Today, we pause to remember the tragedy that forever changed our country and our industry. Nineteen years ago, an otherwise ordinary morning quickly changed into a day that none of us will ever forget. But, despite the chaos and destruction that ensued, it was also a shining example of how our unconquerable esprit de corps brought us all together as a Southwest Family to overcome the biggest challenge our industry had ever faced.
For almost three days after the terrorist attacks, the skies over the United States remained closed to all but a select few military and first responder flights. By the end of the week, Southwest resumed operations with a heavily modified schedule in an entirely new environment of procedures and restrictions. At 10:35 a.m. on Friday, September 14, Flight #145 departed from Nashville (BNA) with 49 Customers onboard, along with the pride of the (then) 33,000 Southwest Employees with a mission to keep America flying.
Employees line the fence at Southwest Headquarters to watch the first flight take off from Dallas Love Field (DAL) after the 9/11 terrorist attacks
As President George W. Bush said in remembrance of the tragedy, “One of the worst days in America’s history saw some of the bravest acts in Americans’ history. We’ll always honor the heroes of 9/11. We pledge that we will never forget their sacrifice.”
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Photo by Justin Clemons
Chances are that you or the person in the seat next to you owns one of the products Aaron Stevens promotes—or have a device that needs one. Aaron’s work with OtterBox, a smartphone case company, frequently takes him from his home in Dallas to cities across the country. Flying Southwest means that he doesn’t have to worry about fees when his work schedule changes, making his business and personal travel a breeze. An A-List Preferred member, Aaron also loves using his Rapid Rewards points for international trips with his family to places like Cancun. Thanks for being a Customer, Aaron. We’re glad you know that we’ve got you covered when you have somewhere to be.
—Richard West, Communications & Outreach
Make It Count “OtterBox’s corporate mission statement is ‘We Grow to Give.’ That’s done primarily through our OtterCares Foundation. On our annual #Closed2Open day, our company suspends operations and almost every Otter volunteers.”
Team Up “When you partner with companies that share similar values, the sum of the parts is larger than each can accomplish on its own.”
Run On “I mainly run for fun, but I do try to run in at least one half-marathon a year. White Rock Lake in Dallas is my go-to for long runs.”
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Even though Southwest Airlines has been a fixture of Dallas Love Field for more than 46 years, our home airport’s history began more than half a century before. And today, our home airport celebrates its 100th birthday.
Love Field, dedicated on October 19, 1917, is named in honor of Army Pilot Lt. Moss Lee Love, who passed away in the early days of powered flight as the United States prepared to enter World War I. After serving as a training base during the first Great War, Love Field again served our nation during World War II. In fact, the largest squadron of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) served their nation at Love.
Scheduled airline service truly took off in 1929 when the first passenger terminal and hangars were opened. As the size of airliners grew along with the demand for commercial air service, larger terminals were constructed in 1938 and again in 1958.
Several years before Southwest Airlines took flight in 1971, the cities of Dallas and Ft. Worth agreed to construct what would become the DFW Regional (now DFW International) Airport in the center of the Metroplex. When it opened in 1974, all existing airline service—except Southwest—left Love Field for DFW. For the next 40 years, Love Field’s flight schedule remained limited due to the Wright Amendment, which greatly restricted service out of Love as a way to protect DFW, and the area’s focus on expanding service at DFW.
Following the repeal of the Wright Amendment in 2006, Southwest partnered with the City of Dallas for a project known as the Love Field Modernization Project, which prepared the airport for the more than seven million passengers and countless new flights that would begin when the prohibitions on nonstop flights were lifted on October 13, 2014.
Today, Southwest operates 180 flights a day and injects more than $9 billion of economic activity into North Texas. From its early days of Army training, to the world’s first moving walkways in an airport, Southwest Airlines is proud to call Dallas Love Field our home.
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Our Southwest story began more than 50 years ago in San Antonio when southwest Co-Founders Herb Kelleher and Rollin King first sat down to discuss the “crazy” idea of starting an airline. Since then, our Company not only survived, but became the envy of just about every other airline out there. It’s a story worth keeping track of, and that’s exactly what we do within our Corporate Archive at Southwest's Headquarters in Dallas.
