Delta’s predecessor Huff Daland Dusters—the world’s first aerial crop-dusting company—started commercial operations in 1924, flying the first aircraft designed for agricultural work. After purchasing the company in 1928, Delta gradually replaced the Dusters with Stearmans, and a few Travel Airs planes, and continued dusting operations until 1966.
Delta’s propeller-driven airline fleet took off in 1929 with three small five-passenger Travel Airs. By the early 1970s, almost 150 piston-engine planes had carried passengers, mail and cargo over Delta’s expanding routes.
Delta briefly flew several propeller-driven aircraft types with turbine engines from 1966-1975. The all-cargo Lockheed L-100 was a commercial version of the military C-130 Hercules. The Fairchild-Hiller FH-227B came from Northeast Airlines during its merger with Delta in 1972.
Delta entered the jet era in 1959, as the world’s first operator of the Douglas DC-8. Delta was also the first to fly the Convair 880 in 1960, and the Douglas DC-9 in 1965. When big "wide-body" jets arrived, Delta was the first airline with three different types in its fleet—the Boeing 747, the Douglas DC-10 and the Lockheed L-1011 in 1973