A Douglas DC-3 bearing the mid-1940s markings of Los Angelesí first airline ó Western Airlines ó is now on display at the Proud Bird Restaurant near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
The Western DC-3 is the first commercial airliner in the collection of airplanes that graces the entry and lawns surrounding the aviation-themed Proud Bird Restaurant.
Many of the Western employees who flew and worked on the venerable DC-3s during their operation between the late 1930s and 1959 were on hand for the displayís opening March 15th.
The Delta Pioneers West Coast chapter and its members donated the funds to restore the DC-3 to Western Airlines colors, said Chuck Scott, president of the Delta Pioneers West Coast chapter. Los Angeles-based Western Airlines became part of Delta Airlines in a 1987 merger.
ìThe colors of Western Airlines were a familiar sight in the Los Angeles skies for 60 years,î Scott, a retired Western and Delta captain, said. ìThe DC-3 at the Proud Bird reminds us that much of commercial aviation has its beginnings in Los Angeles and provides a nostalgic sight for those who worked and flew with this airplane.î
Western began as Western Air Express, a contract mail carrier, flying between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, on April 17th, 1926. Organized by Los Angeles businessmen, the airline chose Douglas Aircraft mail planes which were made in Santa Monica.
Western acquired its first DC-3 in May 1938 and shortly thereafter, formed a partnership with United Airlines. Western flew the planes between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, where United Airlines would take over and continue the flight to the East Coast. Western changed its name to Western Airlines in 1941, the same year it became an international carrier, flying across the Canadian border to Lethbridge, Alberta.