The U.S. airline industry's first woman pilot and two flight attendants whose log books date back to 1950 were among nearly 200 ex-employees of the original Frontier Airlines (1950-1986) who turned out for their 27th annual reunion on Aug. 25 at a park in Aurora, Colo. At the time it folded its wings on Aug. 24, 1986, Denver-based Frontier had some 4,750 employees.
“It's amazing how many employees show up for the reunion every year,” noted Carolyn Boller, one of the event's organizers, “although some of us are getting a little long in the tooth.” Boller, a former reservations agent for the airline, said there were some 2,500 employees at the first reunion in 1987.
She noted that many of the employees still wear T-shirts to the reunions inscribed with the former airline's colors and the reunion motto, “The spirit of Frontier lives on.”
Among ex-employees at this year's get-together was Emily Warner, who became the first woman pilot for a U.S. airline when she joined Frontier in 1973 (and three years later became the industry's first female captain when she was elevated to that rank on Frontier). Also at the reunion were Betty Wood and Libby McWilliams, two of Frontier's first flight attendants when the airline launched its initial flights in 1950.
Frontier was one of the nation's seven “regional” airlines that failed to survive the shockwaves of airline deregulation in the late 1970s.
Founded in 1946 as Monarch Airlines, the carrier was renamed Frontier when it became the surviving entity of a merger with two other airlines in 1950. At the time of its shutdown, Frontier was operating a fleet 42 Boeing 737 and McDonnell Douglas MD-80 jets on routes linking Denver to 56 cities in 22 states.
The original Frontier is not related to the present Frontier Airlines, which began flying in 1994.