Tuesday, January 25, 2005

AirCal Airlines

AirCalAirCal (Air California) was the airlines that Orange County called its own. It flew out of Orange County International Airport, before they renamed it to John Wayne Airport. Every summer during the 1970's and 1980's I flew aboard AirCal on my way to Seattle to visit my dad.

It was kind of cool to know that Orange County had its own airline service.

There was also "Hughes AirWest", which flew these ugly yellow jetliners out of Orange County also. I think PSA also flew out of OC.

Since then, all these airlines have died.

But you can buy up all kinds of AirCal and Air California memorabilia on eBay...

AirCal stuff...
http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dll?AirCal

Air California stuff...
http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dll?air+california

61 comments:

  1. Ugly Yellow Planes! Hughes Airwest was the Top Banana in the west! PSA,AIRCAL and Hughes Airwest were great! Miss all of them..

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    1. You do not know ANYTHING. Airwest was not in the picture when PSA and Air California emerged. PSA and Air Cal ran the market up and down the coast of California - I should know, I was one of the first stewardesses!

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  2. You forgot Bonanza Airlines in the 50's and early 60's

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  3. Hey, does anyone remember the airline that had the commercial with the large bird drinking a martini? The bird used to lean up against the tail of the plane and say "The only way to fly"

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    1. Western Airlines, the only way to fly.

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    2. That was Western Airlines.. "the only way to fly". Right after the bird would say that, but before the commercial faded to black, the plane's tail logo, which usually read a simple red & white "Western Airlines" would change to show the name of one the cities they served. It was always fun to watch to the very end to see which city would pop up on the tail logo.

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  4. Western Airlines....the only way to fly!

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  5. You listed Orange County International Airport before it was changed to John Wayne Airport. Orange County was never an international airport.

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  6. Yes, SNA was an internationl airport...Hughes AirWest flew to Mexico...

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    Replies
    1. Air California also flew charters to Mexico out of John Wayne.

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  7. Air Cal was the BEST AIRLINE to work for....I now work for American and WOW...what a let down.

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  8. My husband flew for AirCal and is now retiring from American. Trying to find a model of a DC-9 of AirCal, to surprise him since it was his favorite airline. Seems impossible. Anybody know?

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  9. Western and the "old" Continental (before Lorenzo takeover) rule!

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  10. When I was attending college in San Francisco in the early seventies, I always flew AirCal. Great service and mighty fine looking flight attendents, too! The day after Christmas of 1972, I flew back to S.F. out of Orange County. AirCal had so many flights to handle the Holiday traffic that it pulled one of their Lookheed Electras out of mothballs and pressed it into service. I made sure to get an aisle seat which afforded me the opportunity to see all four of the turboprop engines cough and belch black smoke as they started up. They flight took little more than an hour. They gave the jets a good run for their money.

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  11. My family came to Costa Mesa, in 1958. My father was the first air traffic control tower chief at Santa Ana airport. He converted it from a landing strip/dragway into an international airport. John Wayne (and many other celebrities) flew in there regularly. When my father passed away, (1968) they petitioned the county board of supervisors, to rename the street going to the control tower, "Ike Jones Road", after my father Isaac.... Randy Jones Tucson, AZ

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    Replies
    1. Cool story, Randy! I will remember to check it out if I am ever there.

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  12. Many people may not know that Air California helped start Southwest Airlines. One of Air Cal's founders, J. Thomas Talbot, was a close friend of Herb Kelleher's and helped Southwest receive its certificate from the Texas Aeronautics Commission. Some of the staff at Air Cal helped Southwest with their exhibits that they presented to the TAC. After receiving its certificate to operate in Texas, Air Cal helped with the training of the Southwest Airlines flight operations management and staff. PSA also helped Southwest by training the reservations and ticketing management.

