Timetable images above are from the collection of Bjorn Larson from http://www.timetableimages.com
West Coast Airlines was formed in 1949 and merged with Empire Air Lines in 1952 giving it route authority throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah. On 27th September 1958 West Coast became the first airline in the world to operate the F-27. All five of the initial order was in service by the end of 1958. Seven further second-hand examples arrived during the early 1960s though seven DC-3s remained in service until the Air West merger. Sold by Hughes Airwest in the mid 70s N2701 became N708WA, N27CP and then N27WA in private hands before she joined the Mexican Navy in September 1978 as MT-0206. Her last operator Air Cozumel in 1991. A sale to AeroEslava fell through and the aircraft was scrapped in the early 90s.
Bonanza Air Lines was also an early adopter of turbine equipment, accepting its first F-27 in January 1959. In November 1960 the last DC-3 was retired giving Bonanza the first all turbine powered fleet in the USA. The F-27s were known as Silver Darts in Bonanza service and 17 were eventually operated, though one was lost in 1964. All the F-27s were reregistered in March 1964 and N148L became N748L. She transferred to Air West and then Hughes Airwest until in 1974 she was sold and leased out to Air Mauritanie as 5T-CJT until late 1983. She was sold to Air Capitol Aircraft Sales before being delivered to Aerocozumel of Mexico as XA-NAP in June 1985. She was finally withdrawn in the early 1990s.
Southwest Airways changed its name to Pacific Air Lines in May 1958 and ordered 6 new F-27s to bolster its mainly Californian routes. N2770R was the first to arrive and all six of the original order had been delivered by the end of 1959. These were supplemented with 7 second-hand Martin 404s from November 1959 and together the two types replaced the former Martin 202s and DC-3s. A further four F-27s were ordered for delivery in 1964 but soon after their delivery N2770R was lost. The crash was likely the first instance in the United States of an airliner's pilots being shot by a passenger as part of a mass murder/suicide; Francisco Paula Gonzales, 27, shot both the pilot and co-pilot before turning the gun on himself, causing the plane to crash and killing all 44 aboard.
By 1965 Pacific had 9 F-27s in service alongside 8 Martin 404s. The next year a trio of Pacific’s first true jets arrived in the form of 727-100s, however by this time Pacific was suffering financially due to competition from the fledgling PSA. An extra pair of second-hand F-27s arrived in 1967 as the Martins began to be retired but Pacific became part of the Air west tri-merger in early 1968. N2771R transferred across but was sold in the late 1970s and became EL-AHI. Transferred to TAT as F-GBRU she served a lease to Swedair in 1984 before returning to the French regional carrier. Stored at Dinard by June 1992 she was used for spares before being broken up.
In part 2 we'll look at the careers of the F-27s as all three of these local service airlines came together as Air West.
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: