Hughes Airwest, “Top Banana in the West!” [x]
This airline has such a.. colorful past. It’s honestly hard to give any background.. so if Lady Gaga was an airline, this would be her.
I wouldn’t go so far as to draw parallels with Lady Gaga. But Hughes Airwest does indeed have a colorful history. A pre-Deregulation regional airline mega-merger, ownership by notoriously eccentric aviation pioneer Howard Hughes, a livery designed for visibility that became a corporate identity unto itself, stewardess uniforms that were functional and stylish, and a network that cut a wide (and deep) swath across the West as well as to Canada and Mexico. The “Top Banana” would dominate the Western skies until 1979, when it merged with North Central Airlines and Southern Airways to form Republic Airlines.
Through subsequent mergers, Hughes Airwest is part of Delta’s lineage.
N321RC, crashed today 25 years ago as Northwest 255.
It was scheduled to takeoff from Detroit-Wayne Metropoliton Airport to John-Wayne Airport. The pilots failed to retract the leading edges of the MD-80, N321RC crashed shortly after takeoff.
In this picture, it still is in the teal-striped Republic Airlines livery, but with Northwest titling and without Herman the Duck on the tail. When North Central, Southern, and Hughes Airwest merged, Republic Airlines took most of it’s corporate identity from North Central (aside for their later period with the “Mary Tyler Moore” livery).