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         DC9-30            Boeing 727-200



A tribute to the

F/A Karen Vercellino had requested to fly the last Fairchild trip and was granted permission.  The last trip however, came suddenly and without even a day's notice.  As luck would have it, Karen was on a RON and flew THE LAST TRIP.  I think it was meant to be.

She has written down some of her "Fairchild Memories" -- hope you enjoy them.  Thank you, Karen, for sharing.

...and "Thanks" to Cindy and Tommy Tinker for sending us this poignant tribute to the F-27 written by F/A Karen Vercellino.  We have reprinted her tribute from one of the RW publications...

        Email us if you would like a text copy.


Today a love affair ended for me.  A love affair that spanned the better part of 13 years of my life and over 2 million miles.  To me, the F-27 was more than another plane to 'work' -- it was a way of life that can never return.  To some, the F-27 was small, noisy and far too slow.  It was old and a misfit in today's world.  But to me it was beautiful.  It was 40 tourists crowded up to the windows over Grand Canyon, and an hour and a half flight between Las Vegas and the Canyon because we spent 30 minutes circling Havasupai Falls.  It was sunrise over Lake Powell, and sunset over Cedar Breaks.  It was "call ahead" for Mexican food in El Centro, and in the summer, it was fighting flies who wanted their share.  It was breaking out of the clouds for the first time in North Bend and seeing that green bridge, almost close enough to touch, it seemed.  It was sleeping among the sacks of mail on the way to Sacramento at 2 a.m. and trying to catch a couple more hours sleep once you got there - but it was hard to do, it was cold and there were no blankets.  All the crew: had claimed them as mementos because they had "Bonanza", "Pacific", or "West Coast" written on them.  The F-27 was playing poker and dancing all night at "Pat and Charlie's" in Inyokern (population 261), and then serving coffee in the after hours coffee shop in exchange for a free breakfast.

Looking on the minus side, it was 130 degrees in the cabin in Yuma; it was airsick people on a daily basis; and once it was going into Salt Lake on a clear summer day, and broken bones and 2 pins in a leg the doctor said might never heal right.  But for me, I would have overlooked the minuses forever in exchange for the years on that "screamer", "shake and bake", "Polish Lear Jet", or whatever you might have called it.

More than that, the crews who flew the F-27 were a special type of brotherhood.  You flew together, played together, and at times fought together -- but at least you were all together.  The other airlines and crews who never knew such closeness and affinity to each other have missed out on a different way of life -- a better one, I believe.  So today, for me, a love affair ended -- the F-27's are gone.

Anyone got a pass to Saudi Arabia?

  ---  written by Hughes Airwest Flight Attendant Karen Vercellino              shortly after the last RW F-27 flight in 1973 ---



This group of photos came from the private collection of a guy by the name of Ryan Hales. I received an email from Ryan  in October of 2014 offering to send me these great shots. He had quite a remarkable story for me as to why he collects photos of RW aircraft, here is what he had to say:

From: Ryan Hales
Sent: Saturday, October 11, 2014 8:59 AM
To: tom@hughesairwest.com

Subject: Photos
Hi Tom,
I뭠l be sending you a few emails with the pictures attached. None of these are my shots, just a collection I뭭e been working on for the past 20 years or so. My quick back story so you know why I collect these: I was born in PHX in 1972 and did not say a word for 2 years, (my parents were about to take me to a specialist) not even mama or dada. One day in 1974 I was in the car with my parents taking my grandparents to Sky Harbor for their trip back home on Hughes Airwest. I pointed out the window and said 밚ellow Airplane. Needless to say my dad hit the brakes and everybody stared at me. I believe it was that moment which led my on my course to becoming a pilot as now 40 years later I am a Captain on an air tanker fighting fires across the country. And since I am also a photographer, I decided to collect slides of Hughes and all its predecessors as it was the pivotal point in my life and I believe history needs to be kept alive.

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Hales 03.jpg Hales 04.jpg Hales PC 01.jpg Hales PC 02.jpg Hales PC 03.jpg
Hales RW 01.jpg Hales RW 02.jpg Hales RW 03.jpg Hales RW 04.jpg Hales RW 05.jpg
Hales RW 06.jpg Hales RW 07.jpg Hales RW 08.jpg Hales RW 09.jpg Hales RW 10.jpg
Hales RW 11.jpg Hales RW 12.jpg Hales RW 13.jpg Hales RW 14.jpg Hales RW 15.jpg
Hales RW 16.jpg Hales RW 17.jpg Hales RW 18.jpg Hales RW 19.jpg Hales RW 20.jpg
Hales RW 21.jpg Hales WC 01.jpg Hales WC 02.jpg Hales WC 03.jpg Hales WC 04.jpg

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Let's go buy some planes!






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While everyone is aware of the aircraft we operated, few know of all the other aircraft options we evaluated.  These pics are from a trip to Marseilles in 1974 to look at the Avions Marcel Dassault "Mercure."  The management team was led by Ed Altman and consisted of: Shelby Tuttle, George Locke, Bob Jorgenson, Kip Wharton and Terry Ashton.  At the time, we were looking for a twin engine aircraft with more range and payload than any of the proposed DC9 series or the B737-200 for scheduled and charter service.  Altho the price was right for the Mercure, performance wise, it did not fit the mission requirements.  Where was a B737-700 when you needed it?   Everyone knows, we eventually selected the advanced B727-200.            
..our thanks to Terry Ashton, long time RW VP - Planning for this info and photos.


