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Artifact Spotlight: Western Air Express Douglas M-2 Model

Jan 14, 2014

As we move along with planning new exhibits, we are pulling out some real gems. Like this wonderful cut-away model of a Douglas M-2 Mailplane and the first Western Air Express passenger plane. It was handcrafted by Eugene Clay in commemoration of Western Airlines' 50th anniversary in 1976.

Western Douglas M-2 Model

This sturdy, dependable aircraft was popular with many of the early airlines and the U.S. Postal Service, due to it's powerful 400 hp Liberty engines and capacity of 58 cu. ft. Below, Harris. M. Handshue, President of WAE, hands the mail to Fred Kelly, one of WAE's first pilots. Western Air Express operated this aircraft from 1926 to 1932. See our Family Tree for more information about the history of Western Air Express (later Western Airlines).


This c. 1927 postcard advertisement promotes Western's services to Salt Lake City and the aircraft's "utter safety and complete comfort with which this 600-mile flight over rugged mountains and vast desert reaches of the West is negotiated easily in 6 hours."  Quite a trip for those early passengers!


Tina Seetoo

Archives Associate


Leave a comment
  1. Gary L Bernor | Feb 24, 2022
    I use to see the Douglas M2 stored in the rafters at Western Airlines Maintenance Hanger when I took care of the teletype machines there
  2. Jerry bennett | Aug 13, 2020

    for Westerns 50 year anniversary one was rebuilt by some Mechanics from Western Airlines and Mechanics from Douglas. Beautiful airplane.

    It was said to be the original first M2 used by Western. It was found in a barn in, I believe South America and stored in the U.S. until the rebuild took place. A mechanic in the Acessory shop at Western had original blue prints for the airplane. His name was.Ronald Little.

  3. Bill Shaffer | Jun 18, 2014

    My grandfather William "Bill" Luman Shaffer flew for WAE from 1929 to 1936. I believe he started flying the Catalina Island run flying the Loening Duck. When he left WAE he was Superintendent of Operations. I know he was mentioned in some of their in-house publications "Speed". Have the Speed publications been digitized?

     Is there some way I can get any information regarding his time with WAE?

    He was a pilot in WWI and WWII.



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