SAN JOSE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Holiday Airlines was formed in 1965, as a local air taxi operator based in Los Angeles. In 1968, the airline acquired three Lockheed Electra turboprop planes to start scheduled flights into the mountain resort of Lake Tahoe. Flights were started between Los Angeles-Lake Tahoe, San Jose-Lake Tahoe and San Diego-Lake Tahoe. The airline operated passenger flights until April 1975, when they declared bankruptcy and it's assets taken over by Air California. Taxiing toward Runway 30 Left as a Continental Airlines 727 just touches down on the active runway is N971HA, a Lockheed L-188 Electra-C, originally delivered to Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) in 1959.
Hughes Airwest could trace its lineage back to the first commercial airline operator which started service into San Jose City Airport. Southwest Airways inaugurated flights on February 1, 1949, using a Douglas DC-3. The airport was an additional stop and the airlines Los Angeles to San Francisco run, San Jose now being connected directly to San Francisco to the north and Santa Cruz to the south. After Southwest Airways was consolidated to form Pacific Air Lines, Fokker F-27 Friendship turbo-prop flights commenced in July 1959, with non-stop flights to Los Angeles. When Pacific Air Lines merged with two other airlines in 1968, to form Air West, jet Douglas DC-9 flights were started on routes to Las Vegas and San Francisco. With another name change in 1970, Hughes Airwest continued to grow at the airport and by 1975, was flying daily flights to San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. Taxiing towards Runway 30 Left for a mid-day departure is N9349, a Douglas DC-9-15RC (Rapid Change), originally delivered to Continental Airlines in October 1967.
During the early 1960s Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) embarked on a program to provide scenic flights for various charity groups at numerous cities throughout California. Seats were sold at the charity and the money made was given back to the charity by the airline. It was a successful marketing and promotional strategy that brought deserved recognition to PSA. When San Jose Municipal Airport was opened to the public in September 1965, PSA which did not serve the airport at that time, provided short flights with its Boeing 727. Over 1,000 people lined up to fly for "free" and the airline continued the flights throughout the day until no one was left. A month later the airline applied to start service into the new airport with flights stating in May 1966, to Los Angeles, San Diego and Burbank. PSA became the second airline after Pacific Airlines to start passenger services into San Jose. Turning onto Runway 30 Left for an early morning departure to Los Angeles is N538PS, a Boeing 727-214.
Air California started operations using a pair of Lockheed Electra Turboprops in 1967, however within a few years, the days of the Electra were numbered as 737 equipment was being added. New life was in-store for the venerable turboprop, when service to Lake Tahoe was introduced in 1975. The unique Lake Take Airport located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains was at an elevation of over 6,000 feet and the city had a ban on regular passenger jet aircraft. The Electra was a perfect fit and over the next five years, additional Electra’s were acquired which allowed the airline to serve Lake Tahoe from five different California cities. By 1980, however, the continued costs of maintaining the aging Electra and political pressure from the City of South Lake Tahoe to reduce “air traffic congestion,” resulted in Air California dropping Lake Tahoe service and retiring its Electra fleet in March 1980. Parked on the ramp and awaiting passengers for a short “hop” to Lake Tahoe is N125AC, a Lockheed L-188A Electra, originally delivered to General Motors in July 1958, and purchased by Air California in March 1977.
Overnight air package company Federal Express was formed to provide express and overnight delivery services from various points across the United States. The company started operations in 1973, using a fleet of fourteen converted French made Dassault Falcon executive jets to fly to twenty-five cities. Within a few year, Federal Express had expanded to the West Coast and started service to numerous cities including San Jose, which had a viable market due to the surrounding high-tech industries. Parked on the cargo ramp and awaiting another load of packages for its nocturnal flight to Memphis, Tennessee is N24FE "Colleen," a Dassault Falcon-20EW, originally delivered to Pan American Airlines in 1971 and purchased by Federal Express in April 1973.
Not to be outdone by competitor Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA), California's second intra-state airline, Air California, sought to add service to the new San Jose Airport and applied for permission from the California Public Utilities Commission in 1965. Approval was received and the airline became the third tenant at the new airport starting flights on October 10,1967, using Lockheed Electra L-188 airplanes on the non-stop flights to Orange County-Santa Ana Airport. Jet service using the Boeing 737s was started 1968 and over the next nine years, Air California had grown to become one of the largest airlines serving the airport in 1977, with over twenty-five flights a day to San Diego, Orange County, Ontario, Sacramento, San Jose, and Lake Tahoe. Parked on the tarmac with the integral air-stairs providing a most convenient service at the jet-bridgeless terminal is N462GB, a Boeing 737-293.
To serve longer routes, Hughes Airwest placed an order for fifteen Boeing 727s in 1975, however Howard Hughes passed away In February 1976, and this led the Summa Board to cancel the orders of an aircraft deemed unfit for the fleet. Five 727 series-200 were already financed and the airline would take delivery of the planes. The first Boeing 727 was delivered in April 1976, and in memory of its past owner the first three planes were named after historical aircraft flown by Howard Hughes. The 727s were placed on more popular routes within the West such as Los Angeles-San Francisco and San Jose-Phoenix, as well as being used for charter service and longer distance flights to locations such as Calgary, Canada. Hughes Airwest would eventually operate seven of the 727 aircraft before its purchase by Republic Airlines in September 1980. Taxiing outbound toward Runway 12 Left for an afternoon departure is N722RW “Spirit of the Racer,” a Boeing 727-2M7, delivered new to Hughes Airwest on November 1, 1976.