Today, June 18, Southwest celebrates 50 years of giving people the freedom to fly and proudly unveiled Freedom One, a high-flying tribute to our nation, our military, and our Southwest Family of more than 50,000 Employees. Freedom One features the 50 stars and 13 stripes from the flag of the United States of America, and is the first Boeing 737-800 to join our unique paint schemes.*
At an Employee celebration in Houston, Southwest Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly recognized Southwest Employees, who throughout our 50-year history have worked hard to earn Southwest’s place as the #1 Domestic Carrier. When Southwest first began flying in 1971, less than 15% of Americans ever had traveled by air. Southwest and our People democratized the skies with friendly, reliable, and affordable air travel—giving people the freedom to fly.
Among the Employees in attendance at the Rally were Southwest Military Ambassadors and members of the Military Council. Military Ambassadors are Southwest Employees who are veterans and military spouses and serve as a resource for the Company to foster inclusion for veterans and service members. Gary recognized our military men and women for their bravery and service to our country, saying “Freedom is the essence of our country, and giving America the freedom to fly is the essence of our Company. With 50 stars on the flag and 50 years of LUV, we dedicate our anniversary to Freedom.”
After the unveiling, Freedom One departed the Hangar, headed for Dallas. The Pilots and Flight Attendants onboard are Employees who served in the military, and a military veteran dispatched the flight from the Network Operations Control facility in Dallas. As Freedom One approached Love Field, it followed the Federal Aviation Administration’s HERBZ navigational flight path to the airport, recently named in honor of Southwest Founder Herb Kelleher.
Here are a few facts about Freedom One:
Freedom One took 14 days to paint using a crew of 8-10 people working per shift.
It took more than 60 gallons of paint and primer to paint Freedom One, and the aircraft features 15 different paint colors, with the predominant two colors being red and white.
Just like the flag of the United States of America, Freedom One features 50 stars and 13 stripes.
Each star is 39x40 inches, which is approximately the same size as the Heart that as on the belly of each Southwest aircraft.
The United States Department of State Identity and Marking Standards was used in selecting the colors to transpose the flag onto the aircraft (Old Glory Blue, Old Glory Red and White).
Freedom One was painted in Spokane, Washington.
The timelapse video above for Freedom Onewas created with more than 87,000 still images that were taken during the aircraft painting process by Southwest’s Creative Studio Team.
Freedom One is aircraft W500NR, so be sure to track the plane and post photos using #FreedomOne!
* Other special paint schemes on Southwest Boeing 737-700s include: Arizona One, California One, Colorado One, Florida One, Illinois One, Lone Star One (Texas), Louisiana One, Maryland One, Missouri One, Nevada One, New Mexico One, and Tennessee One.