A “Star Wars”-themed R2-D2 tribute jet is ready to take flight

Look at him go.
Look at him go.
Image: ANA
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If you’ve been craving more Star Wars-related news in the wake of the trailer heard ’round the Internet, you’re in luck. (If, on the other hand, you’re tired of hearing about anything that has to do with Star Wars… well, sorry?)

All Nippon Airlines, the largest airline in Japan and one of the largest in Asia, will turn a Boeing 787 Dreamliner into a giant flying model of the adorable robot R2-D2 later this year, as part of a five-year “Star Wars Project.”

“ANA is committed to raising the profile of the ANA brand in the global market through innovative partnerships and branding opportunities,” a press release announcing the new livery said. “The partnership with Star Wars, beloved by audiences in Japan and around the globe, is a perfect match as Japan’s largest airline seeks to connect travelers around the world through this project.”

R2-D2 is, of course, no stranger to flying. He often flew in the “droid socket” of Luke Skywalker’s X-wing (video) in the original films and in Anakin’s Starfighter in the oft-maligned prequel trilogy. And the droid can also fly a little himself, using his rocket boosters.

Star Wars is not the only film or television franchise to have its characters grace the side of a commercial airplane (though this may be the first time an entire plane is made to look like a single character). Air New Zealand famously adorned some of its fleet with characters from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, which both filmed exclusively in New Zealand.

Here are those, as well as a few other characters you might recognize:

Lord of the Rings Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand’s “Lord of the Rings” fleet
Image: Flickr/Roderick Eime
The Hobbit Air New Zealand
The dragon Smaug from “The Hobbit” on Air New Zealand
Image: Flickr/John Taggart
"Tintin" on Brussels Airlines
“Tintin” on Brussels Airlines
Image: Flickr/Clément Alloing
"The Simpsons" on Western Pacific
“The Simpsons” on Western Pacific
Image: Flickr/Aero Icarus
"Hello Kitty" on Taiwan's EVA Air
“Hello Kitty” on Taiwan’s EVA Air
Image: Flickr/byeangel