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MISSOULA — Horizon Air on Friday debuted a Griz-themed airplane at Missoula International Airport.

The University of Montana Marching Band and the Spirit Squad entertained about 75 Griz fans who crowded the chain-link fence along the airport tarmac, snapping pictures of the maroon and silver Q400 turboprop as it landed in Missoula.

UM Executive Vice President Jim Foley and his wife, Julie, flew to Seattle earlier in the day to catch the plane's inaugural flight to Missoula. Also on board was Dan Russo, vice president of marketing and communications for Horizon Air. The flight was a regularly scheduled one from Seattle to Missoula.

It took seven days to paint the aircraft — the tail is maroon and says "Griz" in white. The university's logo is painted in maroon on the side. None of the effort came at a cost to UM, as the plane was scheduled to be repainted anyway.

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UM is the seventh school in the Pacific Northwest to have an airplane painted in its school colors. Other schools include the University of Washington, Washington State, University of Oregon, Oregon State, University of Idaho and Boise State.

Montana State University is getting one, too. Horizon Air is scheduled to unveil the Bobcat-themed airplane Nov. 30 in Bozeman.

These airplanes are a part of Horizon's regular rotation and will fly in and out of the 45 cities the airline serves in the western United States.

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