Just about anyone who’s ever visited our Headquarters Campus probably remembers the countless images and other items we proudly display throughout the building. It’s a tradition that began shortly after we moved into our new home in 1990 and has carried on as the campus expanded. So, while collecting items important to our history is nothing new, cataloging and preserving these treasures is a relatively new endeavor that we’ve undertaken.
After the former Operations Control Center (OCC) moved into their new home and became the Network Operations Control (NOC) in 2014, we had the opportunity to repurpose a portion of its former space as an archive room. Within the 1,800 sq. foot facility, we house many of the priceless items that define our history, including uniforms, photographs, documents, and many of those other countless items that best define our unique Culture. The archive room has its own fire suppression and air conditioning system to protect these assets from things such as heat and light.
Take a look inside our Corporate Archive:
DMX CASS Project Consultant Jim Dumont donated an original Terminal Operations manual from his personal collection. This was the predecessor to today’s Ground Ops manual, and is a great reference to how our original Station Employees handled all aspects of our business at the airport.
Some of our most popular archive items are our original "Hostess" uniforms. As original Employee Deborah Stembridge shared with us, Hostesses were required to wear the wrap skirt over their hot pants when off of the aircraft.
In the early ‘90s, Scanset terminals were installed in travel agencies by Southwest Employees to provide dial up access to our ticketing system.
LAS Captain Brian Dawson shared an original copy of the February 1974 Esquire magazine featuring Hostess (now Flight Attendant) Sandra Force on the cover. The iconic cover story provided national exposure to what was then our small intra-Texas carrier only flying the famous triangle at the time.
One of the newest additions to the archive is a Southwest-branded fedora that helped our Employees and Customers celebrate the first Cuba service in December 2016.
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A little less than a month after Herb Kelleher filed papers to establish our Company, the aircraft that would become the cornerstone of Southwest airlines operation took flight for the first time on April 9, 1967. Over the weekend, a birthday party was held at Boeing Field in Seattle to celebrate the half century of service of the 737.
The world’s first 737 is on display at the Museum of Flight, along with the prototypes of the 727 and 747. As the smallest jet airliner Boeing produced, it was once referred to as the “Baby Boeing” when compared to the lager aircraft manufactured at the time. Although it never saw airline service, it also flew as a NASA test aircraft prior to its final flight home in 2003.
About a year after line number 1’s first flight, Rollin King (also a pilot and later a Southwest Captain) flew a 737 on a demonstration flight while establishing Southwest. 50 years later we’ve gone on to fly more than 800 Boeing 737s as the world’s largest operator. To help celebrate this milestone, our first production MAX in full Heart livery was on hand to highlight the next chapter of the most successful airliner in the history of commercial aviation.
It’s pretty amazing to imagine that a plane once slated for cancellation after lackluster sales has now gone on for a production run of 50 years and close to 10,000 deliveries. The fuselage design shared with the 707, 727, and 757 has been improved several times, but remains the same basic aircraft type Southwest proudly flies today.
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Over 21 years ago, Southwest Airlines revealed a “Golden” member of the -300 series—California One. The $30 million tribute to the Golden State, decorated with a bright red star and giant bear, was unveiled on August 11, 1995. With the help of a live brown bear named Brandy, 2,700 happy West Coast Employees, six devoted painters, and 300 pounds of paint, California One took to the skies! The aircraft began its legendary CALIFORNIA ONE TOUR ’95 at Sacramento, and made stops in each California city—LAX, SJC, SAN, SFO, OAK, BUR, and ONT; however, the memorable tour did not include SNA due to slot allocation. On Thursday, the original California One is tentatively scheduled for its final day of revenue service. In addition, aircraft 943 (a 737-700 series) has been repainted as our new California One, and will also began service. The new specialty aircraft will continue serving the West Coast.
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Today, our final 737-500 aircraft will retire from the Southwest fleet. The retirement of the -500 marks a major milestone in Southwest’s fleet modernization plan that includes the accelerated retirement of the Classic fleet. By fall of next year, all 737-300 aircraft will be retired from the fleet making way for an all 737 Next Generation (-700 and -800) and 737 MAX (-7 and -8) fleet!
