College of Law > About > Centers & Institutes > International Aviation Law Institute > Conversations Oral History Project > A Conversation With Frederick W. Smith
This message is based on Professor Havel's introductory and closing remarks at the interview of Mr. Smith.
I am pleased to welcome you to this website and to the webcast
below. This is the seventh event in the Institute's special oral
history series, "Conversations with Aviation Leaders," in which we talk
about the origins, the history, and the record of U.S. airline
deregulation with academics, officials, public figures, industry leaders
whove played a significant role in this extraordinary public policy
Our previous Conversations have focused on historical
developments in airline passenger travel, and weve not explored in any
detail the circumstances particular to the deregulation and evolution
of air cargo transport.
We're redressing that omission this afternoon on the grand scale.
The Institute has gone on a field trip, to Memphis, Tennessee, to the
global headquarters of the FedEx Corporation. We're sitting in a
custom-built studio on the FedEx campus, and we're privileged indeed
that our interviewee is Frederick W. Smith, the founder, chairman, and
CEO of FedEx, the world's first and largest overnight express delivery
A Yale classmate of Secretary of State John Kerry, and of former
U.S. President George W. Bush, he famously formulated the idea of FedEx
as an assignment for an undergraduate economics class. After school, he
became a highly decorated Marine, and served in the Marine Corps. He
founded Federal Express in 1971. The name “Federal Express,” as it then
was, is derived in part from a failed attempt, apparently, to secure a
contract to deliver checks for the Federal Reserve System.
Those early testimonies form a crucial part of what we will be talking about here in Memphis this afternoon.
Our format will be approximately three 50-minute sessions, in
which we will talk successively about the emergence of the initial
experience of airline deregulation, and we look at the post-deregulation
era, and the influence of deregulation on the restrictive regime that
governed – still governs, to some extent – international air transport.
And finally, we’ll have some overall perspectives and retrospectives,
and look at some specific regulatory issues.
Anyway, that’s the theory. It’s really up to my guest, Fred
Smith – I’m, in a sense, his guest here in Memphis – as to how this
Conversation will unfold.