“Salmon Thirty Salmon II” Flies Upstream One Last Time

“Salmon Thirty Salmon II” Flies Upstream One Last Time

SEATTLE – On Monday, April 17, 2023, Alaska Airlines (AS) held a special ceremonial sendoff flight celebrating 18 years of having the world’s largest flying fish in the world, the “Salmon Thirty Salmon.”

After it came out in late February that the “Salmon Thirty Salmon II” would be retired instead of seeing a third rendition of the iconic scheme, aviation enthusiasts flocked to social media. Some say they would be booking on the ceremonial sendoff flight.

Others began petitions to save the flying fish from being retired. However, a decision had been made.

Salmon Thirty Salmon II landing in Seattle. Photo: Daniel Gorun/Airways

How the “Salmon Thirty Salmon” Came to Be

Back in 2005, AS partnered with Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute to unveil the first rendition of the Salmon-Thirty-Salmon on a Boeing 737-490 (N792AS · MSN 28887 · LN 2903) at an event in Seattle. Seattle-based wildlife artist Mark Boyle was in charge of the project, which involved 30 aircraft painters and 24 days of nonstop painting to complete the original design.

It has been long told that Southwest Airlines (WN) got wind of AS’ unveiling ceremony, and dispatched its fleet of Boeing 737s, painted with the also long-gone ‘Shamu’ liveries, which promoted the Sea World amusement park. The original “Salmon Thirty Salmon” livery lasted on N792AS until 2011 when it was then repainted back into the AS “Icicles” scheme.

The livery proved to be so popular that a year later, AS pulled a second rendition, named “Salmon Thirty Salmon II,” applied to a company’s Boeing 737- 890(WL) (N559AS · MSN 35178 · LN 2026). The aircraft wearing this distinctive livery landed in Seattle on October 5, 2012.

So much detail on this scheme including in the eye of the salmon. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

Rumors among enthusiasts during the last two years speculate about a possible third “Salmon Thirty Salmon” depicted on one of AS’ Boeing 737-900(ER) or 737-9s. However, that is no longer the case.

As confirmed by Marylin Romano, Regional VP of Alaska Airlines, “Though we’ll miss the world’s largest flying fish, we’re already looking for ways to honor the culture and history of our namesake state and our connection to communities across the West Coast.” Romano also confirmed that a “new livery design” inspired by Alaska’s cultural heritage will replace the “Salmon Thirty Salmon” livery.

The painting of N559AS also marks the end of the so-called “icicles” branding in the AS fleet. While it is likely to spot it on some airport upholstery across the US, no AS airplanes will fly with it again unless it comes back in the form of a heritage jet.

The infamous icicles branding is seen here on the N559AS. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

While “Salmon Thirty Salmon II” did continue to fly for another week and a half following the ceremonial send-off flight, the aircraft flew its final flight on these colors on Wednesday, April 26, 2023, when it took off from Seattle one last time heading down to Amarillo, Texas where it will receive a new coat of paint, and quietly blend back with the rest of the airline’s fleet.

Photo from onboard the ceremonial sendoff flight Alaska 65. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

Our July 2023 issue will feature a complete story on the origins of the “Salmon Thirty Salmon” livery, together with a complete report about the last flight. Also, don’t miss our video on our YouTube channel where we will show take-off and landing clips from each segment of the sendoff flight throughout Alaska.

Featured Image: Close-up of the Salmon on the Salmon Thirty Salmon II at the gate in Ketchikan. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

Photography Editor
Aviation photojournalist having started with aviation photography with the 747-8F first flight and 787 flight test program. I'm usually around Boeing Field and Renton getting the latest MAX off the flight line along with the latest Boeing test flight programs. Based in Seattle, WA. United States.

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