MIAMI – Today in Aviation, National Airlines (NA) conducted the first domestic US flight operated by a jet airliner in 1958.
A single Boeing 707 (N710PA) had been leased from Pan American (PA), whilst NA awaited the arrival of its own jet equipment. It was put to work on the carriers flagship route between Miami (MIA) and New York (JFK).
The Boeing 707 was introduced into international passenger service by PA on October 26. NA subsequently beat American Airlines (AA) in introducing a jet-airliner into regular domestic service. AA put the type to work on its transcontinental service between JFK and Los Angeles in January 1959.
However, National would go on to purchase Boeing’s rival the DC-8. They followed in the footsteps of Delta Air Lines (DL) and United Airlines(UA), which had put the Douglas jet into service in September 1959.
National commenced operations in 1934. From initial intra-state services in Florida, the carrier expanded rapidly across the eastern United States. By the 1950’s it was the main carrier between Florida and New York. It had also been granted the right to fly to Havana, Cuba.
When National’s DC-8s arrived in 1961, they were put into service on transcon routes between Florida, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. By 1968, after the last of the carriers Lockheed L-188 Electra’s had been retired, it became an all-jet airline.
In the late 1970’s National had hit turbulence. On January 7, 1980, Pan Am took over the airline’s operations and the National name disappeared from the skies.
Featured image: National Air and Space Museum (NASM 9A08080), Smithsonian Institution.