AA’s eagle goes modern, but Fort Worth still has the old birds

01/03/2014 6:11 PM

01/03/2014 6:13 PM

Forgive us for being a bit sentimental about the old American Airlines eagle.

For 30 years, ever since American moved back to its legacy home from New York, the “AA” eagle has soared over headquarters in Fort Worth.

But that was not the eagle’s first appearance here. An earlier version perches in bas-relief atop the 1933 American Airways hangar at Meacham Airport, built as the first Southern regional home for the fledgling airline that would become American Airlines.

That first eagle was meaner and tougher, landing with talons spread ready to strike its prey.

American’s most familiar eagle was drawn in 1968 by industrial brand designer Henry Dreyfuss Associates to fit with New York-based designer Massimo Vignelli’s Helvetica logo, according to Vignelli.

He never liked the eagle, Vignelli has said, explaining that he wanted a real “post office eagle.”

But he also didn’t want to see the logo change.

“Some may see an eagle [in the new logo], some may see something else,” he told Businessweek last year, after the unveiling of the new American Airlines logo by FutureBrand, with an abstract eagle in flight, extending one blue and one red wing.

“And they don’t even say it’s the eagle,” Vignelli said. “They say it could be the eagle.”

As of this week, it’s the official eagle.

More than 60,000 employees voted whether to keep the old or new logo for the combination of American and formerly Phoenix-based US Airways.

Coming from US Airways, chief executive Doug Parker said he was “indifferent” to the logo. He told the Star-Telegram last month he didn’t want to “spend all my time worrying” and that employees should choose.

The old eagle will continue to fly for months while US Airways planes are repainted first, and longer on a few planes painted in “heritage” colors, Parker said. (Since the new planes are coated in composite instead of aluminum, the silver color actually will be painted.)

If you really miss AA’s eagles, they continue to perch daily on aircraft and exhibits at the airline’s C.R. Smith Museum, 4601 Texas 360 ( crsmithmuseum.org).

And that original hangar at Meacham Airport is now being restored by one of Fort Worth investor Robert Bass’ companies.

Fort Worth will see plenty of eagles.

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