Flying the Line
Summary: Recount an exciting chapter in aviation history and the beginnings of the Air Line Pilots Association, the world's largest pilot union and nongovernmental air safety organization, through an abridged retelling of the book by George E. Hopkins, "Flying the Line." Narrated by Corey Kuhn.
ALPA’s founder and first president, Dave Behncke, works to maintain his position against all odds. But an investigative committee looks into various factors that would eventually lead to his downfall, including discontent among the professional staff of ALPA and the fulfillment of Behncke's dream, ALPA's first national headquarters in Chicago, Illinois.
The fight for Capt. MacDonald's career ends with a victory for the union pilots of National Airlines after a long and hard-fought battle with National's CEO, George T. Baker. However, this was only the start of what would be a series of battles with George Baker.
In the wake of the National Airlines strike, management resorts to dirty tricks to topple labor, and one pro-ALPA captain, Ed McDonald, is removed from flying as two other pilots sabotage his airmanship.
In ALPA’s short history, Ted Baker, the owner of National Airlines, was one of the most unscrupulous operators Dave Behncke had to deal with. The pilots of National Airlines attempted to hold their management accountable for poor working conditions, but to no avail. This, compounded with the firing of one pilot resulted in the pilots voting to authorize a strike. Hear how the longest and costliest strike at in the history of ALPA to that point, turned out.
Fresh off the TWA Pilots’ strike of 1946, ALPA had another battle looming with the management of National Airlines. In the minds of the pilots of National Airlines, the strike of 1948 was like World War II—a good fight, a just cause, an evil foe. George T. “Ted” Baker, founder of National Airlines and its president during the strike, was the villain while ALPA President Dave Behncke was the heroic champion of justice. Learn why ALPA’s National Airlines pilots felt this way about their “unscrupulous” owner and what events led up to the longest and costliest strike at ALPA to that point.
The pilots of TWA struck over “the four-engine pay problem” and another pilots association threatens to cross picket lines. However in the midst of all this, ALPA President Dave Behncke was rushed to the hospital with a suspected heart attack.
Advancements in aircraft design inevitably lead to increased efficiency and productivity. With TWA priding itself on being at the forefront of aircraft design and technology, it was all but certain that TWA’s drive to be at the leading edge of air travel would lead to labor unrest with their pilots. Hear how ALPA navigated the tension between increased efficiencies and ensuring its members continued to receive the pay and benefits they deserved.
In the midst of the United States fighting a global war, ALPA fought to protect its pilots. With airline operators using wartime needs as an excuse to roll back flying limits, ALPA successfully navigated the tension between maintaining the safety of the aviation system, and fulfilling its patriotic duty. Hear how ALPA led its pilots to victory against the complex tapestry of patriotism and aviation safety.
In the early years of its existence, ALPA made considerable gains in protecting pay and benefits for pilots flying the line. In addition to the gains in labor, ALPA also wielded great power and influence that rivaled the large industrialists of that era. However, with the drumbeats of war growing ever closer to U.S. shores, everything that ALPA had gained up to that moment was at risk of being lost in the name of national security and patriotism.
Dave Behncke's path to becoming the founder and head of ALPA was not a direct one. While Behncke finally achieved the military assignment he had coveted, it was short-lived. This, along with several other setbacks in his career, convinced him that the decks were stacked against him. Learn about how his failures drove him to become a successful labor leader at the head of one of the most powerful unions of the 20th century.
Learn about the origins and story of ALPA's first president, Dave Behncke. Join us to retrace Behncke's journey from a small Midwestern farm to the head of one of the largest and most powerful labor unions.
The flight that killed U.S. Senator Bronson Cutting from New Mexico brought renewed scrutiny to the airline accident investigations process. Until this point, "pilot error" was a commonly cited cause for accidents. However, because a prominent politician was involved in the crash of TWA Flight 6, the U.S. Commerce Department played a large role in the fallout. Meanwhile, the management of TWA knew that they would eventually fall under increased scrutiny, and realized that the company-sponsored "TWA Pilots Association" and their opposition to an independent airline accident investigation agency proposed by ALPA and Dave Behncke would quickly be unpopular with the public at large.
Learn what chain of events led to the rise of one of the first airline-sponsored pilots' associations, the TWA Pilots' Association. Associations such as these often led to the system being rigged against the very pilots that these associations were supposedly set up to protect. In the early days of commercial aviation, accidents were far too often blamed on “pilot error," and these associations were often complicit in scapegoating the pilots for accidents.
Long and Harmon were essentially running a rogue airline that was refusing to abide by Decision 83, which was the National Labor Board edict that required pilots to be paid a certain amount for flying. Facing a hostile, anti-union environment, the pilots of Long & Harmon decided to fight back against their management's flagrant disregard of Decision 83. This fight set the precedent for pilot pay provisions that would eventually be cemented in future legislation.
ALPA's first president, Dave Behncke was determined to make sure that all airline pilots would be treated equally with the respect they deserved. But airline management would fight hard to create a tiered system of pay. Learn how Behncke and ALPA leveraged the precedent set by Decision 83 to set up the pilot pay system airline pilots enjoy today, and how this issue galvanized all airline pilots to "think collectively and work collectively."