United Turns 90, Marking Anniversary of First Scheduled Flight in U.S.

By Paul Riegler on 6 April 2016
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United Airlines turned 90 Wednesday after having endured a tumultuous past few years.

Varney Air Lines, United’s predecessor, took to the air on April 6, 1926, operating a Swallow aircraft under the command of pilot Leon Dewey Cuddeback on a mail route from Pasco, Washington to Elko, Nevada with a stop in Boise, Idaho.

The start of the U.S. contract air mail system is considered to also have been the start of scheduled airline service, making this the first scheduled flight of any U.S. airline

Varney later merged with Boeing Air Transport, National Air Transport, and Pacific Air Transport to form United Airlines. United still flies to Boise, having served the city continuously since 1933 and with jet service since 1964.

In addition to being the first airline to offer scheduled service in the United States, United has introduced many other firsts to the industry over the years.

In 1936, it created the first flight kitchen, which offered passengers a choice of fried chicken or scrambled eggs. In-flight live television came in the 1960s, another industry first where live broadcasts were available to passengers in the airplane’s lounge area when flying over major metropolitan areas.

United is also the first airline to fly to all 50 states, the first U.S. carrier to operate the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the first to offer non-stop service from the United States to Chengdu, China, and the first to link Israel to the West Coast of the United States.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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