March 15, 1941
The first flight of Philippine Air Lines (PAL), a flag carrier for the Philippines, took place when a twin-engine, five-seater Beechcraft Model 18 NPC-54 plane departed from Nielson Field in the city of Makati for Baguio City. (Both of these cities are on the Filipino island of Luzon).
This flight occurred a month after the company was established by a group of Filipino businessmen. That group’s leader was Spanish Filipino industrialist Andrés Soriano (1898-1964).
PAL was the first commercial airline based in Asia. The company’s services were interrupted during World War II, which lasted in the Philippines from later that same year to 1945. PAL resumed operations in 1946, with a total of five Douglas DC-3 airliners providing domestic service. (The above photo features one of the DC-3 airliners that was a part of PAL’s fleet.)
It was also in 1946 that PAL became the first Asian airline to cross the Pacific Ocean. This took place when a chartered Douglas DC-4 airliner transported 40 U.S. servicemen from Nielson Field to Oakland, California. This plane made stops along the way at Guam, Wake Island, Johnston Atoll, and Honolulu.
With its present-day primary hub based at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, PAL — now known as Philippine Airlines — operates 31 routes within the Philippines and a total of 43 other routes that include destinations within Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, East Asia, Oceania, the Middle East, and North America.
Photo Credit: Bill Larkins (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en)
For more information on the history of Philippine Airlines (originally known as Philippine Air Lines), please check out https://www.philippineairlines.com/AboutUs/HistoryAndMilestone