The development of commercial air operations in the United States after the armistice that ended the First World War was a period of optimism founded on widespread public curiosity, thousands of newly trained pilots, and easy availability of surplus aircraft. Financing was provided based on the assumption that public interest would force the development of air transport without the development of new aircraft and without a national air policy. The initial growth period peaked in 1920, then diminished because of waning curiosity, use of obsolete war surplus equipment, lack of airways and airfields, as well as a lack of good business models.
Due to the lack of any federal system of registration, it is difficult to measure commercial operations in this period, but the Manufacturers Aircraft Association (MAA) made an annual attempt. It reported the number of FBOs went from a high of about 160 in 1920 to a reported 60 in 1924. The commercial fleet went from an estimated 1,000 aircraft in 1920 to a reported 217 in 1924.