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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As the Alaska Airlines 737 turned towards Gate B-31, there he was.
First Officer Eric Hrivnak hanging out the cockpit window, wearing a Steelers’ jersey and hat and twirling the Terrible Towel his mother gave him when he left for Desert Storm in 1991.
WATCH: Alaska Airlines Arrives In Pittsburgh —
Two Pittsburgh natives are on the inaugural flight and they were more than happy to bring some of the black and gold onboard.
“To be able to come back here, I’m full with emotion,” Hrivnak said.
Pointing out it was a sweet homecoming because his twin brother, Ed, was along. Ed says they used to be crew-mates in the Air Force.
Ed says, “He was flying in the front and I was in the back. To be able to do that again brought back a lot of good memories.”
The brothers got this first direct flight from Seattle to Pittsburgh off to a party atmosphere before they left the ground in the Emerald City. Eric ran down the aisle of the plane waving his Terrible Towel, and they were playing the Steelers Polka over the plane’s public address system. By the time they arrived in Pittsburgh, passengers were cheering for Pittsburgh and the Steelers as they came off the plane.
The elephant in the plan got a lot of conversation: Amazon considering Pittsburgh for its HQ2. Could the direct flight connection be an over the hump moment for Pittsburgh?
“We were talking about that on the flight in. We were hoping that this would really push it,” Eric said.
Passenger Ken Kubota is from Seattle but has Pittsburgh roots. He’s optimistic about Amazon.
“I hope so, but it might make the upgrades a little more difficult to get.”
Chris Eibel, from Export, says, “The direct flight today is great. I think it will have a big impact.”
And Barbara Staley sees a lot of similarities between Pittsburgh and Seattle, “So they seem similar in that kind of vibe of new industry new ways of doing stuff.”
When the flight touched down, it taxied the runway and when it pulled in, the Terrible Towel was waving from the window.
Eric and Ed Hrvinak are hopeful the new regular direct flight will help their hometown.
Ed says, ”To see the change in Pittsburgh, and how different it in from when we were children, I really hope Amazon takes advantage of that.”
And Eric added, “This would be a perfect headquarters for Amazon. Why? The people, you can’t find better people anywhere in the United States.”
After helping cut the first flight ribbon, and the cake, the brothers headed for where else? Primanti Bros. in the Strip. Eric will be the first officer on the return flight Friday night. But, for now, it’s time to relax and reconnect with the ‘Burgh.