Southwest was Boeing’s launch Customer for the 737-500 in 1987 with an order of 20 aircraft, and the -aircraft debuted in the Southwest fleet in 1990. The 737 -500 was introduced as a replacement for the 737-200 aircraft. The plane came equipped with the CFM56 engine giving the -500 impressive fuel efficiency over 737-200s. (The CFM56 engine has seen many variations and advancements over the years and still powers our -300, -700, and -800 aircraft to this day.) The airframe of the 737-500 is smaller than the 737-300 which allowed it to fulfill a network need to carry fewer passengers on longer routes more economically than both the 737-200 and 737-300. By 1992, Southwest operated 25 737-500s.
By the early ‘90s, Southwest Airlines had grown beyond, well, the southwest. As our routes lengthened and the demand for longer-haul travel increased, the niche benefit of the 737-500 became less of an advantage for Southwest. While the 737-500 entered our fleet later than the 737-300, the smaller airframe and seating capacity of only 122 made it a better candidate to retire out of our fleet first. In 1992, we took delivery of our last 737-500 aircraft.
The 737-500 is a great airplane that carried millions of Southwest Customers and Employees safety to their destinations. We’re celebrating with our Customers and Crews on the final flights of the 737-500 on today; and, as we do with many milestones in our Company history, we plan to commemorate the 737-500 in a future display on the walls of our growing Headquarters campus.
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Back in May, our first flagship aircraft Lone Star One (aircraft N352) completed a quarter century of service and was retired from the fleet. We’re happy to announce that aircraft N931 emerged from the paint hangar in Spokane yesterday morning sporting the flag of Texas along with a new Heart specialty tail. It’s our second flagship aircraft to be repainted in our new colors (following Illinois One last year) and now one of five specialty planes with the distinct tail. Keep an eye out for the new state bird of Texas throughout the domestic system.
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Did you know Lone Star One is retiring? But, that’s not the entire story! While this particular airframe is retiring, it doesn’t mean the end of the line for this special design.
Similar to Triple Crown One last year, our remaining -300 series specialty planes (Lone Star One, Arizona One, and California One) will live on for many years to come as -700 series aircraft. In the case of Lone Star, look for aircraft 931 to emerge later this summer as the next tribute to Texas, along with its new Heart specialty tail.
As we began to celebrate our Company’s 20th anniversary, Lone Star One was unveiled in Austin in November 1990. It was the first of what is now a fleet of 11 flagship aircraft honoring our Employees and many of the states we serve. After more than 80,000 hours of operation over the course of 25 years, the original Lone Star One (aircraft 352) has reached the end of its career and will be retired from the fleet this evening.
Photo by HOU Ramp Agent Raul Cano
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For the first few months of operations back in 1971, there were only two routes (DAL-IAH and DAL-SAT). Both of which were record holders – the flight to Houston (Intercontinental) being the shortest at 216 miles, and the San Antonio flight held the title as the longest at 248. It wasn’t until 1975 that the next longest record was set when Harlingen opened 277 miles to the south of Houston Hobby as our fourth Southwest city.
As we began expanding throughout Texas and points beyond, our flights gradually grew longer while becoming a major airline. With the introduction of the 737-700, the ability to fly nonstop from one coast to the other finally became a reality. On Thanksgiving Day in 1998, we operated our first transcontinental flight between Oakland and Baltimore. Coming in at just under 2,447 miles, it was a flight that held the title for almost 20 years as the longest regularly scheduled flight in the Southwest system.
Today, a new record has been set as we launch the Company’s longest-ever nonstop flight between Los Angeles and Liberia, Costa Rica. With a total distance of 2,627 miles “as the crow flies,” our extremely versatile 737-700s now connect Southern California with the popular Costa Rican resort destination. Complimenting existing service from Houston Hobby and Baltimore, the LAX-LIR flight represents another historic milestone as our international service continues to grow.
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Scale model airplanes are a fixture for many of us “AvGeeks.” I have more than 20 small-scale models in my personal collection and manage more than 30 bigger models as part of the Southwest Company archives. Some of my favorite are the 11 Southwest flagship aircraft that pay a special tribute to many of the destinations our airline proudly serves with our all Boeing 737 fleet. Southwest is so proud of these special aircraft that we have 1:20 scale models suspended in the lobby of our Corporate Headquarters in Dallas.
