Airline Jobs – A Brief History

From the earliest days of flying, people with pioneering spirits have graced the aviation industry. People such as the Wright brothers, who flew the first aircraft, to others like Amelia Earhart, Beryl Markham, and Charles Lindbergh, brought the aircraft industry with its possibilities to the attention of the world.

Historic Airline Line Art

The First Aircraft

In December of 1903 the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, made history with their first heavier-than-aircraft flight. A mere two years after that, they had developed the first fixed-wing aircraft and the controls that made it possible. In order to develop the fledgling aircraft further, they soon developed a wind tunnel and other devices to test their designs without having to actually build a full-size model.

International Flights

Just twenty-four years after the first flight, “Lucky Lindy,” or Charles Lindbergh, flew solo across the Atlantic. Naturally, this made headlines around the world and the world saw that international flight was possible. Soon afterward, two women pilots also traveled across the Atlantic – Amelia Earhart in 1932 (going from America to Ireland), and  Beryl Markham  flew from England to America in 1936.

Naturally, the outbreak of World War I brought with it the need for better weapons and ways to deliver them – and the aircraft was to become the primary delivery vehicle of choice. This led to faster growth and development, and aircraft soon had two or four engines on them to increase their ability to carry heavier payloads. Most aircraft during this time period had two wings and engines that either pushed the plane (behind the wing) or pulled it from in front of the wing. Airmail was started around this time, as well.

Rapid Growth of Airline Jobs

At every step in the development of aircraft to what we have today, there has been a steady growth in airline jobs. Besides racing to see who can develop better and more powerful aircraft, knowledgeable people were needed to service and fly them. Nations saw the need to be able to fly faster than its neighbor’s aircraft, and there were many records that were set and then broken. This required more engineers, researchers, manufacturers, and in some cases – experimental pilots such as Chuck Yeager – who has flown many new designs of aircraft over his years as test pilot. By 1937 jet engines were being tested. In World War II, it became very clear for the first time that the nation that had air superiority could conquer and control the world.

The airline industry grew tremendously during WWII, and commercial airlines were able to move more than 3.3 million people just in 1941 – the year that the United States entered the war. The number of airline jobs exploded, going from about 190,000 to more than 450,000 in that year alone. During the war, many different designs of aircraft were being mass-produced for the military, having even greater requirements for cargo and speed.

The year 1947 – just two years after WWII, marked the first supersonic flight, and 1951 introduced the traveling public to the first turbo-jet airliner company, aptly named Comet Airlines. By 1976, France had developed the SST Concorde. This sleek-bodied jet was making regularly scheduled commercial supersonic transatlantic flights in just a couple of hours. Soon, wide-body jets carrying 400 passengers or more would become the staple of the industry.

Did You Know? New evidence may have been found that indicates Amelia Earhart lived on an island for a few years after her disappearance?

The airline industry at that time was heavily regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other agencies, and subsequently had to adhere to government-controlled routes, fares, and schedules. The industry saw tremendous changes, however, when Congress decided that the Federal Government should get out of the business of regulating airlines. It was time to let the marketplace determine airline ticket prices and how often it would be necessary for a carrier to schedule flights to places like Peoria, Illinois, and Fargo, North Dakota.

Greater Security Needed on Airlines

After the collapse of the World Trade Towers in 2001, the government has created more jobs in the effort to prevent aircraft from being used that way again. The Department of Homeland Security was created and they scan passengers and luggage and provide security at larger airports in the United States. Federal Air Marshals also travel on commercial aircraft as well, and plans are currently being worked on to increase the scanning capabilities of cargo at airports, too.

Growing Number of Airline Jobs

Economic factors have an effect on the industry. When people have money, they want to travel more often and further. A recent worldwide economic downturn saw the airline industry really struggling for survival and fewer people getting to their destination by air. A recent upswing in the economy, however, has brought more people back to flying and traveling, and there has been increased hiring in the airline industry and it is expected to grow even more in the very near future.

Airline Jobs Summary:

  • Overall, the number of airline jobs has been increasing.
  • Most airline jobs do require specialized training.
  • Some airline jobs are some of the best paying jobs in the country, such as air traffic controllers.
  • Airline jobs can be found in most large cities in the US.
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