Photos of the Week: Tracing Your Roots

American’s legacy livery reminds us of Pittsburgh’s strong influence on aviation

By BlueSkyStaff

Published May 24, 2021

Read Time: 2 mins


Pittsburgh is deeply woven into the fabric of American Airlines, just as it is in much of modern commercial aviation in the U.S.

With a long list of mergers that began only a few years after the airplane was actually invented, tracing airline legacies back to their roots can take some work. But sooner or later, Pittsburgh always pops up.

For American, the region appears at several points along the carrier’s timeline, including today, with one of its primary maintenance bases located at Pittsburgh International Airport, inherited after its merger with US Airways in 2013.

American flies seven “legacy” aircraft with liveries honoring the airlines acquired by or merged with the carrier over the years. One of those airlines was TWA (Trans World Airlines), which American acquired in 2001.

TWA—then known as Transcontinental & Western Air—was founded in 1930 out of the “Air Mail scandal” that created the first major U.S. airlines. TWA was formed by the merger of five smaller regional airlines, including Pittsburgh Aviation Industries Corp., which operated passenger and mail routes from the Midwest to Washington, D.C.

Ryan McManus caught all that history in one photo of American’s Boeing 737-800 painted with the TWA livery, taken at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.

And after documenting all those Pittsburgh ties, it’s fitting that we offer an aerial shot of our hometown from Bill Stout. This is a look southeast down the Ohio River with Brunot Island in the foreground and Downtown just beyond.

Thanks, Ryan and Bill!

Our readers continue to pass along shots of unique aircraft, international airports, historical events, gorgeous views and even family vacation photos for this feature. We love them! Keep them coming—you can click here for submission guidelines.

An aerial view of Pittsburgh, looking southeast down the Ohio River. (Photo submitted by Bill Stout)

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