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Dolphins in the Sky

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By M.J. Subiria Arauz

msubiria@news-daily.com

AirTran Airways and the Georgia Aquarium recently unveiled an

aircraft, which celebrates the long partnership of both entities,

said a spokesman for the airline.

Christopher White said the unveiling of Dolphin 1, a Boeing 737-700

aircraft, is part of the community's celebration of the world's

largest aquarium's $110 million dolphin exhibit entitled, "AT&T

Dolphin Tales," a gallery, theater and show.

White said Dolphin 1 is custom designed and showcases an aquatic

theme. The aircraft will be seen by millions of travelers, and serve

the airline's growing national and international network composed of

more than 70 cities, he added.

"AirTran Airways is so proud of our long partnership with Georgia

Aquarium," added Bob Fornaro, president, CEO and chairman of the

carrier. "We are excited ... and look forward to helping raise

awareness of this world-class destination in our largest hub city."

AirTran has been a presenting sponsor of the aquarium since it opened

in 2005, and Fornaro has served on the aquarium's board for some

time, explained White.

White said that Dolphin 1 was showcased on March 31, at the AirTran

Airways hangar, in Atlanta, near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta

International Airport. The aircraft was introduced to AirTran's fleet

with a water-canon salute from the City of Atlanta Department of Fire

and Rescue, and music from Tri-Cities High School's marching band, he

added.

An image of a dolphin, emblazoned on the fuselage, is 30 feet long

and more than 10 feet high, said the spokesman. Silhouettes of

dolphins have been incorporated on each engine cowling, he added.

There were various AirTran Airways and Georgia Aquarium officials

present, including Fornaro and Bernie Marcus, benefactor, CEO and

chairman of the board of the Georgia Aquarium, he said.

"AirTran's early commitment to supporting the aquarium began in 2005,

and continues to this day," said Marcus, who is also a co-founder of

Home Depot. "We're very grateful to AirTran for their ongoing support."

The aquarium's dolphin exhibit, which opened on April 2, features a

1.8-million-gallon habitat for bottlenose dolphins, according to

White. The exhibit's gallery includes a lobby with an expansive

underwater viewing window, and an 1,800-seat theater for a live

production with dolphins, actors and singers. The production also has

special effects and lighting, he said.

According to the Georgia Aquarium, it took more than two years to

create the dolphin production, and a 61-piece orchestra recorded an

original score at Sony Picture Studios in Hollywood, for the exhibit.

White said Marcus had always joked with AirTran's Fornaro about

placing a marine mammal on an aircraft, and an opportunity came along

with the dolphin exhibit.

"Bob [Fornaro] finally came through after many attempts from Bernie

[Marcus]," said White.