As the oldest existing passenger airline, Delta traces its roots to 1925, when it initially operated crop spraying services as Huff Daland Dusters with the Petrel 31. Nicknamed the “Puffer,” it was the first agricultural aircraft specifically designed to protect cotton fields in the southern United States from the boll weevil.

Independence and a Delta Air Service name three years later placed the fledgling company on the threshold of incremental growth.

A sparse four-destination route network allowed it to serve Dallas, Shreveport, Monroe, and Jackson beginning June 17, 1929.

Shedding its farmhouse image a decade later, it acquired Lockheed L-10A Electra and Douglas DC-3 cockpit aircraft, facilitating service after awarding a route to Savannah, Knoxville and Cincinnati, and Chicago to Miami in 1946, though through these cities with an additional touchdown in Charleston.

Even larger, faster and more advanced four-engine piston liners improved its image, the Douglas DC-4 replaced the DC-3 in the Midwest-Florida race, the DC-6 replaced the DC-4 in December 1948, and the DC-7 replacing it on April 1, 1954.

Its coverage increased significantly four years later, on May 1, when it merged with Chicago and Southern.

Delta entered the jet era on September 18, 1959 with the Douglas DC-8-10 and this was followed less than a year later with the Convair CV-880 in short to medium range sectors. Despite the speed advantage achieved with its Rolls Royce Conway engines, it was both deafening and fuel-thirsty.

A southern route authority, granted in 1962, elevated Delta to transcontinental carrier status, allowing it to operate from Dallas to Los Angeles and San Francisco. Other service expansions included those from Atlanta to Jacksonville and Orlando and those to Phoenix and Las Vegas. However, like Eastern, it remained primarily an East Coast carrier.

Oversized and offering more range than necessary, the DC-8 and CV-880 were replaced by the twin-engined Douglas DC-9 in 1965 in short-range, low-capacity domestic US sectors.

The wide-body aircraft carrier era dawned early in the next decade with the Boeing 747-100 in 1970, the McDonnell-Douglas DC-10-10 two years later to provide needed capacity during lockheed L delivery delays. -1011 and the TriStar itself. .

By acquiring Northeast Airlines on August 1, 1972 for its much-demanded sun routes, it acquired Boeing 727-100 trijets and was able to launch service from Montreal and Boston to Miami and count Bermuda and Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas in its network.

Operating from an Atlanta hub, with secondary traffic hubs in Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Fort Lauderdale, Memphis, New Orleans, New York and Tampa a decade later, Delta had become the third largest airline, carrying 34.7 million passengers in 1979 and operating 1,300 daily flights to 80 destinations in the US. US, Canada, Bermuda, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, UK, and West Germany. His catchphrase, appropriately enough, was “Delta is ready when you are.”

Its growth, accelerated by the purchases of the European routes of Pan Am and Western Airlines, became exponential. As evidenced by the voluminous 433-page July 1, 1988 edition of his system calendar, he operated more than 2,200 departures with some 380 aircraft to 156 destinations in 42 US states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and 11 foreign countries. , including Canada, Bermuda, Bahamas, Mexico, Ireland, Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, primarily from its hubs in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City.

A considerably mixed fleet of Boeing, Lockheed, and McDonnell-Douglas included 727-200s (12 first class and 136 economy passengers), DC-9-30s (12F and 86Y), 737-200s (12F and 95Y or 8F and 107Y), DC-10-10 (36F and 248Y), L-1011-1, -250 and -500 (which featured various configurations including 32F and 270Y, 12F, 54C and 203Y, 12F, 40C and 189Y, and 18F , 64C and 140Y), MD-88 (14F and 128Y), 737-300 (8F and 120Y), 757-200 (16F and 171Y), 767-200 (18F and 186Y), 767-300 (24F and 230Y) and DC-8-71 (18F and 194Y).

While there was once an emphasis on fleet standardization and a minimum number of aircraft types to reduce crew training, maintenance, and spare parts inventories, emerging mega-carriers at the time, such as Delta, which, by definition serving all route lengths and densities, from the 100-mile feeder sector to high-capacity transcontinental and intercontinental travel, required a wide range of types and versions, as an integrated airline effectively had to do the work of many: commuter, large regional, US domestic, major, and mega carrier.

As a result, four major US regional flights, operating as Delta Connection, collectively offered 3,900 daily departures to 240 cities in addition to Delta’s mainline flights and included Atlantic Southeast Airlines with DHC-7, SD3-60 , EMB-120 and EMB-110, Business Express with F.27, SD3-60, S-340 and B1900), Comair with S-340, Fairchild Swearingen Metros and EMB-110, and Skywest with EMB-120 and Swearingen Metro right now.

Having been the largest TriStar operator in the world, with three versions and two sub-variants, Delta, considering it the “queen of the fleet”, placed its initial order for 24 L-1011-s in 1968 to supplement its existing DC-8s. however, they offer increased wide-body comfort and quieter, more fuel-efficient high-bypass-ratio turbofans, once they announced, “The magnificent $18 million TriStar, the newest member of Delta’s wide-travel fleet Air Lines”. It dropped most of its other US aircraft carrier competitors, including American, Continental, National, Northwest, United, and Western, to order the DC-10-10 from the competition.

Forced to operate five of McDonnell-Douglas’s counterparts on and off due to the cessation of Rolls Royce’s bankruptcy program, it eventually sold them to United, although they were leased between 1972 and 1975. It also fielded 747-100s on its transcontinental routes prior to that. Its capacity, in the event, outshone the demand.

His first L-1011-1, registered as N701DA, was configured for 50 first and 200 economy passengers. But it was just the beginning of a story with a guy who would become synonymous with the Atlanta-based airline, with 40 more purchased between 1973 and 1983.

Because its route system consisted mostly of short- to medium-range sectors, it was in the air for about two hours at a time, connecting cities less than 1,000 miles apart.

Exceeding the range of its first transatlantic route award, from Atlanta to London-Gatwick, it was supplemented by two L-1011-100s leased from TWA, with these eventually also being deployed to Frankfurt and Tokyo.

In 1980, he received three truly intercontinental L-1011-500s.

A second-hand TriStar acquisition program proved extensive. Fourteen L-1011-500s (six from Air Canada, three from Pan Am, and five from United) were purchased between 1984 and 1992 and ten L-1011-1s from Eastern between 1991 and 1992.

In addition to leasing two L-1011-200s powered by RB.211-524B engines, he modified one L-1011-1 to -200 standard and the remaining six configurations to -250, allowing each to operate sectors of greater scope.

Instrumental in serving the transatlantic European routes it acquired from Pan Am, with up to 80 daily flights in the summer of 1992, the type, in its -500 form, regularly made the 5,074-mile Anchorage-Hong Kong transpacific crossing, its longest long

Although budget constraints prevented Lockheed from offering what could have been the ultimate replacement in the form of the extended L-1011-400, the type continued to sail on Delta’s route system until only about 30 daily flights were counted for service. TriStar in late 2000. Progressive replacements took the form of the Boeing 767-200, -300 and -400 and the MD-11, perhaps McDonnell-Douglas’ final triumph over Lockheed.

First delivered in November 1979, aircraft N728DA, an L-1011-1, operated Delta’s last scheduled flight, from Atlanta to Orlando and back, on July 31, 2001, receiving a double water cannon salute. after landing on Georgia soil. He had flown nearly 31,000 flight cycles, 66,000 hours, and more than 27 million miles during his career.

The 70 TriStars of all the versions that Delta had eventually operated for more than a quarter century accounted for 30 percent of Lockheed’s total production.

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