David Bartley could make the short drive from his home in Keller, Texas, to that other airport in the Dallas–Fort Worth area, but he chooses to travel three times as far just to fly Southwest Airlines from Dallas Love Field. David cites Southwest’s “high-touch” approach to Customer engagement as one of the main reasons he switched to the airline from the legacy carriers he flew for more than two decades.
In his role as executive vice president of General Information Services, Inc., a global background screening solutions company, David’s business travel revolves around sales and relationship management. Southwest’s convenient schedules and reasonable fares let him meet face-to-face with potential or current corporate partners, adding tremendous value to his business relationships.
David’s first flight on Southwest in 1982 followed the bankruptcy of Braniff International Airlines, a carrier where David had been employed as a flight attendant. Given his experience as a former airline employee and as a business traveler for more than 25 years, David believes he has a unique perspective on what it takes to provide a consistent travel experience. “Because of their People and their approach to good Customer Service, Southwest delivers the most complete and reliable experience in the industry,” he says.
When David made Southwest his airline of choice two years ago, his former carrier contacted him for a customer survey—but not to ask why he was no longer flying with them. After David explained why he’d made the switch, why he chose to make the longer drive, and even why he’d fly more stops to get to his destination—using words like “welcoming, comfortable, and reliable” to describe his experience with Southwest—the representative had little to say. David hasn’t looked back, and he now takes full advantage of his A-List Preferred status in Southwest’s Rapid Rewards Frequent Flyer program by bringing his wife, Dona, along on business trips using his Companion Pass.
David, it may be our People you appreciate most, but we can assure you the feeling is mutual. You’re our kind of Customer, and we look forward to serving you for many years to come.
Photo courtesy of Trevor Paulhus
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This post is co-authored by Southwest Senior Business Consultant Bill Owen and Southwest Communications Specialist Sandy Nelson.
What happens when you assemble a group of Southwest Airlines Employees in our nation’s capital to learn how to engage our elected officials on issues important to SWA? The answer is … something wonderful!
Earlier this month, we and 25 other Southwest Employees from across the system gathered in Washington, D.C. to participate in our annual grassroots training program, Days on the Hill. This program is unique within the airline industry in that Southwest trusts the trained Key Contacts to build relationships as constituent advocates with our legislators and to speak to them on issues identified as important to our airline. It was a rewarding and eye-opening experience that really brought home the meaning and significance of the words “We, the People.”
Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis
Dorothy, David, and Jose Luis from D.C. Governmental Affairs
Over the course of three days, we heard from not only Southwest Leaders, but also from business leaders who study and engage the federal government, from members of Congress, and even from a former Assistant to President Clinton. They emphasized how the many governmental agencies interact with our elected officials and with the U.S. airline industry. Best of all, for the purpose we had all come to Days on the Hill, they showed us how to use our new advocacy skills to benefit our Company.
Georgia Congressman David Scott with Jerome Ferrell and Chelsea Jones
By the afternoon of Day Three, armed with tons of new information and skills—and more than a little bit of an energy rush—it was time for us to “stand and deliver.” Meetings had been scheduled for each of us to discuss the importance to Southwest of an upcoming bill—H. R.4156—the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014, with our home-district Congressional Representatives and their staff in their offices on Capitol Hill. Passage of this act is very important to Southwest in that carriers would again be free to break out government-imposed taxes fees from our advertised fares. What this means is that when a government fee is increased (as happened on Monday with an increase in TSA Security charges), potential Customers aren’t given the mistaken impression that Southwest has raised its fares.
Texas Congressman Pete Sessions with Meghan Burlager, Sandy Nelson Price, Heather Tolmachoff, and Anabell Odisho
After our appointments, we all compared notes of how our meetings went. It was fascinating how many of us received completely different receptions from our Congressmen and their staff. Some of the Representatives were wonderfully welcoming and engaged (and HUGELY aware of Southwest and the significance of the Wright Amendment lifting on 10/13/14, in addition to the Transparent Airfares Act). One Congressional office even Facebooked and tweeted out a photo of the Southwest Key Contacts’ visit. Other offices were not as enthusiastic. Still others were either out of town or unable to meet, so the Key Contact met with their Congressional staffers. As we had learned, however, building relationships with Congressional staffers is equally important, as they’re often the news feed behind the elected official. It didn’t take us long to understand that, with repetition, perseverance, and some good ol’ SWA Warrior Spirit—they’re going to know our names and our needs!
Texas Congressman Marc Veasey with Bill Owen
Now, just to be clear, the Key Contacts program doesn’t replace any of the work done by our colleagues in other departments tasked specifically with dealing with local, state, and federal government groups. It supplements it. Those efforts that are often necessary for Southwest’s business growth are brought on as part of a collaboration of Teams throughout the Company. For example, you all remember the “Calling All Warriors” efforts for issues like Wright Amendment, Free Hobby, and the new Washington/Reagan National service awards to Austin, Houston/Hobby, and Kansas City.
Set in the city that seems to literally crackle with energy and power, our Key Contact training lit a spark within each of us to become more engaged, more educated on the issues, and more willing to do something with that knowledge.
2014 Key Contact Class
We think we can speak for the other members of the Key Contact Class of 2014 in summarizing the training with one sentence: Southwest Airlines now has 27 newly informed and empowered Employees ready to combine our rights as Americans to be constituent advocates with our passion for OUR airline, Southwest. Congratulations, fellow classmates—let’s hit the nation RUNNING!
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This week, we're bringing you a “golden oldie” as a fun, Fourth of July Flashback gift. This post originally appeared in January 2013 and was authored by our then Corporate Historian, Brian Lusk.
Given all the achievements Southwest has made over the years, and that the AirTran acquisition provided us the opportunity to achieve our most recent milestone of international flying, the facts and photos below make us realize how really far we’ve all come.
As I go through the archives, I find interesting photos that I want to share, but sometimes there aren’t enough photos on a specific subject to which an entire Flashback Fridays can be devoted. So, I save these “onsies” and “twosies” to present in periodic grab-bag posts, and that is what we have this week.
Regular readers know how much I treasure “slice of life” photos that show our early Employees going about their work days, and I have a great example in this first photo.
It was taken inside our original hangar up on the north side of Love Field close to Bachman Lake. We see the Mechanic positioning a jack underneath the left wing of one of our original 737s. Because he’s pretty well bundled up in non-uniform jeans and a woolen shirt, we can surmise it is winter, and the old hangar was pretty drafty on those cold nights. Another clue to the season is that the hangar doors are closed. Look to the upper left of the photo, and you can see the cutout in the hangar door that fits around the fuselage because an entire 737-200 wouldn’t fit into the hangar. Consequently, the tail had to stick out into the elements. Behind the Mechanic, the cowling on the JT-8D engine is open.
Another familiar story to Employees and fans of Southwest Airlines is the 1973 $13 Fare War, when Southwest gave Customers the choice of paying the discounted fare of $13 that Braniff was charging between Dallas and Houston Hobby (which was priced way below our breakeven point), or of paying the regular full fare of $26 and receiving a bottle of premium liquor. This story has always reminded me of the scene in It’s a Wonderful Life, where George Bailey has to parse out just enough money to the savings and loan members to keep them going until Mr. Potter reopens the bank, at the same time he is protecting the stability of the savings and loan. If everyone had paid $13, Southwest would have quickly gone broke and out of business. If Southwest only offered a $26 fare, we would have lost most of our Customers to Braniff’s lower fare, and Southwest would also have gone out of business. Either way, Braniff would have won. As it turned out, we came up with a third alternative, and Southwest became the number one liquor distributor in Texas (of certain liquor brands) during the sale. The $13 Fare War was really a turning point that helped move Customer support in favor of Southwest, and we have turned a profit every year since. Above, we see Dallas Ticket Agent Georgeann Harris holding a bottle of Chivas Regal in front of a poster of Lamar Muse’s, “Nobody’s going to Shoot Southwest” ad.
But have you ever seen anything pertaining to this pivotal event from the Braniff perspective? Well, this is the Braniff ad proclaiming the start of their $13 “Get Acquainted Sale” between Houston Hobby and Dallas, and it represents the trigger for the battle. Braniff was not only offering a coach fare that could put us out of business, but we forget that they were offering first class for $17, which was $9 less than our coach fare. If that wasn’t enough, there was another component to their attack. As the ad shows, they were offering the $13/$17 fares on eight Dallas-Houston flights and seven return flights. With that kind of flight frequency and those fares, this clearly was an attack on Southwest’s key route. But wait, there is still more: You probably can’t read it, but the ad proclaims that you will be flying on “big 727 Wide-Body jets.” This rather far-fetched claim no doubt references the new wide-body style overhead bins that Braniff had installed on its 727s (and which we were installing on our 737s), but it conveniently ignores the fact that the 727 and the 737 have the exact same cabin width—and neither are considered to be a wide-body.
Another miscellaneous photo I uncovered is this photo from the Austin Station that was probably taken close to the time we began service there in 1977. The photo evidently documents an important occasion in the life of the young station as both women are wearing a corsage. Harry Young is on the right, Rhonda Krafka is next to him, then Steve Foster, and Suzi Marcella is on the left.
We close with this late 1970s ramp shot of a quick turn. The aircraft is the second N20SW, which was delivered to us in 1977. The first N20SW was the airplane we had to sell to the original Frontier in 1972 when we were prohibited from flying out of state charters, and it flew its entire Southwest life carrying the word “airlines” on the fuselage. On the other hand, the aircraft in the photo joined our fleet in 1977. But notice how the original slanted titling on the baggage carts continues in use on ground equipment long after it disappeared off our aircraft.
So maybe there is an overall theme to this post after all. It shows how we worked, how we marketed ourselves, and how we battled to stay in business during the early days. Although the specifics have changed over the years, these are still hugely important parts of “who” we are as a Company.
And since the specifics now include Southwest destinations we once never even dreamed of, all I can say is, "So true, Brian, so true!"
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This Flashback Fridays post is guest-authored by Dottie Morris, the widow of retired Southwest Captain, Don Morris. Dottie, whose son, Michael Morris, is a First Officer for Southwest, reached out to me after she read the “Best of Flashback Fridays” post that ran this year on August 9.
That post featured information and photos of our first four aircraft and had a particular focus on N23SW. Once you read her story, you’ll see immediately why Dottie was drawn to the post. So now, as Paul Harvey used to say, is “the rest of the story…”.
I saw an article regarding the last N23SW several weeks ago. I thought you might be interested in the continued evolution of that number.
That aircraft and especially the number N23SW is quite special and dear to me. My deceased husband Captain Don Morris joined Southwest in June of 1977. When Don completed Southwest training, his first revenue flight with SWA as a brand new F/O was also the first revenue flight of the just-delivered aircraft N23SW. Don kept his own handwritten log book for many years and documented each flight with the aircraft number, etc. After reading the article, I checked Don's log book and there was the N23SW entry. Don and N23SW flew DAL-HOU.
Don quite reluctantly retired February 27, 2003 because the “age-60 rule" was still in effect. Although he was PHX-based at the time of his retirement flight, the DAL base was kind enough to accommodate his sentimental wish to fly HOU-DAL. That day N23SW, now long gone from the SWA fleet was much on his mind as he too was leaving the Company that had been such an integral part of his life for nearly 26 years. The old 737-200 bearing that number was retired January 29, 1998.
I knew Don was one of those Pilots for whom flying was not simply an occupation, but also a passion. We acquired and had refurbished—including a new paint scheme—a two-seater Lancair 360. Of course, the colors had to be as close to Southwest Red and Canyon Blue as possible.