But have you ever wondered how aircraft models are made? The answer is with LUV by a group of professional model makers who share our passion for aviation. Then it's up to a very special group of Southwest Employees to maintain one of the most recognizable photo ops on Southwest's corporate campus.
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For Christmas 1985, Southwest filled giant six-foot stockings with toys and games to be donated to Ronald McDonald Houses throughout our system. The gifts included toys and games for those in need, and helped brighten the holiday season for those less fortunate. In addition, each Southwest department was also provided an additional stocking to support a charitable organization of their choosing.
In Corpus Christi, Ticket Agents Deanna Huff and Diane Reeves present a stocking at the Ada Wilson Hospital for Children.
In Albuquerque, Agents Frank Stockton and Mike Sanchez visited the Carrie Tingley Hospital with their stocking.
In Houston, the Shriners Hospital benefited from the generous gifts, made possible by the local Employees of Southwest.
The legacy of giving back remains strong at Southwest today. In 2014 alone, more than $20 million corporate monetary, in-kind, and ticket donations were made to our communities around the country.
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In November 1988, our second maintenance base opened in Houston to support the growing fleet. At the time, Southwest operated 85 aircraft with many more on the way. It represented a $5.7 million investment in one of our original cities.
To help celebrate the new facility, more than 100 community leaders joined Herb at a ribbon cutting ceremony, with one of our legendary -200s doing the honor as it was towed through a ribbon hanging across the massive doors. The hangar was built with two bays, a shops and warehouse area, and several offices. At approximately 94,000 square feet, it was big enough to house up to four 737-200s, which at the time represented more than half the fleet.
Today, more than 300 Technical Operations Employees keep our all-Boeing fleet safe, reliable, and clean.
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Ten years ago this week, a key step in the repeal of the Wright Amendment took place when the President signed a transportation bill into law that helped pave the way to many of the restrictions in place at Love Field. Nicknamed the “Bond Amendment,” Missouri became a permissible destination from our home field in Dallas.
With the help of Senator Kit Bond of Missouri, Southwest could now legally provide Customers nonstop flights from Love Field. It was only the second time in over 25 years that the law had been amended, but still in an era when it was illegal to sell even connecting flights to destinations beyond the bordering states of Texas. It was a major win for our Customers traveling to and from St. Louis and Kansas City, two key stations in our Southwest system.
Following the successful passage of the Bond Amendment, a compromise was reached a year later that would eventually allow for nonstop flights from Love Field anywhere within the continental United States. It opened many doors for Southwest, and helped position us as an international airline by connecting Customers to the gateway destinations that now serve the United States and seven additional countries. Earlier this year, we also had another chance to honor the state of Missouri with our special tribute to the “Show Me State” – Missouri One.
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A fair amount of our archive content from the early years of our history comes from the original Southwest Airlines Magazine, which featured a section called “Love Events” each month with photos of our Employees around the system. And since our Customers would be visiting a minimum of two-thirds of our Stations during their journey, there was a good chance that they may see one of the Employees featured in the onboard publication at one point or another.
Rooty with DAL Provisioning Agent (not the coach) Steve Spurrier
In December 1974, Rooty the Bear paid a visit to Dallas Provisioning to help celebrate Root Bear Day on December 4.
Rooty helping sell tickets to Hobby at the Gate Podium
In addition to making his way around the Provo Warehouse, he also made his way over to the terminal to greet Customers at Love Field to celebrate the day.
Perhaps Rooty wasn’t a big hit with everyone
Today, Southwest continues the tradition of partnering with other great brands to occasionally surprise and delight both our Employees and Customers for special occasions.
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This week marks the 25 th anniversary of our 30 th destination – Reno. The “Biggest Little City in the World” welcomed the airline with the biggest heart for the first time on November 15, 1990.
Our service to Reno started off with six daily roundtrips between Oakland and Las Vegas. The 35 Employees who opened the new Station all came from other locations around the system.
Today, our operation at Reno has grown to over 20 daily flights to six cities and 120 Employees. It remains an important part of our service to the Battle Born State, and the millions of Customers that visit its legendary tourist destinations each year.
