Pacific Western Airlines had been formed as a bush-flying enterprise in 1946 named Central British Columbia Airlines. Between 1949 and 1952 it acquired seven other bush-flyers and became PWA in 1953. True operation as a scheduled regional airline (one of five) began in 1959 when Canadian Pacific transferred route authority for 18 services from Edmonton to Northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories. This was just the start and PWA would grow not only to become the most successful of the five regionals but also to eventually takeover CP Air and join the big time...
PWA acquired a reputation for innovation and aggressiveness with their Airbus which began in May 1963. The 'Chieftain Airbus' operated on the same principle as Eastern's shuttle in the USA. Operating from Edmonton Industrial airport, close to the city centre, to Calgary every passenger was guaranteed a seat even if it meant putting on an entire plane for that passenger. The service began with a three times daily DC-4 but grew by 1973 to a thirteen times daily 737-200. This initiative had helped drive passenger growth of 20% per annum on the route.
1964 saw the start of Inclusive Tour Charters from Vancouver to Grand Cayman and later Group Charters across the Atlantic to the UK. These services were operated with a pair of DC-7Cs CF-PWD and PWM. The latter had originally been PH-DSB ‘Rode Zee’ with KLM delivered in April 1957 and sold on to Aerodyne in October 1963 as N9610Z. She briefly operated for Fleming Intnl as PI-C573 before joining PWA. Both DC-7Cs were replaced by 707s with PWD leaving in 1967 and PWM in 1969. She joined Concare Aircraft Leasing as N22CA and was leased to Club America Travel in 1970 and Magic Travel Club in 1972 being broken up two years later.
With the introduction of a pair of ex-Qantas 707-138Bs in 1967 and 1969 PWA was able to expand its IT charters to include Mexico and Hawaii in the winter with several European routes served in the summer. The second 707-138B was returned in 1971 and replaced by a 707-321C in 1972 which opened up the possibility for operating cargo services. Unfortunately this aircraft crashed in early 1973, though she was replaced by a 707-351C almost immediately.
Both aircraft continued in service until the late 70s when the charter arm was closed. PWV was originally VH-EBA ‘City of Canberra’ and ‘City of Melbourne’. After her sale in 1978 she became N138TA with Tigerair and later Airmark. Converted as an executive jet for the Saudi Royal embassy as HZ-123 she is now exhibited at the Qantas Foundation Memorial in Queensland.
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: