Western Airlines was, for many years, the largest airline in and around California
. It started in 1925
with a contract to carry air mail
from Los Angeles, California
to Salt Lake City, Utah
, and merged into TWA
, changing its name from General Airlines
to Western Airlines
In the 1950's, Western's TV spokesperson was a big, yellow bird named Wally, who would drink champagne and tell you that Western was "the only way to fly!" But Western's boom didn't come until the 60's and 70's, when they spread their services across the western United States, eventually reaching Mexico and Alaska with Lockheed Constellations and Douglas DC-6s. In 1961, they went jet with their first Boeing 720, and by 1968 they had procured a healthy fleet of Boeing 707s, 727s, anad 737s.
Service between LA and London's Gatwick Airport began in 1973 on new widebody McDonnell Douglas DC-10s, named 'Spaceship's. However, the fatal crash of one of these aircraft, Western Airlines flight 2605 in 1979, seriously blackened the company's image, and the forces of airline deregulation began taking their toll on the old airline.
In the 1980's, Air Florida made several bids to take over Western, but none of them succeeded. Delta Air Lines ended up buying the company in 1987, and Western was completely absorbed into Delta by the end of the decade.