Paint jobs

April 26, 2011 by Tim McAdams

Several years ago I ferried an AStar helicopter from Dallas, Texas to Los Angles, California. What made this a little different than other ferry flights was the helicopter’s paint job. It was painted like the American flag. It seemed that every controlled airport where I stopped the tower controller commented on the paint scheme. Some just thought it was interesting and others viewed it as a symbol of patriotism. After that trip I started noticing more helicopters with a stars and stripes paint job. 

American Eurocopter has two company helicopters with a US flag paint scheme and one with the Texas state flag.

Las Vegas Helicopters (also known as Stars and Stripes Aviation) used the flag design as well.

 EMS operator Air Evac Lifeteam has a similar paint job.

Another interesting design I have seen on many EMS helicopters that transport children. Like the walls of pediatric areas in hospitals, I think the art work helps children feel more at ease.

I am sure there are many other designs that are replacing the traditional two or three color striped paint job. They do make helicopters more interesting to look at.

  • Ehud Gavron

    It is very cool to take a beautiful work of mechanical art (a helicopter) and turn it into a thing of beauty any lay-person can enjoy :) While clothing is not allowed as a method of displaying the US flag (US Flag Code §176), the use on a helicopter is not prohibited.

    Thanks for the cool pictures… it’s unusual for controllers to even SEE a helicopter let alone comment on it. Great story!

    Ehud Gavron
    Tucson AZ

  • http://Chrome Warren Peffer

    Painting / art are disciplines that go back thousands of year. I think these treasurers are right up there with the American Bald Eagle!

  • Rich Dugger

    It is nice to see a patriotic display. With many it seems to have fallen out of favor and that is sad.

    I fly the flag everyday and get many positive comments.
    I would encourage others that are sitting on the fence to spend the money on a decent flag pole and flag and enjoy the sound of it snapping in the wind.

    God bless America.

  • Craig Neubecker

    Don’t forget Santani Air! In the mid-80’s TV series “Airwolf” Dominic Santani’s Jet Rangers, and his Jeep all had the Stars and Stripes paint scheme. That was the first time I ever saw an aircraft painted like the American flag. As a boy growing up, that show also inspired me to become a helicopter pilot. It is also kind of ironic that those Eurocopters are painted with that paint scheme–wouldn’t that be like a French car painted with an American flag? Ha, ha.

  • http://AOPA E. L. Whittington

    Somehow brings back memories of 1969 and the movie EASY RIDER. Lets see, how can u compare a Harley chopper to a helicopter…neither one have an ejection seat…and under varying circumstances they’re both likely candidates to take ground fire.

  • mr X

    Doesn’t anyone find it ironic that the manufacturer flying the “patriotic paintjob” isn’t American?

    Re-packaging Aerospatiale as “American Eurocopter” or any of the other manufacturing outsourcing gimmicks can’t be covered up with a pretty paintjob- It’s a total whitewash.

    Reduce the huge Executive bonuses, pay the American worker a living wage, and build aircraft here in America!

  • Ehud Gavron

    [I’m tempted to say nothing because this is more political than helicopter. However, I’m also tempted to say that there would be MORE helicopters, MORE job opportunities, and MORE money in the helicopter industry if these issues were corrected.]

    It is always sweet to say “Reduce the huge Executive bonuses.” Those are usually part of those same executives’ contracts. They (the executives) are paid to provide results. Their shareholders — as these are public corporations — expect increased profits. Manufacturing in countries that don’t have unions, OSHA, and three letter agencies starting with F is more profitable. The South Park episode where the people say “They Took Our Jobs”, while humorous, and while “demanding” that “they” “give us our jobs back” doesn’t address the real issue.

    WHO is it that should “reduce” those bonuses? They are contracted. WHO should negotiate contracts that pays those executives less? Usually it’s a board of directors. IF they somehow did this, would they then have a larger profit, higher distributions to shareholders (either through dividends or reinvestment) or would they decided to FORGO those profits, and put their manufacturing plant somewhere that regulatorily is a hellhole. I suspect the former.

    If you would like there to be more “Made In Merka” stuff (and I would), the way to get it is to remove all of the barriers standing in the way for companies to do so profitably. Sadly the unions and the insurance lobby have made it difficult to impossible. Any sufficiently large company “outsources”. That’s a nice way of saying “we can get it done much more profitably elsewhere.” I learned yesterday that if I buy a new Dell laptop, I can pay $100 extra (per year) for “North American support.” Otherwise it’s outsourced. Would you pay $2M for a $1.5M helicopter because it was made in the US? Would you do so with taxpayer money (LEP, Armed Forces, etc.) or would you do so with your own personal money? I would rather save the $500,000.00.

    It’s nice that Bell Textron does some manufacturing in Merka. Most of that… however… is in Canada. The United States’ current regulatory and union stance are staunchly anti-success.

    Best regards,


  • Ehud Gavron

    Tim – it would be great if you or your knowledgeable readers could do an article on “stealth helicopters.” The media is going nuts repeating these claims. They’re also confused about a SH-60 vs an MH-60 (or UH-60).

    Eurocopter main-rotor blades that reduce sound by 3-4dB (50%):

    Sikorski/Boeing RAH-66 Comanche with ducted fantail and stealth bodywork:

    And finally the real “whisper-mode” helicopters: AIrwolf and Blue Thunder.


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