Skip to main content

Archives at The Museum of Flight

Bruce R. McCaw Aviation Collection

Identifier: 2014-01-15
The Bruce R. McCaw Aviation Collection consists of business records and ephemera from the 1970s through 1997 gathered and created by McCaw over the course of his career but primarily documents his work with Horizon Air. Series I, the bulk of the collection, consists of records McCaw kept while serving as Horizon Air Vice President of Operations and documents Horizon Air’s development as a regional commuter airline from 1980 through 1987 before the company was purchased by Alaska Airlines in 1986. Series II is a smaller grouping of materials spanning the early 1970s through 1997 and is related to McCaw’s professional and personal activities as a pilot and aviation insurance expert.

Series I, Horizon Airlines, contains planning documents, manuals, contracts, correspondence, and trade and marketing publications detailing the development of Horizon Air as a regional Northwest short-haul commuter airline from 1980 to 1987. The series is organized into four subseries by function: Administrative Records, Legal Records, Operational Records, and Publicity Materials. The largest segment of the collection, the Operational Records, is derived from McCaw’s activities as vice president of operations from 1982 to 1986, such as handwritten notations for executive team meetings, internal and external business correspondence, flight operations and pilot training documents, and aircraft maintenance and safety records. The other sub-series are smaller and feature early organizational planning documents, publicity materials, and administrative records related to overall company matters from McCaw’s perspective as an executive board member.

An important part of the series, under subseries C. Operational Records, is related to the operation, development, and upgrading of Horizon’s fleet. This section includes sets of purchase agreement drafts, planning notes with handwritten notations, letters of correspondence, research articles, and trade reports and specification guides for various aircraft models. The materials document Horizon’s growth from a small group of aircraft of the Fokker F.27 family and the Fairchild (Swearingen) Metro II and III family, to a fleet of over 30 aircraft from the de Havilland (Canada) DHC-8 100 and 300 series prior to Horizon’s purchase by Alaska Airlines in 1986. Of note are documents showing internal and industry comparisons between top DHC-8 acquisition contenders: the ATR-42, the Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica’s 120, and the Saab-Fairchild 340.

Also unique to this series are the planning and meeting notes, internal communications, and external correspondence records, often with handwritten notations by McCaw, illustrating the company’s (and McCaw’s) attention to building and maintaining Horizon’s relationship with various vendors, aircraft manufacturers, the Port of Seattle, and the FAA.

Series II, Assorted Aviation, consists of a small set of folders containing a variety of textual materials on a range of aviation topics spanning in time from 1971 to 1997. The material is derived from McCaw’s professional and personal aviation activities. Key items include a set of AVMARK Newsletters from 1987-1991; assorted newspaper clippings and articles chronicling Horizon generally from 1990 to 1997; newspaper clippings and articles following airline Markair as it managed an issue with its employees in 1995; and marketing materials and correspondence about Jetstar Airways Corporation and its startup venture of using the Sikorsky helicopter for a business commuter program in the Southern California region. The contents are arranged alphabetically by topic.


  • 1978-1999


Language of Materials

All materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. For more information contact us.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


25.5 Cubic Feet (7 5-inch legal document boxes, 23 5-inch letter document boxes, 1 2-inch letter document box, 1 oversize folder (35..5 x 47.35 inch))


The Bruce R. McCaw Aviation Collection contains textual materials related to McCaw's work with Horizon Air during the early development of the regional airline carrier from 1980 through 1987, as well as assorted material from 1970 to 1997 from McCaw’s professional and personal experience as a pilot.

Biographical Note: Bruce R. McCaw

Bruce R. McCaw is a businessman based out of the Seattle, Washington area who has worked in telecommunications, aviation and insurance since the late 1960s.

Historical Note: Horizon Air Horizon Air is a regional airline based in SeaTac, Washington. Horizon Air commenced operations in 1981. The airline was founded by Joe Clark, Milt Kuolt, and Bruce McCaw with headquarters in SeaTac, Washington. The airline acquired Air Oregon in June 1982 and bought Transwestern Airlines in 1983. In 1986, Horizon Air was acquired by Alaska Airlines, although it continued to operate as a separate company with its own identity and brand until 2010, when it was changed to Alaska Horizon. As of 2024, the airline operates as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alaska Airlines.

Note on Arrangement

The collection items as transferred to the Museum from Bruce R. McCaw were arranged partially by topical and functional groupings, and partially with no evidential order other than having been assembled in boxes approximately by year over the period of 1980 to 1987.

After surveying the overall contents, the Project Archivist determined there was not a clear dominant arrangement to the collection beyond casual topical groupings and that there were many items of similar nature separated amongst the overall collection. Also, while most of the collection materials were related to the topic of Horizon Air from 1980-1987, there was a smaller set of materials spanning the late 1970s through the 1990s of general aviation nature unrelated to Horizon. Thus, the collection was divided into two series, with the greater portion of materials becoming Series I: Horizon Air and the smaller grouping becoming Series II: Assorted Aviation.

In addition, a small set of documents and ephemera from the donor was added as an addendum to the collection in February of 2023. These items were integrated directly into relevant folders. These items were from the donor’s Horizon materials already but were not transferred in the original gift because they were discovered later in additional files.

Series I: Horizon Air materials fell naturally into five categories reflective of McCaw’s scope of work while with Horizon. These categories are Administrative Records, Legal Records, Operations, and Publicity. An alphabetical order was imposed on the grouping for ease of access. Each category was then further divided into several sub-series. An arrangement for these sub-series was created to emphasize the various work activities the documents represented as part of McCaw’s role as vice president and director of operations, the largest portion highlighting operational activities. Folders within the sub-series are generally arranged alphabetically with documents within arranged chronologically when relevant. A few sub-series are organized chronologically to reflect the progress of work.

Series II: Assorted Aviation is a small set of unrelated folders on varying aviation topics from McCaw’s personal and professional aviation activities from approximately 1970 to 1997. The topics are independent of each other, and an alphabetical arrangement was imposed.

For both series, most of the paper documents were in folders containing varying numbers of individual sheets and stapled sets of papers. The folders were labeled with typed or handwritten titles identifying the contents with a single word or short phrase, many of the labels coming loose from age. Some titles were written by the donor himself and others were prepared by varying administrative personnel. Some of the folder titles have been retained, but due to the decay of the folders, the duplication of topics across folders and boxed, and the random assortment of items within folders, most were replaced and new titles were created. The conceptual ideas indicated by the original labels were retained as much as was helpful to identify the adjusted folder contents.

Separated Materials

Materials has been separated from the archival component and are kept in the Library, including books, serials, and newsletters. Additional materials are kept in Trade Literature, including brochures and pamphlets; and the Map collection, including assorted maps and charts. Please contact the repository for details.

Processing Information

Throughout the collection were various 3-ring binders, spiral and punch-bound sets of papers, pamphlets, bi-fold presentations folders, newsletters, and bound product manuals. These items were in varying stages of decay with rusting metal fasteners or degrading plastic covers. Structures and fasteners in severe decay were removed and the contents placed in new sleeves or folders.
Guide to the Bruce R. McCaw Aviation Collection
Completed - Level 3
Victoria Smith, Nicole Davis, Jenn Parent
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
1st edition

Repository Details

Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle Washington 98108-4097

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
Contact us with a research request