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Model in bikini graces Boeing jet

2009-02-12 03:01:28 GMT2009-02-12 11:01:28 (Beijing Time)  Reuters

INTRO: Sports Illustrated cover girl Bar Refaeli's image blankets the body of a Boeing 737 jet

MOREINFO: This year's special edition of the magazine features 19 models showing off 83 bikinis, although most male readers probably care more about the models than the Missonis. It also features tennis players Tatiana Golovin and Maria Kirilenko and race car driver Danica Patrick sporting swimwear. Fred Katayama reports.

SCRIPT:

Now, you get to fly her. The cover girl for this year's Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue adorns the body of a Boeing 737. Bar Refaeli, who's romantically linked to movie star Leonardo DiCaprio, will be turning heads on tarmacs on this promotional trip.

"I was stunned because I heard the rumor there'll be a plane with my image on it. But I didn't realize how big it really is. You can really see everything up close."

SI's annual bestseller was launched in 1964. It was meant to give readers something to look at during the long lull between the end of the football season and the first pitch of the baseball season. This year's edition features 19 models showing off 83 bikinis, although most male readers probably care more about the models than the Missonis.

Shot around the world in exotic locales like the Grenadines, the models offer lots of exposure, and they get a lot of it. The issue is expected to reach a global audience of some 66 million readers. The spread also features tennis players Tatiana Golovin and Maria Kirilenko. And it marked a second lap for race car driver, Danica Patrick.

(SOUNDBITE)(English) Danica Patrick, race car driver and SI swimsuit model, saying:

"I was incredibly flattered to be asked to be in the issue again."

Gentlemen, start your engines. Fred Katayama, Reuters, New York.

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