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, 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 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.