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In November 2005, Southwest Airlines had the honor of transporting civil rights leader Rosa Parks to our nation’s capital following her passing at the age of 92. It was a special privilege for not only the Company, but also the Employees who took part in the journey.
Just about 50 years earlier, Rosa Parks made history by refusing an order to vacate a seat on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama during the era of segregation. The act of civil disobedience lead to her arrest, but also helped garner support for the civil rights movement and eventual repeal of such unjust laws. In recognition of Ms. Parks legacy, our nation extended the opportunity to have her lie in honor in the United States Capital Rotunda.
MDW Chief Pilot Lou Freeman, who had also become the first African-American Chief Pilot of any major airline, led the Flight Deck Crew of HOU Captain Richard Turner and MDW First Officer Trevor Hinton. In the cabin, MDW Inflight Supervisors Yolanda Gabriel, Rita Tubilleja, and Renee Gordon also volunteered their time.
When the aircraft taxied out in Montgomery, it was met by a traditional water cannon salute from the airport fire department. As Captain Freeman said, "Fifty years ago, those same fire hoses were being used against Rosa Parks, and now they’re honoring Rosa Parks, so there’s been some changes in the last 50 years.”
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The matriarch of our flagship fleet, Lone Star One, celebrates its 25 th anniversary this week. The high flying tribute to the home state of Southwest Airlines debuted at a celebration in Austin on November 7, 1990. Featuring an artistic representation of the Texas flag across the fuselage, the 737-300 pays tribute to the state were it all began two decades earlier. As we approached our 20 th anniversary, Lone Star was a fitting tribute to our humble beginnings in 1971, all the way through attaining major airline status in 1989.
In the quarter century since Lone Star One joined the fleet, eight more flagship aircraft have followed, continuing the tradition of celebrating the communities and People we serve.
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In late 1995, another Southwest first took place when our Certified Emergency Evacuation Trainer (CEET) became part of the Flight Attendant training program. Built from pieces of a retired aircraft and hydraulic lifts, was the first of its kind to provide realistic simulations of events our Flight Attendants our prepared to handle as part of their initial and recurrent training. When our CEET entered service in October 1995, it was the first in the US to offer full freedom of motion on all three axes of flight.
Many Employees refer to the CEET as simply “Poolie” – a nickname in tribute to Sandy Pool, longtime Inflight Training Supervisor. The fuselage portion came primarily from a retired 737-201, last registered as N202AU. This non-advanced -200 was one of the earliest builds, while assembly was still taking place at Boeing Field. It was last operated by Carnival Airlines, prior to ending its flying days in Shelton, WA. After being partially disassembled, it was transformed to a training device by Safety Training Systems of Tulsa at a cost of just under $500,000.
Once the modifications were complete, it was painted in standard Southwest colors and interior over at the North Concourse at Love Field, prior to it moving over to our current Headquarters building to make way for the new Love Field terminal. In October 2013, the CEET received a fresh coat of paint in preparation for its move across the street to our new training facility.
Retired Employee Sandy Pool with “Poolie” in her new home at TOPS
Now part of our Southwest University at the TOPS building, the CEET is capable of simulating real-life occurrences such as a cabin decompression, lavatory fire, or reduced visibility situations requiring action. Although such instances are extremely rare, the skills our Crew Members learn during initial and recurrent training are part of what make flying one of the safest forms of travel available.
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Every Halloween, we always look forward to what costume Gary will emerge from his office in. It’s a closely guarded secret, but well worth the wait. In anticipation of another great ensemble next Friday, our Flashback this week takes a look back at a few favorites over the years.
2004 – Gene Simmons
For Gary’s first Halloween as CEO, his passion for music was shown as the front man of KISS. Complete with the full makeup and spikes, the bar was set high right from the start.
2006 – Captain Jack Sparrow
Although the ships Gary usually helps guide sail about 37,000 feet above sea level, his 2006 costume paid tribute to the whimsical character from the popular movie series and original Disney ride.
2009 – Dorothy
In celebration of the 70th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, Gary donned a blue dress and pony tails, and his little dog, too!
2010 – Woody
Everyone’s favorite pull-string cowboy from Toy Story was Gary’s selection for 2010. As a native Texan, it wasn’t too much of a stretch, and was also complemented by his Leadership Team in their favorite costumes from the animated classic.
