We have a Valentine’s Day gift (and a late Christmas gift) from the archives for you today—and it ties into the interim livery string of posts I started last week. Back in 1981, we leased a 737-200 from Trans European Airways (TEA) of Belgium. Larry Worley and Jimmy Moore, who worked in our Maintenance Department, used the radome to create a “Rudolph One” for Christmas 1981. To raise money, Santa flew around our system selling calendars for the Salvation Army. Here we see “Santa” and an attractive Employee who is holding the calendar and waiting to board the aircraft. (Can anyone out there identify the woman?)
Fast forward a couple of months to Valentine’s Day, 1982, and the same airplane has become “Cupid One,” with a depiction of the chubby matchmaker replacing Rudolph on the radome. Posing in front of the aircraft is one of our current Flight Attendants, Sharen, who was a Ticket Agent at the time.
Now for the airplane geek stuff: Notice that the airplane isn’t in the standard Southwest livery. As close as I can tell, this is the TEA color scheme, and in other pictures on airliners.net it is depicted wearing the “Southwest” titles on the tail. As to the specific airplane, none of the photos in our files present a side view showing the registration. However, several books in my reference library lead me to think that this is “OO-TEM,” which was a 737-2Q8, msn 21735. If I am correct, it flew with us for almost two years before going on to America West as N133AW, British Midland, and Malev in Hungary (both as EI-BTR). It returned to the US to finish out its career with Vanguard and AeroUSA as N121NJ. FAA records show it “deregistered.” For those of you with "eagle eyes," you will notice that the radomes are different in both photos. In the top one, there is a black glare panel and the bottom is all white. Neither are the standard TEA radome, but Airliners.net has several photos of it operating during Southwest service with the normal TEA radome.
Update: the "mystery woman" is Melissa Smith a retired Flight Attendant