THE AIRPORTS

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

SACRAMENTO

SMF 

The State of California, capital city location, Sacramento is located within the center of the states Central Valley. Commercial air service started in the 1930s when Sacramento Municipal Airport opened just south of the city.


May 1968
Skymark Airlines was a small regional airline started in February 1968 to provide a "commuter" service for cities in the north and central valley areas of California. Although based in Sacramento, the airline focused its services from a San Francisco "hub" with flights to six cities using the de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter. Sacramento had flights to South Lake Tahoe, Bakersfield, Oakland and Chico which provided feeder service for main-line flights at the airport. Only after a year after starting service, Skymark was purchased by Long Beach based Aero Commuter and was eventually absorbed into the Golden West Airlines banner in 1969. Parked on the tarmac and awaiting passengers for another local flight is N950SM, a de Havilland DHC-6-100 Twin Otter, delivered to Skymark Airlines in December 1967.

 

 

August 1977
Swift Aire was established in 1969, as a local commuter to provide service from San Luis Obispo, California when services to the airport were reduced by regional carrier Airwest. Early service connected San Luis Obispo with Sacramento via San Jose and was flown with a Piper Navajo aircraft. Realizing the need for increased passenger capacity a few years later, the airline settled on purchasing two used de Havilland Riley Heron four-engined airplanes with a capacity of 15 passengers. The two planes were delivered in late 1970 with services starting in February 1971, and brought a new level of comfort and service to the airline, including the introduction of their first flight attendants. Parked on the ramp, awaiting a southbound flight later in the day is N416SA, a de Havilland DH.114 Riley Heron.

 

 

August 1977
As Swift Aire continued to grow they added better equipment was needed to compete with other commuter and regional carriers on similar routes. To handle more passengers and longer flight segments, the company purchased the rather unique Aerospatiale high-winged turbo-prop. With a passenger capacity of 26, the plane was able to easily cover some of the longer routes in the system including San Luis Obispo-Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo-San Jose, and Sacramento-Fresno. Seen starting her engines and getting ready to depart the ramp in the "new" Swift Aire color scheme is N419SA, an Aerospatial Nord.262A.

 

 
August 1977*
One of the more unique visitors to the Sacramento International Airport was the VIP version of the DC-9 used by Vice President Walter Mondale at the time. The United States Air Force VC-9, was operated by the 89th Military Airlift Wing based at Andrews Air Force base in Maryland and used for executive transport. When operating with the Vice President on board the aircraft had the familiar call sign Air Force 2. Parked on the ramp during a visit by Mondale to the Sacramento area is USAF 31681, a Douglas VC-9C (DC-9-32), delivered new to the Air Force on February 21, 1975.

 

 

March 1978
Western Airlines started service to Sacramento in May 1962 with non-stop flights to Los Angeles using a Lockheed Electra. Over the next ten years, the airline expanded routes from the airport and introduced jet services. By 1978, Western had flights from Sacramento to Los Angeles, Ontario, Salt Lake City, and Seattle using a mixed fleet of both the Boeing 727 and 737 equipment. Taxiing up to the passenger terminal in the 70s era "Swizzle Stick" scheme is N2826W, a Boeing 727-247, delivered new to the airline on May 24, 1977.

 

 

April 1978
Hughes Airwest assumed the routes of carrier Airwest when the airline was purchased in 1970, by Howard Hughes. Previous to Airwest, both Pacific Air Lines and West Coast Airlines had provided flights to Sacramento. When Pacific Air Lines, West Coast Airlines and Bonanza Air Lines were merged to form Airwest in 1968, the airline had flights to five cities in both California and Oregon. By 1978, Hughes Airwest had flights from Sacramento to Fresno, San Francisco and Eugene, Oregon and added service a year later to both Seattle and Las Vegas. Pulling into its parking slot on a soggy ramp is N912RW, a Douglas DC-9-31, originally delivered to Hawaiian Airlines in April 1968, and subsequently purchased by Hughes Airwest in March 1976.

 

 

May 1978
Oakland, California based World Airways was a leading U.S. supplemental carrier started in 1948 to focus on contract passenger and cargo operations, especially military contract flights through the 1960s and 1970s. On occasion World Airways gold and red accented aircraft were seen at Sacramento for charter flights or pilot training opportunities.Taxiing inbound to the passenger terminal tarmac is N103WA, a Douglas DC-10-30CF, delivered new to the airline on March 7, 1978.

 

 

May 1978
Although not a regular visitor for passenger services into Sacramento, Western Airlines DC-10s were occasionally seen using the long, single 8,600-foot runway for pilot training activities out of their Los Angeles base. Taxiing toward Runway 16 for departure is N906WA, a Douglas DC-10-10, delivered new to the airline on June 3, 1975.

 


December 1979*
Supplemental airline Transamerica provided extensive military and government charter flights with its fleet of Douglas DC-8s, Douglas DC-10 and Boeing 747 aircraft. The Sacramento area was host to numerous military bases including McClellan, Beale, and Mather Air Force Bases and personnel were occasional routed through the civilian airport. Seen starting to turn away from the passenger terminal for a charter flight is N4864T, a Douglas DC-8-63(CF), originally delivered new to Transamerica predecessor, Trans International in April 1969, and after various leases was returned to Transamerica in November 1979..

 

 

December 1979
Legendary carrier Braniff International Airways which started flights in 1930, had become a formidable airline in the United States and Latin America by the mid-1970s. With the introduction of the deregulation legislation in 1978, Braniff took advantage of the new "open" market and expanded its domestic route network by 50%. On December 15, 1978, the airline added sixteen new cities and thirty-two new routes, most to secondary cities where Braniff hoped its signature service would be welcome. Sacramento was one of those cities and service was started to Las Vegas (continuing on to Dallas-Ft. Worth) using both the Boeing 727 and Douglas DC-8. Braniff quickly realized its massive expansion hurt the airline financially and many cities were dropped a year later, including Sacramento. Taxiing up to the passenger terminal after having landing is a Douglas DC-8-50 in the two-tone, blue "Flying Colors" scheme.

 

 

 
April 1981*
Inland Empire was a Southern California regional commuter that was started in 1978, to provide services between Los Angeles and Grand Canyon. The airline acquired Swearingen Metroliner turboprops and extended its reach across the state. Flights eventually went as far north as Sacramento when services were started in 1980, between Fresno and Sacramento. Seen taxiing inbound toward the terminal complex is N5457M, a Swearingen SA-226TC Metro II, leased to Inland Empire in 1979.

 

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