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North Central Airlines


1- the beginning
2- start of service
3- DC-3s arrive
4- upgrade to convairs
5- DC-9s and 580s
6- the late 60s
7- expansion and merger

Increased demand soon outweighed the abilities of the small Lockheeds, resulting in the purchase of 6 DC-3s from TWA with inauguration of service in early 1951. By 1952, with the help of 10 DC-3s, Wisconsin Central had grown to become the third largest of the 18 local service carriers behind Frontier and Ozark.

1952 also witnessed the moving of headquarters from Madison, Wisconsin to Minneapolis/St. Paul as the lease expired on the old Air Force hanger at Truax Field. As a result of the move, the board of directors decided to change the airline's name to North Central in order to more accurately reflect the increased route structure of the carrier.

click to see large map

After moving to Minnesota, several factors sent North Central into the red financially. Francis Higgins stepped down as president and after several management changes, Hal Carr, who briefly left the airline, was brought back as president in 1954. He instituted many changes in order to save the company from extinction. Instead of further cuts in service, he added more frequency and used employee input to cut costs. The result was a dramatic turnaround as North Central became an efficient and reliable network.

By 1958, North Central had grown to become the largest local service airline carrying 780,000 passengers with its 32 Douglas DC-3s. The company would continue to add to its route miles, including a large award from the CAB's "Seven States Investigation", which added another 2000 miles and 18 cities.

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