Protecting the spirit of aviation

How our passion for paint is helping to preserve airplane heritage

There’s something special about a vintage aircraft. These grand old ladies of the skies have amazing stories to tell, so it’s no wonder that people all over the world are so keen to preserve them.

One organization dedicated to sharing the spirit of aviation and restoring vintage planes is the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). Based in Oshkosh, in Wisconsin in the US, they describe their global membership as the “keepers of the flame”, a passionate community of airplane enthusiasts who fly them, fix them and even build them.

Their fleet includes some of the most historic and aesthetically beautiful aircraft of their time, and when they needed help restoring an iconic Ford Tri-Motor, they knew there was only one paint company to turn to.

“We first started working with AkzoNobel in 2018, when they supported us in repainting our B25 Mitchell bomber,” explains John Hopkins, the EAA’s Aircraft Maintenance Manager.

“Restoring and maintaining these aircraft takes thousands of hours and the choice of primer and paint is critical, not only to achieve the authentic color scheme we’re looking for, but also to offer the maximum protection against corrosion. We were so delighted with our partnership with AkzoNobel on the B25 that it was obvious to reach out to them again for the Ford Tri-Motor project.”

The all-metal Ford Tri-Motor, nick-named “the tin goose” and positioned as the world’s first luxury airliner, was first built in 1925. Less than 200 had been made by the time production stopped eight years later. EAA’s example – built in 1929 – is painted in the colors of Eastern Air Transport, one of the typical customers of the time.

Back then, paints were primarily used for aesthetic purposes only, a bare metal airframe being adorned with a hand-painted logo. John wanted to achieve the same effect, but with a coating that would protect the longevity of the aircraft.

So our Aerospace Coatings business proposed using its Alumigrip system, comprising a basecoat/clearcoat and topcoat – a system which has a legacy of its own, having first been used around 50 years ago. The result was a glossy, highly reflective finish that preserves the original look and feel of the aircraft. Which is extremely important, because being able to to see and touch the body of the aircraft in all its beauty is an integral part of their experience for passengers and visitors.

And John was delighted with the final result. “AkzoNobel has been super-helpful in everything they’ve done so far and we very much look forward to working with them again in helping protect our aircraft for thousands more people to enjoy.”

For more information about our Aerospace Coatings business, visit: https://aerospace.akzonobel.com