SDSU Brand Reaches New Heights with Aztec Logo on Plane
SDSU now claims the distinction of having California’s first sports-themed aircraft with the unveiling of Alaska Airlines’ new Aztec plane. The Bombardier Q400 prop plane bearing the university’s logo and painted in the school’s hallmark red and black colors was introduced by airline officials during a May 31 ceremony
before cheering alumni, administrators, faculty and students at San Diego International Airport.
SDSU administrators and students pose for photos with the new Aztec plane.
"SDSU stood out,” said Alaska Airlines’ vice president of marketing, Joe Sprague, in explaining why San Diego State was selected. “They stood out for four reasons: a strong alumni base, popular sports teams, terrific academics, but most important to us, a very engaged administration that was very focused on partnering with Alaska Airlines and we appreciate that very much."
Of course, the announcement was also timed to coincide with the start of the airline’s new San Diego flights to Fresno, Monterey and Santa Rosa, California which began June fourth and fifth. As SDSU Athletics Director Jim Sterk pointed out to the crowd, a plane painted with Aztec logos flying throughout California and neighboring states will literally raise the university’s profile.
"I think for us to be able to have San Diego State and Aztecs all over the Northwest and west coast on routes in California is very, very important for us,” the AD said. “It helps put the name out there. Eighty percent of San Diego State’s 250,000 alumni live in California so it will be a huge source of pride for them to see the Aztec colors flying through the sky and at our local airport.”
SDSU Alumni Association President-Elect Bill Earley ('86) at the May 31 introduction of the new Aztec plane.
AZTEC PRIDE IS SKY HIGH
Standing among the many Aztecs gathered at Terminal One’s Gate 16, Alumni Association President-Elect Bill Earley (’86) echoed Sterk’s sentiment.
"I think it acknowledges that we're no longer the sleeping giant down south,” Earley said. “SDSU is on the rise and watch out because we’re sky high - that's the limit."
Following the unveiling, SDSU fans, staff, students and 15 radio contest winners boarded the aircraft for the Aztec plane’s inaugural flight along the Southern California coast, the Coachella Valley and over the Salton Sea.
SDSU Alumni Association President Jeff Marston ('77) with the new Aztec plane, an Alaska Airlines Bombardier Q400.
Among the passengers was Alumni Association President Jeff Marston (’77) whose term as president expires at the end of June.
“It may sound a little corny, but there's a great sense of pride for me to be on this plane,” Marston said. “We started out flying practically right over my house and I'm looking out the window and you've got the Aztecs and the logo flying around Southern California.
“We're always in second place to LA and the Bay Area. Not today. This is really cool. We’re first in California and it's going to go a long way. This is really a great capper to my term as Alumni president.”
“SHOW US THE PLANE!”
Also aboard the flight was Aztec women’s basketball head coach, Beth Burns. She posted updates of the event via Twitter.
Aztec women's head basketball coach, Beth Burns, aboard the Aztec plane with SDSU Athletics' Christian Deleon.
“I kept tweeting how nice everyone was being and what a neat experience this was and all they kept saying was, ‘Show us the plane!’” Burns said. The coach said she hopes her team will one day be able to fly to a game aboard the aircraft.
The Aztec plane accommodates 76 passengers and four crew members. It has a cruising speed of 414 miles per hour and can fly at a maximum altitude of 25,000 feet.
Like the eight other university-themed aircraft already operated for Alaska Airlines by its sister carrier, Horizon Air, the Aztec aircraft was painted at no cost to San Diego State University. Other paint themes include the universities of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington, Boise State, Montana State, Oregon State and Washington State.
View a photo album of the Aztec plane's inaugural flight with SDSU passengers!