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  13. although PSA was a fierce competitor of Air Cal, it never flew out of Orange County Airport. Interestingly, it was offered 'slots' at the airport but PSA declined, not seeing a future in it.....So five orange county businessmen got together at started up 'Air California'...the rest is history.....wish it still operated... never remember orange county being "international"

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  14. i was with air cal for 13 years, now im one of those 10 numbers, even after 20 years wow what a let down

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  15. rickmccusker@sbcglobal.netDecember 17, 2007 7:39 PM

    My mom was the head of payroll for Air California from the very start until she died in 1978. Her moniker was "Penny Payroll." When I spent time with her in the summer (I was 14) I'd ride with her to work, go across the street to the OC airport and go flying with some of the Air California crews. What a blast!!!

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  16. Does anyone have a complete list of the destinations served (with dates would be outstanding) by AirCal? I flew from ANC to SEA with them aboard an ex-Wien Air 737-200C which had pallets in the front end and pax in the back. They backed us into the gate at SEA, whereupon we deplaned via the rear air stair door, down to the ramp, and up the steps to the terminal. The first and last time I'll ever do that!

    Thanks!

    Butch

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  17. I worked for air cal for years, really a sad day when it disappeared,but if you go to airliners.net and click on take me to the photo search page then click on airline then scroll down to air cal and also air california you will find a treasure chest of photos dating from the late 60s on up,theres even some shots of the infamous "aloha convertable" N73711 in air cal trim (yes air cal did operate that plane on a lease from aloha)

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    1. Oh how I remember Aloha N73711 What a bucket of bolts. Loved the Electra and the Tahoe trips.
      Loved working for Air California/Air Cal

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  18. To clarify for everyone, SNA is not and has never been an international airport. All commercial traffic there is domestic.

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  19. The airline with the commercial with bird drinking a martini was the former Western Airlines, now part of
    Delta.

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  20. I worked for Air California at the Oakland Maintenance base in 1977 & 1978 after being furloughed from UAL across the bay at SFO. I worked as an R&E mechanic. I remember the Electra's, they had three of them. I tried to avoid them! I liked the mechanic's I worked with though. Eventually worked my way into TV Broadcasting and spent 25 years in it.

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  21. John Wayne (Orange County) International Airport - SNA

    http://www.sidestep.com/airport-information-g001-SNA-John-Wayne

    I had always noticed International in their name.

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  22. I'm a 10____ sitting in T Town reading all the comments and missing the Bay Area more than ever, longing for the good old days. It's nice to know there's still a lot of us around. BJ

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  23. i worked for air cal 67 to77 was number 2 on the seniority list by 77.i dont miss grave yard one little bit. how many of you folks still out there? chuck t. the boat builder.

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    1. I started with Air California in 1967 at SJC. Stayed through the AirCal experience and then the American merger. Everyone in SJC had a nick name, I was the blond fonz, crazy huh? AA took a great small family airline and destroyed the entire West Coast system within a year. People flew Air California and AirCal because they liked us. After AA took over, it was more like the passengers really didn't have a choice in most of the old AirCal stations. Still miss the people. It was a fun, and a partying ride.

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  24. Lets not forget Bonanza! This was a very good way to travel from Orange County to San Diego! These were Fairchild F-27 turbo prop aircraft, service was always the greatest and on time, cost, about $10.00. Then PSA! Oh my! I worked in San Francisco, flew every week from Santa Ana to San Fran and back for the week end!(cost$15.00 each way) This went on for about two years, Lockeed Electra turbo prop(four engine)fast and quiet, the onboard service was beyond the best, some of my class mates from Tustin High were crew members at the time! You could board Santa Ana at 7:00 am Monday morning for San Fran and be there right at 45 mins later! Last airplane ride I took on business was aboard DELTA,(757 turbo-fan, 250 passenger, stuffed) from Pocatello Idaho to Las Vegas Nevada, distance of about four hundred plus miles, total hours took almost twelve and then some! Aint like it used to be!

