BigTravelNews.info - Dec 04,2010 - Don't be surprised if you board a plane decked out in the colors of a university sports team the next time you fly Horizon Air.
The carrier on Tuesday made the maiden flight of its Montana State University-themed Bombardier Q400, an aircraft decked out in the blue and gold colors of the Montana State Bobcats.
As you might expect, the unveiling of the aircraft was a big deal in Montana State's hometown of Bozeman.
Alumni, faculty and other well-wishers gathered Tuesday to see the plane make its first landing at the city's Gallatin Field Airport. The Montana State men's basketball team made a surprise exit from the flight as it returned from Seattle, according to KXLF-TV of Butte, Mont.
Despite the novelty appeal in Bozeman, however, the Montana State aircraft is not the first university-themed aircraft to fly for Horizon. In fact, it's Horizon's eighth, joining seven additional aircraft that are painted in the colors of other universities.
And it's not just college sports logos taking to the air these days. Fliers are increasingly likely to find themselves on sports-themed aircraft on a number of airlines.
AirTran, JetBlue, Southwest and US Airways are among the airlines flying aircraft painted in the colors of teams ranging from the National Football League to Major League Soccer.
JetBlue flies one of the more-recent additions to the fleet of sports-themed aircraft. Its Airbus decked out in the colors and logo of the New York Jets is especially notable since it bears only the slightest hint of JetBlue's signature blue color scheme.
For passengers, such sports-themed aircraft can stir up passions.
For proof, look no farther than Idaho.
That's where -- according to Boise's NorthWest Cable News -- University of Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear was preparing to board a Horizon Air flight only to see that his aircraft was painted in the colors of archrival Boise State.
Spear refused to board the flight, "then drove 90 miles to take another flight from another airport," according to the Missoulian newspaper of Missoula, Mont. Spear pledged not to step foot on the BSU aircraft until Horizon matched Boise State's Q400 with one painted for the Idaho Vandals.
He got his wish.
"There is something about the color scheme that's very appealing to me," Spear said at the unveiling of the Idaho Vandals-themed Q400 in mid-November. "You know what, I am going to get on this airplane."