This week features our final blog post in our Flagship Series, taking a closer look at our Southwest planes with state flag liveries.
Illinois One was revealed as our seventh flagship plane on April 14, 2008. The design is based on the Illinois state flag featuring a flying bald eagle carrying a red ribbon lettered with their state motto “State Sovereignty National Union.”
The 737-700 was painted by Boeing using 93 gallons of paint in ten different colors to complete the design. Southwest first began serving Midway in 1985 with eight daily departures. By 2008, we had 227 daily departures and 3,700 Employees in Chicago including our Pilot Base, Flight Attendant Base, Reservations Center, and People Department offices so Southwest decided to honor the state and our Chicago Employees and Customers for their loyal service.
On hand for the big reveal was Cofounder Herb Kelleher, then President Colleen Barrett, and CEO Gary Kelly, along with Governor Rod Blagojevich and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. The unveiling ceremony at Midway Airport also included a live bald eagle, as you can see in the photo above.
Revealed on April 23, 2010, Florida One was our eighth flagship plane. The livery is one of the more detailed of our specialty planes, requiring eight days for the painting.
Based on Florida’s state flag, the fuselage prominently features the State Seal of Florida which includes a Seminole woman, hibiscus flowers, Sabal palms (one of the state trees) and a steamboat. If you are interested in seeing a time-lapse video showing the making and painting of Florida One, click here.
In the above picture, you can see Florida One (Project Panhandle, as it was called) being unwrapped from brown paper in a Louisiana hangar that was used to keep the plane hidden. A great deal of planning happens to keep these planes secret, including flying them at night from Boeing facilities in Washington. If you are interested in learning more about how Florida One was transported you can search click here to listen to a Red Belly Radio interview with Captain Jeff Hamlett who flew Florida One from its hiding place to the big unveiling.
On April 23, Florida One went on a whistle-stop tour to all of our Florida stations. In the photo above you can see the landing of Florida One at Tampa International Airport, where it was welcomed with a water cannon salute. Southwest first began Florida service to Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood and Tampa Bay in January 1996.
Colorado One, our ninth flagship plane, debuted on August 22, 2012. Southwest first began flying to the Denver Stapleton Airport in 1983 but discontinued service in 1985 due to delays at the overcrowded airport. Southwest returned to Denver in 2006 with our first flights out of Denver International Airport. As Denver has become our fifth largest city since 2006, Southwest wanted to say thank you to our new loyal Colorado Customers.
The Colorado flag features a large red “C” to symbolize the red color of the Colorado soil, and a gold circle representing the sun or the state’s gold mining industry. The white and blue bands symbolize the sky and the white snow of the Rocky Mountains.
This photo shows the unveiling ceremony where our Employees welcomed Colorado One to Denver. Present for the unveiling was President, Chairman, and CEO Gary Kelly, Governor John Hickenlooper, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock, and Denver International Airport Manager of Aviation, Kim Day seen waving by the plane.