Editor's note: Airlines
are like newspapers. They merge, go bankrupt and get bought out. It's
difficult to keep the genealogy straight. Take, for example, the airline
lineage associated with the county's official airport at Oriskany. That
official designation will soon switch from Oriskany to Griffiss, making this
a good time to look at the airline history at the county airport in Oriskany.
This is part one in a series.
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First at Oneida County Airport was Robinson.
Originally known as the Airline Division of Robinson Aviation, Robinson
Airlines was founded in 1945 and began operations with a single-engine
Fairchild F-24, which carried one pilot and three passengers. At its
beginning, Robinson flew just one route, the 173 miles between Ithaca and
New York City. By 1952, the name had been changed to Mohawk Airlines and
routes had been extended into New England.
Mohawk, as did many other airlines of the time, capitalized on the great
availability of war-surplus DC-3s to begin its regular passenger service.
Mohawk grew fast.
In 1958, with the completion of its new $3 million headquarters at the
Oneida County Airport in Oriskany, Mohawk coined the term "regional" to
describe its role, a term that would later be adopted by other airlines and
which is still used today.
By the early 1960s, Mohawk, under the leadership of company President Robert
Peach, himself a pilot, used the Oneida County Airport as the site for its
executive offices, maintenance and reservations centers. Mohawk was the
first U.S. airline to centralize its reservation system, and the first
regional carrier to use computers to support its reservation agents.
Speaking of firsts, Mohawk was the first regional airline to purchase flight
simulators, which the company installed in the $4 million Edwin A. Link
Training Center, located just yards away from the Oneida County Airport
Another first: Mohawk was the first regional airline to enter the jet age.
This came in the mid-1960s when Mohawk purchased BAC 1-11 jets in England.
By 1969, Mohawk had one of the largest jet fleets among the regional
There had to be a place to house all the Mohawk pilots and stewardesses,
which is what flight attendants were then called, and passengers using the
Oneida County Airport. All this traffic at the airport is what gave rise to
the Horizon Hotel, built across the road from the Link Training Center.
By the end of 1969, Mohawk had retired the last of its piston aircraft and
was flying 20 BAC 1-11 jets and 17 FH-227 turboprop aircraft. The transition
to an all-turbine fleet required an investment by Mohawk of more than $53
million, which up to that point was the largest ever undertaken by a
Mohawk used those airplanes to cover 5,000 route miles in 10 states,
Washington, D.C. and Canada. Its 37 aircraft carried more than 2.5 million
In 1971, Mohawk Airlines merged into USAir, now USAirways. USAirways was
originally named Allegheny Airlines, which traces its roots back to All
American Aviation, which began by inventing a very unique way of carrying
the U.S. Mail. That's where we will pick up the Oneida County story next
time, a story that includes airlines named Lake Central, PSA, Piedmont and
Joe Kelly is the editor and publisher of The Boonville Herald & Adirondack Tourist and