The main figure in creating Pacific Western Airlines was
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
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.