Airwest McDonnell Douglas DC-9-31 N9338
Despite some friction among the
three merged partners, Hughes Airwest expanded rapidly
in the late 1960s and augmented its merged fleet
with fifteen new DC-9 series 30s, one of
which is seen above in this nice shot by Mike Haywood, taken at San
in September of 1977.
For obvious reasons they were soon dubbed the "Flying Bananas".
They weren't always painted that
way, however. Initially, Hughes Airwest's aircraft were
pretty much identical to the old Air West liveries,
except for the addition of the word "Hughes".
However, on 6 June 1971, a sister ship to the one above, N9345, and shown in this selection
under the plain Air West entry, departed
LAX in the evening on flight
706 bound for Salt Lake
City, Boise, Lewiston, Pasco,
Seattle. It was
involved in a mid-air collision with a
US Maine Corps F-4B (BuAer 458)
over Duarte, California
killing all 49 on board the DC-9.
The USMC pilot ejected although
his observer was also killed. It was surmised that the DC-9's
more or less all white finish had made it less easy
to see and hence a decision was made after
accident to repaint all aircraft in banana yellow with triple
purple/bue triangles across the fin