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Our History

The origins of Piedmont Airlines can be traced back to 1931, when founder Richard A. Henson, an aviation pioneer and Fairchild Aircraft test pilot, began a fixed-base operation as Henson Aviation in Hagerstown, Maryland. More than 80 years later, Piedmont continues a strong tradition of safety, excellence and customer service in the aviation industry.

Our growth has been marked by several notable milestones.

In 1962, Henson Aviation instituted scheduled passenger service as the Hagerstown Commuter between Hagerstown and Washington, D.C. Since then, we’ve grown into one of the nation's pre-eminent regional airlines.

In 1967, Henson Aviation joined with the former Allegheny Airlines to form the first "code share" affiliation that now dominates the airline industry worldwide. One year later, Henson replaced Allegheny service at Salisbury, Maryland, the site of today's headquarters. A route structure to Washington, DC, Philadelphia and Baltimore was developed.

In 1977, we boarded our one millionth passenger. Two years later, the airline purchased the first of its new 50-seat, four-engine deHavilland Dash 7 aircraft.

In 1981, Air Transport World named Henson the Regional Airline of the Year.

The 1980s were a decade of dramatic growth and change for us. The addition of new equipment transformed the airline into a modern regional carrier. The first significant change occurred in 1983, when Piedmont Aviation agreed to purchase Henson and our company became known as Henson, the Piedmont Regional Airline. The next year, eight de Havilland Dash 8 aircraft were purchased. Through subsequent reorders for the Dash 8, we have become the world's largest operator of that highly efficient, passenger-friendly aircraft.

In 1985, we boarded our five-millionth passenger. Boarding for 1986 alone surpassed one million. By the end of 1987, the route structure touched 38 cities in ten states plus the Bahamas.

In 1989, Piedmont merged into USAir and Henson planes were repainted to reflect the new identity of USAir Express. In 1993, Henson was renamed Piedmont Airlines in order to preserve the Piedmont identity within the USAir Group family. In 1997, USAir itself underwent a name change, becoming US Airways.

The 1990s brought a dramatic increase in the airline's station and customer service areas. The most dramatic move came in 1994, when USAir agreed to allow the Express carriers to handle their own flights at six major hubs and stations in the East. Piedmont took over the ground operations at Baltimore, Washington National and Tampa, and the employee total grew to more than 1,700.

Dash  7Dash 8

The tragic incidents of September 11, 2001 forever changed all airlines, including Piedmont. To this day, we continually evaluate our posture and make changes as necessary. In January 2002, our maintenance department established a heavy check operation at our Salisbury, MD location. Changes have since occurred at our customer service locations, maintenance bases, and crew bases.

Piedmont experienced another period of rapid growth in the late 2000s. While many airlines were shrinking their workforce, Piedmont was expanding customer service to include multiple locations in the western United States and Alaska. We became a true coast-to-coast company in 2011.

Piedmont has continued the Henson tradition of leading the way for regional airlines. Piedmont was one of the first airlines of any size with a fully operational Advanced Qualifications Program for pilot training. Piedmont was also the first regional to be certified for use of the TCAS anti-collision system.

In 2013, Piedmont’s parent company, US Airways, merged with American Airlines to create the world’s largest airlines. The merger creates new opportunities for Piedmont in nearly every area, from fleet size and routes to customer service locations. As the merger progresses, we are excited to see what’s in store!

Piedmont Headquarters - SBYPiedmont - SBY TerminalPiedmont Maintenance Hangar - SBY