Next Friday morning will be Gary’s 12th costume since becoming CEO in 2004. Considering Halloween is arguably the biggest holiday at Southwest, it’s sure to be another memorable moment as Gary shows his Fun-LUVing Attitude with the thousands of Employees around the system who also dress to impress every year.
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A new product in the late 2000’s was our EarlyBird Check-in, allowing Customers to secure their boarding position prior to the regular process starting. Following one of the largest environmental disasters of our time, our EarlyBird helped support cleanup efforts of the habitats of the actual birds and their recovery.
In Spring 2010, the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico left hundreds of miles of coastline coated in oil. As we prepared to start service to a new destination in the region (Panama City Beach, FL), a program titled Help Us Help Them was launched with the goal of supporting the costly cleanup. Under the initiative, $1 from every EarlyBird purchase was pledged to the cleanup efforts through the National Wildlife Refuge Association. Wildlife, such as the brown pelican and other nesting birds in the region, benefited from the $100,000.00 donation during the cleanup to help restore the habitats of countless animals along the coastal areas.
Employees in Florida also helped give back that year during National Volunteer Week by helping the National Wildlife Refuge Association clean up some of the most ecologically diverse areas in the region. Along with the debut of Florida One that year, it was a great way to help show our commitment to both our environment and the communities we serve.
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In October 1974, a significant milestone in becoming a profitable airline was reached when what would become our fourth aircraft went into revenue service. N24SW, the first 737 built by Boeing following an order from Southwest, would become the first time our “H4” customer code was affixed to an aircraft rolling off the factory floor for delivery.
The first three aircraft used in our initial service on day one had been built for other airlines, which for a variety of reasons were not in a position to take possession of. Thanks to their immediate availability and a great financing offer from Boeing, we were able to place them into service just a few weeks later. Later in 1971, another aircraft (N25SW) came on board, but had to be sold shortly after in order to stay in business. Since the schedule published for four aircraft had to be maintained with just three, our legendary ten-minute turn was implemented to keep the operation alive. And thanks to the tireless work of our original Employees, not only did it keep us in business; it also help turn the first profit.
After our first annual profit, Southwest was in a position to finally consider additional service. In order to grow, both in frequency and a possible fourth destination, a new plane would be required. Being in a position to place an order with a manufacturer for one of the biggest capital investments an airline makes was a big deal, and helped forge our partnership with Boeing that remains strong today. It’s a process that has been repeated hundreds of time since over the last 44-plus years, and will continue for many more as the largest operator of 737s anywhere in the world. We’ve come along ways from just four planes to a fleet of 700 today.
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This week marks the 75 th anniversary of Houston Hobby’s first modern airline terminal, which today serves as the 1940 Air Terminal Museum. The art deco facility designed by architect Joseph Finger was made possible by grants in part from the Works Progress Administration towards the end of the Great Depression in 1939. It featured new amenities such as crew crest areas, a weather station, and air traffic control tower on the roof
Opening Day, courtesy of the 1940 Air Terminal Museum
As the jet era approached, a new terminal was constructed close to the site of the current facility, and plans began to get underway for a much larger international airport north of town to replace Hobby Airport completely. For several years after the opening of Intercontinental Airport, the classic terminal, along with the rest of the airport, became a relatively quiet place following all the airlines moving to the new airport. It wasn’t until November 1971 that commercial airline service returned to Hobby when Southwest opened what would be our forth station.
There were several plans to tear down the 1940 terminal over the years, but thanks to the efforts of the Houston Aeronautical Heritage Society, it remains open today as a museum preserving the history of both the facility and Houston aviation as a whole. Several events are also hosted by the museum each year, along with an annual raffle to win an airplane. In two weeks, international airline service will return to Hobby with the opening of the new five gate concourse. Along with the classic 1940 Air Terminal, the best of both classic aviation and modern air travel will be represented at Houston’s original commercial facility.
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In the tradition of caring and giving back, a special mission was launched in September 1995 to give thanks to rescue workers and volunteers who responded to the bombing of the Oklahoma City Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building earlier that year. Called the “Thank You America” Tour, a special aircraft nicknamed Oklahoma One embarked on a cross country journey recognizing the countess first responders and volunteers who rushed to the site of the tragedy to help those in need.
