During its first 20 years of operation Ozark had fulfilled exactly the promise that the local service airlines had been created for. It had started and proved a wide range of feeder services and grown demand to the point that it could sustain not just prop-jets but pure jets as well. Even better it had done so profitably and begun to wean itself off of subsidy and pick-up longer routes that the trunk airlines no longer wanted. All in all it found itself in good position to grow into the 1970s and face the challenges of deregulation to come.
Ozark was St Louis's hometown airline and as with many of the local service airlines was a true pioneer of service for the regional customer. A well run and well equipped airline that proudly wore its three swallows for forty years. Its story started in 1943 when four local businessmen (two bus line operators and two attorneys) from the Ozark region of mid-west America came together to try and acquire one of the new licenses being offered by the CAB for feeder airline services.
As the 1960s drew to a close the CAB in the USA was looking for ways to wean the local service airlines off of subsidies. This meant a gradual movement away from serving local communities and instead using economies of scale to serve wider regions. The result was mergers, including the unique tri-merger that created 'The airline that had to happen' - Air West!
Whenever I write a history of one of my US Douglas DC-9s in 1/400 scale there is a good chance that it will have ended up with Northwest, and even possibly Delta, through the continual mergers that constituted the deregulated aviation market in the USA during the 1980s. Following the recent release of a couple of nice NW nines by Aeroclassics in this post I'll quickly look at the livery transitions many of these Diesel Nines went through.
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: