Minnesota Flyer - Serving Midwest Aviation Since 1960

By Jim Hanson
Minnesota Flyer 

Notable accomplishments by Northwest Airlines

 


• Began service delivering the mail on CAM 9 (Minneapolis/Chicago) in 1926, using two rented, open-cockpit biplanes.

• 1926 — Northwest became the first airline to operate a closed-cabin airplane in commercial service, the 3-passenger Stinson Detroiter SB-1.

• 1928 — service expanded to Duluth (using a Sikorski S-38 amphibian), North Dakota, and Winnipeg.

• 1929 — headquartered at “Speedway Field” (site of an old racetrack, now MSP International)

• 1930 — headquarters relocated to St. Paul Downtown Airport (Holman Field).

• 1933 — Service expanded to Montana, and eventually to Seattle.

• 1942 — Northwest engine mechanics modified the B-25 bombers used in the “Doolittle Raid” on Tokyo.

• Wartime years — operations to Alaska

• 1947 — First airline to offer scheduled service US to Tokyo

• 1948 — adopted the signature “Red Tail”

• Northwest helps to establish Japan Air Lines after WW II

• 1949 — first airline to offer coast-to-coast coach service

• 1955 — first airline to operate without government subsidy—trans-Pacific and US-Alaska routes

• 1957 — first airline to offer ground-air telephone service to passengers

• 1960 — first airline to operate all-jet fleet across the Pacific

• 1988 — first airline to ban smoking on all of its flights

• 1992 — first airline to operate through Russian airspace

• 2000 — first major airline to offer internet check-in

• Northwest pilot Bill Atkins (an Albert Lea native and inductee in the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame) invents the aircraft strobe position light. (A prolific inventor, Atkins also invented the soft-serve swirl ice cream cone as well as the combination chocolate/vanilla cone)

• Northwest Capt. Bob Plath is credited with developing the roller-wheel suitcase.

• First airline to offer seat-back entertainment centers

• 2008 — Northwest Airlines merged into Delta Air Lines.

 

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