There was one problem with the Lancair 360. The "N" or tail number included the initials of the previous owner. Don and our son Michael began looking for a new number. Don then wondered what became of N23SW. Michael researched the number through the FAA web site and discovered the number was registered with an Austin aircraft salvage company. Don called the company and asked about N23SW. He was told the number was inactive. The 737-200 had been scrapped for salvageable parts and left to deteriorate at El Mirage Field in California.
When Don told the title company of his desire to obtain the number and why, the response was an enthusiastic “yes.” With a simple transfer from a title company, our Lancair 360 became N23SW. Michael (r.) and Don (l.) flying together in N23SW in 2005. Capt. Don Morris taken shortly before his retirement. (taken 2003)
Michael (r.) and Don (l.) flying together in N23SW in 2005
Captain Don Morris taken shortly before his retirement in 2003
After Don passed away, I sold the Lancair 360, but I insisted on keeping the special registration number N23SW. You’ll be happy to know that the heritage of N23SW is still held within the Southwest Family. Since 2006, the number has been inactivated, but annually, it is registered with the FAA since my son, Southwest F/O Michael Morris maintains the number. Who knows? Someday, N23SW might fly again!
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Choosing this week’s “Best of” Flashback Fridays was fairly simple—a “no-brainer,” some might say. To begin, LAX celebrated a birthday this week, having turned the ripe, old age of 31 in Southwest years. However, there was another reason—one that also has to do with a birthday—a birthday that wouldn’t be celebrated the same way this year as it had in the past.
Wednesday, September 18, would have been our dear friend Brian’s 61st birthday, and because he spent so much of his youth living nearly adjacent to the growing Los Angeles airport (as you’ll read in his post), it seemed fitting on so many levels to showcase Brian’s detailed reminiscences of LAX this week. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
This week, we take Flashback Friday to “the coast” for an airport with which everyone is familiar (thanks to television and movies), even if they have never visited the facility, and that airport is Los Angeles International (LAX). Compared to Midway (featured in a previous post), LAX is a relative youngster because prior to the end of World War II, airlines serving the Los Angeles area primarily used Glendale’s Grand Central Airport or the Lockheed Air Terminal at Burbank (today’s Burbank airport).
Like we did a few weeks ago with Dallas Love Field, let’s use some post cards to look at LAX before Southwest Airlines flew there. The photo above is a shot of the original terminal taken in the mid-1950s looking toward the northeast and downtown Los Angeles. This facility was located to the east of the current complex, but as you can see, it utilized a series of separate terminals also. Century Boulevard runs from the middle left edge of the postcard to the upper middle right. Note how full the parking lots are—there’s no doubt that Angelenos loved their cars. Sharp-eyed airline geeks will notice the Pan American Boeing Stratocrusier parked at the end of the lower row of gates. Our viewpoint is just over Sepulveda Boulevard, and the current terminal complex will be built behind us. Today, the area to the left of Century is filled with hotels.
Here’s a view above from the other direction toward the west. We get to see three of the four terminal buildings, and it’s obvious the terminals were built with California sunshine in mind. The terrace in the middle terminal on the second floor was part of the airport’s restaurant. The script “Los Angeles International” is where the ocean would be, and the current terminal complex would start right under the words. The hangar with the round top at the upper right is the old Western Airlines headquarters and is currently part of Delta’s maintenance complex at the airport. If you look just above the United DC-6B at the lower left, you will see a group of passengers standing under and next to the small building waiting for flight boarding.
Although my postcard is damaged, I wanted to share the scene above with you because it gives a great idea of what flying was like in the late 1950s. The passengers from the Continental DC-7B are deplaning on a gold carpet—the airline advertised Gold Carpet Service. Look at the vintage fuel truck and the ladder behind the #1 engine for the fueler to use to climb up on the wing.
Now we are looking at an early view (above) of the current complex. Only the United terminal at the lower left is completed and in use. Note the lack of cars in the rest of the parking lots. This view is from 1961. Terminal One used by Southwest isn’t even planned at this date, and the site is filled with the airport’s employee parking lot, which is the open site at the right of the photo. Another later addition will be the Bradley International Terminal which will run across the photo at the top of the terminal complex. Today, the roadway through the terminal is on two levels, and parking garages fill the space between the terminals. In addition, the original terminals have been extensively remodeled.
One of the next terminals to open was Terminal Four used by American. The view above looks to the west on a very clear day. At the bottom of the frame, we see cars belonging to the construction workers at Western’s Terminal Five. The current Bradley International Terminal occupies the site where the North/South crosswind runway is located immediately above the American terminal, and the area beyond is currently filled with hangars and remote gates. You can see Point Dume, the northern limit of Malibu, just under the “c” in “Pacific.”
My dad was transferred to LAX with Continental in 1962, so the airport has always been one of my favorites. We lived in El Segundo, immediately to the left of the last photo above, and for five years, the airport was part of my daily life. In fact, Dad took me inside the satellite for Terminal Six before it opened to the public. Later, when I was with Delta, I went to LAX for training and got to see behind the scenes in the operations area, the old Western hangar, and the employee restaurant at the base of the signature Theme Building. I do love LA.
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I’m always looking for inspiration when attempting to choose just the right Flashback Fridays post to repurpose as a “Best of.” So, when I saw that there are a half-dozen anniversaries of Southwest Cargo locations this week, I knew I had found a timely topic.
Given that the small packages and envelopes that often were just brought to the ticket counter comprised a great deal of our Cargo business “back in the day,” you have to wonder if anyone envisioned the time when Southwest would become the most decorated on the planet in terms of cargo excellence. Here’s a Flashback Brian did for our Employees in July 2011, which I have followed with a few “insights” from Southwest Employees that help to pinpoint locations and, in some cases, Employees featured in the photos.
Let’s face it, air freight isn’t the flashiest of topics when it comes to commercial aviation. Most people think of the airplanes, airports, Pilots and Flight Attendants. These “more glamorous” aspects also gather the most photos, but freight contributes its fair share to an airline’s bottomline.
I worked in Detroit Air Freight for a short time at my previous carrier, and one of the guys I worked with used to joke that he had photos of shipping boxes on his walls at home. Fortunately, we have some early Cargo photos from Southwest’s first few years. I am guessing these photos are from the 1970s, judging by the hairstyles, logos, uniforms, and backdrops, but I’m not sure where they were shot, or if it was the same location for all three. Maybe some of you can provide some details.
This might be the oldest photo. Our original logo is on the wall beyond the Cargo Agent. There’s no way to know if the hard-hat Customer is dropping off or picking up the three boxes on the counter. From personal experience, the boxes probably contain metal parts, maybe fasteners, since each box has metal banding for shipping. He could be shipping them from the factory, or he might be receiving them off an inbound flight to take directly to a work site; either way, it illustrates how urgent the world of Cargo is.
The next photo appears to be a different cargo facility, (unless the lettering in the top photo is behind the photographer. Small articles are in the shelves behind the “lab-coated” Agent—are they arranged for pickup or are they arranged for outbound flights? Through the window behind the Agent, we see fencing, which probably is where large shipments were held for pickup. The Customer’s outbound package is on the scale, and it looks like he is filling out the airbill, while the woman patiently awaits her turn.
Our final photo looks like it might have been shot in a locker room with all the chain-link fencing. (Is this the fencing/inbound shipment area seen through the window in the second photo?) The “Hostess of the Month” poster featuring Flight Attendant C.J. Bostic to the left of the Cargo Agent appears to be an attempt to bring some “style” into this room of boxes and manifests. Then take a look to the right of the Agent. When is the last time you saw a rotary dial phone? Even more, when is the last time you saw a business using a rotary phone? The piece of paper on the bulletin board nearest the Agent is a memo drawn up on stationery using our original logo, the same logo on the back of the Agent’s jump suit. The Consignee’s package appears to be on the desk at the far right of the photo. Take notice that, in all three of these photos, there’s not a computer anywhere in sight.
So, here are a few of the insights I promised to share:
• More than one Southwest Employee identified the bottom photo as being Houston Hobby (in the tunnel next to the bag make-up area), and the Cargo Employee was identified as Bob Kovar.
• The second-to-the last photo was identified as being Dallas Love Field, and one Employee thought that the woman in the line might have been Employee Sandy Carmen
• Employee in the top picture is thought to be Louis Salmon
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After rereading this September 2012 post from Brian, I couldn’t agree with him more—there is nothing like that “new-plane” smell.
Fortunately for me, the only new aircraft delivery I have experienced at Southwest is one that I have in common with the much-missed Mr. Lusk—N215WN. It’s a great memory that we enjoyed sharing. One thing Brian didn’t mention is that, although our group had a lovely time in Seattle and certainly felt pride in observing the ceremonial paperwork ritual, we were unable to tour the Boeing plant during that visit. The reason? Well, seems that Boeing had one of our specialty aircraft in its painting phase, and they had to keep it “under wraps” until its official unveiling. The aircraft turned out to be Maryland One, which made its debut in our Southwest fleet about a week after we didn’t see it in June, 2005.
Taking delivery of a new aircraft is a “big deal.” I’ve been fortunate to have traveled to Seattle to pick up two new aircraft, and for an avgeek like me, it is an exciting time.
Even if the aircraft is “just another 737-700,” that aircraft will remain “yours” as long as it is flying—my two are N436WN and N215WN. For this edition of “Flashback Fridays,” we are going to turn the clock back to look at some delivery celebrations that took place during a time when we were taking delivery of new 737-200s.
In early 1980, Southwest had three 737-2H4s moving together down Boeing’s production line at the Renton plant. These “triplets” would become N62SW, N63SW, and N64SW. In the photo above that should be N62SW in front, since it had production line number 638, followed by N63SW (line number 639), and N64SW (line number 640). If you will compare these production line photos with those we published as our first -800 moved down the production line earlier this year, you will notice that painting the rudders prior to painting the rest of the aircraft is a longtime manufacturing tradition (the rudder’s weight and balance has to be tested with it fully painted before it can be installed).
On March 27, 1980, there was a big celebration at Boeing Field as we took delivery of all three aircraft that day. According to LUVLines, this was the first time in the history of the 737 program that Boeing had a triple delivery of 737s. (The “delivery time” for the paperwork to be completed on all three aircraft was clocked at 20 minutes.) Even today, for airlines with large order books like Southwest, it is rare to take delivery of two aircraft on the same day, much less three. I count 58 Southwest Employees in the photo, including three Flight Attendants. (Then-President and CEO Howard Putnam is the fifth person from the right on the front row.) The presence of three Flight Attendants in uniform indicates that all of the Employees probably flew on just one aircraft. These aircraft quickly went to work for us when they operated our first service to Oklahoma City on April 1, Tulsa on April 2, and Albuquerque on April 3 of that year. The photo presents a couple of other points of interest to aviation enthusiasts: The airplane in the middle appears to be N62SW or N63SW, but my guess it’s N63SW, which would keep the symmetry intact. (On a personal note, I flew on both N62SW and N63SW in the late 90s.).
Immediately behind the last Southwest 737 is a brand new TWA 727-231, N84357. And, just behind the TWA 727 is the very first 747, N7470, City of Everett. (For the middle part of its life, N7470 wore the ten windows in the upper deck lounge, as seen here. It is now on display at the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field with its original three-window upper deck.) The decal between the lounge windows and the cockpit is a stylized “one,” signifying the first. Just behind the hump of the 747’s lounge appears to be the tail of a British Airways 747.
A couple of years later in 1982, the delivery flight of N91SW was part of a joint promotion between Southwest and Dallas radio station KVIL. Claire Putnicki was the winner of KVIL’s “Captain for a Day” promotion. As part of her prize, she and her husband toured the Boeing production line.
Then at the delivery center at Boeing Field, Claire poses next to “her airplane” before the delivery flight on December 13, 1982. Incidentally, this airplane served with Southwest until September 13, 2005, when it went to the Mexican airline, Aerotropical, which used it for three years until it finally went to Mojave for storage in 2008. Reportedly, the airframe is still intact.
