Western Historical Timeline

Though the Decades

Western's history, decade by decade. Select the decade you're interested in.

1959 – First airline to fly the Douglas DC-4.


William A. Coulter is president.



Western becomes an international airline when service extends to Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

Name changes to Western Airlines.



Western contributes to the war effort by establishing "Sourdough Operation"—a supply route from Edmonton, Canada, across the Alaskan wilderness to Russia.

As part of the Air Transport Command (ATC), Western carries 22 million tons of goods over 67 million passenger miles. Western has the highest aircraft utilization rate in the ATC—15.9 hours a day—and the best safety record during the war.



Routes expand northeast of Denver to Huron, North Dakota, with acquisition of 83 percent of Inland Air Lines' stock.



Nonstop Los AngelesDenver service begins.



Western takes delivery of the first postwar-built Douglas DC-4, the civil version of the wartime four-engine C-54. Begins world's first DC-4 airline service on January 18.



Terrell C. Drinkwater is president.

Operations move from Burbank to a hangar and general offices at the new Los Angeles International Airport. Service extends to Portland and Seattle.

Severe declines in traffic and post-war personnel turnover cause turmoil in airline industry. Western sells its significant Los AngelesDenver route and four DC-4's to United Airlines for $3.7 million and implements other cost-saving measures, including temporarily suspending onboard food service in late 1948.



Western flies the pressurized Convair 240.



Nonstop service begins DenverMinneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. Service starts to Ontario, Canada.

WAL flight attendant 1940