At the Dallas Maintenance Hangar, a special tour decal was applied to the nose of one of our newest aircraft, with stops planned in Oklahoma City, New York City, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. Captains Greg Crum and Ken Gile, both Oklahoma natives, were selected to fly the 5,000 mile mission. At the first stop in Oklahoma City, Governor Frank Keating and Mayor Ronald Norick joined the 70 Employees also taking part in the trip to the other stops along the tour. At each city, Oklahoma One was greeted with balloons, banners, and Southwest Hospitality from the other Employees who traveled separately prior to its arrival. Community leaders and elected officials also came out, including President Clinton who attended the ceremony in Washington.
Four-color ribbons symbolizing the recovery being made by the state and city were distributed during the tour, while also paying tribute to the 168 people who lost their lives in the bombing and the countless others whose lives would be forever changed. A deep sense of pride was shared by everyone involved in the tour, after aiding in the initial recovery efforts and the long term care in the months and years that followed. As Herb said, “It’s only fitting that we help Oklahoma say thank you to the men and women who worked tirelessly at the scene from around the country.”
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This week marks the 15 th anniversary of Southwest's fifth specialty aircraft, New Mexico One. Designed to proudly display the flag of “the Land of Enchantment” and celebrate two decades of service to the state of New Mexico.
After just leaving Texas for the first time a year earlier, Southwest opened three stations (Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Albuquerque) in three consecutive days the first week of April 1980. It was a period of rapid expansion, and helped take our young Company all the way to the west coast.
New Mexico One depicts the states flag, which features the ancient symbol of the Zia Pueblo Indians. On hand to help dedicate the aircraft were more than 800 community leaders, including dignitaries from the Zia tribe who were consulted in the design of the specialty livery to ensure their symbol was used correctly. Children from the Zia Pueblo also took place in the ceremony by performing a traditional Crow Dance.
Today, New Mexico One remains a proud member of our fleet of nine specialty aircraft paying tribute to the states we serve. Albuquerque also home to more than 500 Southwest Employees who share their Hospitality with our Customers every day both at the Station and over the phone from our CS&S Center just a few miles away.
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Today, we pause to remember the tragedy that forever changed our country and our industry. It was 14 years ago this morning, on what began as an otherwise ordinary morning that quickly changed into a day that none of us will ever forget. But in spite of the chaos and destruction that ensued, it was also a shining example of how our unconquerable esprit de corps brought us all together as a family to overcome the biggest challenge our industry had ever faced.
For almost three days after the terrorist attacks, the skies over the United States remained closed to all but a select few military and first responder flights. By the end of the week, Southwest was able to resume operations with a heavily modified schedule in an entirely new environment of procedures and restrictions. At 10:35 a.m. on Friday the 14, Flight 145 departed from Nashville with 49 Customers aboard, along with the pride of the (then) 33,000 Southwest Employees with a mission to keep America flying.
Today, the more than 46,000 Southwest Warriors keep this legacy alive. While thankfully no Southwest aircraft were involved in the attacks of September 11, many Employees have since joined our family from other airlines or carriers with a very different story. As the President said in remembrance of the tragedy, “One of the worst days in America’s history saw some of the bravest acts in Americans’ history. We’ll always honor the heroes of 9/11. We pledge that we will never forget their sacrifice.”
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For several years in the early ‘90s, our Employees in the San Francisco Bay area and around the system had the chance to participate in the annual Bay to Breakers race, with Southwest serving as the official airline sponsor. Early on a Sunday morning in May, more than 75,000 runners delighted thousands more spectators with the creative costumes they competed in. Many participants were more concerned with their results at the costume judges table than they were across the finish line.
Quite a few of the photos in our archive from the events might not necessarily be suitable for this blog, but they all appear to show our Employees taking their Fun-LUVing Attitudes to a new level.
In addition to many participants dressed up as celebrities, a few real ones showed up as well. Jay Leno, who made an appearance at the event, also performed for Employees later that year at our 25th anniversary celebration in Dallas.
Known as the “High Court,” Employees also served as judges for the costume contest portion, complete with their judicial robes.
A group of Employees entering the foot race competition in their T.J. LUV and 25th anniversary peanut wrapper costumes.