Claire then went upstairs into the cabin, and we see her in front of the aft galley. Note that the airplane still has the original style seats with the spotted fabric that required paper headrests, but the enclosed overhead bins are now delivered from the factory. In this seating configuration, the last two rows of seats are in the lounge configuration.
After the cabin tour, Claire walks down the front air stairs. Even though aircraft numbers began showing up on the nose gear doors in late 1973, this photo and the earlier one of the triplets' delivery show that these numbers were applied once the aircraft joined our fleet.
The final photo shows Claire posing in the First Officer’s seat before departure from Boeing Field. Other brand new 737s are visible on the ramp outside the cockpit window, but I can’t make out their identity. There really is nothing like that new airplane smell, and a delivery flight is a special time for both the aircraft and the Employees involved.
After this post first appeared last year, Brian added the following update from Boeing’s Corporate Historian, Michael Lombardi: The extra lounge windows were painted on the first 747. It always had just the three lounge windows to a side.
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Whenever I set about selecting another of Brian’s Flashback Fridays posts to re-air as a “Best of,” I occasionally purposely try to tie the subject of the post to something that’s also relevant right now—like last week, when I chose the post about Boston Logan to run on the fourth anniversary of BOS.
When the historical “calendar” doesn’t provide me with an immediate prompt, I just go looking through past posts until I find something that grabs my attention. And that’s where we are this week—with some truly iconic photos that not only made me sit up and take notice, but which, as Brian tells us, grabbed some serious national publicity as well. One of the things I love about his posts is that there are always little clues that revealed Brian’s true passion for his subject. As we “listen” to him explain how he reached conclusions on a photo’s likley timeframe, you can almost hear a child’s gleeful voice as he places the last puzzle piece into place, saying with equal parts of pride and wonderment, “I did it!”
In the early days, Southwest Airlines created more iconic images than an upstart carrier with just three airplanes should have generated. I don’t think anyone ever said: “Today, we’re going to make an icon.” It just happened naturally.
Some of those images include the early television advertisement where a model dressed in our first Flight Attendant uniform strolls down a runway as a 737-200 screams by just a few feet above her head. Another iconic photo shows our original Flight Attendants decked out in hot pants lined up on a 737’s air stairs. And my favorite is the 1972 photo (above) showing a line of Flight Attendants holding hands and running toward the camera. The last-mentioned photo was so popular that it has been recreated for almost every landmark Southwest anniversary.
However, it wasn’t the only early Southwest iconic photo to have a remake. I thought it would be fun to compare some of the more obscure “reshoots” with their better known originals. Let’s start with the photo above. Prior to beginning service on June 18, 1971, we took a series of publicity photos with our Flight Attendants walking behind all three of our original aircraft. Note that “Southwest” is written on the fuselage, and the word “Airlines” is displayed on the aircrafts' tails. The location was our original hangar located near Bachman Lake.
Just a few years later in the same location, we took a newer version, only in black and white. There are a couple of clues that allow us to put an approximate date on the scene. “Southwest” has been moved to the tail and “Airlines" has been deleted. This revision to the original livery began with the delivery of the fourth aircraft, N23SW, in November 1971, but the remaining original aircraft (N21SW and N22SW) kept their full titles at least until mid-1973. (The delivery of N23SW was the event that triggered the sale of N20SW and the establishment of the ten-minute turn.) Since we only had three aircraft at the time of this photo, one of these airplanes has to be an original with the modified livery. This means that the photo must be mid-1973 or later. And, because the original uniforms were worn until September 1974, the photo has to be earlier than that date. That puts it in the 1973/1974 timeframe.
The same day that the running Flight Attendants photo mentioned in the first paragraph was taken, the photographer used a cherry picker to take photos that included representatives of each Employee workgroup. The chosen image (above) had a wide distribution, and it is another favorite of mine because it shows Original Employees that normally didn’t get a lot of publicity. Note the hangars in the background.
The photo above recreates the 1972 scene. My guess is that this is from the early 1990s, and the location is the taxiway leading to our Dallas Maintenance Base. The hangar in the distance above the nose can also be seen in the 1972 version. Like some of the other photos in this post, we have clues that help us date it. Many of the Employees appear to be wearing their blue nautical style uniforms that were introduced in February 1990. At extreme enlargement, it appears that the airplane is 737-200, N54SW. This airplane left the Southwest fleet in September of 1990. Based on that and that there are so many folks wearing shorts in the photo, it was probably taken in the spring or summer of 1990. It’s even possible that the photo was taken after N54SW ended its Southwest service but before it left the property.
Yes, that’s Herb in the front row, and he appears to be wearing an Air Force flight suit.
And, remember that commercial with the airplane screaming over the actor portraying the Flight Attendant walking down the runway? The photo above pays homage to that ad as it shows a Flight Attendant in the original uniform walking down the runway (actually, it is a taxiway) next to an Employee wearing the uniform introduced in 1980. This may have been a publicity shot for our tenth anniversary in 1981.
Scroll back through these photos and you see confidence, energy, and a bit of swagger in the images. We see personification of the attitude that would later be described as Living the Southwest Way: a Warrior Spirit, a Fun-LUVing Attitude, and a Servant’s Heart. Considering our humble beginnings, Southwest could have labored in anonymity down in our little corner of the Texas sky. But thanks to these photos and the Employees illustrated in them, our national reputation grew to a dimension all out of proportion to our size. Frankly, it would be impossible to take (or retake) most of these photos today with the way airport security has changed. That’s one of the reasons these images are so unique and important. They are symbols of our beginnings and reminders that our work is far from finished.
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This week’s post made my “Best of” list for a couple of reasons. Today, August 16, is the fourth anniversary of BOS being part of our Southwest system, and this is a rare “guest-written” Flashback installment. The original post came to us from Southwest Employee Jack Wild, who, at the time of publication, was an Operations Agent in BOS.
Currently, Jack is holding that same position in MHT and has expressed an interest in sharing some historical information about his new hometown airport in a future blog post. Considering that the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire is housed in the old 1930’s art deco terminal, I’m sure I’m not the only one who will be looking forward to seeing what treasures he’ll discover. Here’s Jack’s July 2012 post that takes us back four decades—it’s almost like sitting on the stoop next to him and his uncle watching those planes from yesteryear landing at Boston Logan.
I recently had the privilege of putting together Boston’s first Station Newsletter. One of the pieces I included was our own version of "Flashback Fridays" with several photos of Logan back in the 1970’s. Going through my old slides brought back a lot of great memories of Logan’s past and of how easy it was to plane spot from several perches around the airport. I grew up in Revere, a coastal city that abuts the northern border of Boston, which also happens to be on the approach to Runways 22 Right (22R) and 22 Left (22L). A popular summer thing to do on a Sunday afternoon was stoop sitting, where everyone would sit out on their front stairs or “stoop,” giving us the opportunity to visit with our neighbors. My front stoop had a clear shot of planes on final to 22L, and I paid more attention to the parade of Easterns, Northeasts, and Alleghenys than to any visiting passersby. The one plane that always caught our immediate attention was the BOAC Super VC-10. As soon as my uncle would spot the “cigar-shaped BOAC” (the technical term when you’re eight years old) he would gather me into the car and the race would begin to our spot at the end of the runway. We always made it in time to see (and hear) those four Rolls Royce Conway engines just above our heads touch down after a long flight from London Heathrow. We would stay for a little while longer watching the resident Northeast Convair 880 and 727 Yellowbirds, the “little Americans” (another eight year old's technical term) also known as the BAC-111, Eastern Constellations still soldiering on operating the Boston-New York shuttle, and all of the other activity. If we were really lucky, we would catch another of the international arrivals; maybe a DC-8 of Alitalia or Swissair, or an Aer Lingus 707. Hence began my love of planes, the airline industry, and “my airport”! Here are some of my favorite photos of Logan in the 1970s:
This is the view I had from my front stoop when planes were landing on runway 22L. American operated a daily 747 to Los Angeles in the late 70s. This would later be replaced by a DC-10 after American sold the 747s to Pan Am.
BOAC's Super VC-10 traded off daily service to London Heathrow with the Boeing 707. Built by Vickers of the U.K., the VC-10 is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful airliners ever designed. BOAC became British Airways in the mid 70s as a result of a multi-airline merger in England.
Logan used to have an observation deck with a snack bar on the 16 th floor of the control tower and a cocktail lounge on the 18 th . Logan’s tower, now closed to the general public, was the world’s tallest for several years after its completion. This is the view of a United DC-10 and DC-8 in the popular “Friendship” colors that currently grace an A320.
For the non-enthusiast, the engine start of the Lockheed L-1011 on a cold winter’s day was always an un-nerving site! Here is an Eastern Tristar in the in the hockey stick colors at the Southwest Terminal (not our terminal!) later changed to Terminal A.
In the good old days, TWA had a mini trans-atlantic hub at Logan with daily service to London, Paris, Rome, Lisbon, and Santa Maria the Azores. Here is a 747 in the 70s colors on its way to London Heathrow.
This is a photo of the Volpe International Terminal, now called Terminal E, when it first opened in 1973. Terminal E is the current home of Southwest in Boston. The catwalk in the distance has been replaced by our five gates, E1A – E1E.
This is what the catwalk in the previous photo looks like today on the airside of Terminal E as seen from our gates E1B (the Shamu gate)and E1C to E1D and E1E currently the home of our sister airline, AirTran.
Flash Forward Friday! Boston is the first U.S. city to have scheduled service by Boeing’s beautiful new 787, operating Japan Airlines' new nonstop service to Tokyo Narita. The hanger in the background now used by jetBlue was built by TWA in the 1960s. Logan is counting on JAL’s success with the 787 to lure potential new service to China, India, Turkey, and the Middle East.
Logan today is a far different place than it was back then. The Yellowbirds are long gone replaced by Delta; the cigar-shaped BOAC arrival is now two British Airways 747 and one 777; and the Aer Lingus 707 is replaced by three daily A330s. The biggest event signaling the future of Logan is the arrival of the beautiful Boeing 787 Dreamliner operating the very first scheduled service to a U.S. city. I hope you enjoyed this walk down memory lane as much as I did.
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After reading through this particular post of Brian’s from October 2012 for the second time, I find it hard to imagine that an event as significant as this one was ever considered “unremarked.” Which, of course, was Brian’s point.
In many ways, this blog piggybacks off last week’s “Best of,” which focused on leased aircraft that came to Southwest wearing the livery of another carrier. This week’s installment pinpoints the first four aircraft in our fleet, which arrived sporting our “desert gold” paint job, but which were originally built for other airlines. Not only do I think that we have once again uncovered a “gem” in this post, I also found some quite interesting “nuggets” within the comments section where Brian had responded to questions posed by some of his loyal readers. So, when you read here about N23SW, know that there were actually two aircraft bearing that number, since we apparently reused some registration numbers. The first N23SW Brian writes about in this post, but we took delivery of the second N23SW (an advanced model) in 1977. At the same time, we also took delivery of our second N20SW. Although each of these aircraft may have had the same N-number as its predecessor, the serial numbers were different. The other “jewel,” hidden deep within the comments, was that N96SW was the only -200 to ever wear canyon blue! Of course, once you read (or reread) An Unremarked but Significant Event, I’m sure you’ll discover, as I did, the true treasure!
Every Southwest Employee knows (or should know) the story of how we began with three aircraft, and when we added a fourth one to help fly a charter schedule, we had to sell an airplane to meet a legal mandate that prevented the charter flying.
