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Pacific Southwest Airlines (Images of Aviation Series)
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Pacific Southwest Airlines (Images of Aviation Series)

by Alan Renga
 

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With its low fares and friendly service, Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) was one of the most successful regional airlines in American history. Its distinctive orange, red, and white planes, complete with a beaming smile were immediately recognizable to those living on the West Coast. The airline was also known for employing beautiful and sociable flight

Overview


With its low fares and friendly service, Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) was one of the most successful regional airlines in American history. Its distinctive orange, red, and white planes, complete with a beaming smile were immediately recognizable to those living on the West Coast. The airline was also known for employing beautiful and sociable flight attendants. Kenny Friedkin, the founder of PSA, started in 1949 with one leased DC-3 and expanded his fleet to serve millions of passengers each year. Although PSA is no longer in operation, its successful business model of low-priced, efficient service was copied by other airlines and today is considered the norm. In addition, former PSA employees still gather annually to relive the camaraderie they experienced as being a part of one of the most unique airlines of all time.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Title: BOOK REVIEW: PSA history captures airlines's sense of fun

Author: Jim Trageser

Publisher: North County Times

Date: 11/28/2010

Hawaii and Alaska have their namesake airlines, and Hawaii also had Aloha Airlines for a good run.

But San Diego may be the only city that was associated with an airline.

A new book from Arcadia Publishing, and written by two staff members from the San Diego Air & Space Museum in Balboa Park, will remind locals of how much the long-gone Pacific Southwest Airlines personified Southern California in the 1960s and '70s.

Largely a photo history drawing on the museum's extensive archive, "Pacific Southwest Airlines" reminds us of how influential the regional airline was. A trend-setter in both business practices and pop culture, PSA's influence was felt far from its relatively small service area.

Photo after photo makes two points very well: The smiley faces painted on the front of all the PSA jets remain a potent symbol of a very smart corporate branding effort, and no airline contributed more to the stereotype of stewardesses in that era.

In fact, it was PSA that was first to dress its female flight attendants in miniskirts, the first to adopt hot pants as a uniform item, the first to issue go-go boots.

Looking at some of the vintage photographs in the book will leave you wondering if you're reading a history book or looking at outtakes from a lost "Austin Powers" movie.

The book begins with the roots of PSA as a flight school founded after World War II to provide civilian flight instruction to former military pilots hoping to get jobs in the booming post-war airline industry. From small prop jobs up through the latest jetliners of the 1970s and early '80s, the history of PSA is also the history of the modern airline.

The accompanying text does a nice job of providing context to the photos. For instance, the section on the crash of Flight 182 in September 1978 not only provides information on each photograph, but also explains how the crash spurred safety improvements throughout the industry.

The story, of course, ends with PSA being bought by USAir in 1988.

But the book also points out how PSA's innovations live on, if not its sexist approach to flight attendants.

Today, the very successful Southwest Airlines continues to employ many of PSA's business practices, with a particular emphasis on friendly service that Southwest's founders openly adopted from PSA when they began Southwest as a regional Texas airline in the late 1960s.

A large company that is remembered for its friendliness?

There's a reason San Diegans still take pride in their association with PSA.

"Pacific Southwest Airlines"

Authors: Alan Renga and Mark E. Mentges

Publisher: Arcadia Publishing

Binding: Softcover

Pages: 128 (mostly photographs)

Price: $21.99

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780738581125
Publisher:
Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date:
10/20/2010
Series:
Images of Aviation Series
Pages:
128
Sales rank:
720,730
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 6.50(h) x 0.32(d)

Meet the Author


Author Alan Renga received a master’s of arts in history from San Diego State University and is the associate archivist at the San Diego Air and Space Museum. Mark Mentges holds a master’s of library science from the University of California at Berkeley, where he headed the Reference Department at the Education-Psychology Library and was a research specialist at the Business Library. He currently volunteers at the San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives. In this unique volume, together they document the history of the airline using the museum’s extensive PSA photograph collection.

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