The Chicken Works: The Aviation Art of JP Santiago

Western Airlines 707-320C N1501W "Ship 401" (Indianhead colors-1968)

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Western Airlines 707-347C | N1501W "Ship 401" | MSN 19963 | LN 723 | June 1968

On 12 March 1959 Western Air Lines made its first application to the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) for route authorities to Hawaii from the US mainland, a market that was for the most part the exclusive domain of Pan American and United Air Lines. Having just won route authorities under President Eisenhower to serve Mexico (a drawn out political affair in itself that went back to the previous Truman Administration), Western felt that it had a good case with the CAB to serve Hawaii as previous airlines that wanted to serve Hawaii at the time were stymied by the fact that Hawaii wasn't a US state yet and Pan American had successfully prevented new entrants in this lucrative market on the basis that it constituted non-domestic services and thus was out of the scope of the CAB's rulings.

But having inaugurated DC-6 services to Mexico City in the summer of 1957, Western felt it had been vindicated in that international routes situation. However, Western's 1959 route applications languished in the usual political intrigue that always seemed to factor into new route deliberations at the CAB. Once Hawaii gained statehood in March 1960, Western's president, Terrell Drinkwater, again raised the issue of Hawaii services as a simple domestic route and the CAB awarded the prized routes to Western on 19 January 1961. However, President Eisenhower put a hold on the decision (allegedly due to the influence of Pan American and United Air Lines before Eisenhower left office) and the case wasn't reopened to Western's dismay until July 1961 with President Kennedy in the White House. The stay order put in place by Eisenhower was finally lifted by the CAB in June 1962 and in November 1963, Western's authorities were canceled outright, enraging Terrell Drinkwater.

He had a petition with the CAB refiled that month which was sat on and denied in March 1964. But Drinkwater wasn't going to go away. He took the case into the courts system the case was heard before the US Court of Appeals on 12 May 1964. By this point no less than 18 other US airlines joined the Western case, each seeking a piece of action and a chance to fire a shot across the bows of Pan American and United Air Lines. Quite literally, truckloads of court documents were brought in for review by the judges in what became known as the Transpacific Route Investigation. In late 1966, the Court of Appeals ordered the CAB to reopen the case and reconsider Western's applications.

On 4 January 1969, the CAB reinstated Western's route authorities from the US mainland to Hawaii and granted them every route in their original 1959 application. But with the inauguration of President Nixon that month, one of his first acts as president was to sign an executive order putting a hold on the route awards and in April 1969 he even moved to have Western's route awards limited further.

After ten years of political and legal struggles, a compromise was reached where Western could FINALLY start its Hawaii services as long as the routes continued onward to another city in the United States. So services like Honolulu-Los Angeles-Phoenix or Honolulu-San Francisco-Minneapolis were started. The first Western "Islander" services began on 25 July 1969.

To serve Hawaii, Western ordered five of the long-range Boeing 707-320Cs. Western's first jets were actually 707s, but they were early model 707-120s- the two jets were originally built for Cubana, but after Castro came to power, the order was canceled and Western was able to lease the two 707s for two years between 1960 and 1962.

The subject of this print is the first of those Boeing 707-320Cs delivered to Western, N1501W/Ship 401, which was delivered brand-new to Western on 22 June 1968. She flew with Western until August 1980 when she was sold to TAAG Angola and then after flying at D2-TOL for about 10 years, was transferred to Angola Air Charter and flew on for several more years with the same tail number, D2-TOL, before sitting derelict and getting parted out in Luanda Airport.

Western's 707-320Cs were known for their "Islander" services that originated in Minneapolis, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Phoenix before continuing onward to Honolulu and Hilo via San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego (per the stipulations of the 1969 compromise agreement that allowed Western to start flying to Hawaii). Western's services to Hawaii were among the first to open services to secondary airports in Hawaii like Hilo from the mainland.

Western's Indianhead colors to me are some of the most elegant liveries along with the Varig 1970s colors (of which I also did a print) to ever adorn the 707's graceful lines. They accentuated the sleekness of the airframe and are all the more remarkable for evoking that elegance and speed using just two basic colors- red and the off-white cream color used as the base color.

Some detail views of this print:

And this is an overview of the entire print (watermark is NOT present on the finished print):

This print is 16 x 20 inches in size and is printed professionally on heavyweight paper in a high gloss finish that uses a subtle pearlescent photographic process to render the colors much more vibrantly than the previous print process I employed.

Contact me for details.