Mohawk Airlines

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Mohawk Airlines
Mohawk air.png
IATA
MO
ICAO
n/a
Callsign
Mohawk
Founded 1945 as Robinson Airlines
Ceased operations 1972
Fleet size

See fleet

Approx. 42 aircraft in service at acquisition by Allegheny Airlines in 1972 [1]
Destinations Albany, Buffalo, Erie, Glens Falls, Ithaca, New York, Newark, Hartford, Harrisburg, Montreal, Rochester, Syracuse, Toronto, Utica, Washington
Headquarters Ithaca, New York
After 1958, Utica, New York
Key people Cecil Robinson, Robert Peach
Website n/a
Postcard from Mohawk Airlines showing airline livery in the 1960s
Postcard from Mohawk Airlines showing airline livery in the 1970s

Mohawk Airlines operated in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, primarily the states of New York and Pennsylvania, from the mid-1940s until its acquisition by Allegheny Airlines in 1972. At its height, it employed over 2,200 personnel and pioneered several aspects of regional airline operations,[2] including being the first airline in the United States to hire an African American flight attendant. The airline was based at Ithaca Municipal Airport near Ithaca, New York until 1958, when it moved to Oneida County Airport in Whitestown, New York.[3][4]

History[edit]

The airline was founded in 1945 by aerial photographer C.S. Robinson as business of Robinson Aviation, completing its first passenger flight on April 6. The operation was based out of Ithaca Municipal Airport near Ithaca, New York, flying single-engine, three-passenger Fairchild F-24s. After the end of World War II, the Fairchilds were supplemented with two Cessna T-50s, and in 1946 the entire fleet was replaced with Beechcraft Model 18s.[1]

To keep the airline flying, Robinson secured investments from a variety of local sources, notably Ithaca Enterprises, a nonprofit organization responsible for bringing new businesses to Ithaca; the Cooperative Grange League Federation Exchange (now part of Agway), a farmers cooperative that had been organized by members of The Grange, and Cornell University. Most significant was the involvement of Edwin Albert Link, creator of the Link Trainer. Link lent the airline $75,000 to purchase three used Douglas DC-3s— but also removed control of the company from Robinson, making pilot Robert Peach its general manager.[5] In 1948, the Civil Aeronautics Board certified the airline as a local service carrier, awarding a variety of routes in the Mohawk Valley. The airline adopted the slogan *Route of the Air Chiefs*, and painted a blue and red logo of an Indian chief on its tails.[1]

In 1952, Robert Peach purchased a controlling share of the airline, and Robinson removed himself from its day-to-day operations. The board adopted the name Mohawk Airlines for the company. Operations continued to grow rapidly; in 1953 the airline carried 2 million passengers betrween 15 airports and earned $24.3 million in revenue.[5] The following summer it experimented briefly with helicopter service, connecting Newark, New Jersey and Grossinger's Resort in the Catskill Mountains with a Sikorsky H-19 Chickasaw. (The July 1954 OAG shows 13 flights a week each way between Newark and Liberty Airport 41°48′N 74°42′W / 41.80°N 74.70°W / 41.80; -74.70; fare $18 one way plus tax.) More successfully, the airline introducted Convair 240 service on July 1, 1955, becoming the first local service carrier to operate pressurized aircraft.[1] In 1956, having outgrown its facilities in Ithaca, it moved its corporate offices to Utica.[1]

When hired by Mohawk Airlines on February 11, 1958, Ruth Carol Taylor became the first African-American flight attendant in the United States.[6] Six months after breaking one historic barrier, Ruth Taylor's career ended due to another discriminatory barrier: the airline's marriage ban, a common practice among airlines of the day. Airlines often dismissed flight attendants who married or became pregnant.[7]

In 1961, Mohawk was the first airline to use a centralized computer-based reservation service, and in 1965, the first regional airline to use flight simulators.[2] Mohawk upgraded its fleet with the BAC 1-11 in 1965, becoming the first regional airline to fly jets.

Mohawk Fairchild FH-227 departing from New York-JFK in September 1970

By 1969, Mohawk had retired all of its piston engined aircraft and mainly flew the BAC 1-11 and the turboprop Fairchild Hiller FH-227.

Mohawk saw its golden age in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In 1958 it acquired the Convair 440, to which Martin 4-0-4s were added in 1960. Like other local service airlines, Mohawk was subsidized; in 1962, operating "revenues" totalled $23.3 million including $4.6 million "federal subsidy".[8] By May 1968, the number of destinations had increased to 38, from Boston and Washington, D.C. to Detroit. But from 1968 to 1971, labor and economic issues bled Mohawk financially. Unable to pay creditors at the end of that period, Mohawk entered merger discussions with Allegheny Airlines, and the merger was completed in 1972. That company became USAir in 1979, later US Airways, then following bankruptcies and a subsequent merger with America West Airlines, is now part of American Airines.

