Cal Sierra Airlines


December 1980


July 1981

Cal Sierra Airlines (QS) was a short-lived carrier that was originally established in 1979, as an on-demand charter operator based in San Diego, California. With Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) halting services to Lake Tahoe in May 1979, Cal Sierra saw an opportunity to continue the route, as no other airline was providing that service. Approval was received to start scheduled passenger operations, and Cal Sierra leased a 44-passenger Convair 340 for the services. Non-stop flights from San Diego Lindbergh Field to South Lake Tahoe were started on December 18, 1980, just in time for the winter ski season. Initial load factors were quite high and the Lake Tahoe service proved popular due to Cal Sierra having the virtual monopoly on the route. The airline continued to provide daily flights between San Diego and Lake Tahoe and sought further expansion to both Mexico and Arizona. Although another Convair 340 was acquired, the demand of passengers on the single route to Lake Tahoe began to dwindle and the airline started to suffer financially. With the impact of the PATCO Strike on August 3, 1981, new routes weren’t being approved and although the airline struggled to fill seats on its sole route through the fall months, continued operation become difficult. After only a year in operation, Cal Sierra suspended operations in December 1981.

Two Convair 340s were used to provide service between San Diego and South Lake Tahoe Airport. Parked on the Ryan Aeronautical ramp at San Diego Lindbergh Field is N478KW, a Convair 340-68, originally delivered to Lufthansa Airlines in October 1954, and taken-up by Cal Sierra in April 1981.



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