FEBRUARY 21, 2006 -- A piece of North Carolina aviation history was celebrated here this past weekend. Piedmont Airlines' inaugural flight left Wilmington at 7:15am on February 20, 1948, bound for Cincinnati. A restored Piedmont DC-3 from the Carolinas Aviation Museum returned to Wilmington on Sunday. Bright and early Monday morning, at 7:15, it took off to recreate that historic flight.
Many of us weren't even born when that first flight took off, but Piedmont Airlines was an important part of aviation history and many North Carolinians' lives, as founder Tom Davis built Piedmont into a hugely successful airline with nearly 20,000 employees.
The story of Piedmont Airlines has been documented in a book that was released on Sunday, "Piedmont: Flight of the Pacemaker." Scores of former Piedmont employees and their families gathered at Wilmington International Airport to tour the restored DC-3 and for a book signing by author Frank Elliott, book compiler Elizabeth Norfleet, and the pilot of that first flight, Wilmington resident Leon Fox.
Tom Davis founded a legacy with Piedmont Airlines. We salute him and the thousands of employees who contributed to the airline's success.