November 30, 2001
Pat Fillingham flew C/N 6424 G-AOVU, the first Mk4C, on October 31, 1959. After about 87 hours of certification flights, it became Mexicana's first jet airliner. It inaugurated 'Golden Aztec' service between Mexico City and Los Angeles on July 4th, 1960.
XA-NAR served Mexicana routes from 1960 to 1970. From 1970 to 1972, it was kept in reserve for the occasional charter. In 1972, it was sold to Westernair of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who re-registered it as N888WA. It remained at Mexico City for the following two years, undergoing a complete upgrade, which included a new paint job and a reupholstered interior.
Westernair planned to sell it and its sister ship to a large corporation in Europe.
Ironically, the purchase negotiations
took place in Geneva, Switzerland at the same time OPEC was having its
organizing meetings across town.
The OPEC meeting agreements triggered the Arab oil crises of 1974, which led to a five-fold increase in the price of jet fuel. The rest, as they say, is history: the value of many smaller jets, including the relatively thirsty Comets, was slashed and the sale fell apart. The refurbished Comets were left at Mexico City until another buyer could be found.
A subscription-club airline in Redmond, Washington,
Redmond Air, bought our ship in 1978 and had it ferried to Salt Lake City
to upgrade its electronics to current US standards. After a year; in July
1979, N888WA was ferried to Everett, Washington. It had accumulated a
It was grounded by the FAA at Paine Field.
- Bob Hood