Tag Archives: America West Airlines

The New Boeing 737MAX and Aerodynamic Efficiency

I spent nine years flying the Boeing 737–100/200/300 series for America West Airlines based out of Phoenix.

The B737 (Baby Boeing) is a wonderful airplane, very well designed for its mission, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the left seat.


America West B737 picture courtesy of airliners.net

A recent Yahoo article highlights some of the latest aerodynamic and propulsion upgrades to the Baby Boeing as it strives to compete with Airbus and its latest version of the A320, the A320neo.

The newest B737, named the B737MAX, will continue the great legacy of Boeing and become a very successful aircraft enjoyed by pilots and airline management.

For additional information please click on the link here.


America West – The Can Do Airline

I spent more than 18 years flying both the Boeing 737 and the 757 for America West Airlines (AWA). As such, I can certainly agree with the sentiment expressed in this AZ Republic article regarding the airline.

Courtesy AP
Courtesy AP

I started working for America West in January 1987 as a B737 First Officer. Two years later I upgraded to captain. I now currently fly the Airbus A319/320/321. Like many other employees at AWA, I thoroughly enjoyed working for the airline and always felt like I was part of a close-knit family. We always had that can-do spirit.

B1Now we’re all a proud part of the new American Airlines, with more than 100,000 employees flying around the globe, yet the original AWA crew will always remember where we started.

O'Hare Airport
O’Hare Airport

In my 18+ years with AWA, I’ve flown from Boston to Mexico City to Kauai, worked with a lot of great people and look forward to working with American.


Embry-Riddle Graduates in the Real World

It’s always great to catch up with Embry-Riddle alums and see where we’ve landed in the aviation/airline world.

This past week I flew a three-day trip with a Daytona Beach graduate. We had a great time reminiscing and comparing notes about our Riddle days. I spent three years on campus in Prescott before transferring to what is now known as the WorldWide campus.

Left to right, Rich and Pete in the American Airlines Airbus A320 flight deck in San Jose.

We had a regional airline pilot in our jumpseat during the three days who also was a Daytona Beach Riddle student.

Later on, I had one of my Prescott classmates and his wife on board our A320 seated in the passenger cabin. He walked into the flight deck during boarding and we had fun remembering the old days on campus. Scott is a United captain who often flies the LA to Tokyo route.

It occurred to me that we all represent different Embry–Riddle campuses: Daytona Beach, Prescott and WorldWide.

Courtesy Embry-Riddle
Courtesy Embry-Riddle

AA Maddog

I really like this foto of the American Airlines MD80s parked at their DFW gates. I’ve many fond memories of this once ubiquitous jet while flying for AWA & US Airways during the 80s & 90s.

Courtesy - Terry Maxon and The Dallas Morning News
Courtesy – Terry Maxon and The Dallas Morning News

Years ago, I commuted back and forth to ORD on the 80 for about two years. Therefore, the Maddog has a special place in my heart. My fave seat, A3!

Cactus vs. American

I started with America West Airlines (AWA) in January 1987.

I never thought I’d admit this, but I will miss the “Cactus” call-sign!

AWA B737-200 Courtesy - airliners.com
AWA B737-200
Courtesy – airliners.net

Many years ago, we switched from the “America West” call-sign to Cactus. At the time, I thought this was one of the dumbest things I had ever heard. You’ve got to be kidding me, I thought. I was somewhat embarrassed. However, one does gets used to it. Always the rebel, I’ve grown very fond of the call-sign and will certainly miss it! Who knew. Oh well..

Why Cactus?

This came about due to several airlines having very similar FAA call-signs such as America West, Southwest and SkyWest Airlines, which would occasionally cause the Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) and airline pilots some communication problems on the very busy ATC enroute radio frequencies. This was certainly a possibility throughout the southwestern USA where America West operated the vast majority of its flights in those days.

The adoption of the Cactus call-sign by AWA was their attempt at resolving the issue, which it did, the problem was solved!

Please see the AWA route map from 1991 below where one can see the concentration of flights throughout the southwest.

AWA Route Map - 1991 Courtesy - airliners.net
AWA Route Map – 1991
Courtesy – airliners.net

Come the day, (estimated to be on April 8th), I can almost guarantee there will be a few missed radio calls by the now former Cactus pilots simply due to human nature. After all these years of being primed to listen for our call sign, Cactus, it’ll be an adjustment to our senses. There will be some second guessing, who was that for?

AWA/US/AA Airbus A321
AWA/US/AA Airbus A321

I do feel sorry for our ATC partners in the sky as there will suddenly be an additional 1,000+ daily US Airways flights on their radar screens now answering to the “American” call sign. An adjustment for the both of us.

Glad I’m not flying that day. 

For additional information on the call-sign and the latest American / US Airways merger news, please click on this article.

Speaking of Cactus vs American, below is an Airbus A320 aircraft I recently flew into Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport painted in the new American Airlines livery.


I took these two similar pictures (below) of Airbus A321 aircraft, which help to demonstrate the difference between the new exciting AA livery and the current US Airways livery.

US Airways Airbus A321 parked at PHX
US Airways Airbus A321 (AA livery) parked at PHX
US Airways Airbus A321
US Airways Airbus A321

Hola BOI!

One of my friends, who works at the Boise airport, happened to snap this photo of me landing an Airbus A319 on Boise’s runway 10L earlier this week.

What a great photo and thanks to him for taking the shot!

A319 arriving in BOI
A319 arriving in BOI

I later shared the picture with my copilot, who mentioned he has never had any picture of him flying the Airbus!

Cool, huh?!

Passing Through PHX..

Weekday morning rush hour traffic (10am) at PHX Sky Harbor International Airport.

Catering restocks my A320
Catering restocks my A320

I’ve flown this B757 to Hawaii many times when I used to fly the 757 series out of PHX. She really looks nice in the new AA colors! The aircraft was parked at an adjacent gate yesterday morning.

AWA/AA B757 at PHX

We’re parked awaiting a taxi clearance from the ramp control personnel. As you can see, a busy time at Sky Harbor.

AWA/US/AA Airbus A321
AWA/US/AA Airbus A321
PHX Terminal 4 ramp
PHX Terminal 4 ramp