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Behind the Scenes with Illinois One

blusk
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I finally added some additional photos.  On Monday, Paula posted about the ceremonies that img_4165.JPGintroduced our newest specialty aircraft, Illinois One, to the Southwest fleet.  Well, I was there working as a volunteer with our Public Relations folks illinois-one-003.JPGat the event.  Let me tell you, events like this don't happen overnight, and they involved a lot of coordination among all the parties--something made all the more difficult by the distance between Dallas and Chicago.  But, after working all day Monday, they pulled this complicated event off without a hitch. illinois-one-017.JPG  The PR Team was far from alone, as our Marketing Department had a large contingent of folks involved with the event and on the ground in Chicago.  Other Teams from Corporate Communications assisted, the band made up of SWA Employees kept everyone entertained, and other folks from a wide range of departments also pitched in. My primary duty at the event was checking Employees in, and I got to meet a big cross-section of our Chicago Employees, including those working in Customer Service, the Ramp, Operations, and Provisioning at Chicago Midway, our Chicago Mechanics, and folks from our Chicago Reservations Center.  For an airplane geek like me, illinois-one-019.JPGthe day was heaven on so many levels.  The event was held inside one of our historic hangars at Midway which was built by TWA back when Midway was the world's busiest airport.  While the hangar may be historic, it is our Chicago Mechanics workplace, and thanks go to them for allowing the event to be staged in the hangar.  I got to see our newest airplane "close up and personal," and I got the opportunity to work with some of my great Coworkers.  Heck, I even got to shake hands with Mayor Daley, who is a huge supporter of Southwest Airlines and Midway Airport. For Illinois One, after being the center of attention, it was off to Dallas for some final installations before entering service, and I followed it about ten hours later.  Although they spend their working lives as another aircraft in our usual rotation, the specialty aircraft always cause my heart to skip just a bit faster every time I see one. 
18 Comments
Cappy_Kelso
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I just saw a picture of Illinois One. FANTASTIC What a beautiful bird. I can't wait to see it fly thru the skys here in New Orleans. Once again, Southwest ROCKS
Micah_Moughon1
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What is "Provisioning?"
cday
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Thanks for your help at the event Brian!! You are a rockstar.
blusk
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Micah, they are the folks who stock the galleys of our aircraft while the flight is at the gate, and they also clean the galley area. If you see the big Southwest trucks at the service doors on the right (First Officer's) side of the aircraft, those trucks belong to Provisioning. Brian
joe-mdw-plane-d
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For Illinois One, after being the center of attention, it was off to Dallas for some final installations before entering service, and I followed it about ten hours later. What did You have installed Brian? :-) Joe!
bhurst
New Arrival
Micah, You can see my post and video about our Provisioning folks in Salt Lake City here (http://www.blogsouthwest.com/2007/11/02/salt-lake-city-provisioning/) Bob
Chad_Nash
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Howdy. Congrats on Illinois one SWA! I'm a proud SWA flier. I've never used a blog and apologize for posting this in the wrong place. Please pass this along to your execs - c'mon Herb let's do this. But coming in to work this morning I read Continental has "record fuel prices." Who cares about them anyway - old has beens. But in general probably the whole industry is. Maybe a "nutty" idea - but has SWA thought about producing their own jet fuel? You're in Texas. Do it covertly buy some land - get going - save some money, beat down on the competition. You are in industry leader set the table. In the meantime I'll keep flying SWA, listen to the stand-up comedy flight attendants and drinking my rum and cokes - thinking - "Yeah baby, life is good!"
Tomcat
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Mayor Daley - a friend of SWA? That could make me NOT want to fly with your airline anymore. Mayor Daley has shows his respect (or lack thereof) for the law and the aviation community with his illegal destruction of Meigs Field. Do your research and you will find out what kind of man Mayor Daley really is.
Josh18
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Hey Brian, when are they going to park it on the tarmac by maintenance so all SWA HDQ can get a look at it? We're all waiting to see that beautiful bird!
sparky
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When I saw the picture, it was an "AWW" sight... Great job. Beautiful aircraft.
joe-mdw-plane-d
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Brian, Where did you find a stand in for pic 019? He looks exactly like you! :-) Joe!
blusk
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Joe, oddly enough, most Chicagoans look exactly like me. Must be the water.
joe-mdw-plane-d
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Remind me not to drink the water then. ;-) joe!
FriendofBlogBoy
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Joe, That is not Brian in picture 019 -- don't let him fool you. In fact, what you are seeing is a sneak preview. You've heard of celebrities going out in public wearing a disguise so as to remain 'incognito', and you're obviously familiar with the SWA tradition of big Halloween festivities. Picture 019 was not supposed to be published, because it is an image of CEO Gary Kelly's trial run at his costume and makeup for this year's HDQ party, where he intends to appear as "Brian Lusk". I think that Gary has done a pretty good job, and that his get-up looks fairly realistic. A lot better, even, that some of the bad attempts of resembling people that I've seen at various wax museums. However, it looks like he could still use some work before the final version is chosen. Do you know where he could find a good 'appearance technician' to help him out? LOL Kim External Blog Boy, who is going to dress up as Joe Friedmann for Halloween 🙂
joe-mdw-plane-d
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Sorry Kim! I can only clean aircraft. :-) Joe
blusk
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Hey it was a hectic day!
joe-mdw-plane-d
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Brian, Excuses, Excuses! :-) Plane detailer guy. Joe
Hugo
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Man I wish I was there, but I went on vacation to Mexico to visit my Grandparents. It looks AWESOME! It's about time too, I work on the ramp at MDW. Started in June of '02. It looks similar to the one I drew went I went to train at DAL. They had "naked" B737's on sheets and they asked the class to design the next plane. I was gonna call it FEEDOM FLYER 1, but they urged me to call it AMERICA 1. The front half of the fusealage was the head of the bald eagle while the latter half had the American flag waving across. Not to toot my own horn but, I gotta admit it was looking good, voted the best in that class. This came close to my dream design, that's why I LUV it so!