Southwest: 44 Years of Awesome Liveries

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A Southwest flight gets pushed back from the gate at Long Island’s Islip MacArthur Airport.

This week, Southwest Airlines celebrates their 44th year flying the friendly skies. Over the years, the Dallas based airline has decorated their fleet of aircraft with all kinds of unique paint schemes, from special SeaWorld-inspired planes to a line of state-themed liveries, including their most recent paint job, Missouri One. So, in celebration of Southwest’s 44th year of service, we’ve rounded up eight Southwest planes with the coolest paint jobs.

8. Triple Crown One

Triple Crown One

In 1997, Southwest unveiled Triple Crown One, a livery dedicated to the company’s employees, who achieved the carrier’s fifth Triple Crown award. According to Southwest, “for the fifth year, the DOT listed Southwest Airlines as having the best on-time performance, best baggage handling, and fewest customer complaints of all major airlines.” This year, the airline applauded American Pharaoh, the racehorse that made history and won a different kind of Triple Crown award at Belmont Stakes.

7. Spirit of Hope

Spirit of Hope

Ronald McDonald helped unveil a new Spirit of Hope themed plane in 2005. Southwest designed the plane with Ronald Mcdonald’s Children’s Charities in mind, and dedicated the aircraft to the cause. According to Southwest, “the special jet features original overhead bin artwork created by children from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western Washington. The overhead bin doors inside the aircraft’s cabin are uniquely embossed with brightly-colored crayon drawings of happy hearts, brilliant rainbows, dykoversized flowers, and smiling faces.” The Spirit of Hope joined Southwest’s permanent fleet in the fall of 2005.

6. Tinker Bell One

In 2008, Southwest toured their new Tinker Bell One aircraft, the product of a Southwest/Disney partnership. The new livery was painted to celebrate the release of the new Tinker Bell movie. The inaugural flight, said to be “powdered with pixie dust,” included on-board trivia games and prize giveaways.

5. Shamu One

Shamu One

In 1988, Southwest and SeaWorld San Antonio teamed up to create an epic paint-scheme for an airplane designed like a Killer Whale. But in 2014, after a 26-year partnership, Southwest & SeaWorld split, under pressure from “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.” Other SeaWorld themed planes included Shamu Two, Shamu Three, & Penguin One.

4. Slam Dunk One

Slam Dunk One

Southwest gained a new basketball-themed livery in 2005, thanks to a partnership with the National Basketball Association. The partnership, which began in 2002, sadly ended in 2010, and Slam Dunk One was repainted.

3. Warrior One & Others

Warrior One

Southwest received their first Boeing 737-800 aircraft in 2012. They named the new plane Warrior One, in honor of Southwest’s “Warrior Spirit.” In 2014, when Southwest changed over to their new heart-themed livery, the first two newly designed 737s were nicknamed Heart One & Heart Two. Plus, several aircraft are named after famous people, such as the Fred J. Jones (one of the original employees), the Charles E. Taylor One (the world’s first aviation mechanic), the June M. Morris (the founder of Morris Air), & the Herbert D. Kelleher One (Southwest’s former CEO & Chairman.)

2. Green Plane

In 2009, Southwest launched their Green Plane, which tests sustainable materials and customer comfort products. The innovative idea “marries efficiency, environmentally responsible products, customer comfort, and reduced waste and weight,” according to Southwest. Combined, all of the initiatives tested on the Green Plane save about five pounds of weight per seat, thereby increasing fuel efficiency and reducing emissions.

1. Missouri One & Others

Missouri One

In April, Southwest unveiled the newest aircraft in their state-themed line of planes, Missouri One. Missouri is the 9th largest state in Southwest’s network, and both St. Louis & Kansas City are vital hubs for the airline. “Missouri One joins nine other 737’s in the Southwest fleet that carry unique, state-themed paint schemes: Arizona One, California One, Colorado One, Florida One, Illinois One, Lone Star One, Maryland One, Nevada One, and New Mexico One,” says Southwest. Lone Star One, adorned with the State Flag of Texas, is a tribute to Southwest’s home state, and was the first Southwest plane designed with a state livery. View images of all the state-themed liveries here.

(Sources: Southwest, Airline Reporter, Dallas News, Payless Flights)

(All images are credit Southwest Airlines.)

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