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.
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For this week’s Flashback Friday, we continue with the second installment of our Flagship plane series. Nevada One Our fourth flagship plane Nevada One was revealed on June 2, 1999. The design of the livery includes a silver star, the state flower yellow sagebrush, and the “Battle Born” banner referring to Nevada’s birth as a state during the Civil War in 1864. The unveiling party started in Reno where Herb and Lieutenant Governor Lorraine Hunt unveiled the new 737-700 to a Wild West-themed party and then continued on to Las Vegas to a Big Band-themed party complete with swing-dancing Employees. In 1999, Las Vegas was our third largest station in terms of departures, making it fitting to show our appreciation to our Nevada Customers with a specialty plane. Our archives contain some great photos showing the painting of Nevada One, and as you can see in the photo above, the painters use great attention to detail (and small brushes!) to get the livery just right—which explains why it usually takes about a week to paint each of our specialty planes. New Mexico New Mexico One was revealed on September 18, 2000 as a tribute to our loyal Customers in New Mexico, where we first opened our Albuquerque station in 1980 with three daily flights. By 2000, we had 60 daily departures and over 800 Employees stationed in Albuquerque. The livery is bright canary yellow with a red sun symbol of the Zia Pueblo Indians of New Mexico that reflects the harmony of all things in the universe. Because of the importance of the symbol to the tribe, Southwest consulted the Zias on the appropriate use of the sign for the plane. The Governor of the Zia Pueblo, Vincent Pino attended the ceremony and oversaw a Zia blessing of the plane. In the photo above, children of the Zia Tribe perform a traditional Crow dance for the blessing ceremony. Maryland One Maryland One first flew on June 14, 2005, a fitting day for our sixth flagship plane to debut as it was Flag Day, and a fitting state choice since Baltimore/Washington International Airport was the first east coast city that Southwest began flying to in 1993. In those early days, we had eight flights to BWI, but by 2005 we were up to 164 daily nonstop departures. Today, we watch more than 230 flights depart every day. As it was such a great day of historical significance Uncle Sam, George Washington, Betsy Ross, Benjamin Franklin, and Abraham Lincoln came out to welcome Southwest’s newest specialty plane. Maryland One has a full-body stylized rendering of the Maryland state flag, which has a checkered pattern based on the coat of arms of the Calvert family that founded the Maryland Colony. The photo above shows part of the sketch of the livery. The full image shows the flattened design of the entire plane with each block labeled with the name of the paint color. The painters would then have used this rendering to create the livery. The rendering makes it look like one big “Paint by Numbers” project! For all of our unveilings, each event is given a project name to maintain secrecy in its planning. Maryland One’s was “Project Athens,” which is why the sketch has the name “Athens 737-700.” Next weekend we will look at our final three flagship planes: Illinois One, Florida One, and Colorado One.
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A few weeks ago we took a look at our Signature Series specialty planes which are dedicated to individuals who have left their mark at Southwest. This week we will start a three-part series that showcases our planes with State Flag liveries, which we call our Flagship Series. Southwest takes pride in the many states we fly to, so to show our gratitude to the loyal Customers of these states Southwest proudly (and literally) flies their state flags. Lone Star One Our first state flag plane was Lone Star One, a 737-300 that was painted by Boeing to depict the Texas State Flag. Unveiled in November 7, 1990, Lone Star One was part of our year-long celebration leading up to our 20th Anniversary. The plane was dedicated to the State of Texas and our Employees to show appreciation for and remember Southwest’s strong ties to Texas, where we began our service as an intra-state carrier in 1971. While we do have a few photos of the unveiling party, our archives are unusually silent on the details and planning of what looks to be a Texas-sized event. The unveiling in Austin included the famous drill team, the Rangerettes, and the marching band from Kilgore College in East Texas. Our Flagship planes are often used on special occasions like the one shown in this photo from October 17, 1991 showing the homecoming for our Gulf War soldiers at Love Field. Arizona One Arizona One, our second Flagship plane, was unveiled on May 23, 1994 in Phoenix, Arizona. At the time, Phoenix was our busiest airport with 160 daily flights and 3,200 stationed Employees, so it was fitting for Southwest to honor Arizona with a specially painted plane. Our Tucson station opened later that year, as well. The design was created by our advertising agencies GSD&M and Cramer-Krasselt. In the photo above you can see the big reveal, as our Employees and guests, looking out of our Maintenance hangar in Phoenix, cheer on Arizona One’s arrival. The inaugural flight was flown by PHX Chief Pilot Jon Tree and Assistant Chief Pilot Rod Jones. In this photo, Herb and Arizona Governor Fife Symington christen Arizona One by pouring champagne over the nose. Also present during the festivities was a live band that played a commissioned song, “A Bright Star in Arizona” for the event. California One California One was unveiled on August 11, 1995 at Sacramento Metropolitan Field as a tribute to California, where we began flying to San Diego and Los Angeles in 1982. Since we operated 532 flights daily from our nine California Stations by 1995, Herb declared at the ceremony that the plane was “a ‘bear’ necessity!” To create this masterpiece, it took Boeing six painters, seven days, and 45 gallons of paint. For the momentous occasion, Southwest wrote an anthem saluting our dedication to the state, and Governor Pete Wilson honored us by declaring it “Southwest Airlines Day.” After the big reveal in Sacramento, California One went on a two-day tour to all of our California stations, with the exception of Orange County, due to seat allocation laws. Included in the list of dignitaries who attended the festivities was a brown bear named Brandy. She looks to be enjoying all the attention in our photos, which makes me wonder if she thought all the hoopla was for her.
