Creating Flying Works of Art

Greg Biffle Airplanes and helicopters for Sherwin WilliamsBack before the TSA took it away, one of my favorite pass times was to hang out at a local FBO just to look at the different private aircraft and their paint schemes. I’ve seen some pretty cool stuff and some pretty, well, not very pretty, stuff. The Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder…kind of paint schemes.

But, like ‘em or not, it doesn’t matter if it’s Matterhorn white with a thin lipstick red strip or copy of Van Gogh’s Starry Night on the fuselage–VIP aircraft owners want their paint scheme to be a reflection of who they are. And that’s probably more evident today than ever.

“Today, many owners don’t want white with stripes. They want bold colors and graphics,” stated Guy Amico, president, Global Jet Painting ( “They want to use their imaginations to create what they want on their airplanes.”

“John Travolta wanted to stay with the original vintage look. It’s classic Boeing/Quantas and it still looks as fresh and new today as it did when the 707 was new, 50-years ago,” he said. “Others like Canadian fashion executive, Peter Nygard, wanted his 727’s scheme done to reflect his corporate and personal image. It has three shades of metallic blue stripes and his name in a chrome decal–it’s pretty wild and was an exciting job to do.”

While, obviously the owner’s personality has a lot to do with the design, today’s new-generation paint formulations do play a role in achieving the intended level of wow factor.

“The revolutionary technology change in the aerospace paint industry has been the move away from the single-stage systems to new-technologies like the SKYscapes basecoat/clear coat technologies,” explained Julie Voisin, global product manager, Sherwin-Williams Aerospace Coatings ( “Its formulation allows painters the ability to put down several colors in a smaller window of time.”

“The basecoat/clear coat paints are helpful, especially when there are multiple colors or fade effects. It lets you put one down and move on to the next color faster,” Amico added. “With the old paints, you may have to wait until the next day, or longer.”

The unique SKYscapes process features specially formulated resins that deliver richer color and higher gloss retention, while providing improved hiding with thinner films on bright, multi-colored schemes.


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