2007 - Airbus A320 - 'Support Our Naval Aviators' Specials
The tragic events of September 11 2001 revitalized Westwind’s visual and organisational commitment to the United States military. As a longtime military contractor, it was natural to collaborate on special campaign’s aimed at supporting America’s men and women protecting liberty and freedom abroad. However, the conduct of the Bush administration in the years after 9/11 precipitated a slump in patriotism and fostered scepticism about the US military. Despite the slump, Westwind continued to trumpet its pride for US servicemembers and in the face of increasing public opposition, awareness campaigns were seen as increasingly vital for sustaining interventions abroad. With its base in San Diego, continental headquarters of the Pacific Fleet, and long history of partnership with the Naval Air Command, it was natural that much of Westwind’s branding connected with the Navy. In 2006, the airline chartered a deal to paint three of its liveries in special liveries commemorating the three Aircraft Carriers based at San Diego’s North Island at the time. Three A320s from the fleet based in San Diego were selected to wear a special grey livery. Designing the livery was a difficult task due to the lack of painted details on prototypical United States Aircraft Carriers, but it was made easier by the Navy’s decision to provide free use of all Navy IP. Westwind adopted a special safety yellow secondary colour, emulated the CVN featured on the bridge of each ship, and placed the ship’s seal at the centre of the fuselage WW logo. The liveries were originally planned to feature the full names of the featured ships but the verbosity of the USS Abraham Lincoln and USS Ronald Reagan forced Westwind to use shorthand nicknames used by the crew of each ship. The three aircraft were renamed to Salute USS Nimitz, Salute USS Abraham Lincoln, and Support USS Ronald Reagan. The trio started their first day of service, November 11, 2006 (Veterans Day), with an upbeat media stunt where they flew in a loose formation with a duo of flanking Super Hornets in the skies above San Diego's coastal waters. Had the Navy extended funding for the program and had Westwind lasted longer, plans were in the works for more special ACC liveries following the same template. Sadly, even though Valiant inherited Westwind's military connections, contracts, and history, it did not maintain the west coast carrier's public enthusiasm for the armed forces. The Navy approached Valiant shortly after the buyout asking to modify liveries worn by the Support Our Naval Aviators fleet and keep them flying with Westwind branding, but Valiant management turned down this offer. Not wanting to be associated with a now zombie brand, the Navy asked Valiant to remove Navy markings from the specials. As a result, N228WW, N269WW, and N260WW were some of the first ex-Westwind aircraft to receive Valiant paint in early 2010.