National Air Transport

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National Air Transport
IATA ICAO Callsign
- - -
Founded 21 May 1925
Ceased operations 1934
Subsidiaries Stout Air Services
Fleet size See Aircraft types operated below
Parent company United Aircraft and Transport Corporation

National Air Transport was a large United States airline. It was the first airline to operate cross country flights.[1] In 1930 it was bought by Boeing. The Air Mail Act of 1934 prohibited airlines and manufacturers from being under the same corporate umbrella, so Boeing split into three smaller companies, one of which is United Airlines, which included what had previously been National Air Transport.


Clement M. Keys formed North American Aviation in early 1925, for the express purpose of providing organization, finance and inspiration for the development of a large network of airlines, manufacturers and other aviation services, each nurturing the other. Keys contacted Carl B., Fritsche, general manager of the Aircraft Development Corporation of Detroit, with the idea of creating an airline to link Chicago with Detroit and New York City. [2]

To insure a sound base for operations, Keys proposed an initial subscribed share capital of $2 million, many times that of other early airlines. Keys raised $1 million through his New York contacts and Fritsche raised $500,000 from Detroit interests. After further fund raising, the remaining $500,000 was subscribed by the sons of several leading Chicago business men. This enabled National Air Transport Inc. (NAT) to be incorporated in the state of Delaware on 21 May 1925. The total authorized issued share capital was fixed at an unprecedented $10 million.[3]

Airmail contract bid and commencement of operations[edit]

Keys and other members of NAT's board realized that the gaining of an airmail contract would be crucial to the early development of the airline. NAT therefore bid for the mail contract CAM 3 from the United States Post Office. This covered the Chicago–Dallas route and the contract was awarded to NAT on 7 November 1925. This was a key link in the US airmail network, connecting two very important cities and regions with the east-west transcontinental route through Chicago. [4]

A fleet of ten Carrier Pigeon biplane aircraft was constructed by Curtiss, one of Key's other business interests. These were used to open the NAT airmail service on 12 May 1926 on a route Chicago-Moline-St Joseph-Kansas City-Wichita-Ponca City-Oklahoma City-Dallas.[5]

On 7 May 1930, N.A.T. was acquired by United Aircraft and Transport Corporation, a large holding company which already owned several airlines that operated as independent divisions. On 12 September 1930, N.A.T. itself purchased one of these divisions, Stout Air Services, Inc.[6][7] Stout had purchased Ford Air Transport Service's airmail routes in 1928, and flew Ford Trimotor's.[8]

New York-Chicago mail route[edit]

NAT wished to expand their network and they successfully bid for the key New York-Chicago airmail route CAM 17. On 2 April 1927, the airline was awarded the contract in competition with three other bidders. The carriage rate was to be $1.24 per pound of airmail carried. 14 pilots were taken on from the Post Office Department and the service over the difficult route over the Allegheny Mountains commenced on 1 September. Initially the Curtiss Carrier Pigeons were used, but were quickly supplemented by 18 Douglas M-2 mailplanes taken over from the Post Office. In turn, these were supplemented in early 1928 by eight Travel Air 6000 aircraft.[9]

Aircraft types operated[edit]

Curtiss Carrier Pigeon
Douglas M-2
Travel Air 5000
Travel Air 6000
Ford Trimotor

See also[edit]


  1. ^,0,
  2. ^ Davies, 1998, p. 51
  3. ^ Davies, 1998, p. 51-52
  4. ^ Davies, 1998, p. 52
  5. ^ Davies, 1998, p.52
  6. ^ "Announcement Made of Air Line Merger". The Owosso Argus-Press. 12 September 1930. p. 1, col. 3. 
  7. ^ "City Now on Chief National Air Route". The Toledo News-Bee. 13 September 1930. p. 2, col. 7. 
  8. ^ William Bushnell Stout. So Away I Went. 
  9. ^ Davies, 1998, p. 61