June 3, 2013
/PRNewswire/ -- A specially painted Alaska Airlines jet adorned with a
high school student's winning design honoring the culture of the Aloha State touched down today in
before a crowd of students, educators and travelers. The unique paint theme, dubbed the "Spirit of the Islands," was created by 17-year-old
Nee's design was selected from among more than 2,700 submissions by students across the Hawaiian Islands in a statewide "Paint-the-Plane" contest sponsored by Alaska Airlines, in partnership with the Hawaii State Department of Education and Hawaii Association of Independent Schools. A 10-member judging panel, comprised of
artists, educators and other local community members, carefully scored and selected the three top designs, which were then voted on by
residents in an online public vote.
As the grand prize winner, Nee received a trip for four to any of the carrier's destinations and a
"This has been an incredible opportunity to share
beauty with people throughout the country," said Nee. "This contest helped me to sharpen my graphic design skills and demonstrated that with hard work, attention to detail and determination, great things are possible."
Nee's winning design displays a voyaging canoe depicting the cultural diversity of the Islands, a bright yellow hibiscus (the state flower), the Hawaiian Island chain and the phrase "Spirit of the Islands."
The soon-to-be Kaiser High School senior is a nearly straight-A student and a decorated member of the school's Air Force ROTC program. Known for his artistic ability and interest in graphic design and athletics, Nee said he plans to invest his
for college and take his family to visit relatives in
, where he hopes to see snow for the first time.
The "Spirit of the Islands" Boeing 737-800 was revealed to Nee at
International Airport, where he was joined by his parents,
Robin and Mitch Connell
, and father
Aaron Garrett Nee
, as well as Hawaii Lt. Gov.
, Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO
, Kaiser High School Principal
and several of Nee's teachers. Also joining the welcoming ceremony were the 12 finalists and honorable mention winners, who received prizes and scholarships for their entries, as well.
"What better way to celebrate the beautiful Hawaiian Islands than to promote its lush tropical landscape, cultural diversity and pristine waters on a flying mural that will tour most of our route network from
, and to
and beyond," said Alaska Airlines President and CEO
. "On behalf of all of Alaska Airlines employees, I'd like to congratulate Aaron and the other 12 finalists and honorable mention winners whose stunning artwork stood out as the best among their peers."
, a 12th grader at Seabury Hall on the island of
, placed second for her design featuring a male and female hula dancer against a backdrop of ocean waves and windswept mountain cliffs.
, a sixth grader at Kapolei Middle School on
, placed third for her design depicting a voyaging canoe sailing around the Islands. Hamilton and Cleek will each receive a trip for four to any Alaska Airlines destination and a
scholarship. The 10 other honorable mention winners were awarded a
scholarship each. A dedicated website,
, highlights the top 13 student designs submitted for the contest.
"Congratulations to Aaron and the other students who are sharing the true spirit of the Islands through their designs," said Schools Superintendent
, Hawaii State Department of Education. "We are grateful to Alaska Airlines for providing this opportunity for our students to shine."
"Spirit of the Islands" trivia
- The 129-foot-long Boeing 737-800 has a wingspan of 117 feet and a cruising speed of 530 mph.
- A crew of 18 worked around the clock for 24 days at Aviation Technical Services in Everett, Wash., to paint the plane, which required 26 colors and about 140 gallons of paint, including 20 gallons of primer. In addition, 28,800 yards of masking tape were used.
- The plane accommodates 157 passengers and six crew members.
The aircraft will fly throughout most of Alaska Airlines' network, connecting destinations from
as far south as
The "Spirit of the Islands" contest is the third time Alaska Airlines has turned to the public to paint a plane. The
Spirit of Alaska Statehood
aircraft paint scheme was created by a 16-year-old
student in a similar statewide contest celebrating
50-year anniversary of statehood. In 2011, two soccer fans designed the MLS Portland "
" to celebrate the airline's jersey sponsorship of the
, soccer team.
Note to news media:
High resolution images of the "Spirit of the Islands" plane are available for download from the Alaska Airlines image gallery at
About Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines, a subsidiary of Alaska Air Group (NYSE: ALK), together with its partner regional airlines, serves 95 cities through an expansive network in
, the Lower 48,
. Alaska Airlines has ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Traditional Network Carriers" in the J.D. Power and Associates North America Airline Satisfaction Study
for six consecutive years from 2008 to 2013. For reservations, visit
. For more news and information, visit the Alaska Airlines Newsroom at
About the Hawaii State Department of Education
The Hawaii State Department of Education is the nation's only statewide educational system serving 183,000 students attending more than 280 schools.