Not a Plain Plane

Will it wash off  in the rain in Spain?

(click for larger image)

When I was a young lad, Braniff Airlines was renowned for the most outlandish paint schemes. During the late sixties and early seventies their aircraft could only be characterized as “groovy”.  There have been other noteworthy paint jobs but none have been characterized as art. That is, until now.

This Piaggio  Aero “Avanti II” aircraft has became Mimmo Paladino’s (the artist formerly known as Mimmo Paladino) canvas which he has named the “Cacciatore di Stelle . I thought this might mean pasta with chicken until I noted the translation: “Star Hunter”. It’s displayed at the Galleria in Milan, Italy from now until the rest of April, so you still have a few days to get your tickets lined up for Italy. I would have told you sooner but, well, I just didn’t know. Have fun and send pictures.

I’ve always held a more utilitarian view of things. A wall is part of the house used to hold up the roof and keep out the rain. For my wife, a graphics artist, walls are for color and paintings and pictures. She can also look at a blue piece of fabric and say there’s too much orange it when all I see is blue but that’s why I’m happily married to someone who cares about tablecloths and drapes. Otherwise, everything in the house would be pretty boring. My ideal aircraft finish might be highly polished aluminum. (Think P-51 here).  World War II warbirds are a work of art without art work. When the Burt Rutan (Beech)  Starship taxied to the ramp at our FBO, I snapped dozens of pictures noting its exotic geometry. Carefully restored antique planes are also beautiful and it’s hard not to stare at an F-22 on the ramp.

The Avanti  is splashy. Consider flying this into your local airport for a moment. Will your friends and fellow flyers talk about the aesthetic nuances of the various squiggles along with color gradients, harmony and artistic expression? What exactly is the artist’s message and what does it mean in the context of the great art?

Or they might be saying it looks like a Beached Beluga Whale. Not to your face of course.

Most pilots will expect form to follow function. If the plane has sleek lines and tasteful stripes they’re enthusiastic but what they really want to know is: What’s in the avionics suite,  is it light on the controls and does it have benign stall characteristics? Really, the question they want answered is how do I justify the cost of this new plane to my wife? (If anyone has the answers to that please e-mail me). And if you do go to Milan, try the Pollo alla Cacciatore but study your Italian first. They won’t bring a plane to your table.

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