By offering complimentary travel to veterans on Honor Flights, priority boarding for active duty military and donations to numerous non-profit military organizations, Alaska Airlines has long been a proud supporter of the United States military. Alaska has now unveiled its largest (and heaviest) honor to date – a Boeing 737-900ER with a customized paint job to honor the brave men and women of the armed forces and their families.
The livery is part of a new initiative called “Alaska Airlines Salutes,” which combines the many employee-led efforts to support and honor those who serve. The design features an Alaska Airlines Salutes medallion and a fallen soldier badge, with the Battlefield Cross to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The plane also features five rings surrounding the engine, representative of the five branches of the United States military, and American flag winglets.
The process of creating a military-themed livery began more than two years ago when Alaska Airlines line aircraft technicians Kevin Kruse, Brett Megran and Brian Bowden decided to pitch the idea to Alaska Airlines executives.
The three technicians are part of a group of employees who created Alaska’s Fallen Solider program in 2011. The program ensures that the remains of fallen soldiers are transported to their final resting place in a respectful and dignified manner and includes customized baggage carts that the group has delivered to six of Alaska’s largest airports.
“We were sitting around one night in Portland, brainstorming other ideas to support the military,” Megran said. “At that point we had the Fallen Soldier cart, we had the Fallen Soldier belt loader in Seattle, so we thought, ‘why not have an airplane too?’”
“With Alaska Airlines’ history of having outstanding and unique liveries, we knew that we could come up with one that would proudly honor our United States military,” said Kruse.
After their pitch meeting with the entire executive team, Kruse, Megran and Bowden were prepared to answer several questions. However, when their presentation was over, Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden and other company leaders were immediately supportive.
“Leaders at Alaska empower us to take action. That’s really what the ‘Alaska Spirit’ means to me – we’re empowered to have dreams. For Brian, Kevin and me, this airplane is a dream, more than four years in the making, that has finally become a reality that we can share with the world,” said Megran. “It’s going to have such an effect on so many people’s lives. They’ll see the airplane and know that Alaska cares about them.”