The Heart of our History Gallery tells the story of Dallas’s own Southwest Airlines—from its beginnings at Love Field as a three-airplane carrier in 1971 to its current place as the airline with the world’s largest fleet of Boeing 737s. Indeed, the gallery is anchored by the Boeing 737-300 Spirit of Kitty Hawk, the first -300 example that the airline flew. Visitors can go aboard this aircraft to see the flight deck and walk through the passenger cabin with its displays of memorabilia, original art, and items from the personal collections of Southwest’s Founder and Chairman Emeritus Herb Kelleher and President Emeritus Colleen Barrett. Herb’s very own Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a gift from Employees, provides a finishing touch in the airplane’s tail section!
Nearby, The Spirit of Kitty Hawk is the nose section of an earlier Southwest Airlines 737-200 series aircraft, allowing visitors a unique perspective of the 737 avionics bay and flight deck. In addition to the nose section, various displays tell the stories of Southwest’s remarkable history and unconventional approach to low-fare air travel. From the airline’s “Fight to Fly” legal battles of the 1960s and 70s, Southwest Airlines is now the largest domestic airline in the United States. A video theater features recollections from Herb and Colleen, the first female President of a major airline in the history of the industry.
Other interactive videos combine with a wide array of artifacts to tell the history of this iconic airline. A replica ticket counter from the early 1970s is displayed alongside a modern version, both located near a section of an actual jetway from one of Southwest’s Love Field terminal gates. On top of a large aerial photograph of Love Field in the middle of the exhibit area, a parade of miniature aircraft showcases the many different paint schemes featured on Southwest’s aircraft, including the state flag-inspired designs and other specialty motifs. At other displays, visitors can also learn about the legend of Southwest’s beginnings traced on a cocktail napkin; its first Captain, Emilio Salazar; and the famous “$13 Fare War.”
The Heart of our History Gallery is a comprehensive and entertaining look into the history of Southwest Airlines—“Dallas born and bred”—that can be enjoyed by visitors of all ages!