Since the 1970s many domestic airlines have gone belly up or absorbed into the network of today's legacy airlines. But of these lost airlines one stands out particularly because of a memorable advertising campaign. In a television commercial that combined a talking animated bird and a memorable slogan, Wally Bird was always hitching a ride on top of the fuselage of a Western Airlines jet. His distinctive delivery of the slogan "The only way to fly" is forever part of the pop culture of era.
Western Airlines began flying in 1926 and ceased operations in 1987. The year prior, the airline entered into a planned merger with Delta Airlines which eventually discontinued the brand. The airline was headquartered in Los Angeles, California. Western's major hubs were in LAX, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Salt Lake City. At its peak, the airline flew to major cities across the western U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico and Canada.