Once considered one of the "big four" US carriers, along with American, Delta, and United, it was innovative and highly successful, having evolved into the world's second-largest airline during its six-decade history  Tracing its origins to Pitcairn Aviation, which had been formed on September 15, 1927, had inaugurated airmail service the following year between Brunswick, New Jersey and Atlanta with open-cockpit PA-5 Mailwings.
But North American Aviation , a holding company for several fledgling carriers and aircraft manufacturers, bought the company for a year after that, and, changing its name to Eastern Air Transport, inaugurated passenger service with Ford 4-AT Trimotors on the multi-sector hop from Newark to Washington via Camden, Baltimore, Washington, and Richmond on August 18, 1930.
After absorbing Ludington Air Lines three years later, it was able to incorporp New York-Philadelphia-Washington triplets to its system.
Eastern's growth, like that of many other carriers, was jumpstarted by the Air Mail Act of 1934, which entailed the awarding of government contracts to private companies to transport the mail , while the US Postal Service selected them based on the bid they submitted in competition with others. Although this prompted the formation of upstart companies to operate the airmail routes in the hopes of being selected, it was equally required for the separation of the then-common aircraft manufacturer-and-carrier co-ownership
Circumventing the restriction imposed upon it as  1969002] Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, World War I, flying ace who won the Congressional Medal of Honor, bought the carrier from the North American Aviation Holding for $ 800, 000 and took over the helm, implementing an aircraft modernization program.
Building his soon-known Great Silver Fleet, he quickly replaced the slow Curtiss Condor biplanes with all-metal Douglas DC-2s, one of which became the first to land at the new Washington National Airport in 1941. Leaving its imprint on an exp and East Coast network, East plied the New York-Miami sector with wider-cabin, 21-pasenger DC-3s in 1937.
Like many US airlines, whose growth was interrupted by the necessity of World War II imposed on it and the In 1942, Eastern commenced its own military support flights, connecting the three states of Florida, Pennsylvania, and Texas, spreading its wings to Trinidad in the Caribbean, and ultimately forming its Miami-based Military Transport Division, for which it acquired Curtiss C-46 Commandos.
The seed to its pioneer tri-city northeast shuttle was planted two years later when the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) awarded it the New York-Boston route over American [19659002
The quad-core design of the quad-core quadrangular quad-core quad-core quad-core quad-core quadrangular, one DC-4 soon added its 39 twin-engine DC-3s, and its network now encompassed Detroit, St. Louis, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The Lockheed L-649 Constellation, inaugurated into service in 1947, yielded to the higher-capacity L-1049 Super Constellation, which plied its signature New York-Miami route as of December 17 , 1951. The Martin 4-0-4s replaced the DC-3s and by the middle of the decade, the first DC-7Bs sported Eastern's livery.
Acquisition of Colonial Airlines gave it access to New York State, New England, Canada, Bermuda, and Mexico City.
The prophet took the form of the four-engine Lockheed L-188 Electra, which was inaugurated on January 12, 1959 between New York and Miami, and the pure-jet in the form of the four-engine Douglas DC-8 only a year later, soon supplemented by the smaller-capacity but higher cruise speed Boeing 720.
Eastern was the first of the four big US carriers to operate the 727-100 tri -the "Whisperliner" -specifically on the Philadelphia-Washington-Miami run-and the twin-jet DC-9-10.
The famo We hourly New York-Boston-Washington Air Shuttle was launched on April 30, 1961 with the L-188 Electra, for which it was advised, "No need to make a reservation. Just 'show and go.'
One-way weekday fares were $ 69.00 to Boston and $ 42.00 to Washington, while the round-trip weekend prices were $ 55.00 for adults and
The shuttle was eventually operated by DC-9-30, 727-200, and A-300 aircraft.
Breaking its hitherto east coast shackles at the end of the 1960s, it expanded to
Passing the torch to another famous aerospace personality, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker relinquished control of the Caribbean Islands Colonel Frank Borman, who had orbited the earth in Gemini VII in 1966 and the moon in Apollo VIII two years later.
Eastern entered the widebody era with the Lockheed L-1011-1 TriStar in 1972, became the first US carrier to ope
After acquiring Braniff International's Latin American routes in 1982 and establishing a hub in San Juan, it became the first European Airbus Industrie A-300 in 1978 when it ordered 23 and was the launch customer for the Boeing 757-200. the world's second-largest carrier in terms of annual passengers after Aeroflot, establishing hubs in New York, Charlotte, Atlanta, Miami and San Juan and toting its slogan "We have to earn our wings everyday"
But while it may have earned their wings, it did not necessarily earn the profits to support their lift. Debt from aircraft purchases needed for its expansion and labor disputes necessitated the $ 615 million acquisition by Texas Air Holdings, which also owned Continental, in 1986, and Eastern became a carcass of fodder. Airplanes were sold. Employees were laid off. Assets were transferred to Continental.
Declaring bankruptcy in 1989 and ceasing operations two years later, on January 19, the one-time "wings of man" became the Icarus of deregulation after a six-decade flight.