This led to the creation of the ten-minute turn to operate a schedule designed for three-and-a-half airplanes (charters were the other “half airplane”) with only three aircraft. Keep in mind that, while we acquired those four original aircraft brand new, they were orphans originally built for other airlines who couldn’t take delivery. The first three, N20SW, N21SW, and N22SW, were basic 737-200s that had been built for PSA, Aloha, and Air California respectively. The fourth airplane, N23SW, had also been “laid down” for Aloha, and it had a large main deck cargo door.
The cycle of new “hand-me-down” airplanes ended with the delivery of this airplane, N24SW (serial number 20925), shown above taking off from Seattle’s Boeing Field. N24SW was “all Southwest” from the beginning, and it is an important landmark for several reasons. One is that it is the first aircraft for which we went to Boeing and said, “Build it” for us, and we took delivery on September 18, 1974. That date is significant because it came after the big $13 Fare War in early 1973 and the departure of the other airlines to the DFW Airport earlier in 1974. We would add a fourth city, Harlingen (HRL), a few months later in early 1975. N24SW’s purchase showed that we had reached a level of stability where we could go to Boeing and order a brand new airplane from scratch, just like United, Delta, or Pan American.
Another landmark reached with N24SW is that it was our first 737-200 Advanced aircraft. The Advanced version of the -200 quickly became the standard production model, and it offered improved aerodynamics, greater range, and more powerful versions of the JT-8D engines that eliminated the need for the “blow-in” doors around the front part of the engine cowlings. The landscape below N24SW appears to be the foothills on the eastern (or “dry” side) of the Cascade Mountains in Washington.
As Southwest continued to grow across Texas, we became a steady Boeing Customer. In August 1976, N27SW (serial number 21262) was delivered. At the time we were still flying to just the three original cities, plus HRL, and N27SW’s delivery is proof that we had become successful enough in competing with both the other airlines and the automobile between those destinations that we required additional aircraft. I especially like this photo because it illustrates the unique terrain of eastern Washington. Southwest wouldn’t fly over this area on a regular basis until the mid-90s, so the Boeing camera provides us with unique visuals from an earlier time period.
Closing out this story of landmark airplanes, we take a look at one of the original three original 737s during what probably were its final days with Southwest. Of the three originals, N21SW (serial number 20345), above, was the airframe originally intended for Aloha. We sold it back to Boeing in July 1978, who sold it to a leasing company, who ironically leased it to Aloha, so it did finally make it to Hawaii. It would also serve with Nordair in Canada and Air California. It went to the scrap yard in 1991. The location of this photo appears to be Midland/Odessa (MAF) —that’s a set of Continental air stairs in front of the nose.
Our final view of N21SW is this somewhat battered print. I can’t place the airport or the date, but to me it symbolizes the final flight of N21SW as it taxies out for takeoff. While N21SW and its two original siblings had the “glamour” of beginning Southwest service, N24SW marked the beginning of almost 600 brand new Southwest 737s delivered from Boeing. N24SW, the original made-for-Southwest aircraft, eventually led to Southwest being the launch customer of the 737-300, 737-500, 737-700, and the upcoming 737MAX.
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The original title of this Flashback Fridays post was ‘A Photo Smorgasbord for Avgeeks and Other Interested Parties,’ and since I am squarely in both camps, selecting this installment to share again seemed a natural choice.
While Brian’s focus in this post about aircraft Southwest leased from other carriers (the “hardware,” as he puts it), my own fascination with this topic developed as a result of having been a Braniff Flight Attendant during the crazy route growth that was part of the deregulation era. It was always a guessing game to know which Boeing 747 configuration was going to show up on my Honolulu, London, or Frankfort flights (I know, “tough gig”!). Would it be N601BN (affectionately known to us as “Fat Albert”) and my personal favorite? The leased Lufthansa with galley ovens configured only in Celsius? Maybe the leased Canadian Pacific Air Lines “7-4” with the most unusually configured first class cabin—it had a very large wood-paneled storage compartment that not only held tons of service items (glassware, linens, etc.), but also served as a buffet area that ran down the center of the cabin with the large, two-seat rows of first class seats flanking it on either side. Of course, something we never shared with Customers was the fact that, due to the compartment’s unusual shape, we had nicknamed it “the coffin.” You can probably imagine, based on its tail number (N666AA), what we called the American Airlines 747 that Braniff leased. But, enough of “interior twists,” let’s get to Brian’s September 12, 2012 fascinating post on the livery the Southwest leased aircraft wore when they first became a part of our fleet.
Throughout the history of Southwest Airlines, most of our aircraft have come to us directly from the Boeing factory, but there have been times when “previously owned” aircraft have worn Southwest Airlines colors. This has happened either during periods of rapid expansion when we acquired additional aircraft through leases or through the acquisition of another carrier like we did with Morris Air and are currently doing with AirTran. It's been awhile since I "geeked out," and as a Flashback Fridays change of pace, I am concentrating on “hardware” this week to show what some of those leased and merger aircraft looked like before they joined Southwest. These “before” photographs were taken by our Maintenance & Engineering folks as part of their inspections to determine these airplanes' suitability for our needs. As we will see, some of these airplanes have a long (and, to an avgeek, an exotic) list of previous users.
Let’s order this brief review based on each airplane’s registration (sometimes called “N” number) that was worn in Southwest service. Our first example is N662SW, shown at the end of its time with US Air as N227US. This aircraft, serial number 23255, is a 737-3Q8, and it began life with the Las Vegas-based Sunworld Airlines on lease from ILFC (a major aircraft leasing company) as N841L. After two years, it went to Piedmont as N399P. When US Air acquired Piedmont in 1989, it received the registration shown in the photo.
Our next example wears N664WN with Southwest, and it really has an exotic history. Built as a 737-3Y0, serial number 23495, it alternated between Europe and Canada during the first three years of its life. The Boeing customer code of "Y0" was assigned to the Guinness Peat Aviation (GPA) leasing company in Ireland. Beginning service as G-DHSW with the British charter airline, Monarch, it would fly Brits to the Mediterranean in the winter, and it served Canadians during the summer on a sublease to Pacific Western and then its successor, Canadian Airlines, as C-FPWD. In the summer of 1989, a sublease took it to Central America instead of Canada for Guatemala’s Aviateca (with its British registration). In 1990, another sublease placed it for a short period with Euroberlin. When the Monarch lease expired in 1994, this airplane served for a few months as EC-FVT with the Spanish charter airline, Futura, as shown above, before coming to Southwest.
N665WN is a sister ship to the previous example. Also a 737-3Y0, this aircraft (serial number 23497) led an almost identical early life to N664WN. It carried the British registration of G-MONF while with Monarch and on sublease to some other European airlines, and it operated as C-FPWE while on sublease in Canada. The only difference is that N665WN spent three years with Euroberlin (as G-MONF), in whose livery it is shown above, on lease after its Monarch lease expired. The man with the camera around his neck at the top of the stairs may be one of our Maintenance & Engineering Employees. The photo above and the two below were taken on August 17, 2004 in the evening.
We have two interior views of N665WN with the basic Monarch/Euroberlin interior. This is a view looking aft from the front of the main cabin. The curtain looks as though it is movable.
Next is a view of the aft galley and lavatories. This aircraft has two aft lavs (Southwest -300s have one aft lav), but the galley sits farther forward to compensate for the extra lav.
N673AA has met its fate at the scrapyard. This aircraft, a 737-3A4 (serial number 23251), was delivered new to Air Cal as N307AC in 1984. When that former intrastate carrier merged with American in 1987, the aircraft assumed a transition livery before receiving American’s bare-metal livery and the registration, N673AA. Southwest acquired the aircraft on lease in 1992, and somewhat surprisingly, continued to use the “AA” registration until the lease expired.
Like N662SW, N685SW is also a 737-3Q8 (serial number 23401), which indicates it was built for the giant leasing firm, ILFC. ("Y8" is Boeing's customer code for ILFC.) Air Belgium was the first operator and used the registration OO-ILF. After a couple of years, the aircraft moved across the English Channel as G-BOWR to serve with Orion Airways, Britannia Airways, and Dan-Air London. When British Airways acquired Dan-Air, they applied their titles to the basic Dan-Air livery above. The aircraft came back home to its country of birth to serve with Southwest as N662SW.
We close with this interior shot of N699SW, and like many of the other examples we have looked at, this airplane also had a varied early career. Built as a 737-3Y0 (serial number 23826) for GPA, it began its career in South America with the Brazilian airline, VASP. It also served time in Europe with Air Europa. In 1993, it went to Morris Air, while wearing the Irish registration EI-CHE. In the merger with Southwest, it was reregistered as N699SW. This view of the Morris Air interior looking forward toward the cockpit shows that the aircraft lacked a wind screen separating the cabin from the forward entry way. This aircraft was been returned to the leasing company.
All of these aircraft received the standard Southwest livery and interiors, and given that most of these previous operators have ceased to exist, it is virtually impossible to recreate these shots today. These unremarked photos from Maintenance & Engineering not only document the pre-Southwest history of these aircraft, they document a period when small charter operators sprang up all across the world. I know this installment might have been too “geeky” for some of you, and I hope you will return next week for some unique publicity photos.
Not too “geeky” for me—I loved seeing the paint jobs (and the interiors) of our leased aircraft again!
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Okay, I have to admit that, on the surface, my choice of this “Best of” Flashback Fridays doesn’t seem remotely related to the Independence Day weekend. But if you factor in that San Francisco and the beautiful Bay Area are where I grew up, and that every fun-filled Fourth memory I made as a kid all involved fireworks over water, you might just make the same leap I did to this wonderful Brian Lusk treasure that bears a second look. And, yes, those cool, gray skies over my old hometown pictured here do remind me of July, as anyone who has ever visited the City by the Bay without bringing a coat in the summer can confirm. Admittedly a stretch, but even if there were no connection at all, this post would bear repeating. So, without further ado, please enjoy these wonderful nuggets of aviation history originally brought to you in 2010. Right up front, I will admit that there isn’t a direct Southwest Airlines reference in this edition of Flashback Fridays, but I am going to take a look at what I consider hallowed ground to anyone in the airline industry or to airline passengers. It’s a site that, as a naval base, has been removed from general public access since the entry of the U.S. into World War II, although it is in plain view of the residents of San Francisco. Treasure Island is a man-made island in the middle of San Francisco Bay and is accessed by the Bay Bridge. It sits next to the natural Yerba Buena Island. Treasure Island was built for the 1939 and 1940 World’s Fair, The Golden Gate International Exposition, which along with the New York World’s Fair of the same years, would be the last big collection of Art Deco buildings constructed. With a couple of key exceptions, those magnificent buildings were destroyed after the fair. (If you have ever visited Fair Park here in Dallas—also the site of a World’s Fair, the 1936 Texas Centennial, you have an idea of what Treasure Island looked like back then.) So why would I say this is hallowed ground for aviation? Well, the photo above is one of the few buildings constructed for the Fair. Yes, that’s a control tower on the top of it. You are looking at what was the first permanent transpacific airport terminal. Pan American World Airways flew the first transpacific mail flight with the China Clipper from nearby Alameda on November 22, 1935. Sister ship Hawaii Clipper inaugurated passenger service between Alameda, Honolulu, Midway, Wake, Guam, and Manila on October 21, 1936. The Alameda facility was razed for the construction of the Alameda Naval Air Station. Pan Am moved to the Treasure Island facility in 1939, and by this time, the three Martin Clipper flying boats were joined by the Boeing 314, a much improved flying boat with greater range. A large hangar (still standing) was built behind the terminal building, and the aircraft were moored in Clipper Cove, where passengers boarded for the overnight journey to Honolulu. Today, pleasure craft fill Clipper Cove. The intent was for Treasure Island to become San Francisco’s airport after the fair, and runways were to be built where fair buildings stood. The attack on Pearl Harbor put an end to those plans and the Navy took over the island. They eventually swapped land with the City of San Francisco, giving the city the land where the current SFO International is. Now the island provides affordable housing to residents of San Francisco. Thankfully, the terminal still stands, pretty much in original condition. Take a look at the original artwork above which is on the ends of the terminal. I know this sounds so “geeky,” but as I walked up to the entrance, I found myself transported back to 1939. The statues in the photos were from the fair, and had been located around the island. As far as I could tell, these are the same doors that Pan American’s passengers walked through to check in for their flights. Ever since I started reading about Pan Am’s history and especially that of the flying boat era (along with the history or the 1939-40 Fair), I have wanted to visit the island. About 30 years ago, a friend flew me over the island in a small aircraft, but it just wasn’t the same as being there. The building is now the home for the Treasure Island Development Authority and contains leasing offices. However, except for one small desk and some displays about the island, the main lobby is empty. The large windows above the doorways light the lobby area, much like the train stations it emulates. Inside, the lobby smells like other buildings of this era, and it very much is a time machine. At one point under Navy control, the Treasure Island Museum had a display area here, and they are trying to reopen a museum. Pan Am passengers would head to their aircraft by a similar set of doors behind the building which led to Clipper Cove. The views of San Francisco from Treasure Island are spectacular. This is the view from the terminal’s main entrance, and I think it is fitting that, out of the entire panorama of “The City” which is visible from the Island, the terminal entrance offers a view of North Beach which most closely resembles the 1939 view from the island. Pan American literally built its routes out of the air with ingenuity, vision, and courage. They flew where no man had flown before. This building, this hallowed ground, is a testament to the folks who first spanned the world, and then wrote the book for air travel. We owe them much.
