Often referred to as “the first in aviation,” United Airlines has a history built upon firsts. The airline’s history also transcends through several influential decades including the 1920s, 1940s, and the 2000s. United Airlines has existed and evolved through World War II, the Civil Rights movement, the depression, and the technological innovations of the past 20 years.
In The Beginning
United Airlines began under the name of Varney Airlines in 1926. This airline was one of two airlines created at the time by Walter T. Varney. Mr. Varney also formed Varney Speed Lines in 1934, which would later become known as Continental Airlines. The first flight in United Airlines history was piloted by Leon Cuddeback on April 6, 1926. Subsequently, the Swallow aircraft departed from Pascoe, Washington, and landed in Boise, Idaho.
Women in the Aviation Industry
A large portion of United Airlines’ company history revolves around women’s involvement in the aviation industry. In 1930, Ellen Church, suggested that United Airlines utilize the services of female flight attendants in order to create a new profession for women . The first set of flight attendants, which included Church and seven other women, were all registered nurses.
In the midst of World War II, female involvement in the aviation industry shifted from a place of service to maintenance. By the 1940s, women were employed in every aspect of the aviation industry.
A Series of Firsts
United Airlines’ slogan, “First in Aviation,” refers to more than the fact that they were the first commercial airplane fleet to take to the skies. The company also experienced these famous firsts:
1936 – First flight kitchen. Passengers could enjoy a hot meal high in the sky. The first meal included a choice of fried chicken or scrambled eggs.
1937 – United Airlines was the first airline to use computers to plan a flight path.
1950 – The first male flight attendants took to the sky, working flights between the mainland United States and Hawaii.
1963 – Marlon Dewitt Green became the first African-American pilot hired by a commercial airline
1984 – United Airlines becomes the first airline to offer flights to all 50 states
1995 – United Airlines was the first to introduce the Boeing 777.
2016 – United was the first US airline to use commercial-scale biofuel in its planes.
2017 – Known as the Queen of the Skies, the Boing 747 retired from United’s fleet of planes.
Eyes on the Future
United Airlines has always had its eyes set on the future.Thus, it was this vision that led them to be first to meet a variety of industry standards as well as the first to introduce new models of aircraft. In November 2017, the airline’s most recent transition occurred. The airline retired the Boeing 747.
Today, United Airlines is the third largest airline in the world, with 86,852 employees and 721 aircraft. They bring in a yearly revenue of over $10 billion and fly close to 5,000 flights a day. United Airlines planes fly to 79 domestic destinations and 111 international destinations in 74 countries. Whether flying across Asia, the Americas, Africa, Europe, or Oceania, United Airlines future is bright and flying high in the sky.