Airline Executives and Federal Regulation

Case Studies in American Enterprise from the Airmail Era to the Dawn of the Jet Age

Edited by W. David Lewis

Historical Perspectives on Business Enterprise



288 pp. 6x9

$66.95 cloth 978-0-8142-0833-5
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This book is a collection of eight case studies of relationships between airline executives and federal regulatory agencies from the passage of the Air Commerce Act in 1926 to the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978.  By focusing on the lives and personalities of individual entrepreneurs, W. David Lewis and his contributors hope to explore the interaction between technology, government regulation, and entrepreneurship.

Each essay in the book focuses on a particular airline executive, such as Eddie Rickenbacker, Robert Six, and Donald Nyrop. Lewis has been careful to give a variety of perspectives: Airlines of various types are represented—large and small, scheduled and unscheduled. Some of the executives profiled were known for having adversative relationships with federal regulators, whereas others wholeheartedly accepted regulation and thrived under it.

There have been public calls for a return to airline regulation, and Lewis thinks it is not inconceivable that regulation may ultimately return if problems continue and conditions deteriorate further. But, he says, it is well to remember that deregulation occurred because there were flaws in the regulatory system it replaced. This collection of essays—scholarly and well documented but written in a lively style suitable for specialists and nonspecialists alike—provides a long-range perspective on the issue of airline deregulation.

Contributors include

  • Roger E. Bilstein on C. R. Smith, American Air  Lines
  • Donna M. Corbett on Donald W. Nyrop, Northwest Airlines
  • Michael H. Gorn on Robert Six, Continental Air Lines
  • George E. Hopkins on George T. Baker, National Air Lines
  • Roger D. Launius on Orvis Nelson, Transocean Airlines
  • W. David Lewis on Edward V. Rickenbacker, Eastern Air Lines
  • William F. Trimble on George R. Hann, Pittsburgh Aviation Industries Corporation and Capital Airlines
  • William M. Leary on Robert E. Peach, Mohawk Airlines

W. David Lewis is Distinguished University Professor at Auburn University. He is the author of Sloss Furnaces and the Rise of the Birmingham District: An Industrial Epic.