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Occasionally, I run across one of Brian’s previous Flashback posts that I consider to be a “true gem.” Last week, when I was doing some research for the Wayback Moment, I came across this post and felt that it simply needed to see the light of day one more time. Since this post was originally published on June 18, 2010 and focuses on the days surrounding our first day of service, it could just as easily have served as last week’s installment of Flashback Fridays. However, I didn’t discover it until late into our birthday week, and by then, another time-appropriate Flashback post had been written. So, although we won’t be posting these reruns on any kind of regular schedule, we will certainly be on the lookout for those very special Brian Lusk treasures that we know are here. Kind of like watching your absolute favorite movie for the umpteenth time—some things just bear repeating. Ever since I became involved with our corporate archives, I have been facing a huge conundrum. Southwest has never been accused of being shy, especially when it comes to good news. Given that longheld corporate trait and the fact that this is being published on June 18, which is our 39th Anniversary, where are the publicity materials for our first flight? We do have images of our first inflight drink menu, but that’s about it. The picture below is one of the earliest I have found, and it shows one of our first three 737s pulling into the North Concourse at Love Field. Southwest’s first three aircraft were the only ones to carry the full titles “Southwest Airlines” on the tail, and starting with the delivery of the fourth aircraft in early 1972, the “Airlines” was dropped. Considering the lengthy legal battle we had to fight just to get in the air, you would have thought that our first flight would have been a huge occasion. I think I have been through every photo in our files, and I have walked every inch of our Headquarters building whose walls are a scrapbook of our history, and I have never seen a photo of that first flight. I was left with no banners, no balloons, and no bands playing. About the only thing we could pinpoint for sure were the two Pilots on our inaugural flight, Captain Emilio Salazar and First Officer Bob Pratt. So, what happened? I didn’t really know the answer until just a few days ago. I was preparing our PulsePoint survey that runs on our internal web site. The question was about our first flight and its routing on June 18, 1971. Popular theory among us relative newcomers is that we inaugurated operations with the first departure from Dallas to Houston Intercontinental, which left at 7:30 am. The legend has it that the reason our early morning flight to Houston is Flight #1 is because that was our first flight. I wanted to see if I could confirm this piece of our folk history, and I checked with the keepers of our Corporate Records in the Executive Office. We found a scrapbook of press clippings from 1971, and therein lay the answer to not only the first flight question but to the whole first flight hoopla (or lack thereof). (The photo above is also an early photo taken at our original hangar on the north side of Love Field. The location is confirmed by the blast fence behind the tails.) The book has pages of newspaper clippings from June 17 and 18 reporting on the last-ditch legal battles to keep us on the ground. As I am flipping pages, I am thinking the clippings from June 19 will have reports about the first flight festivities, and I am getting excited—at last the answers. But wait, the only thing for June 19 is a lengthy Fort Worth Star-Telegram report about our Flight Attendants passing evacuation training. Then at the very bottom of the article, all is finally revealed. It mentions that Southwest began operations the previous day with the first flight to San Antonio—not Houston. (This would have been the 7 a.m. departure) The article goes on to specifically mention that there was no ceremony, except that Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Ted Holland showed up to shake the hands of the Crew Members. Since that time, I was fortunate to ask Cofounder and Chairman Emeritus Herb Kelleher about the confusion about the identity of the first flight. Our then President, Lamar Muse, felt that Dallas/Houston was a bigger market, and all the off-duty Employees and folks from The Bloom Agency who handled our advertising back then rode the 7:30 flight from Dallas to Houston Intercontinental. Herb told me: "I guess we actually had two first flights, but the San Antonio flight really was the first." My poll question brought forth some comments from Captain Salazar's daughter, Loretta, who is also a Southwest Employee. Loretta has been kind enough to share some of Captain Salazar's records with us, and among those papers are several handwritten pages that outline his flights for the first couple of months. Next to each date is a circled number, either 20, 21, or 22. It dawned on me, that these are the ship numbers for the flights he flew each day. The Pilots stayed with the aircraft for their entire work day. There on the line for June 18 is 21, which would mean he flew N21SW all day. In turn, because he flew our first flight, N21SW would have flown our first flight. So why was Southwest “soft launched” to use a current buzzword? My own theory is that there was concern that the legal issues hadn’t been put to bed yet. Lamar asked Herb, who had just spent 48 hours without sleep working on last minute legal hurdles what he should do if the Sherriff showed up with a restraining order, and Herb told Lamar to "push the flight out on top of him and to leave tire tracks on his shirt." Herb confirms the story, and he adds, "After four years of fighting this, I was mad." My own thought was that we didn’t want to publicize the exact time of the first flight, with the possibility of a confrontation. Another more practical consideration, and which, it turns out is the real reason according to Herb, is that with the start of operations, everyone had jobs to do and our folks had no time to devote to preflight ceremonies. If it is any consolation, there was a big kick-off party the previous night, so our birth did have some recognition. When I shared this info with a Coworker, he replied that he would have given anything to see that first flight leave. And I agree that would have been remarkable. However, the most remarkable thing is that the tiny group of young dreamers and industry retreads who took to the sky on that early summer day 39 years ago were able to persevere through so many critical challenges to build the Company we have today. Happy Birthday, Southwest Airlines.
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This is the last installment in our “Best of” Brian’s four-part series on the origins of the 737, which originally ran on March 16, 2012. From our first -200 to this week’s nod to the NG family of Boeing aircraft, including our newest -800s, it has been an exciting and educational ride. I like to think that when we take our first MAX 8 delivery in 2017, Brian’s spirit will be there ramp side watching over the photographer who is capturing that historic moment. In previous installments, we looked at the Original family of 737s, the 737-100 and 737-200, and then at the Classics, the 737-300, 737-400, and 737-500. However, the achievements of these earlier aircraft were eclipsed on January 18, 1998, when the Boeing 737 and Southwest Airlines moved to a new level of achievement with the Next Generation, or NG, family.
The first example of the NG family entered service on that date when N700GS, a 737-700, operated Southwest Flight #11 from Dallas Love Field to Harlingen via a stop at Houston Hobby. In hindsight of the success of the NG family, it's kind of strange that I was the only photographer ramp side that morning to capture the departure of the first flight. The event culminated four years of planning and close cooperation between Southwest and Boeing. The -700 has a redesigned wing, with 25 percent more area (not counting the winglets, which came later) and a longer wing span, with a fuel capacity greater than the -300. The -700 flies higher (up to 41,000 feet), faster (Mach 0.82 vs. the -300’s Mach 0.79), and farther (3,200 miles—slightly more with winglets vs. the -300’s 2,400 miles). The -700’s engines, a later model of the -300’s CFM56, produce more thrust, use less fuel, are quieter, produce fewer emissions, and have reduced maintenance costs than the -300. Southwest is the world’s largest operator of the 737-700 with 372 examples. Other 737-700 operators include AirTran, United, Delta, Alaska, WestJet, SAS, KLM, China Southern, Aeromexico, and ANA. Almost 1,080 737-700s were completed by the end of 2011, and it is still in production.
Similar in size to the 737-200 and 737-500, the 737-600 is the smallest NG variant, and also the slowest selling with 69 examples delivered. The -600 entered airline service with SAS on October 25, 1998. Other operators include WestJet, Tunisair, and the late Malev. The photo above shows SAS’s first aircraft (LN-RRX) wearing Boeing house colors and the registration N7376, and the -600's shorter length is very apparent.
At the other extreme of the sales spectrum is the 737-800, which is the best selling NG variant, with more than 2,400 aircraft completed. The -800 is the NG equivalent of the 737-400. In the photo above, we see the first 737-800, N737BX, on a test flight. (This aircraft later became D-AHFA with Hapag-Lloyd, and it now flies with Air Berlin.) Starting last year, new 737-800s were delivered with the upgraded CFM-56-7BE engine which offers reduced fuel consumption. In December 2010, Boeing began delivering the -800 with the Sky Interior that was originally developed for the 787. This new interior features mood lighting, improved sidewalls, and larger overhead bins. The German airline, Hapag-Lloyd, operated the first -800 in the spring of 1998, and the list of operators reads like a “Who’s Who” of airlines: United, Delta, American, Alaska, KLM, SAS, Ryanair, WestJet, Malaysia, Qantas, and now you can add Southwest to that list. Our initial 737-800, N8301J (above), first flew on February 23, 2012, and it and our second aircraft will enter regular service on April 11.
The last of the NG variants is the 737-900, which is a super stretch of the basic 737 design. The extra length of the -900 makes it similar in length to the now discontinued 757. On August 3, 2000, the -900 made its first flight (above). This airplane, N737X, now serves with the -900’s launch customer, Alaska, as N302AS. In 2006, the basic 737-900 design was replaced by the 737-900ER, which can carry up to 215 passengers in an all-coach configuration (the ER model has additional emergency exits). Besides Alaska, -900 operators include United, KLM, Lion, and Korean. Boeing also offers private versions of the NG, with Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) models based on the 737-700, 737-800, and the 737-900.
Counting all variants of the NG family, more than 3,800 examples were delivered by yearend 2011 (the 4,000th NG is currently under construction), and the 7,000th 737 (of all models) was delivered in December . A mind-staggering total of more than 9,300 737s of all types have been delivered or are currently on order. Those orders include Southwest’s recent order for the 737MAX. Once again, Southwest will be a launch Customer for a new family of 737 aircraft, and the first will enter service in 2017. The MAX will have updated engines and borrows some design features from the 787. It will use substantially less fuel than the NG aircraft and will be more environmentally friendly. The photo above is an artist's version of the 737MAX in Southwest livery.
The 737 holds the record for the longest production run of any airliner built. On the one hand, today’s NG aircraft and the future 737MAX have very little in common with those first 737-100s and 737-200s, but on the other hand, they are very similar. How could this be? Except for the basic shape, today’s aircraft are much more advanced with improved engine, electronics, and structural materials. Yet, today’s aircraft share the same mission as those first 737s, to carry passengers comfortably, economically, and above all, safely to their destinations.
