The CallAir Museum
The CallAir Museum re-enacts the history of the CallAir passenger and agricultural cropduster spray planes. CallAir airplanes were manufactured in Afton from the early 1940s to the late 1960s. (Click on any picture to see an enlargement).
When Reuel Call, his uncle Ivan Call, and his brother Spencer Call sat down to design an airplane that would perform well in high mountain valleys, they could hardly have known history was in the making. It was! Their task was daunting, and they picked a tough time to accomplish it. The year was 1942. War was raging throughout Europe and the South Pacific. Materials were scarce—barely enough to build the first prototype airplane. Sustained production would have to wait until after the war when surplus engines, steel and parts became available. From those humble beginnings came the legendary CallAir A-3 passenger plane. It was a mountain plane designed and built for ranchers, farmers, coyote hunters and anybody who wanted to see the Wyoming Rockies from the top down.
In 1947 a man from Boise, Idaho came to Afton to pick up a new CallAir. His name was Kenneth Arnold. He too, would bring fame to the valley. Flying his model A-3 he was looking for a downed aircraft near Mt. Rainier in Washington, when he sighted a series of bright lights skipping through the sky. Arnold was the first to use the words “flying saucers” when he reported his sightings. A book followed in 1952. Arnold and his CallAir would become household words among UFO enthusiasts.
To stay financially solvent, the CallAir Aircraft factory had to be flexible. In the early fifties, Herb Anderson came to Afton as the new plant manager. He brought with him efficiency and discipline, and also a new marketing plan. The original CallAir cabin plane was discontinued in favor of a newly designed CallAir crop-duster. The first of these, the A-5, began rolling out in production in 1954. Together with it’s big brother, the A-6, as many as 170 of these planes were built.
Then in the sixties, with capital supplied by new factory owners Doyle Child and Ted Frome, these planes were replaced with the CallAir A-9, a larger version of the previous crop-duster. It was a smashing success with as many as 850 manufactured and sold in subsequent years.
Following that, a still-bigger spray plane was designed, the B-1. About 35 of these high-performance dusters were built in Afton.
The CallAir factory has employed hundreds of Star Valley residents. The workers at the factory achieved a level of skill few would have thought possible. They learned to work with metals, wood, fabric, fiberglass, and paints. Today the factory is still in operation producing the famous Pitts Special acrobatic biplane and the rugged upper-winged Husky. Star Valley will long be known as the place in the Mountain West where airplane manufacturing has thrived for more than seventy years.