The big fish in question is Alaska Airlines’ new “Salmon-Thirty-Salmon II” aircraft. The airline took the wraps off the plane, which has a wingspan of 117 feet and a cruising speed of 530 mph, on Thursday during a ceremony in Anchorage. The plane started flying passenger routes throughout the Alaska airlines network today, connecting destinations from Hawaii to Boston and from Anchorage as far south as Mexico.
The painting of a wild Alaska king salmon that graces the plane is nearly identical to the one that graced the original “Salmon-Thirty-Salmon,” which debuted in 2005. But the airline says the new plane, which is nine feet longer, also features fish scales on the winglets and a salmon pink-colored Alaska script across the fuselage.
According to the airline, the fish-themed Boeing 737-800 is the most intricately painted commercial aircraft in the world. Four gallons of Mylar paint were used to create an iridescent sparkle over the nearly 3,500 fish scales to make the painting three dimensional.
An eight-man crew worked around the clock for 27 days at Associated Painters Inc. in Oklahoma City to bring Seattle-based wildlife artist Mark Boyle’s design to life. Boyle designed the first Salmon-Thirty-Salmon as well as a dozen other special paint themes for the airline in recent years.
The plane celebrates the partnership of the airline and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. “Alaska Airlines has been a terrific partner to the Alaska Seafood industry by delivering high-quality fresh seafood products to cities throughout the United States and beyond and flying employees to work throughout the year,” said Michael Cerne, ASMI’s executive director, in an Alaska Airlines press release.
In addition to flying seafood industry employees throughout the state, the airline transports Alaska seafood to markets in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Last year, the airline says, it transported nearly 24 million pounds of Alaska seafood, which is delivered fresh to markets across the United States, often within 24 hours.