Destinations[edit]

Mohawk Airlines Convair CV-240 "Air Chief Pasquat", circa 1959
Mohawk Airlines British Aircraft Corporation BAC-111 "Quebec", circa 1972
Mohawk Airlines Fairchild-Hiller FH-227B "The City of Glens Falls", circa 1970

Those airports marked with an asterisk (*) are not currently served by any commercial air service.

Fleet[edit]

Mohawk-fleet.png

From top to bottom:[10]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

On July 2, 1963, at Rochester, New York, Mohawk Airlines Flight 121 (a Mohawk Airlines Martin 4-0-4) attempted to take off into a thunderstorm. Its wing-tip hit the ground and the aircraft cartwheeled, killing seven people.

On June 23, 1967, Mohawk Airlines Flight 40 (a BAC 1-11) flying from Elmira, New York to Washington, D.C., had a fire in the rear of the aircraft that destroyed the vertical tail, causing all loss of pitch control. The cause was a non-return valve failure in the APU unit, resulting in hydraulic fluid's igniting. The aircraft crashed near Blossburg, Pennsylvania, killing all 34 people on board.

On November 19, 1969, Mohawk Airlines Flight 411 (a Fairchild Hiller FH-227B) crashed into Pilot Knob on the east shore of Lake George, New York, on approach to Warren County Airport, Glens Falls, New York, killing all 14 passengers on board.

On March 3, 1972, Mohawk Airlines Flight 405 (another FH-227) crashed into a house in Albany, New York on approach to Albany County Airport. The crew had difficulty getting the cruise lock to disengage in one of the engines. While the crew attempted to deal with the problem, the aircraft crashed short of the airfield, killing 16 of the 48 people in the aircraft and one person on the ground. The lone surviving crew member was a stewardess, Sandra Quinn.

In popular culture[edit]

In music[edit]

  • On Chicago’s album, Chicago III (1971), the group recorded the song “Flight 602”. Later that year, on the live album, Chicago at Carnegie Hall, the group announced that the title referred to a Mohawk flight from New York to Toronto.
  • The photo on the back cover of the supergroup, the Traveling Wilburys’, first album, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 (1988), depicts five guitar cases with old-fashioned travel stickers. At the bottom of the guitar case on the right is a travel sticker that says “Fly Mohawk”.

In television[edit]

  • During the eighth season of Bewitched, in season 8, episode 12, "The Eight Year Itch Witch" (1971), a woman telephones Darrin's Albany hotel room posing as a Mohawk Airlines reservation agent and tells him the 11 o'clock flight is canceled because of fog.[11]
  • In season 2, episode 1, "For Those Who Think Young" (2008) of the AMC series Mad Men, the fictional Sterling Cooper ad agency worked on a campaign for Mohawk Airlines. In season 2, episode 2, "Flight 1" (2008), Sterling Cooper resigns the account in order to pursue an account with American Airlines, which is considering changing agencies in the aftermath of the 1962 Flight 1 disaster. Mohawk Airlines returns to the agency in season 5, episode 3, "Tea Leaves" (2012) and in season 6/episode 7, "Man With a Plan".

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Lehman, William. "US Airways: A Heritage Story". US Airways. Retrieved September 19, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Biographical History. "Mohawk Airlines records". Special Collections Research Center. Syracuse University Libraries. Retrieved November 19, 2013. 
  3. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. May 6, 1971. 637.
  4. ^ "Zoning Map." Town of Whitestown. Retrieved on January 21, 2010.
  5. ^ a b Lewis, Walter David, ed. (2000), Airline Executives and Federal Regulation: Case Studies in American Enterprise from the Airmail Era to the Dawn of the Jet Age, The Ohio State University, ISBN 0-8142-0833-9 
  6. ^ Conrad, Don (November 16, 2005). "Alaska's World: "Promoting Diversity: Flight attendants reach out to black community during trip to Harlem"". Alaska Airlines. Retrieved September 19, 2009. 
  7. ^ Higgins, Michelle (March 17, 2012), ""63 Years Flying, From Glamour to Days of Gray", New York Times 
  8. ^ Moody's Transportation Manual 1964
  9. ^ Sloan, Perry A (November 12, 2006). "Mohawk airlines". Airtimes. Retrieved September 19, 2009. 
  10. ^ Aeromoe. "Mohawk". Aeromoe's Flyin'and Rail Grindin' Website!. Geocities. Archived from the original on October 22, 2009. Retrieved September 19, 2009. [unreliable source?]
  11. ^ "Season 8, Episode 12 The Eight Year Itch Witch". Bewitched (IMDb). Dec 8, 1971. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]