Amy's RV-10: That Ole Paint

It turns out, ole silverback, as I was beginning to deem 9AB, our newly hatched and DAR-blessed RV-10, was going to get a new name. We'd flown it all of 15 hours, and were beginning to feel like our feet were at least wet when it came to the basics of its flight characteristics and avionics suite. We'd had a couple of snafus and setbacks, an itinerant voltage regulator, seized bearings in the nosewheel and a magnetometer failure--all fixable with new hardware, revised plans and a little more testing. Now, with a south Florida summer in front of us, we really wanted the beast protected, and that's just what painting an airplane is all about.

The only thing my husband, the RV-10's builder, hates worse than fiberglass, is paint. The solution: shop it out. We'd negotiated with Craig Barnett, owner of Scheme Designers, and he'd come up with a wonderful paint scheme for the airplane. The horizontal lines with tapering trim really softened the bulbous cockpit and enhanced the sleek look of the sloping Sam James cowl and 14-inch spinner. Barnett convinced us to also paint the spinner to elongate the look of the airplane. There are still a few curved lines out on the tips of the vertical stabilizer and wings to keep the chicks in the family happy. But for the most part, I have to acquiesce and admit that for this bird, stripes work.

It was a couple of months of back and forth figuring that scheme, but we did it while the airplane was under construction so there would be no pressure. Finding a paint shop in the summer that could take our machine and render the scheme live? That seemed like it was going to be nigh on impossible without at least a four- to six-month wait.

Then Joe at Hawk Aircraft Painting at the Vandenburg Airport in Tampa, Florida, suddenly had an opening. We'd had Joe paint our Cessna 210 years ago, and it had proved to be a durable application. We asked him if he'd worked with Scheme Designers before and he said yes. We visited to see what he was doing, and chatted about paint colors. We struck a deal, and before we knew it, the airplane was at Vandenburg, in pieces.

Joe touched up a few smiley rivets and smoothed a couple of spots where fiberglass and metal abutted, but generally his job was to prime and paint to spec, which he and his crew did. A month and a half later the airplane is back with us, reassembled, and looking sharp for its next round of fly-off testing. Now if it would only stop raining for a morning so that we could get it back into the air and see how it performs with paint!

Contributing Editor Amy Laboda is a freelance writer and editor of Aviation for Women magazine. She's an ATP-rated pilot and instrument and multi-engine Flight Instructor with a passion for teaching and flying in light aircraft. Her steady rides these days are a 18-year old Kitfox IV and a fresh Van's RV-10.

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