Select Page

Western Air Express General Aviation GA-43


Model ID#:












M. Lane

Model Scale:




historical significance

First Albuquerque Visit:    1934

SKU: Model-0289 Categories: ,

Additional Information:

The General Aviation GA-43 was a single engine low-wing monoplane airliner produced in small numbers in the United States in the mid-1930s. The prototype was developed and built by Fairchild’s American Pilgrim division, but the program was taken over by General Aviation when the firm purchased American Pilgrim shortly before the prototype had flown. Although this first flight took place in 1932, the manufacture of the aircraft did not commence until 1934, by which time General Motors had gained a controlling interest in North American Aviation and merged it with General Aviation, which they already owned. As a result the GA-43 became the first aircraft produced by North American but only five aircraft were built.

The GA-43 was the conventional low-wing cantilever monoplane of all-metal construction. The oval-section fuselage contained a ten-seat passenger cabin, and the cockpit was located atop the fuselage under a separate canopy. The aircraft was also known as the Pilgrim 150, Fairchild 150, and Clark GA-43, named for the designer, Virginius E. Clark who designed the Clark Y airfoil section used on the plane.

Western Air Express (WAE) was based in Los Angeles, California and began operations on May 23, 1926 with an initial route from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City carrying U.S. mail and occasional passengers. On May 15, 1929, the carrier began the first scheduled passenger airline service to New Mexico with a route from Los Angeles to Albuquerque that made stops at Kingman and Holbrook, Arizona using a Fokker F-10 tri-motor. Two weeks later on June 1, 1929, the route was extended eastward from Albuquerque to Kansas City with stops at Amarillo and Wichita. WAE operated many other aircraft types during its service within New Mexico including the Fokker F-7, F-14, F-32, F-Super Universal, Douglas M2, Lockheed 5A Vega, and Clark GA-43. Some of these aircraft however were only used to transport mail which was the primary focus for airline operations during that time. A ticket office was opened in downtown Albuquerque at the Hotel Franciscan. The Western Air Express name was changed to Western Air Lines in 1941 and the carrier nearly merged with Continental Airlines in 1978.

The GA-42 was Western Air Express’s first all metal low wing American designed and built aircraft. WAE flew routes from Burbank to Albuquerque and Kansas City and El Paso to Albuquerque, Denver and Cheyenne until 1934 when the aircraft #NC13903 was sold to TWA.