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Column for 4..13.11
Donít ask me why Iím interested in Mohawk Airlines because I donít know. But I do know that Iíve been interested in Mohawk for a long time.
Mohawk was a great airline, to be sure, and it was Oneida Countyís own. Mohawk was based at the Oneida County Airport, when it was in Oriskany. Not many counties can boast of being the home of an airline.
A group has asked me to give a speech about Mohawk later this spring, which is why Iíve gone back to look at what Iíve written about the airline over the years.
I was surprised at how much Iíve written about Mohawk, which includes the following overview:
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 ďregionalĒ 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 passenger terminal.
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 carriers.
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 regional carrier.
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 passengers.
In 1971, Mohawk Airlines merged into USAir, now USAirways. USAirways was originally named Allegheny Airlines, which traces its roots back to All American Aviation...