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|Founded||1945 as Robinson Airlines|
Type / Number / Service
|Destinations||Albany, Buffalo, Erie, Glens Falls, Ithaca, New York, Newark, Hartford, Harrisburg, Montreal, Rochester, Syracuse, Toronto, Utica, Washington|
|Headquarters||Ithaca, New York
After 1958, Utica, New York
|Key people||Robert Peach - founder|
Mohawk Airlines was an airline that operated in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, primarily the states of New York and Pennsylvania, from the mid-1940s until its acquisition by Allegheny Airlines in 1972. At their height, they employed over 2,200 personnel and pioneered several technical and social aspects of regional airline operations, including being the first airline in the United States to hire an African American flight attendant. In 1958, Mohawk moved their headquarters from Ithaca to Oneida County Airport in the Town of Whitestown, New York, near Utica.
The airline began operations in 1945 as Robinson Airlines out of Ithaca Municipal Airport near Ithaca, New York, flying single engined, three passenger Fairchild F-24 aircraft. As they grew in the 1950s, the Douglas DC-3 became its primary aircraft; the Convair CV-240, CV-440s and Martin 4-0-4s were integrated into their fleet later. The airline also experimented with helicopter service between New York and Catskill Mountains resorts with limited success.
In 1952, Robinson was purchased by Robert Peach, and the name was changed to Mohawk Airlines as the result of a customer contest. In 1958, the airline moved their headquarters to Utica, NY, in the heart of the Mohawk Valley.
On February 11, 1958, Ruth Carol Taylor was hired by Mohawk Airlines, becoming the first African-American flight attendant in the United States. Only six months after breaking one historic barrier, Ruth Taylor's career ended due to another discriminatory barrier: the airline's marriage ban, a common practice among airlines of the day. Airlines often dismissed flight attendants who either married or became pregnant.
In 1961, Mohawk became the first airline to use a centralized computer-based reservation service, and in 1965, they became the first regional airline to utilize flight simulators. Mohawk also upgraded their fleet with the British Aircraft Corporation's BAC 1-11 in 1965, becoming the first regional airline to inaugurate jet aircraft service.
By 1969, all piston-engined aircraft had been retired from their fleet and Mohawk flew mainly the BAC 1-11 and the twin turboprop Fairchild Hiller FH-227.
From 1968 to 1971, labor and economic issues bled Mohawk financially. Unable to pay creditors at the end of that period, Mohawk entered merger discussions with Allegheny Airlines, and the merger was completed in 1972. The resulting company eventually became USAir in 1979, changing their name to US Airways in the late 1990s. US Airways was acquired by America West Airlines in 2005, which chose to maintain the more nationally recognized name: US Airways.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- Albany (Albany International Airport)
- Alexandria Bay (Maxson Airfield)*
- Binghamton (Greater Binghamton Airport)
- Buffalo (Buffalo Niagara International Airport)
- Glens Falls (Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport)*
- Elmira/Corning (Elmira-Corning Regional Airport)
- Ithaca/Cortland (Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport)
- Jamestown (Chautauqua County-Jamestown Airport)
- Islip (Long Island MacArthur Airport)
- Massena (Massena International Airport)
- New York (John F. Kennedy International Airport)
- Oneonta/Cooperstown (Oneonta Municipal Airport)*
- Plattsburgh (Clinton County Airport)
- Poughkeepsie (Dutchess County Airport)*
- Rochester (Greater Rochester International Airport)
- Saranac Lake (Adirondack Regional Airport)
- Syracuse (Syracuse Hancock International Airport)
- Utica/Rome (Oneida County Airport)*
- Watertown (Watertown International Airport)
- White Plains (Westchester County Airport)
- Ontario, Canada
- Toronto (Toronto Pearson International Airport)
- Quebec, Canada
- Rhode Island
Those airports marked with an asterisk (*) are not currently served by any commercial air service.
