PPG Industries’ aerospace coatings group donated primer and topcoats for repainting a reconstructed Grumman HU-16 Albatross search-and-rescue amphibian aircraft for the Air Rescue Museum that will appear at airshows as a “flying museum.”
The PPG Aerospace military coatings group worked with the Dallas and Los Angeles application support centers and the Mojave, Calif., manufacturing facility to provide coatings for the project. DESOPRIME(TM) HS/CA 7233 military primer and DESOTHANE(R) HS/CA 8200 series military and defense topcoats helped recreate a 1957 U.S. Air Force Air Rescue Service paint scheme, and Desothane HS/CA 8800 clear topcoat provided a final high-gloss protective finish.
“We were excited to participate in this restoration and pleased to offer high-quality, easy-to-use, military-qualified coatings,” said Duane Utter, PPG global segment manager, military aerospace coatings and classified products. “Working with our customer Northrop Grumman, whose employees painted the airplane, offered a great partnership opportunity. Teamwork by all involved was seamless, and coordination was incredible, especially when they ran short of paint and we manufactured and shipped more within 24 hours to complete the job.”
Bringing the Albatross up to flying condition was the dream of Dr. Robert Ryan, a retired U.S. Army colonel and pilot who owns the aircraft and is director of flight operations and maintenance for the Air Rescue Museum. As an Air Rescue Service pilot, his father flew Albatross airplanes, designed in the 1940s by Grumman Aircraft Engineering Co., predecessor to Northrop Grumman. The younger Ryan befriended now-retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. John Stipetich while both were commercial pilots. Sharing their “burning love for aviation,” Stipetich conceived the idea of the Air Rescue Museum and is its president. It took about a dozen years for their dreams to become a reality.
The museum’s Albatross aircraft is constructed from what Stipetich describes as “more than two airplanes,” including one he said was abandoned in Taiwan by former Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos. Once the Albatross was airworthy, with reconstructed engines and propellers, Northrop Grumman agreed to donate painting services and PPG agreed to donate the paint.
Debbie Cates, PPG senior sales and market development, ASC-Dallas, made sure PPG could supply the custom colors: flat silver metallic with gloss yellow for striping, and black, blue, red and white for markings. Mike Garibay, PPG senior sales and market development, ASC-Los Angeles, facilitated delivery of the paint to Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale, Calif., facility. Seeing the repainted aircraft for the first time, Stipetich said it was “just gorgeous.”
“Northrop Grumman prides itself on our greatest asset – our employees,” said Tommy Tomlinson, vice president, Northrop Grumman Production Operations, and Palmdale site manager. “They not only took on the challenge to restore the Albatross to its original Air Force paint scheme, but preserved a piece of history for others to see in this ‘flying museum.’ It is a tradition for Northrop Grumman to give back to our communities, and our employees are second to none in doing so.”