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100 Years of Delta

100 Years of Delta

2025 marks 100 years of Delta Air Lines. Explore an overview of Delta's historical milestones in this timeline. All images and artifacts shown here come from the Delta Flight Museum collections. See our catalog for more details: https://deltamuseum.catalogaccess.com/

1903-01-01 00:00:00

First Flight

Wright brothers’ first successful flights

1915-01-01 00:00:00

NACA

NACA - National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics founded.

1917-01-01 00:00:00

First Airmail

First U.S. airmail route begins between NYC and Philadelphia.

1925-01-01 09:00:00

Delta Air Lines is Born

Delta predecessor, Huff Daland Dusters, founded in Macon, Ga. It was the world’s first aerial crop-dusting company.

1925-01-01 09:00:00

Huff Daland Dusters Move

Headquarters relocate to Monroe, La. Dusting extends south to Florida, north to Arkansas, west to California and Mexico.

1927-01-01 09:00:00

First Solo Trans-Atlantic Flight

Charles Lindbergh makes the first solo, nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

1927-01-01 09:00:00

Huff Daland Dusters Goes to Peru

Extends dusting services to Peru. Operates the first international mail and passenger route on the west coast of South America (Lima to Talara) for Pan Am subsidiary Peruvian Airways.

1928-01-01 00:00:00

Delta Air Service is Born

C.E. Woolman leads movement to buy Huff Daland Dusters. Renamed Delta Air Service for the Mississippi River Delta region it served. D.Y. Smith, president; C.E. Woolman, vice president. Original headquarters is located in Monroe, La.

1929-01-01 00:00:00

First Passenger Flights

Delta operates first passenger flights over route stretching from Dallas, Texas to Jackson, Mississippi, via Shreveport and Monroe, Louisiana.Travel Air S-6000-B airplanes carry five passengers and one pilot. Delta has 14 employees.

1929-01-01 00:00:00

Doolittle Makes History

Lt. Jimmy Doolittle becomes the first pilot to takeoff, fly, and land an airplane on instruments alone.

1930-01-01 00:00:00

Delta Arrives in Atlanta

Service extends from Birmingham, Ala., to Atlanta on June 12.

1930-01-02 00:00:00

Delta Air Corporation is Born

Lack of mail contract causes suspension of passenger service on October 1. Company reorganizes as Delta Air Corp. Continues crop dusting and aircraft repair and overhaul services.

1930-01-03 00:00:00

First Female on the Board

Catherine FitzGerald is Delta’s first female board member.

1934-01-01 00:00:00

Air Mail Route 24

Delta receives Air Mail Route 24 (Ft. Worth, Texas to Charleston, South Carolina) from Post Office. Starts first mail service on July 4 with Stinson Model T planes; resumes passenger service on August 5. Begins operating as Delta Air Lines. Clarence E. Faulk becomes President.

1935-01-01 00:00:00

First Night Service

Offers first night service with the Stinson Model A; first Delta aircraft with two pilots and reclining seats.

1936-01-01 00:00:00

The First DC-3

Douglas Aircraft Company introduces the DC-3, enabling airlines to make money carrying passengers.

1936-01-01 00:00:00

In-Flight Meals Begin

Co-pilots serve box lunches and coffee on the 10-passenger Lockheed 10 Electra, ushering in the first in-flight meals.

1938-01-01 00:00:00

Airfare Regulation

Civil Aeronautics Act enacted by Congress gives the Civil Aeronuatics Authority the right to regulate airline fares and determine the routes for individual carriers.

1938-01-01 00:00:00

Airline Operations

Airline operations begin earning more than crop-dusting services.

1940-01-01 00:00:00

Introducing the DC-2 and DC-3

Douglas DC-2 and DC-3 service introduced. Flight attendants, called “stewardesses,” added to flight crews. Beverage service now features bottles of Coca-Cola.

1941-01-01 00:00:00

First Female in Reservations

Dora Hammett is Delta's first woman employee in reservations.

1941-01-01 00:00:00

Atlanta Headquarters

Delta headquarters moves from Monroe to Atlanta (aka “Candler Field”) Atlanta is now the center of Delta’s new 16-city route system.

1941-01-01 00:00:00

Seeing-Eye Dog

Jack Wilson and his dog board a DC-3 as the earliest known seeing-eye dog aboard a Delta flight. Wilson, 18, received the dog as a gift from the General Motors Girls' Club in Detroit.

1942-01-01 00:00:00

First Black Technician

Johnnie Calhoun is one of Delta’s first black Aircraft Maintenance Technicians (AMT). Initially starting with Chicago and Southern Air Lines, he became Lead Porter in 1962 at his 20th anniversary with Delta. In 1967, he was Junior Mechanic before retiring in 1981 as Mechanic.

