Pennsylvania Airlines which was in operation in 1931 and
run by Clifford Ball. P.A. merged with Central
Airlines (started in 1934) on 1 November 1936 to become
Pennsylvania-Central Airlines - P.C.A. Both
Central Airlines and PCA were in stiff
competition in the Washington - Detroit area and the merger
strengthened both businesses and became the fifth largest
airline in the country at that time.
route was between Washington and Buffalo with three stops in
between. 1939 saw the airline making extensions to this
basic route, going southwards toward Knoxville using the
Boeing 247D twins.
PCA was flying two Boeing 247D twins and sixteen Douglas
DC-3s, the latter to compete with the larger airlines flying
against it. United began a route with DC-3s on the Chicago
to Washington in 1943 and the airline needed some way of
competing against the giants of US aviation.
In 1944 the
US C.A.B. allowed PCA to compete on the New York - Chicago
(via Pittsburgh and Detroit) route in competition with
United Airlines (DC-3s), TWA (Stratoliners and
Constellations) and American Airlines (DC-3s).
route between Washington and Chicago was finally awarded to
PCA in 1945 and PCA flew DC-3s against the United Air Lines
service that had been established two years earlier.
In 1946 PCA
introduced Douglas DC-4s in an attempt to gain ground on its
On April 21
1948 PCA changed its name to
Capital Airlines. On November 4 1948
Capital Airlines made a
'first' in American airline history when it introduced a new
low-fare 'coach' service - called the 'Nighthawk' service.
By the 1950s
was flying Douglas DC-4s and Lockheed L-049 Constellations.
was looking forward again in the early 1950s when it ordered
sixty Vickers Viscount 700 turboprops in 1954 and 1955 after
consulting with the aircraft's launch customer, British
European Airways , which had ordered a large fleet and
were flight testing them on the London - Paris route with
Viscount saw Capital service on 26 of July 1955 on
the prestigious Washington to Chicago route with flights
initially three a day. This new aircraft gave Capital
a real gain over its competitors.
Vickers Viscount 800 N7450 of
Capital Airlines in 1959 - Bill Armstrong
ordered another 15 Viscounts to its great success, along
with orders for another British airliner, the De Havilland
Comet 4 and 4C long-haul jet. But these orders were
cancelled when the airline recognised it was moving too
fast. The airline was not making the profit it expected
despite the amazing success of the Viscount which flew three
quarters of the airline's seat-miles. It could not survive
in competition with the 'big four' airlines and the rulings
by the CAB which limited it.
So in July
1960 United Air Lines took over
Capital Airlines and its Viscount fleet
making UAL the largest free-world airline of the