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NCHS band pulls airplane for new uniforms

By Ed Brock

With a heave and a ho, the North Clayton High School Marching Band pulled $40,000 out of the pockets of two leaders in the airline industry.

It was a sizable contribution to go toward new uniforms for the band.

“We really needed the money,” Carroll said. “Our uniforms are older than anybody else's in the county.”

On Oct. 20 in a special ceremony AirTran celebrated the addition of the airlines 100th aircraft into its fleet. As part of the festivities, North Clayton High School's marching band helped usher in the plane in a parade that included 100 of the airline's original Crew Members. AirTran Airways and Boeing executives then offered to make a donation to the marching band if the group would help “pull” the airplane into service.

That came as a surprise to the band's 135 members, said band director Howard Carroll.

“When they announced that everybody grabbed the rope,” Carroll said.

And pull they did, hauling the 84,000 pound aircraft more than 40 feet. After which AirTran Airways and The Boeing Company each donated $20,000 to the organization for new band uniforms, Carroll said.

“We knew that the further we pulled the plane the bigger the donation they were going to give us, so it was pretty light,” Carroll said.

Originally AirTran had called them to perform at the ceremony, Carroll said, and decided to make the donation after hearing that the band was having a uniform drive.

Carroll expects the total cost of the uniforms to be about $60,000 to $70,000.

The plane, a Boeing 717, ship number 749 and registration number N923AT, was welcomed during a delivery ceremony at the airline's maintenance hangar at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

“Building on our long-standing partnership with The Boeing Company, today marks a significant milestone for our airline as we take delivery of our 100th aircraft,” said Joe Leonard, AirTran Airways' chairman and chief executive officer. “As our competitors face strikes, layoffs and bankruptcies, our airline continues to grow by adding new markets, new routes and new planes. Our loyal customers choose to fly with us because of the quality of service we offer, including these new planes.”

The new plane continues AirTran's tradition of relying on Boeing aircraft.

“Our all-new Boeing fleet has been a key factor in operating a highly efficient airline,” said Robert L. Fornaro, AirTran Airways' president and chief operating officer. “The reliability, performance and operating economics of these airplanes are a perfect fit for our low-cost business model.”

AirTran Airways already operates the youngest all-Boeing fleet in the United States, and features in-flight amenities such as complimentary XM Satellite Radio. AirTran Airways' XM service provides more than 100 channels of digital-quality, commercial-free music, news, sports, talk and entertainment to passengers, who may either bring their personal headsets or purchase headsets from the airline for a nominal charge.

AirTran Airways, one of America's largest low-fare airlines with 6,700 crew members, operates over 500 daily flights to 49 destinations. The airline's hub is at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where it is the second largest carrier. AirTran Airways recently added the fuel-efficient Boeing 737-700 aircraft to the all-Boeing fleet as well. The airline is also the first carrier to install XM Satellite Radio on a commercial aircraft.

For reservations or more information, visit airtran.com (America Online Keyword: AirTran).