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The Olympic Airways story has a fascinating history. It is a story of evolution, conflict, personality and politics, all set against a backdrop of world and civil wars, coups and counter-coups. Although almost everyone had heard of the towering, controversial, leading figurehead who oversaw much of the central part of the story: Aristotle Socrates Onassis. His colourful life is threaded through this history, lending it drama and multiple levels of intrigue. The airline's story cannot be told in isolation. Olympic did not spring fully formed into being in 1957. The named company may have come into being then, but its roots were set much further back in history through a number of predecessor airlines - both national and international - who had been using the Hellenic Republic and Athina as the crossroads of the air for the Eastern Mediterranean since the dawn of aviation.