines as Told by Its People.
In January 1991, Eastern Air Lines, once among America’s oldest and largest U.S. airlines, ceased operations. This book recalls some of Eastern’s proud history, full of aviation firsts, including the legendary Air-Shuttle between New York, Boston, and Washington; routes to Florida, the Caribbean, and Mexico; and the launching of the Boeing 727 and 757. Eastern was also a launch customer of the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, and introduced the Airbus A300B, the world’s first wide-body twin, in the United States.
During its storied life Eastern cared for numerous celebrities aboard its famous ʻRestaurant Flightsʼ, replete with Rosenthal china laden with sumptuous food, and accompanied by beverages. The future President John F. Kennedy was photographed being boarded on a stretcher on an Eastern Constellation at Logan Airport, attended faithfully by Eastern stewardesses. First Lady Jackie Kennedy chose Eastern to fly to Acapulco, while Babe Ruth and Mohammed Ali were frequent customers. The list is endless.
In 1973 President Richard Nixon awarded Eastern service to the Caribbean islands with its acquisition of Caribair. The airline created a luxury hotel affiliation with Laurance Rockefeller in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands through RockResorts. In addition, Eastern laid the foundation for airport security as we know it today, and supported troop movements during World War II and Viet Nam. Eastern was the official airline of Walt Disney World.
This unique book features many other significant events written by former employees and friends of the airline, joining together again to record for posterity their fond remembrances of the airline. Wonderful photographs from Eastern’s archives, as well those shared by those who wrote about their experiences with the airline, provide the perfect complement.
Among the more than 70 stories are recollections about the people who built Eastern, including Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, Floyd Hall, Capt. Dick Merrill, CFO Charlie Simons, VP Russ Ray, and President Sam Higginbottom. In addition are stories about Eastern’s transition from props to the jet era, the fate brought on by deregulation, numerous hijackings, and tragic accidents, including the first fatal accident of a wide-body airliner, Flight 401 in the Everglades. Also included are recollections of the inauguration of Eastern’s Latin America and London routes.
Finally, the personal recollections of flight attendants, pilots, and rank and file employees from a variety of departments and job functions are featured, many of which have never been previously told.
This book is dedicated to all those Eastern Air Lines employees who, despite the suffering caused by the often-adversarial relationship between the work force and management during its last years, maintained such a high degree of camaraderie that retiree organizations such as EARA, REPA, and The Silverliners continue to thrive today, 25 years after the bitter shutdown of service.
Below is a list of the stories in this book from the Table of Contents:
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