An aircraft’s paint scheme is often the first thing onlookers notice
BY KENT MISEGADES
JUST AS CLOTHING CAN improve, or diminish, our physical appearance, a
well-chosen and -executed paint scheme can turn an otherwise average airplane into an award-winner. With the cost to prepare and paint a light
aircraft sometimes exceeding $10,000, this may be the most expensive
enhancement we make to our airplanes.
;e choice of a paint scheme depends on many factors including cost,
weight limitations (paint is heavy, adding 5 to 20 pounds on an average light
plane), aircraft age, aircraft type, construction materials, and how it will be
used. Most importantly, what is your goal? Will the new scheme:
• Restore an airplane to an original scheme?
• Mimic an older airplane or warbird?
• Increase your plane’s visibility?
• Advertise your company, a product, or a cause?
• Be whimsical?
Once you have a basic idea, the real work begins—converting thoughts
you’ve sketched on paper to paint on a large, curved surface full of openings
and protrusions. As in any new e;ort, it makes sense to learn from others.
Use the Internet to view paint schemes chosen by others for your model airplane. Most aircraft type clubs or builder forums have picture galleries, and
these are good sources for ideas. Lastly, flip through your stack of back issues
of EAA Sport Aviation, especially in “What Our Members are Building &
Restoring.” (Don’t forget you can now view the complete archive of Sport
Aviation from 1953 through
Oshkosh365.org, so you’ll have lots of planes to
look at.) Having done all the above, you’re ready to take the next step, asking
for advice from the pros and from fellow EAA members.
But designing and painting is not as simple as it sounds, so we selected an
expert scheme designer and two recent builder/restorers to comment on
their experiences with aircraft painting and decaling.
MEET THE EXPERTS
Craig Barnett, EAA 552129, is the founder and CEO of Scheme Designers
of Cresskill, New Jersey, a company that provides custom design services to
aircraft manufacturers, owners, operators, and airlines. He also holds two
forums each year at EAA AirVenture to educate people on choosing a paint
scheme and having an aircraft painted.
You can’t talk paint schemes without mentioning Mirco Pecorari,
who specializes in the comprehensive design of paint schemes,
apparel, corporate images, and aircraft conceptual design. Visit his
Chip Davis, EAA 263766, of Apex, North Carolina, is the owner of a 1960
Cessna 172A, voted Contemporary Aircraft Outstanding in Type at Sun ‘n
Michael Crowder, EAA 643415, of Cary, North Carolina, recently completed
construction of a Sonex homebuilt.
CRAIG BARNET T
Designing a paint scheme requires two phases: artistic and engineering. First
we work with our clients to understand what they want: their tastes, style,
aircraft usage, likes, and dislikes. We give them a homework assignment to
study all the examples on our website and a photo album of our customers’
aircraft on Airliners.net. We then work
through various schemes and colors by
phone, e-mail, the Internet, and interactively through live, online design
sessions. ;is process may take a few
hours, days, weeks, or even months.
Often our customers will print out
color copies of our designs and tape
them on their airplanes or somewhere