The Spirit of the Islands landed at Honolulu International Airport on Monday. The Boeing 737-800 carries the dreams of a young artist and the culture of Hawaii.
A gathering at the airport patiently waited for the Hawaii star of the Alaska Airlines fleet to make a landing.
Alaska Airlines asked Hawaii students to come up with a design for a plane that honored the culture of the Aloha State. Aaron Nee's was chosen from 2,700 entries. It includes the state flower and a voyaging canoe.
Kahu Kordell Kekoa blessed the plane welcoming it to Hawaii.
And what's a work of art without the artist's signature? Carrying an extra thick Sharpie, Nee hammed it up for the cameras as he added his signature to the plane.
"It's really great. I really like it. What they've done to it -- it looks exactly the same so I'm very happy on this day," said Nee.
"My heart was touched," said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. "I feel the aloha in the plane whenever this plane goes across the country. It will share our people, place and culture and aloha spirit."
And when people fly on the Spirit of the Islands, they'll also be able to learn more about the 17-year-old who drew the winning design.
Alaska Airlines officials say the special relationship between the 49th and 50th states made this contest a natural and has helped to make Hawaii an important stop.
"We have 26 flights a day this winter," said Alaska Airlines President and CEO Brad Tilden. "It's been really, really good on biz if you just look around you how happy the employees of Alaska are, they're excited to be doing this and I hope we're doing good things for the people of Hawaii and for the businesses in Hawaii."
It took a crew of 18 working around the clock for 24 days to bring Nee's artwork to life. They used 140 gallons of paint, 26 colors and nearly 29,000 yards of masking tape!
Nee got to ride the inaugural flight to Seattle. He also won a $5,000 scholarship and a trip anywhere Alaska Airlines flies for him and his family. He says they're going to New York this winter.