What does the “Spirit of the Islands” mean to you?

That’s what Alaska Airlines recently asked more than 2,700 Hawaii students from kindergarten through 12th grade. They answered with colorful illustrations of the islands that showed the Aloha spirit in more ways than one. From lush native forests to stunning sunsets, the winning entry doesn’t just end up on a poster but on a 737 airplane!

That’s obviously a HUGE deal for the kids and for the state. Alaska Air’s most spirited plane will have roots to the islands and help brighten the skies like never before. The excitement of flying to Hawaii is still very fresh for the airlines, which only started its route to the islands just five years ago. That’s why they held the contest, according to its site, “to share that spirit with the rest of the world.”

The airlines managed to whittle down the entries to just three and asks Hawaii residents to vote on their favorite design. The winner will be announced Jan. 10, 2013 and unveiled on the plane in the spring. The designs include a sailing canoe, hula dancers dancing in front of waves and cliffs and a canoe, hibiscus flower and Hawaiian Island chain, with the words: “Spirit of the Islands.”

I personally like the second design. The colors are just gorgeous and would always appear to be flying into a warm, setting sun. The other two are just as impressive. I wonder if the student who wins gets a free trip somewhere via that painted plane. I also wonder if they’ll get to be present when the plane’s getting painted. That’d be so cool.

Check back to see which one wins. In the meantime, here’s something to ponder: “What does the Spirit of the Islands mean to you?

ALASKA AIRLINE’S “PAINT THE PLANE” CONTEST

• See the finalists here: www.painttheplanehawaii.com

Photo Courtesy: Alaska Airlines

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