Finishing touches put on WSU Cougar airplane by Horizon Air worker. (Photo courtesy of Horizon Air)
 
Keep an eye on the sky and you might soon think that WSU has its own corporate jet.
 
A look closer though and you will see that it is part of Horizon Air’s new strategy to salute four major regional universities by painting several of its 70-seat aircraft with university colors and logos.
 
First on the paint list was WSU. Click the play button below to watch, via time-lapse photography, the Coug conversion of a Horizon plane. (Please note: This is 3.6 mb  file, and so if you are on a slower connection, it might take a minute or more to load.)
 
 
 
 
In time, the Coug jetliner will be joined by one each representing the University of Washington, University of Oregon and Oregon State.
 
Horizon Air, a sister company of Alaska Airlines, formulated the strategy several months ago, lining up permission from the universities to use the copyrighted logos. No money will exchange hands as part of the promotion.
 
“We wanted to bump it up a notch,” said Jen Boyer, Horizon spokeswoman and an Oregon Duck. “We thought of ways to distinguish ourselves in the Northwest, and we thought of the four universities we’ve been serving since 1981.”
 
 
Because the jets were up on the paint rotation, Horizon isn’t paying extra for the paint job, either. Horizon typically pays between $40,000 and $50,000 to paint a plane.

Each plane will take about 10 days to paint. Next in the lineup will be the Ducks, Beavers and Huskies.

Exact dates haven’t been set for the various unveilings, which will take place near each university. The WSU jet will be unveiled in Spokane.

For the fans out there worried a Husky team might end up on a chartered Cougar-themed jet, rest assured. Boyer said that’s highly unlikely.