The University of Alaska family took to the skies on Friday, painted on the fuselage of Era Alaska’s newest aircraft. The slick Bombardier Dash-8’s livery is two-toned, with the left of the aircraft sporting UAF Nanooks and the right donning UAA Seawolves.
Era Alaska is a regional carrier based in Anchorage that operates turboprop aircraft throughout the state.
Michelle Renfrew, director of marketing and communications for UAF, said the paint scheme for the aircraft was the brainchild of Era Alaska in response to the pipeline of talent from University of Alaska’s aviation programs.
“Of course we were thrilled. It is a natural partnership. Of course to have our logo on an aircraft is something we are really excited about”, said Renfrew. Era hopes the aircraft will encourage more rural talent to consider attending University of Alaska campuses.
“We look forward to your students graduating into the aviation industry” announced Jim Hickerson, President of Hageland Aviation, a parent company of Era Alaska. He continued to chuckle to about possibly getting University of Alaska Southeast put on the nose of the plane.
The University of Alaska themed aircraft is the first sponsorship of its kind for an Alaska based carrier.
Unveiling ceremonies were held in both Anchorage and Fairbanks Friday afternoon to a healthy dose of fanfare. An entourage of student representatives from UAA in attendance came decked out in green and gold livery of their own. UAA student body president Andrew Lessig strutted around both events wearing a Seawolves flag around his neck like a cape.
“Seawolves and Nanooks- that is a pretty fierce rivalry but I think it is pretty cool, we are a united system. Although we have different mascots, I think it could be a pretty great marketing tool. If a kid out in Shishmaref sees the Nanooks Seawolves plane maybe he will want to go here” said Kyle Campbell, a biology graduate student at UAF. Both mascots provided a source of playful rivalry theatrics, which permeated the events.
The 20,000ft publicity boost is debuting not long after both universities launched re-branding campaigns to refine their image and attract higher enrollment.