Posters are easy to keep under wraps, large passenger jets a little less so.
So it was that, on the same day the Vancouver Olympic organizing committee revealed its first official poster commemorating the 2010 Winter Games with nary a leak, the Web world was filled with photos of Air Canada's new Olympic-livery jetliner, more than a week ahead of its official unveiling in Vancouver.
Blame ubiquitous plane spotters, who seem to spend every waking, breathing moment, camera in hand, waiting for something to happen at airports around the globe. A quick click and the result is soon posted for all who care to see.
This past weekend, clear shots of an Air Canada 777-300ER decked out in the official VANOC designs of stylized Winter Olympic athletes riding waves of muted blues and greens showed up on YouTube, after plane spotters noticed it on the runway of Boeing's Paine Field near Seattle.
"Our jaws kind of dropped," Air Canada spokeswoman Angela Mah said yesterday.
"It was the first time most of us had seen it ourselves. They even sent a copy to our website in Montreal."
Ms. Mah said the special Olympic-decorated plane is the last of the 777 aircraft - 18 in all - ordered from Boeing by Air Canada, with a price tag of more than $250-million (U.S.).
Starting July 16, the promotional jet will be used on transoceanic flights to and from London, Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Beijing and Hong Kong.
Air Canada, official airline of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, has scheduled a big public ceremony to show off its decorated plane at Vancouver International Airport on July 8.
The livery is the result of carefully applied decals.
However, some observers might find that the bold red of the company's name and large maple leaf on the tail overshadows the softer textures of the Olympic design.
Paine Field is still used for test flights of new Boeing-manufactured aircraft, and the Air Canada 777 was rolled out to the field's runway for that purpose just before sundown.
Ms. Mah said Air Canada is realistic about losing the surprise element of its July 8 unveiling.
"An airplane's a pretty big item, and that 777 is a very large aircraft."
Air Canada was also the official airline of Montreal's Summer Olympics in 1976 and the Calgary Winter Olympics of 1988, but applied far less flair to their craft for those events.