Flying the Line
Summary: Recount an exciting chapter in aviation history and the beginnings of the Air Line Pilots Association, the world's largest pilot union and nongovernmental air safety organization, through an abridged retelling of the book by George E. Hopkins, "Flying the Line." Narrated by Corey Kuhn.
In stark contrast with his fellow airline operators, the president of Southern Airways, Frank Hulse, goes to war with his airline’s pilots by cutting pay and benefits to bolster his own profits. While the pilots are forced to resort to unorthodox and inventive methods to plead their case with the flying public, Hulse takes strike-breaking to a new low by hiring unqualified pilots.
A prank by a pilot in the jumpseat on a scheduled passenger flight highlights the need for more stringent standards on who should be afforded the right to have a seat on the flight deck. But this battle with federal regulators over crew complement would set the foundation for what would be the toughest and most painful period for ALPA in the years to come.
ALPA advocates on behalf of having three pilots working on the flight deck of the new airliners of the post-World War 2 era, but accidents and pilot pranks do little to help the cause, all while one airline’s pilots mull over leaving the Association.
ALPA’s second president Clancy Sayen began his term on the heels of a bitter fight that ousted ALPA’s founder Dave Behncke. Upon his election, Sayen began a top-to-bottom reorganization of ALPA’s governance structure in order to democratize the association. In addition, he took head-on the issue of how the quick advancement of aviation technology impacted productivity, and thus, the pay rates of pilots. With the advent of jet technology, Sayen created the Jet Pay Study Committee to determine how best ALPA could navigate addressing the dual issues of aviation safety and crew complement in the cockpit, while protecting pilot jobs and pay.
In a way, ALPA's second president, Clancy Sayen was a victim of the ouster of ALPA's founder and first president, Dave Behncke. When Sayen joined ALPA, he did not have the presidency in his plans. However, due to his well-spoken and eloquent nature, he started to become noticed by many of his fellow members and quickly ascended to national leadership, which culminated in being chosen to succeed Behncke. The intentional and analytic nature of Sayen came as a stark contrast to Behncke's, and ALPA's culture changed as a result of the Sayen administration.
Against all odds and amidst a quickly shifting industry and labor landscape, ALPA’s first president Dave Behncke continues his fight to maintain his position atop the organization he founded. Questions about the legitimacy of an vote takes the battle for leadership into the courtroom.
ALPA’s founder and first president, Dave Behncke, works to maintain his position against all odds. But an investigative committee looks into various factors that would eventually lead to his downfall, including discontent among the professional staff of ALPA and the fulfillment of Behncke's dream, ALPA's first national headquarters in Chicago, Illinois.
The fight for Capt. MacDonald's career ends with a victory for the union pilots of National Airlines after a long and hard-fought battle with National's CEO, George T. Baker. However, this was only the start of what would be a series of battles with George Baker.
In the wake of the National Airlines strike, management resorts to dirty tricks to topple labor, and one pro-ALPA captain, Ed McDonald, is removed from flying as two other pilots sabotage his airmanship.
In ALPA’s short history, Ted Baker, the owner of National Airlines, was one of the most unscrupulous operators Dave Behncke had to deal with. The pilots of National Airlines attempted to hold their management accountable for poor working conditions, but to no avail. This, compounded with the firing of one pilot resulted in the pilots voting to authorize a strike. Hear how the longest and costliest strike at in the history of ALPA to that point, turned out.
Fresh off the TWA Pilots’ strike of 1946, ALPA had another battle looming with the management of National Airlines. In the minds of the pilots of National Airlines, the strike of 1948 was like World War II—a good fight, a just cause, an evil foe. George T. “Ted” Baker, founder of National Airlines and its president during the strike, was the villain while ALPA President Dave Behncke was the heroic champion of justice. Learn why ALPA’s National Airlines pilots felt this way about their “unscrupulous” owner and what events led up to the longest and costliest strike at ALPA to that point.
The pilots of TWA struck over “the four-engine pay problem” and another pilots association threatens to cross picket lines. However in the midst of all this, ALPA President Dave Behncke was rushed to the hospital with a suspected heart attack.
Advancements in aircraft design inevitably lead to increased efficiency and productivity. With TWA priding itself on being at the forefront of aircraft design and technology, it was all but certain that TWA’s drive to be at the leading edge of air travel would lead to labor unrest with their pilots. Hear how ALPA navigated the tension between increased efficiencies and ensuring its members continued to receive the pay and benefits they deserved.
In the midst of the United States fighting a global war, ALPA fought to protect its pilots. With airline operators using wartime needs as an excuse to roll back flying limits, ALPA successfully navigated the tension between maintaining the safety of the aviation system, and fulfilling its patriotic duty. Hear how ALPA led its pilots to victory against the complex tapestry of patriotism and aviation safety.
In the early years of its existence, ALPA made considerable gains in protecting pay and benefits for pilots flying the line. In addition to the gains in labor, ALPA also wielded great power and influence that rivaled the large industrialists of that era. However, with the drumbeats of war growing ever closer to U.S. shores, everything that ALPA had gained up to that moment was at risk of being lost in the name of national security and patriotism.