Hughes Airwest Douglas DC-9
N9338, Spetember 1977, Mike Haywood via Ed Coates Collection. Notes: 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 Francisco International 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, Yakima and 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 the accident to repaint all aircraft in banana yellow with triple purple/bue triangles across the fin and rudder.
N9337 and N9344, November 1979. By Richard Silagi
N915RW, August 1980. By Richard Silagi