a brief history of northwest airlines (extracts from nwa’s website)
 www.hlswilliwaw.com
1926  Northwest Airways takes to the sky, carrying air mail from the Twin Cities to Chicago with a "fleet" of two rented, open-cockpit biplanes - a Thomas Morse Scout and a Curtiss Oriole. 1938  Northwest develops the first practical aviation oxygen mask, making possible high-altitude flying over the Rocky Mountains. 1941  February 14: NWA common stock is publicly traded for the first time.  Annual passenger revenue exceeds mail revenue for the first time. 1942 - 1944 Northwest carries out 11 major government wartime assignments, including lifeline to Alaska, bomber modification and a variety of special projects; employment leaps from 881 to 10,439. Service to several smaller cities is suspended when the government commandeers half of Northwest's fleet. Northwest receives Army- Navy "E" for operation of bomber modification center.  Southern Airways applies for CAB certification to establish a local service air carrier in eight southeastern states.  Wisconsin Central Airlines is incorporated with the Four Wheel Drive Automobile Company as the major shareholder. Francis Higgins, formerly advertising and public relations manager of FWD, is named president. The airline begins a four-year battle to win an operating certificate from the CAB. 1945  June 1: New York service is launched from the Twin Cities via Milwaukee and Detroit, making Northwest the fourth transcontinental air carrier.  Bonanza Airlines begins operations in Las Vegas, Nev., with a single-engine Cessna aircraft.  Northwest adds its first four-engine aircraft, the Douglas DC4. 1946  Service expands to Newark, N.J., and Anchorage, Alaska (via Seattle)  Zimmerly and Empires airlines merge to form West Coast Airlines, headquartered in Seattle. 1947  January 2: "Inside" route to Anchorage is launched from the Twin Cities.  July 15: Northwest Orient service begins from the Twin Cities via Edmonton, Anchorage and Shemya, Alaska, to Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai and Manila.  September 25: First service to Okinawa.  Service expands to Jamestown, N.D., Aberdeen, S.D., and Bozeman, Mont.  The twin engine Martin 202 enters service. 1948  February 24: After a four-year fight to win CAB certification, Wisconsin Central Airlines begins scheduled service. The first flight: Minneapolis/St. Paul, to Hibbing/Chisholm, Minn., in a Lockheed Electra. All other "first day" flights are canceled due to bitter cold and widespread freezing rain and snow.  The "Red Tail" is painted on all Northwest aircraft for the first time, creating a trademark that becomes known world-wide and that continues in use almost 50 years later.  Service expands to Washington, D.C., Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Honolulu. 1949  March 24: Northwest begins the nation's first transcontinental all- coach flights.  May 15: Civil war in China forces suspension of Shanghai service.  June 10: Southern Airways' first scheduled flight takes to the skies. Southern Flight 1, with Capt. George Bradford at the controls, offers DC3 service from Atlanta to Memphis, with intermediate stops in Gadsden, Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Columbus, Miss. Southern Airways begins operations with 39 employees and headquarters in Atlanta.  August 1: Northwest takes delivery of its first Boeing B-377 Stratocruiser. The large and luxurious double-deck aircraft features on-board passenger lounges for relaxation on long trans-Pacific flights. Northwest becomes the first airline to offer beverage service within the U.S. on the Boeing Stratocruiser. 1950 July 25: Hostilities in Korea force suspension of commercial service to Seoul; Northwest is selected by the U.S. government as prime contractor for the Korean air lift.  Service expands to Edmonton, Alberta, and Taipei, Taiwan. 1951  March 19: Service to Hong Kong begins via connecting service with Hong Kong Airways. 1952  Wisconsin Central Airlines moves its headquarters to Minneapolis/St. Paul and is renamed North Central Airlines. 1954  September 27: Donald W. Nyrop becomes president.  Hal Carr, a vice president of Wisconsin Central from 1947 until 1952, returns to North Central as President and General Manager. He will lead North Central and Republic as Chairman until his retirement in 1984.  Service expands to Miami through interchange flights with Eastern Airlines.  The four-engine Douglas DC6 joins the fleet. 1955  January 1: Northwest voluntarily becomes the first airline to operate without government subsidy on trans-Pacific and United States-Alaska routes.  Northwest flies its first Lockheed L-1049 Constellation. 1956 January 1: Northwest leases Shemya Island in the Aleutian chain from the U.S. government for use as a fuel stop on the North Pacific route, thus becoming the first airline to operate its own airport.  Northwest announces it will centralize operations at a new $17.5 million base at Minneapolis/St. Paul's Wold-Chamberlain Field (formerly Speedway Flying Field, site of the airline's original base of operations in 1926).