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Delta is the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet, but it’s not part of the carrier’s origin story.
The name actually comes from one of Delta’s early female employees, Catherine Fitzgerald. Her recommendation for the name paid homage to the Mississippi Delta region where the airline’s predecessor, Huff Daland Dusters, began its operations. She was one of the first female airline directors from 1930-1934 and served as executive secretary to Delta’s principal founder C.E. Woolman from 1926-1966.
The Delta Widget that would later become the company’s logo was inspired by a military jet. Richard Maurer was Delta’s senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary. He noticed the similarity between the Greek letter Delta and the shape of Delta’s jets. He shared his thoughts with Delta’s advertising agency, Burke Dowling Adams (BDA) in 1955, and this led to the design of the first Delta Widget.
The logo changed and evolved through the years with the modern three-dimensional red Delta Widget introduced in April 2007, after the company exited from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Anthony’s Take: I always assumed Delta Air Lines got its name from the Greek Alphabet based on the similarity between the letter and the logo. I was wrong. The actual history is far more interesting.
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