During a time when Southwest was up against fierce competition on many intra-California routes, the Bay to Breakers race was a great opportunity to share our unique Culture and Hospitality with all.
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This month marks the 20 th anniversary of California One, a tribute to the Golden State and its nine Southwest Stations we serve.
In 1982, Southwest entered the California market with service to San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Co-Founders Herb Kelleher and Rollin King studied intra-California service extensively in the late ‘60s and modeled many pieces of their first Air Southwest (as their project was then known) business plan from what they had learned. Our California footprint quickly grew to nine airports with more than 500 daily flights.
On August 11, 1995, California One made its debut in the state capital of Sacramento. A California brown bear by the name of Brandy was on hand to help dedicate the new aircraft featuring a much larger grizzly just above the wing. Along with the white backdrop and red star, the Bear Flag of California depicted on the fuselage had taken a week to paint using about 20 gallons of seven different colors.
Following the unveiling in Sacramento, California One spent the next few days on its tour of the state, making stops at each Station where Employees had a chance to see the new aircraft up close. Entertainment was provided by Vice President Jim Wimberly and his band of Southwest Leaders. Tour t-shirts and posters were also on hand for everyone in attendance.
California One still proudly serves in our fleet of ten Flagship aircraft dedicated to some of the states we serve. And just as our Triple Crown One did earlier this year, the legacy will live on following its transition to a -700 series aircraft when reaching its next scheduled refresh.
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We recently noticed a neat piece of our Southwest history being discussed on the SWA Culture Facebook page—unique belt buckles celebrating past events! In particular, an Employee shared a buckle that recognized our 10 th anniversary in 1981.
Within our archive, we have several of these commemorative pieces, and I recently had the opportunity to learn a little more about them. Thankfully we are fortunate enough to have some great People here today to help tell the story of how they came about.
The first buckle we have within our collection is from 1979—the same year the Wright Amendment was born—to commemorate Southwest's expansion beyond the borders of Texas when we launched service to New Orleans. It recognizes our first Dallas – New Orleans flight on September 28, 1979, which was actually our second destination from “The Big Easy” after Houston opened about seven months earlier.
Our President at the time, Howard Putnam, had promised Employees a celebration once our Company became an interstate airline. To help make good on the commitment, Marketing organized a party at the Circle R Ranch here in Dallas. And what better to go along with the western theme than a big belt buckle? They were such a hit that that we continued to make belt buckles for new city openings and various Company milestones.
I always enjoy the opportunity to learn more about unique pieces of our history and Culture. Do you have a favorite piece of our Southwest story that you would like to share? We’d love to see it – don’t forget to use the hashtag #SWAPics when uploading to social media.
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On December 28, 2014, AirTran Flight #1 closed the commercial chapter of AirTran Airways history when it landed in Tampa just before midnight. The next morning, all remaining 717s were flown to Goodyear, AZ, for short-term storage in the favorable desert environment. Yesterday morning, the last 717 in AirTran livery took to the skies for the final time on its way to conversion in Florida.
The AirTran 717 Fleet in storage at Phoenix Goodyear Airport (GYR), December 2014
N945AT, ship number 706, was one of the first 717s off the assembly line in Long Beach back in 1999. After undergoing the necessary Maintenance and Safety checks, its two Captains (both now Southwest Employees) and an observer from Tech Ops boarded for the flight to Cecil Field, a few miles from Jacksonville International Airport, where it landed at about 3:45 p.m. At Cecil, the aircraft will be repainted and reconfigured prior to being delivered to its next operator.
ATL Sr Systems Engineer Mike Barnett, DMX Manager Airframe Field Service Jerry Hunsinger, B717 Delivery Test Pilots Bill Schratz & Tom Preston
Since AirTran Airways completed revenue service in December, all Crew Members have become Southwest Employees, but a Team of about 30 have been continuing to work on the task of seeing the remaining 717 fleet throughout all stages of the transition process. Between Dispatchers, Mechanics, Pilots, and several others behind the scenes, these dedicated Employees have kept the program on track for completion later this year when the final aircraft changes hands in the fourth quarter.
Manager Aircraft Routing Tom Whited and Dispatcher Brandon Fenton
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