From top to bottom:
- DC-3 with Robinson Airlines livery
- DC-3 with Mohawk Airlines livery
- Convair 240
- Martin 4-0-4
- Convair 440
- BAC 1-11
- Fairchild Hiller FH-227
- Boeing 727-200 Ordered but never delivered
- BAC 1-11 in final livery before Allegheny Airlines acquisition
Accidents and incidents
On July 2, 1963, at Rochester, New York, Mohawk Airlines Flight 121 (a Mohawk Airlines Martin 4-0-4) attempted to take-off into a thunderstorm. Its wing-tip hit the ground and the aircraft cartwheeled, killing seven people.
On June 23, 1967, Mohawk Airlines Flight 40 (a BAC 1-11) flying from Elmira, New York to Washington, D.C., had a fire in the rear of the aircraft that eventually destroyed the vertical tail, causing all loss of pitch control. The cause was a non-return valve failure in the APU unit, resulting in hydraulic fluid's igniting. The aircraft crashed near Blossburg, Pennsylvania, killing all 34 people on board.
On November 19, 1969, Mohawk Airlines Flight 411 (a Fairchild Hiller FH-227B) crashed into Pilot Knob on the east shore of Lake George, New York, on approach to Warren County Airport, Glens Falls, New York, killing all 14 passengers on board.
On March 3, 1972, Mohawk Airlines Flight 405 (another FH-227) crashed into a house in Albany, New York on approach to Albany County Airport. The crew had difficulty getting the cruise lock to disengage in one of the engines. While the crew attempted to deal with the problem, the aircraft crashed short of the airfield, killing 16 of the 48 people in the aircraft and one person on the ground. The lone surviving crew member was a stewardess, Sandra Quinn.
In popular culture
- On Chicago’s album, Chicago III (1971), the group recorded the song “Flight 602”. Later that year, on the live album, Chicago at Carnegie Hall, the group announced that the title referred to a Mohawk flight from New York to Toronto.
- The photo on the back cover of the supergroup, the Traveling Wilburys’, first album, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 (1988), depicts five guitar cases with old-fashioned travel stickers. At the bottom of the guitar case on the right is a travel sticker that says “Fly Mohawk”.
- During the eighth season of Bewitched, in season 8, episode 12, "The Eight Year Itch Witch" (1971), a woman telephones Darrin's Albany hotel room posing as a Mohawk Airlines reservation agent and tells him the 11 o'clock flight is canceled because of fog.
- In season 2, episode 1, "For Those Who Think Young" (2008) of the AMC series Mad Men, the fictional Sterling Cooper ad agency worked on a campaign for Mohawk Airlines. In season 2, episode 2, "Flight 1" (2008), Sterling Cooper resigns the account in order to pursue an account with American Airlines, which is considering changing agencies in the aftermath of the 1962 Flight 1 disaster. Mohawk Airlines returns to the agency in season 5, episode 3, "Tea Leaves" (2012).
- Lehman, William. "US Airways: A Heritage Story". US Airways. Retrieved September 19, 2009.
- "World Airline Directory." Flight International. 6 May 1971. 637.
- "Zoning Map." Town of Whitestown. Retrieved on January 21, 2010.
- Conrad, Don (November 16, 2005). "Alaska's World: "Promoting Diversity: Flight attendants reach out to black community during trip to Harlem"". Alaska Airlines. Retrieved September 19, 2009.
- NY Times, 17Mar2012
- Sloan, Perry A (November 12, 2006). "Mohawk airlines". Airtimes. Retrieved September 19, 2009.
- Aeromoe. "Mohawk". Aeromoe's Flyin'and Rail Grindin' Website!. Geocities. Archived from the original on 2009-10-22. Retrieved September 19, 2009.
- "Season 8, Episode 12 The Eight Year Itch Witch". Bewitched (IMDb). 8 Dec. 1971.
- General references
- Kamienski, Richard. Mohawk Memories - A Personal Account of a Mechanic at Mohawk Airlines (online ed.). Richard Kamienski. Retrieved September 19, 2009.
- "US Airways: A Heritage Story". US Airways. Retrieved January 21, 2010.