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Amerijet Looks Back at the History of Air Cargo


Ever wonder about how cargo by air got its start? The first known air cargo flight occurred on a Wright Brothers aircraft between Dayton and Columbus, Ohio on November 7, 1910. The Wright Brothers transported a 70 pound shipment (10 bolts of fabric for a store opening) for a fee of $5,000. That historic day marked the first “cargo only” flight solely for the transport of goods—the first one commissioned by a customer.

Next, the world’s first airmail flight took place in February 1911 between two cities in India. Regular, scheduled airmail post service followed after the first London-area service that year. In the 1920s, transporting goods by air developed as a business as entrepreneurs used aircraft to move high-value and low-volume consignments far faster than railroads or maritime shipping.

These events marked the beginning of the rich history of air cargo, launching an industry that continues to evolve today.

Air Freight Goes Express

FedEx, formerly known as Federal Express, is perhaps one of the best known all-cargo carriers. Creating an express air shipping business was the subject of founder Fred Smith’s college term paper, a former military pilot and decorated veteran. Smith had familiarity with military logistics, and as an economics major, realized there was a better way to offer reliable air freight and package shipping.

FedEx’s first freighter flight was a success in April 1973. The fleet soon expanded by the mid-1970s to include larger freighters, such as B-727s and DC-10s. FedEx has set the tone for standardized global business practices and expectations involving air freight and package shipping in general.

Amerijet Soon Followed

FedEx isn’t the only carrier which helped to revolutionize express shipping by air. Only a year after the Memphis-based carrier’s start-up, David Bassett founded Amerijet International, Inc. in 1974 with one leased airplane.

Amerijet began operations as an air-taxi operator, providing small cargo flights, as well as passenger and air-ambulance charters in the U.S. and Bahamas. By 1976, the company started scheduled service with its first contract with Purolator Courier Corporation, concurrent with its purchase of a twin-engine Cessna. By 1978, Amerijet provided overnight courier service to many customers, and had invested in its first jet, a Learjet. By the mid-1980s, Amerijet purchased its first Boeing 727-100 freighter which enabled it to expand its route map internationally.

In 1987, Miami International Airport became Amerijet’s hub and shortly thereafter, the all-cargo airline added more Boeing aircraft. The 1990s saw its expansion into the Caribbean, South America, further into North America, and launched a global expansion with the opening of offices worldwide through its partner network which continues today.

Amerijet has grown to serve additional markets throughout North America, Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America with a fleet of B-767 and B-727 aircraft. In addition to scheduled service, Amerijet also operates short-term and long-term charters. The Amerijet worldwide partner network provides seamless transportation solutions for customers spanning over 625 destinations worldwide. For more information, visit: https://www.amerijet.com/.