In 1958, Kenny realized that PSA would need new equipment to remain competitive, as the DC-4s were aging rapidly. After looking at the Caravelle, and failing to arrange financing, Friedkin turned to the Lockheed Electra and placed an order for three new aircraft.
Financing was still a problem, as Friedkin could pay for the initial deposit but nothing else. After much searching, he found Barron Hilton (of the hotel fame) was willing to finance the first three aircraft and engines under a lease arrangement. Hilton formed ElectraHilt corporation as the financing vehicle, lending PSA more credibility.
First flight airmail sleeve. (Webmaster collection)
Electra deliveries happened late in 1959, with the DC-4s rapidly pulled out of service. The Electra was the perfect aircraft for PSA, and cut flight times dramatically over the three-city network. PSA was now even more competitive with arch-rivals United and Western.
After the tragic Electra crashes, a meeting between FAA administrator Elwood "Pete" Quesada and operating airlines occurred. The meeting was quite boisterous, with Northwest's Don Nyrop advocating a grounding. All the argument ceased when a female voice was heard, saying "We're opposed to the grounding". Quesada said only airlines operating the Electra were allowed to attend, with a reply "I'm the Vice President of PSA, and we oppose the grounding." It was Jean Friedkin. Quesada apologized, and the meeting continued. Jean Friedkin was the only female vice-president of an airline at the time.
As PSA's traffic grew, they could afford additional aircraft. The fourth aircraft was the first prototype, refurbished by Lockheed. It was the only A-model in the fleet. The fifth and sixth aircraft were repossessed from their original owner by Lockheed, and sold to PSA after overhaul.
In 1975, PSA started service to Lake Tahoe airport. To do this, they bought/leased 4 Electras (again!), but kept them in service only when needed to serve Tahoe, which is unsuitable for 727s. Service to Lake Tahoe directly ended in 1979, and the Electras were retired permanently.
The fleet statistics listed below are from PSA archives. They do not correspond with what I have seen in production list books. In this case, I have elected to use PSA data over the production list data.