FAA Chronological History, From 1926-96


May 20, 1926: President Calvin Coolidge signed the Air Commerce Act of 1926 into law. The act
instructed the Secretary of Commerce to foster air commerce; designate and establish airways; establish, operate, and maintain aids to air navigation (but not airports); arrange for research and development to improve such aids; license pilots; issue airworthiness certificates for aircraft and major aircraft components; and investigate accidents. (See Introduction.)
May 23, 1926: Western Air Express (WAE) became one of the first U.S. airlines to offer regular
passenger service, flying from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City via Las Vegas. WAE had begun flying on
Apr 17 as the fourth carrier to begin operations under a new air mail contract system that became the
major source of income for the era's small but growing airline industry (see Jun 3, 1926).
Over twelve years earlier, the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line had offered the world's first
regularly scheduled airline service using heavier-than-air craft. This enterprise lasted for only the first three months of 1914. On Mar 1, 1925, T. Claude Ryan's Los Angeles-San Diego Air Line had begun the first scheduled passenger service operated wholly over the U.S. mainland and throughout the year.

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