As you can see the first scheme had the characteristic sunburst on the nose radome but a dark blue cheatline background and quite a dark shade of yellow. This scheme lasted until 1971. The 1971 scheme was a toned down version of the original removing the blue:
No models have been made in this scheme yet though the first scheme has gotten a 737-200 (made by Black Box - really Gemini). The second scheme lasted until 1977 when a much more colourful version appeared with a bright yellow thicker cheatline, all yellow tail and black titles. Here is the 1967 colours 737 next to the 1977 colours Electra:
The Electra was to make a comeback in July 1970 for operations into Lake Tahoe which couldn't accommodate jets. Two more were added for a fleet of three. N124AC was originally delivered to Braniff as N9709C in January 1960. She operated briefly with Lansa of Peru as OB-R946 and also Adventurers Travel Club before sale to Holiday Airlines as N972HA in 1970. Taken up by Air Cal in April 1975 she was reregistered and saw five years service before export to Indonesia where she became PK-RLE with Mandala Airlines. Withdrawn at Jakarta in September 1989 she was fully broken by October 1997.
The 737 fleet was gradually expanded in the 70s and in 1978 a pair of 737-100s were added. By then there were 2 Electras in the fleet and 8 737-200s too. The last Electra wasn't retired until the end of 1980 when Lake Tahoe was dropped. Here are my Black Box 737-200 and Aeroclassics 737-100 in the 1977 colours:
N464GB was the second of six new 737s. She also remained with Air California until the airline was merged into AA. She served a 1989 lease to Braniff before sale to Airmark Aviation in 1991. Repossessed in 1993 she operated for Transair Congo for 3 months in 94 before leases in Zaire from 94 onwards with Air Zaire, Zaire Express and Zaire Airlines. By 97 she was 9Q-CKZ and operated with Aero Services. Her final operator was Hewa Bora but she was damaged landing at Conakry in 2004 and broken up in 2007.
Only thirty of the first variant of the 737 were built (mostly for Lufthansa) and Air California came to operate two of them both of which led similar careers. This aircraft was originally delivered to Avianca in November 1968 as HK1404 and then joined the West German Air Force in 1971. Sold back to Boeing in September 1972 she passed to Aloha as N73717 in April 1973 before joining Air California in September 1977. She and her sister both survived in the fleet beyond the name change to Air Cal and the American Airlines takeover but were disposed of in May 1988 to the lessor GATX. She was stored and then broken up in 1990.
Low cost and low fare airlines like Air California and Pacific Southwest in California, Southwest Airlines in Texas and Air Florida were able to survive and compete effectively against the major US trunk airlines and the local service / regional carriers too. However they could only do so freely inside their states of origin and in fact not having CAB licenses were prohibited from operating interstate in the heavily regulated and CAB controlled US market. This would all change with the passing of the deregulation act in 1978 and Air California would suddenly have limitless opportunity to expand and grow. Deregulation was however a double-edged sword as Orange County's airline would discover in the 1980s. That is where we'll head in part 2.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: