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 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.
Dave Behncke's path to becoming the founder and head of ALPA was not a direct one. While Behncke finally achieved the military assignment he had coveted, it was short-lived. This, along with several other setbacks in his career, convinced him that the decks were stacked against him. Learn about how his failures drove him to become a successful labor leader at the head of one of the most powerful unions of the 20th century.
Learn about the origins and story of ALPA's first president, Dave Behncke. Join us to retrace Behncke's journey from a small Midwestern farm to the head of one of the largest and most powerful labor unions.
The flight that killed U.S. Senator Bronson Cutting from New Mexico brought renewed scrutiny to the airline accident investigations process. Until this point, "pilot error" was a commonly cited cause for accidents. However, because a prominent politician was involved in the crash of TWA Flight 6, the U.S. Commerce Department played a large role in the fallout. Meanwhile, the management of TWA knew that they would eventually fall under increased scrutiny, and realized that the company-sponsored "TWA Pilots Association" and their opposition to an independent airline accident investigation agency proposed by ALPA and Dave Behncke would quickly be unpopular with the public at large.
Learn what chain of events led to the rise of one of the first airline-sponsored pilots' associations, the TWA Pilots' Association. Associations such as these often led to the system being rigged against the very pilots that these associations were supposedly set up to protect. In the early days of commercial aviation, accidents were far too often blamed on “pilot error," and these associations were often complicit in scapegoating the pilots for accidents.
Long and Harmon were essentially running a rogue airline that was refusing to abide by Decision 83, which was the National Labor Board edict that required pilots to be paid a certain amount for flying. Facing a hostile, anti-union environment, the pilots of Long & Harmon decided to fight back against their management's flagrant disregard of Decision 83. This fight set the precedent for pilot pay provisions that would eventually be cemented in future legislation.
ALPA's first president, Dave Behncke was determined to make sure that all airline pilots would be treated equally with the respect they deserved. But airline management would fight hard to create a tiered system of pay. Learn how Behncke and ALPA leveraged the precedent set by Decision 83 to set up the pilot pay system airline pilots enjoy today, and how this issue galvanized all airline pilots to "think collectively and work collectively."
Expert maneuvering by ALPA's first president, Capt. Dave Behncke helped propel ALPA from a small lobbying group to the most respected voice for airline pilots in Washington. Through ALPA's advocacy in the early days of the National Recovery Administration's "Code Hearings," ALPA was able to secure the foundation of the pilot compensation system in the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938, which is still in use today.
The early days of ALPA's presence in Washington were filled with political maneuvering spearheaded by ALPA's founder, Dave Behncke. Through ALPA's support of President Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal, ALPA positioned itself into a formidable force in commercial aviation which allowed ALPA to advocate for the pilot compensation system which is still in use today.
The Century Airlines Strike of 1932 was quite the spectacle during the early days of commercial aviation. Not only was it a pivotal event in the history of commercial aviation, but it was key to positioning ALPA as a major player in the labor movement as well as the aviation industry. Learn how missteps by E.L. Cord and smart maneuvering by ALPA founder Dave Behncke led to ALPA securing higher standards for airline pilots throughout the industry.
E.L. Cord was the owner of Century Air Lines, but more importantly, his name was the rallying cry for organizing pilots in the 1930s. The Century Air Lines Strike of 1932 gave ALPA its first opportunity to negotiate a labor dispute between its members and management. In this first part of Chapter 6, we'll learn how E.L. Cord's ambitious plot to turn a profit at the expense of his pilots led to the first strike in commercial aviation.
In this episode, we hear the conclusion of the Livermore Affair and learn how this tragedy set the groundwork for ALPA's critical role in setting high standards for aviation safety, eliminating the practice of "pilot pushing," and setting the bar for aviation safety for pilots, passengers, and cargo.
In 1937, a young widow by the name of Lorna Livermore helped ALPA shed light on the practice of “pilot pushing” with the public for the very first time when she sued Northwest Airlines alleging that “Pilot pushing” is what killed her husband, pilot Joe Livermore.
The Airmail Pilots' Strike of 1919 was one of the earliest organized actions taken by pilots. This 4-day strike led to concessions by Post Office management to eliminate the practice of "weather pushing" and to increase safety for airmail pilots. The roots of modern-day pilots' unions can be traced back to this important event in aviation history.