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!
Bonanza started operations as early as 1945 with a single Cessna. it was formed as Bonanza Air Services in Las Vegas by Edmund Converse, Charlie Keene and June Simon. Based in Vegas at Sky Haven airfield they offered charters to local towns with their 4 passenger Cessna and sold tickets out of the El Rancho Vegas Hotel and Casino. Moving to Alamo Field (nowadays McCarran Intnl Airport) and changing name to Bonanza Air Lines the little carrier expanded with extra aircraft (Piper Cubs and Cessna T-50 Bobcats) and gained a contract to ferry merchant marines to New Jersey in 1946, for which the first C-47 arrived. From these humble beginnings would grow a trendsetting little airline which operated on the 'Route of the Gold Strikes'.
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: