MIAMI – Yesterday, a special flight operated the same route that started it all on September 1, 1981, to commemorate Horizon Air’s (QX) first flight.

Horizon’s “Meatball” plane, a custom-painted retro-themed aircraft, flew some of Alaska Airlines (AS) regional carrier’s workers and visitors from Seattle to Yakima this time.

Capt. Perry Solmonson, 40th Anniversary Committee Chair stated, “We’re flying our meatball livery on the same route Horizon flew 40 years ago. This is a huge milestone for us and this anniversary flight recognizes not only the hard and successful work accomplished to date, but also celebrate our up-and-coming team members of the future.”

Horizon Air. Photo: Alaska Airlines

History of Horizon Air


Horizon was founded in 1981 in Seattle by entrepreneur Milt Kuolt and a group of venture capitalists with less than 100 personnel and a fleet of two F-27 prophets.

In November 1986, AS agreed to buy QX. The former had undergone a major corporate restructure the year prior, and QX is now owned by Alaska Air Group after the Transportation Department approved the arrangement in late December.

Horizon, launch customer of the Dornier 328 turboprop, was kept as a separately branded airline by the Alaska Air Group, with a codeshare arrangement with its new sister airline, Alaska, but its codeshare with United Airlines (UA) was terminated.

Horizon and Northwest Airlines (NW) struck a code-share agreement in 1988. The next year, flights to Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, were added to QX’s international service, utilizing both Dash 8-100s and Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner turboprop aircraft.

Today, QX employs over 3,500 people and maintains a fleet of 62 planes: 32 Bombardier Q400 aircraft—perfectly suited for serving smaller communities in the PNW—and 30 Embraer E175 aircraft.  

Horizon Air. Photo: Alaska Airlines.

A Way of Life


According to AS, QX is still known for its exceptional service because Kuolt believed that every guest deserved more than just a ride from point A to point B.

According to Robert J. Serling in the chapter on Horizon Air in the book, Character & Characters: The Spirit of Alaska Airlines, the service established a culture, a way of life, and a mindset that was “firmly embedded in the work ethic and attitude of every Horizon employee.”

Horizon Air. Photo: Alaska Airlines

Featured image: Horizon Air. Photo: Alaska Airlines. Article source: Alaska Airlines