In 1968, Pacific Airlines (United States), West Coast Airlines and Bonanza Airlines merged to form Air West. Air West grew quickly, flying to such points as Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Boise and Portland, Oregon. The airline used both jet and propeller-driven aircraft; some of its aircraft were also used for employee transportation.
Hughes saw his new airline expand to several other Western USA cities, and to Mexico. The airline participated in some movies in the 1970s, more notably Clint Eastwood and Sandra Locke's The Gauntlet.
Hughes AirWest's planes were rather recognizable because of their all banana yellow fuselage and tail colors. Because of this, their airplanes have sometimes been nicknamed such nicknames as the top banana of the skies, etc. Most nicknames given to Hughes AirWest airplanes on aviation books and magazines have to do with bananas. Apart from their all yellow scheme, the airplanes also featured a blue logo that resembled three diamonds on their tails. The name Hughes Airwest, in computer-style lettering, was featured below the front passenger windows.
This unique livery was devised after the crash of flight Flight 706 after a midair collision with a U.S. Marine Corps F-4B jet fighter on June 6, 1971. The company thought the plane's all-white fuselage was a contributing factor, so the whole fleet was repainted. Originally the cabin windows also had a silver mylar coating, but this proved too costly to maintain.
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