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All Aboard the Gordon Bethune

Here’s a picture I snapped out the window at Newark (Liberty International) Airport not long ago. It’s a Continental Boeing 777 whose nose, as you can see, features the name of former Continental chairman and C.E.O. Gordon Bethune. I wondered: Do all Continental planes from Bethune’s era carry his name?


No. According to a Continental spokesperson, this is the one and only Gordon M. Bethune, christened when he retired in late 2004. There is also a plaque inside the cabin honoring Bethune’s career (apparently he didn’t personally throw a passenger off a plane for mistreating a flight attendant) — but, since I wasn’t flying on this plane, I didn’t have a chance to look.

Continental says it has only one other named plane in circulation, the Robert F. Six, which honors the company’s founder. (For those of you who care about first names: according to the Baby Name Wizard, the names Gordon and Robert both peaked in the 1930’s, at No. 74 and No. 1, respectively, and have been in deep decline ever since.)

Upon his retirement from Continental, Bethune became chairman of the board of Aloha Airgroup. But it looks like he won’t have the chance to get his name on an Aloha plane: that company just went bankrupt.