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  25. chuck t the ferio cement boat builder if i remember right -- just below k beck in senority

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  26. just a short comment on the original post,none of these airlines died,rather the were all victims of corporate greed,aircal by American,Hughes air west by northwest,and psa by us(or as we called it useless)air

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  27. Come Join Many AirCal employees on our facebook group page!!! http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=72172400419

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  28. After having retired nearly 4 years ago from American Airlines, my fondest memories are the brief years I spent as an AirCal pilot,prior to the merger. I can hardly remember American, no offense intended. You never forget your first love.

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  29. Actually PSA did serve SNA. They used to fly the MD-80's and 146's there. Also Hughes Airwest was picked up by Republic and not Northwest. But I do miss AirCal a whole lot. They along with PSA were two great airlines that will forever be missed.

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  30. Republic itself was absorbed by Northwest. There is now another Republic Airlines, which successfully outbid SWA for Frontier in banruptcy court. The newer republic has been known as an operator of regional aircraft to feed the big boys, and it will be interesting to see how they evolve their business model, now that they have both Frontier and Midwest in their stable.

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  31. I worked at AirCal from 1979 - 1987 in OAK doing Purchasing and Material/Maintenance Planning. Left for UAL in 87 were I spent 18+ years. Never thought I would enjoy working for an airline like AirCal again ...until joining the startup team at Virgin America in May 2006. This airline truly has brought the fun back to air travel!! Kurt S. Burlingame, CA

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  32. I started with Air California/Air Cal in 1971 at ONT after a short stint with Los Angeles Airways ( the Helicopter Airline)..even got to fly on one of th S-61's from Pomona heliport where I worked ,to LAX.I stayed at ONT with American after they bought Air Cal from 1987 until 1997 when the ramp jobs were done away with.. I transferred to LAX where I am at present.I sure miss Air Cal and working at ONT.I was fortunate over the years to collect about 20 Air California/Air Cal models B737-200,B737-300,MD-80,BAE-146,and Electra L-188 .. one of which I bought directly from the main office of Air California (it's abou 17 inches long..so I think it was a display model)I also have a lot of other Air California/Air Cal stuff..not for sale!

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  33. Aloha, Worked for Air Cal from April 1974 to Sep 1984 Lead Ramp Service Agent. Worked in OAK 74-75, SAN 75-79, LAS 79-82, OAK 82-84, SEA 1984. Some great people, fun times, great workplace. Closed SAN, Opened LAS and closed it in 82. Two bad decisions ...Saw 3 color changes. Parked the 1st MD-80 at LAS. Witnessed the PSA accident in SAN. No airlie then or now worked harder then Air Cal. Too bad that the businessman didn't see what an asset we were!Great memories ... Thank you all, Paul Neves

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  34. AirCal, what a great airline. To bad it had to be gobbled up and spit out. Sure do miss the birds flying over our house at sna..

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  35. I worked for Air California beginning in 1979 as a Reservations Agent, Ticket Agent at the PDX and BUR airports, and Passenger Services Instructor at the "GO" in Newport Beach, CA. I left in 1986 one month before American Airlines purchased AirCal. I absolutely loved going to work! There will NEVER be a better airline than "OC" and I still miss the camaraderie that we all shared.

    Jay Anderson

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  36. AirCal was absolutely the best airline on the ground and in the Air! I worked for AirCal for almost 10years and was gone before the American Airlines purchase. I started in central Reservations and moved on to Manager Cargo Marketing, Southern Region. I loved Air California and AirCal. There will never be another Air California/AirCal.

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  37. omg paul neves and jay!!!

    wish others wrote who they were

    i miss oc soooo much!!

    wud give anything to go back to 1979

    frank stropoli

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  38. is there an aircal facebook page? that link above just sent me back to here..
    thanks, frank

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  39. Skip Kenison one of the founders of Air California testified before the PUC in Texas to help Southwest get certified. Kenison later was a founder of another startup Jet America. Two of the best airlines ever!

