It’s been a very long time since Piedmont Airlines flew a plane in or out of Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA), but, though the airline is gone, it is certainly not forgotten.
For those who grew up in the area, the now defunct Piedmont Airlines was once almost synonymous with the airport that bears the same first name. That’s one reason the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority decided to honor the 75th anniversary of the airline by throwing a celebration for those who worked for Piedmont Airlines or were associated with it.
The airline was born in 1948 and lasted until 1989, when it was absorbed into USAir, which, in 2013, in turn, merged with American Airlines.
Piedmont Airlines’ headquarters was in Winston-Salem in a building that’s now on the campus of Wake Forest University.
At the time that it was bought out in the late ‘80s, the airline had over 20,000 employees and served nearly 100 large and small airports.
PTIA Executive Director Kevin Baker, who was at Lehigh University in 1989 when the airline was purchased, said it was gone long before he arrived at PTIA..
“That was BK,” he said, which stands for Before Kevin.
However, he’s well aware that the friendly ghost of the old airline still haunts PTIA.
“I know that it was beloved,” he said of the airline.
As part of the 75th anniversary, Stephanie Freeman, the marketing and customer relations manager for the Airport Authority, helped dust off some old pictures of the airline – like the one above – for a nostalgic slideshow.
The airline was founded by Winston-Salem resident Tom Davis who passed away in 1999.
Piedmont Airlines started out flying Douglas DC-3s to places like Wilmington and Cincinnati and eventually flew to places like Kinston, Asheville and Roanoke before expanding to more westward routes by the time the airline was purchased by US Air.