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 Airlines (1956)

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Pacific Western Airlines (1956)

The main figure in creating Pacific Western Airlines was Russell Baker, a bush pilot well known since the 1930s for his abilities to fly into the most remote regions of the Rocky Mountains, navigating the extreme downdrafts that could cause an aircraft to be dropped hundreds of feet at a moment’s notice. Baker founded Central B.C. Airlines, which developed into a strong presence on the West coast.

At the end of May 1953, Pacific Western Airlines came into being when Central B.C. Airways Ltd. changed its name and absorbed a number of small air service companies that included Associated Air Taxi Ltd., Associated Aero Services Ltd., Associated Air Taxi of Powell Lake, and Port Alberni Airways Ltd. In February 1956, Pacific Western Airlines purchased Associated Airways Ltd. of Edmonton.

Baker’s success was aided by his ability to take advantage of several major projects as he built Pacific Western Airlines into an airline. The first major breakthrough came with the opportunity to provide air support to the building of the hydroelectric and smelting complex for the Aluminium Company of Canada on the west coast. The second project that brought massive growth to Pacific Western Airlines was the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line, a row of radar stations that stretched out in a line 240 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle.

Pacific Western Airlines developed a solid foundation of north-south services along the west coast and from Edmonton northward along the Mackenzie River.

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