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Shark Week has become a TV staple since it first debuted in the 1980s. Now the frenzy is spreading at 35,000 feet.
For the third year in a row, Southwest Airlines will join the fray by rolling out shark-themed designs on its Boeing 737 aircraft.
In previous years, Southwest had given just one of its jets a shark-inspired look. This year, five Southwest 737s will get a shark makeover. Each plane will feature its own species of shark.
The aircraft still show Southwest’s typical paint scheme, but an image of circling sharks and a 30th-anniversary Shark Week logo will grace the nose of Southwest’s five Shark Week jets.
The special liveries debut Monday and will fly on the jets through Aug. 31.
In another new twist, Southwest has partnered with flight-tracking service FlightAware to let aviation (and shark) enthusiasts track the shark-themed jets on FlightAware's website.
Past and future “shark flights” can be searched there by entering the tail numbers of the aircraft: Great White (N470WN), Hammerhead (N705SW), Mako (N961WN), Tiger Shark (N553WN) and Bull Shark (N947WN).
Southwest is encouraging both “customers and aviation enthusiasts to share their plane-spotting photos of our Shark Week Fleet with @SouthwestAir using the hashtag #SharksTakeFlight.”
Southwest says the partnership with Discovery Channel helps the carrier draw attention to its aircraft and in-flight entertainment, which will feature Shark Week content during the promotion.
Customers will even get a sneak-peek of some Shark Week content ahead of its July 22-29 airing on the Discovery Channel. Fliers on Southwest’s Wi-Fi equipped planes will be able to stream a never-before-seen episode of "Great White Abyss" up to two weeks ahead of its formal Shark Week debut on the Discovery Channel.
“Entering our fifth consecutive year of partnership with the Discovery Channel, we are thrilled to celebrate Shark Week’s 30th anniversary in an even bigger way by launching an entire fleet of Shark-themed aircraft and premiering a Shark Week episode onboard our flights, letting our Customers have the first view of Shark Week content,” Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King says in a statement.
Photo credit: Stephen M. Keller, Southwest Airlines