Led initially by World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker, Eastern Airlines was one of the “Big Four” domestic airlines created by the 1930 “Spoils Conference.” A near-monopoly of the New York to Florida market (“Number one to the sun”) supported rapid growth. Labor disputes and debt strained the company under former Apollo 8 astronaut Frank Borman, who assumed executive leadership in 1975 and continued until 1986. In that year Frank Lorenzo acquired the airline and moved most of its assets to Texas Air and Continental Airlines. Eastern ran out of money and was liquidated in 1991 with most of its routes to Latin America and the Caribbean acquired by American and Delta Airlines. Hear Bill McCutcheon explain the reasons for the rise and fall of this important airline.
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