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Tom denardin helped make Bart Simpson fly. Literally.

Mr. DeNardin helped make Western Pacific Airlines the little airline well-known for its boldly painted logojet planes, including Thrifty Rent-A-Car System, Fox's "The Simpsons" and others.

"They make such an impression when lined up at the gate," says Mr. DeNardin, 39. The ads have helped bring revenue ($1 million a plane annually) and attention to the low-fare carrier, which took off out of Colorado Springs in April 1995 and now serves 16 cities.

Mr. DeNardin worked for United Airlines, America West Airlines and the first incarnation of Frontier Airlines before deciding "the industry wasn't meeting the customer's needs" and left in 1991 to teach marketing and coach basketball in Las Vegas high schools.

Then, in 1994, Ed Beauvais, who worked with Mr. DeNardin as former president-CEO of America West, approached him to help form the ticketless Western Pacific. The carrier offers coast-to-coast service-uncommon among low-fare airlines.

Though based out of a small city, Western Pacific has leveraged its proximity to Denver at a time when that city must acclimate itself to a new, less conveniently located airport. Droves of passengers-about 30% of the airline's passengers-have been willing to make the slightly longer drive to Colorado Springs' airport for discounts.

More sponsors are in the wings, so to speak, in the hospitality and finance categories. Says Mr. DeNardin, "We're getting better at the designs. You ain't seen nothin' yet."

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