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This week’s “Best of” post focuses on the Boeing 737 “Classics” family—specifically, the -300, -400, and -500 series—and the role that Southwest played in the development of the 300s and 500s. This continuation of Brian’s “Origins of the Boeing 737” series originally ran in March, 2012, and it’s always interesting to look at all that has changed in the short period of time since the post first ran. In this case, we had yet to take delivery of our very first -800. Now, just a little more than a year later, we have 43 of them in our fleet, with more to come. Of course, one huge (and sad) change is that our wonderful Coworker Brian is no longer here to share his aviation anecdotes and vast knowledge of this industry we all love, which is one reason we enjoy these great “reruns.” Hope you do too! After taking a week off, we resume our brief look at the history of the Boeing 737 with the “Classics” family that comprises the 737-300, 737-400, and 737-500, and Southwest played a major role in the development of two of these variants. Beginning in 1983, Southwest leased six 727-200s from PeoplExpress to operate new nonstop service between Houston and San Antonio on one hand and Phoenix and Los Angeles on the other. Our 737-200s had neither the range nor the payload to successfully operate these new medium-haul routes, so the 727s were a stop-gap measure until a more suitable aircraft could be found. That aircraft would prove to be the Boeing 737-300.
The need for a larger, medium-haul airplane was Southwest’s impetus to be a launch partner for this new and improved 737. At the same time, USAir (their name back then) needed a larger aircraft to serve its Florida routes. These two airlines were pretty much alone in their support of the new 737 variant. In fact, during those early days, the 737-300 was nicknamed “the airplane nobody wants” in some quarters. That attitude would soon change. Although the very first 737-300 built went to USAir, the first 737-300 to enter worldwide airline service would belong to Southwest, and that airplane, N300SW, is adjacent to three shorter 737-200s at the Renton plant in the photo above. Besides the difference in length, the big spotting difference is the larger dorsal fin fillet of the -300. It’s worth noting that the -300 didn’t immediately replace the 737-200, which would continue being built alongside the Classics until 1988.
The -300’s engines were unlike those used by the earlier 737s. CFM, an international consortium made up of General Electric and SNECMA, a European engine manufacturer, had begun development of the CFM-56 high bypass fan jet. This new engine allowed DC-8 operators like United and Delta to modify their DC-8-60 series aircraft to the -70 series with the new engines, and these airliners eventually would find a second home with overnight carriers like UPS. While no commercial 707s were reequipped with the new engines, the AWACS variant of the 707 and the 707’s cousin, the KC-135, received the bigger engines. The CFM-56-3 model was designed for the 737-300, and because of the 737’s low ground clearance, the engine accessories (like the gearbox) that normally were located under the engine had to be moved to the engine’s sides. The fan blades also had to be shortened. These modifications account for the somewhat ovoid shape of the 737-300’s intake. (N300SW receives its initial painting in the photo above.)
Christened “The Spirit of Kitty Hawk,” Southwest placed the world’s first 737-300 into service on December 17, 1984, the 81 st anniversary of the Wright’s first flight. Legendary performer Bob Hope introduced the aircraft at a gala the previous evening, and Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier, flew with the aircraft on its initial service. (Yeager, on the left, stands next to Herb in the photo above.) “The Spirit of Kitty Hawk” has an honored place at the Frontiers of Flight Museum here in Dallas. Airlines all around the world quickly learned what a thoroughbred the 737-300 was, and orders began to flow in. Over 1,100 737-300s were constructed. Besides Southwest and USAir, other familiar operators of the -300 included Western/Delta, Air California/American, Continental, United, Lufthansa, British Midland, and China Southern, just to name a few.
Some airlines, especially European carriers, desired a larger aircraft, and the 737-400 was born. Its greater length required a second overwing window exit. International airlines using the -400 included British Airways, Qantas, Malaysia Airlines, KLM, and at home, Alaska operated the longer version as did Piedmont (who was this version’s launch customer) before being acquired by USAir. In the photo above, the first 737-400, N73700, operates a test flight wearing Boeing colors. This aircraft later entered service with Piedmont as N402US.
The final Classics version, the 737-500, was the second 737 variant to be introduced by Southwest. (Our fourth -500, N504SW takes off from an airport in the Pacific Northwest, above.) The -500 has a fuselage the same length as the -200, and it bettered the -300’s performance, with the shorter fuselage making it ideal for segments that didn’t need the larger aircraft. One side benefit of the -500's lighter weight and quicker climb rate was its smaller sound footprint upon takeoff, and Southwest used the -500 at the Orange County Airport until the more environmentally friendly 737-700 was introduced. A sampling of other 737-500 operators includes Continental, United, Lufthansa, SAS, LOT Polish, Aerolineas Argentinas, and ANA.
With 1,113 737-300s, 486 737-400s, and 389 737-500s built, the total aircraft constructed for the Classics series numbers 1,988. Combined with the 1,144 Originals (737-100s and 737-200s), that’s an impressive total of 3,132 aircraft, but as we will see in next week’s edition, the 737 was just getting started—partially thanks to Southwest’s Leadership with the -700. We will also look forward to the introduction of our newest 737 variant, the -800, later this month. Thanks to Michael Lombardi, Boeing's Corporate Historian for the first three and the fifth photos.
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It may still feel like winter in a few parts of our country, but the truth of the matter is it’s time to tackle those annual spring cleaning chores.
Unfortunately, many of the chemicals found in conventional cleaning products can be more dangerous than the dirt they’re intended to clean. And the way many of us clean (with lots of disposable paper towels) isn’t exactly earth-friendly. Thankfully, there are many alternatives available that can help you make your home squeaky clean—and green.
Choose green cleaning products
The last thing you want to do is dump toxic chemicals into the environment in the name of cleaning. Luckily, you don’t have to make a special trip to the natural foods store to seek out environmentally-sensitive cleaning products. Seventh Generation, Method, and Biokleen are three companies that make full lines of household cleaners, and you can find them in just about every store. These products work just as well as their conventional counterparts. Or you can stock your natural cleaning kit with homemade cleaners—making them yourself is super easy.
The basic supplies you’ll need to make your own green cleaners include: · Distilled white vinegar (sold in the cooking section of most supermarkets) · Baking soda · Olive oil · Borax (sold in a box in the laundry aisle) · Liquid castile soap · Essential oils (super concentrated natural plant oils found in natural foods stores) · Microfiber cleaning cloths · Newspaper Here are a few basic “recipes” and techniques to get you started: · Glass: Mix 1/4 cup vinegar with 1 quart of water in a spray bottle. Spray on glass and wipe clean with old newspaper or a lint-free cloth. · Countertops and bathroom tile: Mix 2 parts vinegar and 1 part baking soda with 4 parts water. Apply with a sponge, scour, and wipe away. · Floors: Mix 4 cups of white distilled vinegar with about a gallon of hot water. If desired, add a few drops of pure peppermint or lemon oil for a pleasant scent. After damp mopping the floors, the smell of vinegar will dissipate quickly, leaving behind only the scent of the oil. · Wood furniture: Mix equal parts of lemon juice and olive and oil. Apply a small amount to a cloth, and rub onto the furniture in long, even strokes. · Toilet bowl cleaner: Sprinkle a toilet brush with baking soda and scrub away! Occasionally disinfect your toilet by scrubbing with borax instead. Wipe the outside of the toilet clean with straight vinegar. · Disinfectant: Mix 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons vinegar, 3 cups hot water, and 1/4 teaspoon liquid castile soap. Wipe on with dampened cloth or use a spray bottle. Wipe clean. · Mold and mildew: Wipe with straight vinegar. · Air freshener: Sprinkle essential oil on a cotton ball, and stash it in a corner of the room. If you have kids, make sure it is out of their reach as essential oils are very strong and could irritate their skin. Lavender is a relaxing scent that is great for bedrooms, and cinnamon, clove, and citrus oils are great for the rest of the house. You can stash a few in the car too—try peppermint, which may help you to stay alert. Cleaning up your home for spring doesn’t have to be dirty work. When you implement some of these ideas and products, you can benefit your family, your home, and the Planet all at once. Don’t forget—even small changes can impact the environment and can really add up over time. Share your green cleaning tips with us by commenting below or by e-mailing us at email@example.com. DING! You’re now free to spring clean green!
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The subtitle for this week’s “Best of” post is “The 737-200 Advanced and Some Oddities” The first time this was published on February 24, 2012, I remember being fascinated by an odd aircraft feature that I had not heard of before: the “Vortex Dissipator.” Considering that this has to do with making landings on gravel runways possible, I couldn’t help thinking that Brian probably had more than a couple of “between a rock and a hard place” puns running through his head while he wrote this post. Of course, there’s quite a bit more here, so I hope you enjoy Part Two as much as I did. The 737-200 Advanced and Some Oddities
In the previous edition, we briefly looked at the initial 737-100 and the more successful 737-200. However, there were still areas that needed improvement with the basic -200, and these were corrected in 1971 with the introduction of the 737-200 Advanced. While the size and basic design remained the same, the Advanced model offered significant performance improvements, and we have some great photos from Boeing again to tell the story.
The first 737-200 Advanced went to All Nippon Airways, better known today as ANA (the launch customer for the 787). The Advance model had a redesigned and improved wing with a lot of the improvements dealing with the leading edge of the wings.
The second Advanced aircraft went to the old Malaysia Singapore Airlines. This airline would split in 1972 not long after this photo was taken into two separate carriers, Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines. This airplane, 9Y-BCR, will move to Malaysia Airlines. In place of the basic model’s JT8D-7 or -9 engines, the Advanced model featured the more powerful JT8D-15 or -17. This eliminated the need for the blow-in doors at the front of the intake, while allowing the aircraft to carry heavier loads at higher altitudes.
With the exception of our first three aircraft, all the future -200s that Southwest acquired directly from the factory would be the Advanced model. Our three original airplanes, which were the basic model, only served with us for a very short period before they were replaced with Advanced examples. We would, however, lease some additional basic aircraft from time to time. In the photo above, one of our Flight Attendants went to Renton in 1977 to pose with N28SW, a 737-200 Advanced, which was under construction.
Airlines weren’t the only customers for the 737-200 Advanced, and the Air Force purchased 19 examples of a special variant, the T-43A, which was a trainer used to instruct navigators. This model had only a few windows on each side of the fuselage. Inside the cabin were navigator consoles for the trainees to use. The T-43As were retired on September 19, 2010, at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio.
And, we close this installment with a look at one of the most unique jetliners, the 737 with a gravel kit. Both Wien Air Alaska and Alaska Airlines operated these aircraft into the small gravel landing strips in remote Alaska villages. (I think some are still being operated in remote areas in Canada.) The photo above shows the amount of gravel kicked up during the landing process. The -200’s clamshell thrust reversers are deployed, and we get a good view of the Advanced model’s redesigned wing leading edge. Landings in the -200 were noisy under normal circumstances, so it makes you wonder what a gravel runway landing sounded like.
Above are some of the unique modifications that allowed the -200 to operate in this harsh environment. Underneath the intake of each engine is a pipe, or a “Vortex Dissipator,” that protrudes under the front of the engine, and this nozzle blows engine exhaust down at the ground. This breaks up the suction forces that would normally ingest gravel into the engine, without disturbing the performance of the engine. Note the mismatched radome in the photo, and the aircraft wears a temporary registration number, N1786B, which is one belonging to the Boeing Company. This indicates that the landing is some sort of a Boeing-sponsored trial. Behind the nose gear is a gravel deflector. This plate deflects any gravel that the nose gear kicks up, and it rides only a little more than three inches above the surface. When the gear is retracted, the deflector rotates around the nose gear into a fairing built on the fuselage in front of the gear. Other areas of the aircraft have simpler protective devices.
The next part will look at a couple of airplanes in which Southwest played an important role, the 737-300 and 737-500.
