Rocky Mountain Airways (IATA: JC, ICAO: RMA, Call sign: Rocky Mountain) was an American commuter airline headquartered in Hangar No. 6 of Stapleton International Airport in Denver, Colorado. It was sold to Texas Air Corporation/Continental Airlines in 1986.
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The airline flew from Denver's Stapleton International Airport to a variety of destinations in Colorado. The airline operated out of the old commuter terminal in Concourse A at Stapleton.
The airline was founded as Vail Airways in 1963 by Gordon Autry. The airline adopted "Rocky Mountain Airways" in 1968, shortly after service to Aspen was introduced.
The original aircraft operated by Vail Airways was the Cessna 310 piston twin, followed by the Rockwell Aero Commander piston twin. In 1969, Rocky Mountain Airways expanded with the 19 passenger de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter twin engine turboprop. On February 3, 1978, Rocky Mountain Airways took delivery as the worldwide launch customer of the larger, 50 passenger de Havilland Canada DHC-7 Dash 7-102 four engine turboprop. In 1983, Rocky Mountain had placed an order for six, 37-passenger de Havilland Canada DHC-8 Dash 8 twin turboprops, coincident with the type's rollout, but none of the aircraft were ever delivered to Rocky Mountain.
Both the DHC-6 Twin Otter and the DHC-7 Dash 7 featured short takeoff and landing (STOL) performance. This enabled Rocky Mountain Airways to serve destinations that otherwise would not have received scheduled passenger air service. One example was the Avon STOLport located in close proximity to the Vail ski resort which was served with the Dash 7. Another example was the Steamboat Springs Airport which was also served with the Dash 7. With a relatively short runway length of 4,452 feet and an airfield elevation of 6,882 feet, the Dash 7 was well suited for passenger operations from this small airport located near the Steamboat Springs ski resort. Rocky Mountain Airways also operated Twin Otter flights from Lake County Airport in Leadville, Colorado. With an airfield elevation of 9,927 feet, Leadville is the location of the highest airport ever to have received scheduled passenger air service in the U.S. The Avon STOLport, which was a private airstrip controlled by the airline, no longer exists. Airline service to Vail is now provided via the Eagle County Airport which is located over 35 miles to the west via Interstate 70. Steamboat Springs is now served by several airlines from the Yampa Valley Airport which is located over 25 miles to the west via U.S. 40. Leadville no longer has airline service.
Another primary route served by the airline was between Aspen and Denver. RMA flew the Twin Otter between the two destinations and then introduced Dash 7 service. The major competitor at the time in Aspen was Aspen Airways which flew Convair 440 piston engine prop aircraft which were subsequently replaced with Convair 580 turboprops. Aspen Airways then began operating new British Aerospace BAe 146-100 jet aircraft on the route. Rocky Mountain and Aspen Airways competed for many years from Aspen.
Rocky Mountain Airways also served as a Continental Express air carrier at one point in order to provide passenger feed at this major airline's hub operation in Denver at the time. Twin Otter and Dash 7 aircraft were painted in Continental's distinctive red, gold and white livery with "Continental Express" titles.