On the first ever edition of Cargo Facts, in the spring of 1981, we featured this artist’s rendition of a Summit Airlines 737-200 Adv. Summit, a regional cargo operator based in Philadelphia, had grown up from using Cessnas and Shorts Skyvans in the 1960s and early 1970s to an operator of half a dozen Convair 580s. In the early eighties, they had their eyes set on expansion and were evaluating jet equipment, including the 732, the 727-100, and the DC-9-30. Although a DC-9 was leased for a time (as was a Lockheed Electra), Summit ceased operations in the mid-1980s after being bought by E.F. Hutton.
1981’s recurring stories revolved around expansion at Emery Worldwide and FedEx. On September 29th of that year, FedEx placed an order for the first all-cargo version of the 727-200 – orders that would be delivered in 1984. The Autumn issue featured a large article on the 727-100, then the workhorse of domestic cargo operations. Many 727-100s were built as quick-change or convertible freighters, easing their adoption by cargo operators after they passed out of passenger use. In our first issue, we reported that Emery Air Freight had allocated $63M to purchase 727-100 and 737-200 class freighters.
The year’s biggest aviation story, the PATCO strike, had little effect on cargo operations – operators consulted who said that they had little or no interruption at the time consisted of Airborne, American, Arrow, Emery Air Freight, FedEx, Flying Tigers, InterState, Profit, Summit, United, and Zantop.