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Flashback Fridays--The Texas Sesquicentennial and Southwest Airlines

Aviator C

Even the most casual Southwest Airlines observer is aware of our high flying tribute to our home state of Texas, Lone Star One.  On November 7, 1990, the aircraft was unveiled in a ceremony that included the famous Kilgore Rangerettes. 


Lone Star One was part of our 20th Anniversary celebrations, and in turn it “begat” our other state flag-themed specialty airplanes, California One, Arizona One, Nevada One, New Mexico One, Maryland One, Illinois One, and our latest, Florida One.

What you may not know is that Lone Star One was not the first airplane we dedicated to Lone Star State.  In 1836 (no we weren’t flying then), Sam Houston defeated the Mexican general, Santa Ana in the battle of San Jacinto outside of what is now Houston.  The Republic of Texas was born, and 100 years later in 1936, Texas celebrated our Centennial with a World’s Fair held at Fair Park in Dallas.  Many of the park’s landmark Art Deco buildings were erected for the Texas Centennial celebration.

When the 150th Anniversary of Texas Independence rolled around in 1986, the state decided to celebrate in a big way.  Special license plates were created, and many communities had local celebrations.  Southwest, naturally wanted to get in on the fun, and we named an aircraft, The Texas Sesquicentennial.  Aircraft N303SW was chosen, which meant our first four 737-300s all carried names, with N300SW through N302SW all being Spirit of Kitty Hawk.

Compared to some of our later unveilings, the ceremony surrounding N303SW was low key.  It was parked at the gate with a giant stars-and-stripes bow wrapped around it.  A set of portable stairs were pulled up to the nose for the christening festivities before the bow was “unwrapped.”  Here we see Herb Kelleher surrounded by a proud group of Dallas Employees.

Just think, the Texas Bicentennial is just around the corner in 2036.

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