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Brian subtitled this post “The “Originals: The 737-100 and 737-200” as the first installment of a four-part series that originally began on February 17, 2012. Brian gives us an interesting view (as always) of the beginnings of the legacy that is the 737. Let me know in the comments section if you would like to see Brian’s remaining chapters appear if the “Best of” Flashback Fridays over the next several weeks, and I will be happy to make that happen. In the meantime, happy reading! The “Originals”: The 737-100 and 737-200 As we prepare to put our first Boeing 737-800 into service and on the heels of our announcement as the launch customer for the 737MAX, I thought it might be fun to take a step back and look at the heritage of this magnificent airliner. Michael Lombardi, Boeing’s Corporate Historian, selected these images for us, and I will share them with you in a four-part series over the next month or so. You are looking at the very beginning of a family of aircraft that would generate more than 7,000 airframes (and still growing). This is the very first 737, and it is a -100 model. The first six 737s were constructed at Plant 2 at Boeing Field in Seattle. This historic structure was the birthplace of thousands of B-17s during World War II, and the first B-47 and B-52 were built here. The building was razed in 2010, and the site is being returned to wetland status. Unlike the construction photos of our -800s wearing their gray protective coating, the original -100 was in bare metal. This airplane rolled out of the factory on January 17, 1967, and with its first flight on April 9 of that year, the 737 heritage began. After being in the spotlight, this pioneering airframe went on to serve more than 30 years with NASA, and it is now part of the collection of the Museum of Flight at its birthplace, Boeing Field. Lufthansa was the launch customer for the 737, and only 30 -100s were built, with the German carrier operating the majority. The larger -200 was the aircraft of choice for most airlines, and even Lufthansa opted for the larger, more capable airplane. D-ABCE, above, is one of their 737-230QC aircraft with a large main deck cargo door. Over 1,100 737-200s would enter service, and United was the launch customer for this successful version. N9001U was the first 737-200 off the production line, and it operated its maiden flight on August 8, 1967, just four months after the 737-100 first took to the air. Of interest in this photo are the calibration markings (the squares above the emergency window exit and the number on the nose) for the test flights. Also, take a look at the “blow-in” doors at the front of the engines. These doors opened to increase the airflow to the early versions of the JT-8D engines that powered the first -200s. (The doors will disappear with the Advanced 737-200, the subject of our next installment). The 737 revolutionized the airline industry because smaller carriers (and large carriers with shorter flights) could now operate a jetliner that shared the same cabin and comfort level with the 707s flown by Pan American, TWA, American, etc. One of those smaller carriers was PSA, the California intrastate airline that served as an operational model for Southwest. The longtime California airline operated a mixed fleet of 727s and 737s throughout California, and on a personal note, my very first 737 flight was on PSA from San Diego to Los Angeles on August 5, 1969. This pre-delivery publicity picture from 1971 of our first 737, N20SW, serial number 20369, is one of my favorites for a lot of reasons that include the original livery with the “AIRLINES” title, the brand-new paint, and the photo location over western Washington. It also represents the start of a 40+-year tradition of 737s wearing Southwest colors. This airplane has a lot in common with the PSA example in the previous photo because N20SW was originally built for PSA. During one of those many down times in our economy, PSA wasn’t in a financial position to accept delivery on the airplane. At the time, Southwest was negotiating for its first aircraft with both Boeing for the 737 and Douglas for the DC-9, and according to Herb Kelleher, Boeing won “through a generous ‘last minute’ offer. Hallelujah!” In our next installment, we will look at later variants, including the advanced model of the 737-200 that made it a worldwide best seller.
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I selected this particular Flashback installment to be a “Best of” for a number of reasons. As a former Braniff Flight Attendant, I flew on the 727-200 featured in the first photo more times than I can count (but not with this very unique Southwest livery). And, as a California native, I always loved the “Golden State”-shaped boarding passes that were used “back in the day.” Long after those plastic cards were retired, I asked a friend in Marketing if there were any that might be still be around. Surprisingly, there were a few, and the one that I was given has the number 95 on it—not a great boarding position, for sure—but it is the year I started here at Southwest. The biggest reason, though, is that I am continually amazed at how many unexpected treasures Brian managed to find to share with us each week and how much richer we are for those efforts. Looking back at the 41+ years Southwest Airlines has been in business, it’s not surprising to find some historical oddities in our files. In this week’s post, we look at an unusual logo or two, a unique boarding pass, and a face-to-face baggage delivery system.
Yup, that’s a Southwest aircraft in the photo above. It is N406BN, and it is the 727-200 that Braniff provided to us on lease in 1979 as settlement of legal action we had brought against them. It flew between Dallas and Houston for about ten months, even though the lease was supposed to have lasted two years. Besides being unique as a Southwest 727 (we would later lease six 727s from PeoplExress in 1983 with a more standard livery), it is the only aircraft to wear this stylized logo.
The uniqueness of N406BN’s livery extends to the vertical stabilizer. The airplane carries a script “S” with the same shadowing used in the fuselage title. As proof this “one-off” livery was an experiment, we took delivery of seven 737-200s during the same general time period with the standard block white letters on the tail. The timing of the logo is interesting because it happened during the time that Howard Putnam was Southwest’s CEO. I don’t know if he played a role in the logo, and our advertising agency at the time, the Bloom Agency, has been out of business for a long time now, so we can’t ask them.
Even rarer is the photo above of what I am pretty sure is our Beaumont operation. This looks like a gate because of the microphone to make boarding announcements, but it’s confusing because there appears to be a bag belt behind the counter. The answer might be that it was a small facility so the gate and ticket counter could have been combined. Southwest flew to Beaumont in southeast Texas between March 5, 1979, and September 5, 1980. As far as I can tell, this is the only Southwest airport that used a variation of the logo carried on N406BN. The big difference is that the script was in black on the aircraft, and it is white behind the counter. Since Beaumont service was so short-lived, it’s not surprising that more folks don’t know about the logo. Also of note is the Customer with the Delta garment bag box. When I worked at Delta, the boxes were hugely popular, and we were told the cost of the box outweighed the cost of damage claims to garment bags. (Delta didn’t conditionally check garment bags.) Each day, it was someone’s duty to “build” a supply of boxes for the shift’s flights, and it wasn’t unusual to see these boxes in the bins of different airlines because passengers would either save their bags for future trips, pick up discarded boxes in the claim area, or ask for a box, even when they were flying another airline.
Speaking of logos, the photo above was taken at some kind of promotional event held in the early 1980s. Behind the speakers is a representation of our aircraft tail, but these markings were never carried by a Southwest aircraft. The graphic has both “Southwest” and “Airlines” on the diagonal tail stripes, but even in the very earliest days when our aircraft did carry the word “airlines” in the title, only one word, either “Southwest” or “Airlines” was on the tail. The representation shown here was also used on our printed ads during this period.
Those of us with at least ten years of Southwest seniority remember the rectangular plastic boarding passes with numbers that were used to board our flights. A different color was used for each flight, so the Operations Agent could tell at a glance that the Customer was boarding the correct flight. The boarding passes were uniform throughout the system except for the time when we used a unique version in California with the distinct shape of the Golden State (above). The example above is a spare boarding pass that was used when a pass with the preprinted number went missing. Rather than throw away the remaining 136 cards, the Station would use a black marker to write in the missing number on the appropriately colored blank spare.
And finally, we look at a unique method of baggage delivery to the claim area that was as old as the industry itself. We are looking at the claim area at Love Field, and the Ramp Agents would simply raise metal shutters and set the bags on the shelf. This method of baggage delivery was an original feature of the terminal when it opened in 1958, and it wouldn’t be until later remodeling that Love would finally get bag belts in the claim area. Terminal One in Phoenix had a similar style of claim area, although it was outside under an open-air shed. The biggest drawback to this system is that it put a large number of bags in a concentrated space, especially if Customers were slow to claim their bags. Also a Customer who had a bag at the bottom of the belt might have five or six bags resting on his or her bag, making retrieval difficult.
These lost logos from the past remind us of how we often take our daily routine for granted, when in reality, we are writing our history every day for those who follow.
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In this week’s “Best of” Brian Lusk’s Flashback Fridays, we take a look back at not only a brief history of Love Field before Southwest Airlines, but also at some great photos from Brian’s own postcard collection. Although Brian’s story on Love Field begins in in the 1940s, it’s fun to note that, nearly 100 years ago—in 1917—aviators from the U.S. Army first took off from the field they called Love. The romantic in me likes to imagine the countless numbers of travelers over the decades—and all their reasons for flying in and out of “Big D”—who probably never gave a second thought to being a part of the near-century of Love Field’s colorful history. Southwest has been operating from Love Field since June 18, 1971, and in these weekly posts, we have looked at some of our early operations at our home airport. I thought it might be fun to take a look back at Love before Southwest, by using some postcards in my collection. So let’s start with the terminal that was located off of Lemmon Avenue during the 1940s and 1950s. This terminal was badly overcrowded almost as soon as it opened, and until the present terminal was built, this building was expanded as far as could be done. The photo above appears to date from the late 1940s before the extensions were added to each side of the building. We have a Trans-Texas DC-3 and an American DC-6. Once operations moved to the present building in 1958, this structure fell into disrepair. On my first trip into Love in 1959, it was still standing but was riddled with broken windows. Today, the only remnant of this terminal is the traffic circle with the facilities signature stylized wing made from sidewalks at the end of George Coker Circle. Judging by the cars in the parking lot, this view (below) of the current terminal dates from the late 1950s probably not long after the building opened on January 20, 1958. Although the terminal doesn’t yet feature a parking garage, it does have the current traffic flow, with an upper and lower level. The main lobby hasn’t changed too much over the years. In this view, all of the ticket counters were to the left of the lobby. The airport coffee shop occupied the area where the Southwest Ticket Counter is now—off to the extreme right of the picture. Several high-end retail shops occupied the area straight ahead in the photo, and the famous world map can be seen at the center right of the photo. The stairs in the center of the post card have been removed, and the photographer is standing on the mezzanine, which is now enclosed for offices. The next two views were taken after August 18, 1965, when the upper deck parking structure was opened. This was also the about the same time that Runway 13Right/31Left was opened to the left. The parking lot is busier in the bottom postcard. And finally, we see the terminal as it was not long before the other airlines moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Airport (Now DFW International) on January 13, 1974. Those carriers used the terminal for 16 years almost to the day, while Southwest has been a part of this terminal for 39 years in June. The postcard below shows the new Braniff ticketing and baggage claim to the right, and the original facade of the building is very evident. With the construction under way to moderinize the terminal, the current configuration of the building will soon join these views as a piece of Dallas's and Southwest's history.
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In honor of the opening of baseball season this week, I’ve chosen Brian’s nod to Southwest’s connection with “America’s pastime” as this edition of the Best of Flashback Fridays. Granted, Brian’s post was written at the very end of that year’s season, just as the 2011 World Series was about to start, but there’s just something about an opening day game, the unmistakable sound a solidly hit ball off a wooden bat makes, and the smell of hot dogs that makes spring so special for baseball fans nationwide. So, as this year’s new season starts, let’s round the bases one more time with this October 21, 2011 Flashback Friday post. In the pivotal scene of my favorite baseball movie, James Earl Jones as Terence Mann tries to persuade Ray Kinsella to keep the baseball field he created in his corn field, and he tells him that the one constant throughout the years is baseball. Baseball has been a constant in my life. My first baseball game in July 1963 at Dodger Stadium featured three future Hall of Famers, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, and Stan Musial. And, almost from day one, baseball has been a constant through the years at Southwest Airlines. With the World Series starting this week, I thought we would look at baseball and Southwest. One of the teams in the World Series is our Texas Rangers. Most people around here like to date the team's beginning to 1972, but they actually began in 1961 as the Washington Senators—an expansion team that replaced the original Senators who had left for Minnesota as the Twins. Los Angelinos and San Franciscans are proud to keep their teams’ history from Brooklyn and New York’s Polo Grounds, but I think folks here hide the Senators’ relationship to the team in an attempt to lop off 11 years of mediocrity from the record. But the Rangers aren’t mediocre anymore!
