Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
In 1925, the United States Postal Service began to give airlines contracts to carry air mail all around the country. A company named Western Air Express applied to be awarded the air mail route from Salt Lake City in Utah to Los Angeles. In April of 1926, Western's first flight took place with a Douglas M-2 airplane. The month after, passenger services started.
In 1930, Western added two Fokker F.32 aircraft, and merged with Transcontinental Air Transport to form TWA. However, Western Air Transport soon broke off from TWA's structure, and in 1934, it changed its name to General Airlines. In 1941, General changed its name to Western Airlines.
Western grew into a large regional airline by acquiring such aircraft as the McDonnell Douglas DC-10, Boeing 727 and Boeing 737. At a time, during the 1970s and 1980s, it flew to many cities across the American Southwest and to various spots in Mexico and Canada, while keeping a large intra-state route structure in its home state of California. In 1979, Western had a tragedy happen when a DC-10 landing at Benito Juarez International Airport crashed, killing most of its passengers. Western began flights from Anchorage and Denver to London Gatwick Airport in 1981.
In the early '80s, Air Florida tried many times to buy Western Airlines, but it was able to purchase only 16 percent of the airline's stock. Western became a prominent sponsor of the Bob Barker television show The Price is Right, to try to make customers from the East more aware of their presence. Finally, in 1987, Western Airlines was bought by Delta Air Lines, and it merged fully into that airline on April 1.
Western can also be noted for contributing to popular culture its 1960's advertising slogan, "It's the oooooonly way to fly!" Spoken by an animated bird hitching a ride aboard the fuselage of a Western airliner, the phrase soon found its way into animated cartoons by Warner Bros. and Hanna-Barbera.
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