American Airlines’ Cargo Division (AA Cargo) is celebrating the 65th anniversary of its first scheduled airfreight service, which American says was the world’s first scheduled air cargo flight.
A Douglas DC-3 operated the flight, which took place on October 15, 1944. The DC-3 took off from New York’s LaGuardia Field carrying 6,000 pounds of bulk cargo to its destination in Burbank, California, arriving there 19 hours later.
AA Cargo says it has introduced numerous innovations for the air cargo industry, including:
● 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 – 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 airfreight terminals
● The first scissor-lift system
● The first pet carrier container for air travel
● The first U.S. coast-to-coast jet service
● The first in-plane roller system
● The first powered cargo loader ― the Astroloader for the Boeing 707
● The first “igloo” cargo container
● The first refrigerated cargo container
● The first super-sized cargo container, for the Boeing 747
AA Cargo traces its beginnings back to an association of air transport companies which merged to become American Airways, the direct predecessor of American Airlines.
American says the first cargo flown by its predecessor was a mail-contract route from Chicago, Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri. The young pilot who flew it was an as-yet unknown young aviator named Charles Lindbergh.
Now, despite the fact that American Airlines has no dedicated freighters, AA Cargo provides more than 100 million lb of weekly cargo-lift capacity in the belly-holds of American, American Eagle and American Connection-franchised aircraft. American’s combined network fleet numbers more than 900 aircraft.
American Airlines Cargo offers cargo capacity to major cities in the United States, Europe, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia. Today, AA Cargo provides daily scheduled cargo lift to more than 240 cities in 40 countries across the globe. Its customers include some of the largest shippers in the world, including the United States Postal Service.