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  40. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=72172400419&ref=ts

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  41. Hey all you Air Cal employees, it's Bill Marble here, 1979 to present. Writing a book with alot of Air cal stories. this is a good spot for references. Looking for employee stories,etc. If you can, get in touch. Sorry, to afraid to post e-mail address here. Miss you all!!

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    1. Hi Bill. This is Nina Furuseth from Norway. I flew Air Cal from 84 until American took over.
      Quit American in 91 and started flying for Scandinavian Airlina System(SAS). I would love to get in contact with former Air Cal people. I was fortunate to meet Don Jensen this summer!
      Although I live in Norway, I am still only a flight away..Miss old times..

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  42. A huge thanks to Mike Moss and John Conley for all they did for us. we would probably not be working for american had they not been in office
    ( TWU ) two real warriors who fought for their membership.

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  43. At one time or another California had:
    Air Cal
    PSA
    Hughes Air West
    Western
    Jet America
    Holiday Airlines
    MGM Airlines
    Presidential Airlines (for a few months)
    Bonanza Airlines
    ...

    Now we have Virgin America.
    I flew on most of those old airlines, and miss the fun days of travel...

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  44. HI JB AIR CAL 1977 TO 2006 OAK/SFO/SJC. NOW RETIRD AND LOVING LIFE. MISS YOU ALL' WE SURE HAD A BALL, DIDN 'T WE.

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  45. This is Mike Reese, I was an original ramp rat at SNA. Worked the inaugural flight until about 1970 or 71 while going to college. Originally we were contract workers through Mercury Air Services. Wore the orange tee shirt and green jeans uniform. Air Cal was some of the most fun I ever experienced. Flying up to SFO after work just to have a drink on the way. Run into the terminal at SFO for a loaf of sourdough and get back on the next flight back. Too bad life got in the way and I moved on. The fond memories stay.

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  46. I was a dispatcher for Orange County Fire Control and volunteered to do an FAA emergency evacuation on one of Air California's aircraft prior to Air California beginning flights out of Orange County Airport (as it was known at that time). We had a full plane full of every age "passenger" and had to jump into the evacuation chute and what a slide that was! True meaning of hot pants! Air California gave my husband and I free round trip tickets to San Francisco for doing the 50 second evacuation.

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  47. I worked on the re-design of AirCal. Designed the interior and was very proud of it. Sorry when the airline disappeared.

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  48. Wasn't Air Cal involved in a crash on approach to Orange County Airport, over a Santa Ana industrial field in the late 60's early 70's?

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  49. worked for psa, golden west, united, continental, emery worldwide, evergreen, air cal, american. worked at lax, ful, ont, sna, pdx, oma, dsm and disneyland. this over a period of about twenty years. worked ramp and customer service. hard to think out of all that only two of the airlines still operating. worked with a lot of good people over the years and lots of good times. enjoyed golden west, air cal, and continental a great deal. american not much|! had many good times with my wife at the airline parties each month. it wasn't a job it was a life style. now retired but many great memories. it's very sad as the business has changed a great deal, will never be the same again, a blessing to have lived during that time.

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  51. My lovely bride is a F/A for UAL. She was flying today from MSP to IAH with a former dispatcher for OC. (Sorry, I didnt get a name.) He now owns several laundramats in the New Orleans area. Must be doing well since he was flying First Class. He told her she would have fit right in with the AirCal family, to which she replied was the "best compliment I've gotten in the long time." I kinda miss the regional airlines. The regional under the big name (United Express, American Eagle, etc.) aren't quite the same.

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  52. I was flight attendant for Air California 1973-1975. Just before leaving they used me to model the new uniform. Bright orange and yellow, very short. They took photos of me out on the wing of the plane, up on the tail, and inside the engine. I heard the wing shot photo was later used on the cover page of the flight brochure and that they displayed these photos life size at the corporate office. I still have my own personal copies of these photos. Sure was a great job. Some days were a round trip to San Francisco at 6am and then back to OC and off at 9am.

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