1942-01-01 00:00:00

Delta at War

Delta contributes to the war effort. Modifies 916 aircraft, overhauls 1,000+ engines and instruments, trains Army pilots and mechanics, and operates cargo supply routes for military.

1943-01-01 00:00:00

First Jet Engine

General Electric builds America's first jet engine

1944-01-01 00:00:00

First Female Traffic Manager

Delta appoints its first female acting traffic manager In New Orleans: 24-year-old Vera Murray from Atlanta. She was the only female traffic manager in a city with six airlines.

1944-01-01 00:00:00

Delta Ship 43

Converted DC-3 cargo plane, Delta Ship 43, begins unscheduled freight services.

1945-01-01 00:00:00

Officially Delta Air Lines

Official corporate name becomes Delta Air Lines, Inc. Delta has 982 employees.

1945-01-01 00:00:00

Flying Tomatoes

Delta is first airline to fly living vegetable plants (160,000 tomato plants).

1946-01-01 00:00:00

First Male Pursers

Delta hires its first male pursers.

1946-01-01 00:00:00

Red Coats

Delta hires its first passenger service agents (today’s Red Coats): all women able to speak Spanish to assist passengers in Miami.

1946-01-01 00:00:00

Delta Cargo

Delta officially enters cargo business. One-millionth passenger boards.

1946-01-01 00:00:00

Chicago to Miami

Delta is first airline to fly nonstop Chicago-Miami, initially with Douglas DC-4 planes.

1947-01-01 00:00:00

All-Cargo Flights and No Fatalities

Scheduled all-cargo flights begin. Delta’s fleet totals 644 available seats. Receives National Safety Award for more than one-half billion passenger miles without a fatality. Delta Vacations program begins as Millionaire Dream Vacations (later Delta Dream Vacations) with packaged summer vacations to Miami.

1948-01-01 00:00:00

Cabin Pressurization

The Douglas DC-6 is the first Delta plane with cabin pressurization, air conditioning, seat tray tables for meals and a 6-seat Sky Lounge. Begins interchange service with TWA personnel flying Delta planes from Cincinnati to Detroit and Delta crews flying TWA ships south from Cincinnati to Atlanta, Miami and Dallas.

1949-01-01 00:00:00

Coach Service Starts

Coach Class service starts; discounted-fare "Owly Bird" night flights between Chicago and Miami.

1950-01-01 00:00:00

Junior Pilots

First official Delta souvenir for children, a paper Junior Pilot Certificate handed out to both girls and boys.

1952-01-01 00:00:00

Convair 340

Delta flies Convair 340 planes; modified to Model -440 standards in 1956.

1953-01-01 00:00:00

Chicago and Southern Air Lines

Chicago and Southern Air Lines merger brings Delta its first international routes to the Caribbean and Caracas. Airline called Delta-C&S for the next two years. Delta inherits from C&S its first customer recognition program Flying Colonel, one of air transports coveted awards.

1954-01-01 00:00:00

First Class Service and Portable X-Ray Machines

First class service begins, as Golden Crown Service on Douglas DC-7 flights. Delta introduces reserved seats Golden Crown customers can select their seat when they check in at the airport. First airline to supplement visual inspection of aircraft parts with a portable x-ray machine to examine interior structures.

1955-01-01 00:00:00

Hub-and Spoke System

Delta pioneers extensive development of the hub-and-spoke system in the 1950s. Using Atlanta as a cross-connecting point, Delta expands service choices and frequencies for medium and smaller southeastern communities to distant, larger cities and each...

1956-01-01 00:00:00

Weather-Avoidance Radar

Weather-avoidance radar installed in noses of all Delta aircraft (except DC-3s)

1957-01-01 00:00:00

Jet Training

First airline to begin jet training of personnel (March 12).

1957-01-01 00:00:00

Forklifts & Conveyer Belts

Forklifts and conveyer belts installed for handling cargo and baggage in all larger cities served by Delta. A new truck lift cuts in half the time it takes to load and unload planes.

1958-01-01 00:00:00

NASA

NASA is formed. Boeing introduces the first passenger jet. The Federal Aviation Administration is created as a safety regulatory agency.

1958-01-01 00:00:00

Royal Service

Luxurious Douglas DC-7 Royal Service first-class flights offer three instead of the usual two flight attendants, boarding music by Muzak, complimentary champagne and steaks cooked to order. Children receive Delta’s first kiddie wings souvenir pins.

1959-01-01 00:00:00

DC-8 Jet Service

Delta is first airline to launch Douglas DC-8 jet service. First airline to offer complimentary meals on discounted coach flights.

1959-01-01 00:00:00

First Baby Born In-Flight

First baby born on a Delta flight: Suzanne Ector, over Malden, Missouri, at 9,000 feet. Flight attendant wings are used as diaper pins.

1959-01-01 00:00:00

Delta Widget

Delta "widget" is introduced as logo.

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