It was a much different story in 1972 when they began play in the old Arlington Stadium. The facility had begun life as Turnpike Stadium, a minor league park designed so it could be expanded quickly should North Texas finally land a major league team. The photo above was from a “Hostess of the Month” feature that ran in our original inflight reading offering, Southwest Airlines Magazine. Each month, the magazine featured photos of one of our Flight Attendants taken at a Texas landmark like the Alamo, San Jacinto battle field, or the State Fair. This photo was taken in May 1972, shortly after the Rangers first game in Arlington a month earlier. Our Flight Attendant, Judy Sauder, is wearing our original Hostess uniform, and the photo shows the original configuration of the stadium. Additional seats down the right field line that were installed for the Rangers are visible. In addition, the outfield was enclosed with steel bleachers. The facility didn't look like a major league park until the upper deck and enlarged press box were installed in 1978. Judy's photo ran in the July 1972 edition.
We weren’t totally Ranger-centric back then, as we had another Hostess of the Month shoot outside the Astrodome in Houston. And as Southwest expanded across the country, we carried our love of baseball on our wings. Today, you will see Southwest signage at ballparks all across the country. Back in our early days, we didn’t serve New York, but in our files, I found photos of one of the greatest players ever to wear the pinstripes, Mickey Mantle. Mickey had flown from his home in Dallas to Corpus Christi, where the minor league Sea Gulls were throwing a Mickey Mantle Day.
The men in the white jackets are the Corpus Christi Red Carpet Committee, and the man shaking hands with Mickey is Terry Ferrell, the owner of the local team.
For a memento of his Southwest flight, our Ticket Agent, Pam Parker, pins a Southwest button onto Mickey. As to the date of the photos, they are either 1976 or 1977 because the Sea Gulls played their first game on June 3, 1976, and they folded in August of the next year.
Speaking of baseball legends, Nolan Ryan is like royalty in this part of the world, especially with what he has done as Texas Rangers President. During his Hall of Fame playing days, he was known as “Big Tex.” Here we see him with Herb (whose nametag reads “Little Tex”) at a Southwest event called “The Southwest Airlines Downtown Roundup.” When Nolan transferred to the Rangers in 1989, he signed with Southwest to be our official “Cargo Spokesperson.” Since then, he has had a long official and unofficial relationship with Southwest that included having an aircraft named after him. Since our Employees in the background are wearing the nautical motif uniforms, the photo was probably taken in 1990 or 1991, during his playing career.
Going back to Terence Mann’s Field of Dreams soliloquy, he tells Ray that “This field, this game is part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again.” Whether you’re a Cardinals fan or a Rangers fan, Southwest is your hometown airline, and I imagine that our flights this week between St. Louis and Dallas have been filled with baseball fans.
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I think that this “Best of” Flashback Fridays, which originally ran on July 13, 2012, is the perfect pick for this week, but that doesn’t mean it was an easy choice to make.
I must admit that it was always one of my favorites, since Brian shared not only his ever-present knowledge of airports and airplanes, but also, in this one, his personal memories of his Dad. It’s clear where Brian’s love and fascination with the aviation industry began, and I cannot help but think how incredibly proud his Dad would have been this week to see Brian’s family, friends, and over a hundred Southwest Employees turn out for his memorial service.
As regular readers know, I can thank my father, David, for a lot of my “avgeekness.” I hope you will forgive this somewhat personal post, but I think that my dad’s career may offer some lessons about this crazy industry. Dad would have been 88 a few days ago. He was born, the youngest of eight, near Stamford in West Texas in 1924 to a sharecropper cotton farmer. His father was born in 1879 in Alabama and moved west for never-discussed reasons, and his mother was the daughter of a Baptist minister who used to ride his circuit on a mule. Airplanes over his part of Texas were a rarity for Dad growing up in the 20s and 30s, but when World War II came, he saw the airplane as a way out of dry-land farming. He was a B-17 aircraft commander, but Victory-Europe Day kept his unit in the states. (The Pacific Theater needed B-29 crews, and the war was over before he could be retrained.) Leaving the service, he wanted to stay in aviation (and away from Stamford, Texas), but not as a pilot. He joined a small airline called ESSAIR (an acronym that stood for E fficiency, S afety, and S peed by AIR ) in Lubbock. Shortly after that, the airline changed its name to Pioneer. This was the first new certificated airline to begin service since the early 1930s, and it has a lot of interesting parallels with Southwest, which I will cover in a later blog post.
By the time the photo above was taken in 1954 at Amarillo, Dad had moved up the ladder from Agent in Lubbock, to Station Manager in Big Spring, Texas, Clovis, New Mexico (where I was born), and had just moved to Amarillo. Continental would buy out Pioneer the next year. Dad is the man at the left of the photo with the Postmaster celebrating a landmark event. The airplane is a former United Airlines DC-3 with the right-hand door—note the “1,000,000th Passenger Month” sticker next to the door. I was only two at the time, but as I got older, I would go to work with Dad in the summer, and sit on a bag tug watching the airplanes at the old Amarillo Terminal. From Amarillo, his career would take him to Los Angeles as a Director Passenger Service (DPS) flying onboard Continental’s new 707s and 720Bs as a management representative/concierge, and I took my first jet flight (on a Continental Boeing 720B) in 1962 from LAX to El Paso. Our house was maybe five blocks from the southern edge of LAX, and from that point on, I lived and breathed airplanes—especially airliners. This was the period of transition from the great prop liners like the DC-7 and Constellation to the early 707s and DC-8s, and they all flew out of LAX. Dad was soon promoted to be in charge of Continental’s ticket counter at LAX, but I didn’t have the freedom to go to work with him like in Amarillo. However, I only had to look out my front door to see a constant parade of aircraft taking off.
In 1967, we moved to Dallas when Dad became the Continental’s last Station Manager at Love Field, and shortly afterward, Continental operated its last Viscount flight out of Dallas. That’s Dad to the right of the photo. Luckily, Love Field had a great observation deck, and once again, I could spend whole days at the airport in summer.
In this later photo, Dad (second from left) is part of a Continental ad featuring Dallas employees. The date is about 1972, and it’s hard for me to believe, but I am now 18 years older than he was in this photo. That got me to thinking about the tremendous changes both of us experienced during our airline careers. My father started in the DC-3 era and when he finished, the 747 and 737 had begun flying the airways. My 36-year career overlaps some of Dad’s, as when I started with Delta, they were still flying DC-8s, had introduced DC-9s and 747s, and were taking delivery of new 727s and L-1011s. Dad and I both saw the last days of airline regulation and the rise of airlines like Southwest. Since then, I’ve seen those new 727s and L-1011s sent off to the scrap yards, along with early model 737s and even some 757s and 767s. Douglas and Lockheed are now names for the history book, and even though the 737 and 747 are still in production, today’s airplanes only bear a physical resemblance to those first examples that came onboard during my dad’s career. It amazes me that, in just three generations of Lusk men, we have moved from the last days of the open range to well into the third or fourth generation of the jet age.
If I wasn’t already feeling old enough, I found a couple of other lessons in thinking about my dad. Airline employees still like to take pictures in and around airplanes. I’m the old geezer on the right. Even more profound is that our industry is such a small world. In writing Flashback Fridays, I have discovered other Southwest Employees whose fathers knew and worked with my dad. That “small-worldness” applies to my own career, as I’ve run across Southwest folks who have worked in the same cities as I did with Delta or they are former Delta employees with mutual friends. I’ve even met new Southwest Employees who were former AirTran and former Delta employees. Recently, I attended an archives institute, and was talking with Bob, who is a volunteer archivist for the Atlanta Symphony—his day job is a Dispatcher with Delta. It seems that, unbeknownst to each of us, we shared an Atlanta break room back in 1979. Over 30 years later, our paths reconnected. My dad had similar instances, and those of you just starting your careers will have similar “old man” tales to tell in the future. Yes, this has always been an amazing industry. In spite of all the challenges we face, it still is--especially when you can work for a Company like Southwest.
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Every year—usually around late August or early September—when no one else in Dallas is thinking about sleigh bells, decking the halls, or dashing through fields of snow, the Southwest Choir begins singing about those very things. Well, practicing for the Annual Holiday Program, anyway! The Holiday Program has been a December staple at HDQ for 20 years, and I LUV that I'm able to say that I’ve been a part of the tradition for 16 of the 17 Decembers I’ve been here. We’ve gone from musical skits to themed shows to the “mostly music” format we’ve enjoyed for the last several years. All of the choir members, soloists, and instrumentalists are Southwest Employees, who volunteer 30 minutes a week to practice. Although we often wonder if we will “have it together” by December, I’m always amazed at how it turns out on the day of the performance. We had our first AirTran Employee who sang with us this year, and we even did a fun One LUV take on the “Hippopotamus” song that the crowd seemed to enjoy (think "Integration Duck"). Hope you will do the same with this short video offering of the opening number of this year's program.
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Even though I minored in History in college—and thoroughly enjoyed it—it never really came alive for me until I accompanied my aunt and uncle to Hawaii to participate in the events commemorating the attack on Pearl Harbor. For my uncle, who had been college-age himself on that fateful December 7 morning in 1941, it would be his first return to the islands since the end of World War II. For me, it was my first airline flight, first trip to Hawaii, and I thought, a great way to spend almost a week at the beach. To say that I was disappointed to learn that I was going to have to hang around all of the “old people” (most of them only in their mid-40s at the time) would be an understatement. But, as the days went by, and I was privileged to meet so many of my uncle’s shipmates and fellow Pearl Harbor Survivors (just one of the organizations that attends these events), I began to see history in a real light. My uncle served onboard the USS Phoenix, a “Brooklyn-class” light cruiser that was based at Pearl Harbor. Although many sailors on the Phoenix observed the “rising sun” on the Japanese attack planes that morning, the ship escaped unharmed. Although the Phoenix escorted many convoys and troop ships throughout the years of the war, she had the distinction of never losing a man in battle. For that reason, she was nicknamed “The Lucky Lady.” Two of the highlights of the trip were the excursion to the USS Arizona Memorial, which is built over the still-sunken battleship that was blown up in the first wave of the Japanese attack. Looking down into the beautiful waters of the Pacific and knowing that some of the 1,070 souls from the Arizona, who were killed there that day, remain entombed in the sunken wreckage is a very powerful history lesson. The other event that still gives me chills is the visit to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl). In the predawn hours of December 7, hundreds of us boarded buses that transported us to Punchbowl, so that we could be in place for the beginning of the memorial service, which began at the exact hour of the attack years earlier (7:53 a.m.) with the “missing man” formation flyover. I was touched to see grown men in tears and embracing friends and shipmates they had not seen in over two decades. Today, 69 years after “the date that will live in infamy,” the numbers of Veterans returning for these ceremonies is ever-dwindling. They did not talk much about their experiences, but their valor and patriotism are just two characteristics that made them part of “the Greatest Generation.”
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I could not agree more about this article. Loved it myself! By the way, I reached out directly to you via your e-mail address, but on the chance you have not received my response, I wanted to let you know that when I contacted Spirit on your behalf, they informed me that the links to the magazine articles only stay "live" for three months.
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I was able to do a little sleuthing, and I discovered that our Customer Relations Department responded to the e-mail address you provided them. I'm told that you have since contacted them again providing an alternate e-mail address. You should be hearing from them soon.
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