All painted up and no place to go!


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This photo was taken by noted aircraft photographer Curt Hulslander of Kent, WA. in June of 1968 at Boeing Field.  The former WCA DC-3 (N1051N) was painted in the "Fiesta" color scheme of newly formed Air West to help promote the combined merger of Bonanza, Pacific, and West Coast.  We'll bet that some of you out there probably flew this classic airplane.

Before the merger!


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We saw this little beauty at Airliners International 2004 held in LAX recently.  If you would be interested in owning one of these little gems, contact us for the info on the manufacturer.  We'll warn you up front that the price tag will be well over $300 as it is a custom handmade model done in Bahrain.








These B727-100 aircraft were part of the Air West fleet at the time of the three way merger of Bonanza, Pacific, and West Coast in 1968.   Of the three carriers that became Air West on 4/1/68, only Pacific operated Boeing equipment.  These 727-100s were the "Flagships" of the Pacific fleet with six Boeing 737s on order.  Those six 737s were sitting on "delivery row" all painted in Pacific's red, white, and blue color scheme at Boeing field in Seattle only six weeks away from delivery by Boeing  when the final merger agreement was signed.

The Air West Board of Directors decided that a jet fleet with a mix of B727s, B737s and DC-9s made absoultly no sense.  An agreement was reached with Boeing to cancel the order to allow Air West to proceed with a jet fleet consisting of DC9-10s and DC9-30s and the six Boeing 737-100s were quickly sold to an upstart airline out of Orange County by the name of Air California..

As Paul Harvey would say, "And now you know...   THE REST OF THE STORY"   .... our sincere thank you to Doug Scroggins of
www.bonanzaairlines.com for sending these great photos.

The "Spirit of Gamma"

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Left - In 1976, Hughes Airwest placed an order for three of these Boeing Advanced 727-200 trijets as the flagships of its fleet.  The aircraft were to be named in honor of Howard Hughes' aviation feats.  

Right - Howard R. Hughes climbs out of his Northrop Gamma in which he set three world speed records in 1936.  Hughes Airwest named the first of its three new Boeing 727-200 trijets the "Spirit of Gamma".


Hughes Airwest named its first 727 200 flagship "Spirit of Gamma" after the aircraft in which the late Howard R. Hughes set three world speed records in 1936.

He leased a Northrop Gamma in 1935 from aviatrix Jacqueline Cochran and made extensive modifications to it.

They included installing a new Wright GR 1820G 5 engine with a two speed supercharger for high altitude flying, a three bladed constant speed propeller, three additional fuel tanks and one reserve oil tank. The airframe also was streamlined.

He made seven test flights and then waited nearly one month for proper weather conditions across the country.

Hughes took off from Union Air Terminal in Burbank on Jan. 13 1936 with a full load of fuel, 690 gallons. Gross weight was 9,550 pounds, 2,500 pounds more than its normal take off weight.

He landed at Newark Airport, New Jersey 9 hours, 26 minutes and 10 seconds later to break Roscoe Turner's transcontinental record of 10 hours, 2 minutes and 51 seconds. Hughes' average air speed was 259.11 miles an hour.

Hughes set another record flying the Gamma on April 21, 1936 between Miami and New York in 4 hours, 21 minutes and 32 seconds with an average speed of 276 miles an hour. He cut 40 minutes and 7 second off the previous record set in 1933 by James Wedell.

A third record was established May 14, 1936 when Hughes flew the Gamma between Chicago and Burbank in 8 hours, 10 minutes and 25 seconds. The previous record was 12 hours and 45 minutes set by a TWA DC 2 regular passenger flight.

In recognition of these aviation achievements, Hughes was awarded the American Harmon Trophy as the world's most outstanding aviator of 1936. It was personally presented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

He also won the International Harmon Trophy, which had been previously awarded to Charles Lindbergh and Wiley Post.







The last of three of the sixteen DC9-30's purchased by Air West were flown in formation for the entire trip from Long Beach to Phoenix by Air West flight crews in June of 1969.  The lead aircraft was flown by Shelby Tuttle and Dave Hinson.  The 2nd "9" was under the command of Lyle Peterson with Gary Felts in the right seat.  The 3rd "9" was commanded by Bob Manning with Dick Tribe as his co-pilot.




Hughes Airwest  and "The Spirit of Gamma"
go "International"







In 1978, Hughes Airwest participated with one of it's major travel partner's, Nationwide Leisure Corp in flying 120 travel agents from Milwaukee and St. Louis to the Bahamas for a quick familiarization program.   The charter flight, under the command of Captain Bill Haas originated in St. Louis on Tuesday afternoon with a stop in Milwaukee, then on to the Bahamas.  The entire group spent the night at a major resort hotel/casino in Freeport and then on Wednesday, the charter proceeded to Nassau for the day. .Late that afternoon, the "Spirit of Gamma" flew non-stop to Milwaukee to drop off the Wisconsin residents ant then on to St. Louis with the rest of the group.


A little bit of everything!











Our thanks to Brian Peters, son of Jim Peters and nephew of Harold Peters for these great shots


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