Widely reported, broadly blogged about, and generally not news to those of us that play in the travel space, but tonight is the last flight of US Airways, and I just can’t let it pass without saying something. Growing up in the south, I’d never heard of Allegheny, but that would not last long. There were basically three airlines in North Carolina, Delta, Eastern, and Piedmont. Sometime around deregulation Allegheny changed its name to US Air and an oddly placed ticket counter in the original terminal at Raleigh-Durham (RDU) appeared. It would be years before I cared.
My first flights as an unaccompanied minor were on Eastern, interestingly enough, and I once wrote Col. Frank Borman a letter in search of information on airplanes for a school project. Col. Borman wrote me a personal note and included lots of cool (to me) promo shots of Eastern jets. He also wished me luck in getting promoted to the 7th grade. That made an impression on a 6th grader! But soon I would have a chance to fly on Piedmont, and they were better in just about every way I could think of at the time. Better and cleaner jets, and genuinely nicer and happier people it seemed. Piedmont also happened to be headquartered in North Carolina, but I’m not biased. I started a Piedmont memorabilia collection that I maintain today. Like all wannabe pilots growing up in North Carolina, I declared I would be a Piedmont pilot.
By the time I graduated college and went to work for a regional airline as a mighty Jetstream F/O, Piedmont was a distant memory, bought by US Air and later renamed US Airways. Later, I would transition to Saab 340 F/O, and ultimately wind up teetering on the edge of diabetic coma in a Chicago hospital emergency room. I spent several years at American Airlines after that in the maintenance and airport operations divisions. I’ve still got a little AA red, white, and blue in me, and I suppose it is only fitting that the airline (USAirways) that bought the airline (Piedmont) that really got me into aviation is now part of the one where I would ultimately land.
So today, this ex-AA’er salutes USAirways. Here’s to the future and hoping for the best.
-MJ, October 16, 2015