How Boston got its first airline route

1929 photograph of Colonial Air Travel passenger plane, by Leslie JonesThe flight from Boston to New York would take one hour forty-five minutes.

It was the mid 1920s: a happening time between world wars. The United State Postal Service had successfully proved its experiment in putting excess planes to work ferrying mail from coast to coast, so that the government felt confident putting its airmail routes out to bid to private aviation companies.

An unknown Charles Lindbergh  would fly mail between Chicago and St. Louis for one of those little firms. Meanwhile, another, Colonial Air Transport, launched in New York City by ex-air force pilo Juan Trippe, who later founded Pan Am, got its first contract in 1925. Colonial originally flew just a mail route between New York and Boston.

However, in 1927, the same year the small airline relocated its headquarters to Boston and Lindbergh captivated Americans with his flight across the Atlantic, Colonial began offering the first regular passenger service. Starting in April, Colonial’s planes, like the one in this photo by photographer Leslie Jones, flew steadily between Boston and New York.

Jones, a Boston Herald-Traveler photographer, took this particular photo in 1929 at the East Boston Airport.

Another company, AVCO purchased Colonial in 1930 and combined it into a network that eventually would become American Airlines.

Photo: Boston Public Library/via Flickr. You can peek inside the airline’s time tables here.
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