June 18th marked the 50th anniversary of Southwest Airlines – the genesis of today’s low-cost airline boom.
To mark the occasion, the airline unveiled Freedom One, a Boeing 737-800 emblazoned with a stylized flag of the United States of America.
The aircraft is N500WR (36898), delivered in 2014.
“The word ‘freedom’ has significant meaning to the People and history of Southwest Airlines,” said Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines’ Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. “We’re eternally grateful to those who have served and are currently serving in our Armed Forces—including the more than 7,400 veterans and 1,500 military spouses in our Southwest Family. Our Purpose is to connect People to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel. We simply couldn’t fulfill our Purpose if not for the sacrifices and dedication of our military men and women. We appreciate their service and bravery in providing a blanket of freedom for our country.”
Freedom One was unveiled to Southwest® Employees during a Company celebration at the Southwest Airlines® Technical Operations Hangar at William P. Hobby International Airport in Houston, where attendees included Southwest Military Ambassadors, Military Council, winners of the Company’s prestigious President’s Award, and others. Military Ambassadors are Southwest Employees who are veterans and military spouses. They serve as a resource for the Company to foster inclusion for veterans and service members.
Reliving Southwest’s Heritage
Southwest’s first flights operated on what was known as the Texas Triangle, between Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Throughout the next fifty years, Southwest grew to become the nation’s largest domestic airline, carrying up to 1 in the 4 travelers in the United States. Today, Southwest operates one of the world’s largest fleets of Boeing 737s, serves 121 destinations throughout North America, Employs more than 56,000 People, and is consistently ranked among the best airlines and best employers in the world.
Following the Southwest Employee celebration, Freedom One departed Houston, headed for Dallas. Pilots and Flight Attendants onboard are Southwest Employees who served in the military or in the reserves. Additionally, a military veteran dispatched the flight from Southwest’s Network Operations Control facility in Dallas. As the aircraft approached Dallas, it followed the Federal Aviation Administration’s HERBZ navigational flight path to the airport, recently named in honor of Southwest Founder Herb Kelleher.