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!
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..
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.
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?
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.
I spent 15 years flying the Boeing B757 as a captain.
During those 15 years, I flew it all over the US and spent the last 6-1/2 years flying the 757 back and forth between the US Mainland and Hawaii. All wonderful memories! The 757 will always hold a special place in my heart.
Here is a neat video depicting the first flight of the Boeing 757.
To watch the video, please click on the link Boeing 757.
A very cool foto – thanks to the PHX Spotters group!
The A319 in the new AA livery, N814AW, was the very first Airbus I ever flew as a captain on a flight PHX-DFW in June 2012.
I had just transitioned over to the Airbus fleet having spent 15-years flying the B757 as a captain. The Airbus offered me a far superior lifestyle and a much more flexible work schedule out of the Phoenix pilot base. I’ve been flying the Airbus for two+ years now and this has proven to be very true.
This foto shows N814AW, with the former US Airways livery, while taxing at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.