The overnight red-eye flight from San Francisco to Philadelphia marks the last ever departure under the US Airways name as the carrier's merger with American nears completion. Shortly after the flight departs San Francisco at 9:55 p.m. PT, American will unify its own reservations systems for the flights of both airlines. There will be no more US Airways flights once the plane lands in Philadelphia, scheduled for 6:18 a.m. ET.

US Airways final flight also closes a major chapter on aviation history in Western North Carolina.

US Airways was the “end” product of multiple airline mergers over a number of decades, which included a merger with the airline most critical to the economy and growth of Western North Carolina in the last half in the 20th century---Piedmont Airlines.

Created in the 1930s by an enterprising Tom Davis, Piedmont Airlines later became the principle carrier for those flying in to and out of the Asheville-Hendersonville area.

After some three decades of successful growth, Piedmont Airlines upgraded its fleet in 1967. That ended the airline’s dependence on the DC-3’s, or ”Great Smokies Pacemakers” as they were known and promoted in the industry. In doing so, Piedmont added the new Boeing 737.

And on July 19, 1967, just four short months after putting the new Boeing jet into service, shortly after 12 noon and just after taking off from the Asheville Regional Airport, Piedmont Flight 22 collided in mid-air over Hendersonville with a small private Cessna aircraft. The passengers and crew of both planes, a total of 82 people, were killed.

As horrific as that tragedy was for Piedmont and for the region, Piedmont continued to serve the region until August 4, 1989---when it officially flew its last flight as “Piedmont Airlines” and became merged with an up and coming airline that was buying up regional carriers all over the country, known as US Airways.

By WHKP News Director Larry Freeman 10/16/15