Mesa bought their first Beechcraft BE-1900 in December 1985 for two million dollars.
The town of Telluride and the adjacent ski area were the reason that Mesa Airlines upgraded to a bigger airplane. Telluride had just completed an airport, shoehorned in the most precarious location on a flat mesa which protruded out into the San Miguel River valley with steep drop-offs on three sides and a huge mountain on the other.
Telluride first worked with Trans Colorado Airlines to haul ski resort passengers, but the Swearingen Metroliner airplanes they used could not carry the needed passenger loads out of an airport that was almost 9,100 feet in elevation. So, they contacted Mesa who agreed to purchase a 1900 for the market. After the ski season, Mesa began to find other uses for the 1900 on markets like Albuquerque to Hobbs, Roswell, and Farmington and Farmington to Phoenix.
Later, after starting a new codeshare with Midwest Express Airlines, after taking over Aspen Airways routes out of Denver, and starting Florida Gulf Airlines, the number of 1900s purchased by Mesa skyrocketed. Eventually, the BE1900 would become the mainstay of the Mesa fleet, and the 1995 Annual Report showed the company had 113 of them.
Starting in 1992, the 1900C models were replaced by the BE1900D model which had a “stand-up cabin” that was 5 foot eleven inches high. The "D" also had more powerful engines and was faster and could carry more useful loads that its predecessor. The 1900s could be found in a variety of paint schemes for all of the different codeshare partners, including a very colorful purple and yellow bird painted shortly after Jonathan Ornstein took over Mesa in 1998.