Aviation News

November 20, 2010

Photos: University of Montana Throws Tailgate Party to Greet Horizon Air’s New Grizzlies Plane

MISSOULA, MONTANA — Horizon Air’s newest university themed Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, though released into normal service last week, was officially unveiled Friday at Missoula International Airport (MSO) with a classic University of Montana Grizzlies tailgate party. Intermittent snow and temperatures in the high 20’s weren’t enough to keep the crowd away as a few hundred turned out to celebrate its official debut on the eve of the Griz-Cat football game – a major state rivalry between the University of Montana and Montana State University. The aircraft is painted in the team colors; maroon and silver with the ‘big Griz’ up on the tail.

(Photos by Dan Jones)

The celebration, put on by the university, Horizon, and the airport, began promptly at noon local time. Besides the aircraft, it featured school mascot Monte, the school pep band and cheerleaders. Free Starbucks coffee, Griz paw cookies, and hot chili were on hand to keep people fed and warm. Dan Russo, Horizon’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications remarked “This plane is just beautiful, and we’ve had celebrations like this before but this one really takes the cake.”

The Griz-themed aircraft is the second in a series of three new additions to the Horizon special paint family, and the seventh to feature educational institutions. The school-based schemes have been wildly popular within the Pacific Northwest region since the first batch was announced in late 2007 on the CRJ-7 type aircraft. Jim Foley, executive vice president of the university commented on the value of the partnership saying “this airplane will fly to Mexico and Canada, to Washington, to Idaho, to Montana, and yes, its going to stop in Bozeman, and its great to have the big Griz up on the tail.” This airplane “is good for the state, good for Missoula, and its particularly good for the University of Montana, Go Griz!”

Horizon serves 45 cities across the western United States and Canada, and is a partner of Alaska Airlines, serving destinations across North America and Hawai’i.

NYCAviation would like to thank Horizon Airlines, the University of Montana, and Missoula International Airport for their contributions to this article. NYC staff member Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren and correspondent Daniel Jones contributed to this report.