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Flying Fish Highlights Alaska's Salmon Resource


12/12/2005

Artistic initiative sends a giant salmon soaring through American skies

by Craig Weatherby



We've seen some pretty big fish, but this one takes the prize.  In October, Seattle-based Alaska Airlines landed the biggest salmon ever seen.  Appropriately, the painted plane set down in Anchorage, Alaska.


The fish takes up nearly the full length of a Boeing 737-400 passenger jet, which the airline calls its "Salmon-Thirty-Salmon."


This striking piece of airborne art was intended to celebrate wild Alaskan seafood and the carrier's role in flying millions of pounds of fresh salmon, halibut, and other seafood each year.


A team of 30 artists needed more than 140 gallons of paint and three weeks to complete the lifelike king (chinook) salmon.


The nonprofit Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board gave Alaska Airlines a $500,000 federal grant to paint the jet. The state's commercial salmon industry has struggled against competition from foreign, farm-raised salmon, and many commercial fishermen have dreamed of seeing an Alaska Airlines jet emblazoned with a fish.


The Salmon-Thirty-Salmon passenger jet will range across the U.S., and it will fly four or five years before the chinook fades.  It's not certain whether it will be repainted as a salmon, or revert to the Eskimo (Inuit) image found on most Alaska Airlines jets.


The speckled chinook runs 120 feet long, starting just behind the pilot's window and ending on the tail fin.


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