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This week marks Southwest Airlines’ 42nd birthday, so for this week’s installment of Flashback Fridays, I wanted to share a few photos and artifacts from the archives that show how we have celebrated our landmark birthdays in the past. Archives are not only places for fact-checking history, but also function like a company keepsake box, preserving items that allow our Employees and Customers to recall memories of past events. I hope showing these items from our archives will trigger a few “flashback” memories for all of you who have participated in Southwest’s birthday celebrations and that you will share your special memories in the comments section below. Browsing the archives’ large photograph collection of our Employee anniversary parties revealed a plethora of themed events, but they always show Employees having a great time. If you’ve read our Flashback Friday posts before, you’ll recognize the photo above of some of our first Flight Attendants, then Hostesses, performing for our first birthday party in 1972. A few decades later (or perhaps a few centuries earlier?) for our 25th anniversary in 1996, Southwest threw a medieval-themed “Still Nuts Party” fit for a king, or at least Sir Herb, as he was knighted “King of the Triple Crown” by Miss Texas Carly Harmon. Southwest has always passed along our birthday FUN to our Customers, because without them we wouldn’t have these milestones to celebrate. For our past major birthdays, Employees worked hard to decorate our gates to welcome our Customers and participate in our gate-decorating contests. Some Employees even went above and beyond by creating scrapbooks to showcase their designs. Our archives has a sampling of these scrapbooks, and they are fascinating mementos that chronicle the creativity, dedication, and pride our Employees put into sharing Southwest’s history and Culture. Commemorative and collectible items from our birthdays provide us with a nostalgic way to remember our history, but also present a few challenges for the archives staff to preserve these items! Here, you see everything from napkins, watches, and pins, to classic Coca Cola bottles with each birthday’s special logo. Since we are an airline, is there any better way to celebrate our birthday than with new planes? We’ve had several specialty planes debut during our anniversary years. For our tenth birthday in 1981, The Winning Spirit was dedicated to our Original Employees, shown above. Lone Star One, our first flagship plane, was unveiled in a celebration for our 20th birthday. Our 25th birthday saw the arrival of Silver One, a commemorative plane with a polished silver fuselage, which has since been repainted Canyon Blue. In 2001, some months before our 30th birthday, we introduced our new Canyon Blue livery. The first plane with this new livery, dedicated to our loyal Customers, was named Spirit One. For the unveiling, captured in this photo, all 59 stations were represented by an Employee with signs designed to look like the current baggage tags in that year. Happy 42nd Birthday, Southwest. Here’s to many more!
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As this summer’s Archives Intern at Southwest, I’m honored to be able to follow in Brian’s Flashback Fridays’ footsteps. This week, I start that journey by taking a look at Southwest’s history of service to Denver. This week marked 30 years since Southwest’s first flight to the Mile High City, so it seemed the perfect topic for me to embark on my first archival excavation to see what I could uncover. My research turned up a wide variety of artifacts that highlight the diversity of materials Southwest keeps in its archives to remember its history, which you’ll see at the end of the post. Southwest first began service to Denver Stapleton Airport on May 26, 1983, serving Albuquerque, El Paso, and Phoenix. Fares from Denver to Albuquerque started at only $55 for Executive Class (peak)and $40 for Pleasure (off-peak, after 7:00 p.m.). Through a subleasing agreement, Southwest shared Gate 29 in Concourse D with Ozark Airlines and started off with just 16 Employees. According to Southwest tradition, an opening party was held to welcome the first arrival at 7:55 a.m. from Albuquerque and to send off the first departure at 8:15 a.m. This photo shows Colorado Governor Richard Lamm, Denver Deputy Mayor Harold Cook, Station Manager Carl Warrell, and other dignitaries joining Herb Kelleher for the traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony. The photo above shows a better picture of Gate 29 decked out in Southwest red, orange and gold decorations. It appears there were a lot of Customers wanting to be on that inaugural flight! If you look at the window on the right, you can just make out the Southwest logo on the tail of the Boeing 737-200 preparing for this special flight. New schedules had to be printed, of course, to include Southwest’s newest station. Southwest ended service to Stapleton Airport in 1985 due to overcrowding of the airport that led to long delays. Stapleton accounted for half of all of Southwest’s systemwide delays, and, at the time, it was not possible to lease any more gates to provide better service. With the purchase of Morris Air in December 1993 Southwest, technically provided service to Denver as it continued the subsidiary’s flights until Morris was fully merged in the summer of 1994. In 1995, Stapleton Airport was replaced with the larger Denver International Airport, but Southwest didn’t start up service to the new airport right away as high fees at the newly built airport wouldn’t have allowed Southwest to provide low fares. By 2006, Denver International Airport had reduced its passenger and operating fees, making the time ripe for Southwest to return to Denver. Denver International Airport also ranked high for ontime arrivals, which had originally been a problem with Southwest’s quick aircraft turn times and crowded runways at Stapleton. Service began on January 3 with the usual inaugural party, this time with a New Year’s Eve CHEERS theme. This picture, which ran as the cover of our Employee newsletter LUVLines in February 2006, shows CEO Gary Kelly celebrating the opening with a super-sized plastic champagne glass. The Archive’s mission is to collect artifacts that represent not only the work of Southwest, but also its Fun-LUVing Attitude and Culture. Case in point, if you walk into the Southwest Archives, one of the first things you’ll notice is that we’ve even stored Gary’s champagne glasses from this event. Southwest now operates 19 gates at Denver International Airport with 1,715 Employees. Denver is Southwest’s fifth busiest airport in terms of daily departures with service to 55 airports. Now that’s something to cheer about!
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