Air West Fairchild F-27 N2705 (c/n 16)

Air West was formed on 17 April 1968 by the merger of West Coast Airlines, Pacific Air Lines and
Bonanza Air Lines. All three were having financial problems so it made sense to form an amalgamation.
Since West Coast was serving some Canadian stations, the merger required, and received, the blessing
of President Johnson. The Chief stockholder of the new line was Nick Bez, former owner of West
Coast Airlines. He had previously wanted to acquire Pacific Airlines himself but was thwarted by the
CAB, the industry's watch dog of the day (today we don't have a watch dog) who questioned Bez's
business ethics. Meanwhile Howard Hughes, who had lost control of TWA ('way too complicated a
story to insert here) was looking to gain entry into another airline. Bez, who had returned to manage
his fishing industry empire, had no problem in selling out to Hughes who managed to take control of
Air West a year later, (1969) following a series of yet more legal wrangling. He renamed the airline
Hughes Air West in July of 1970. All three airlines were operating F-27s and hence the new airline
wound up with thirty-four of them. Since Air West itself was only around for a couple of years, images
of aircraft in its markings are relatively rare. I am indebted to John Ciesla for the above shot, taken on
a rainy day at Seattle's King County International Airport (Boeing Field) in August of 1968. This
machine is an ex-West Coast Airlines aircraft and is, in fact, the same one that I shot there some
seven years earlier. Bill Larkins caught sister ship N2704 from atop the open Observation Deck
at San Francisco (below). Those were the days!

Air West Fairchild F-27 N2704 (c/n 7)