AOPA's 2001 Bonanza Sweepstakes - Mar. 29 Pictures and Commentary

November 11, 2009

Pictures and Commentary

Mar. 29 - In J. A. Air Center's hangar at DuPage airport in West Chicago, the mechanics, avionics technicians, designated engineering representatives, and inspectors have been busily upgrading the Sweepstakes Bonanza into a true twenty-first century airplane. Meanwhile, there has been some quieter work going on behind the scenes aimed at creating the right look for this airplane. Earlier this week, AOPA staff members, assisted by Craig Barnett of Scheme Designers, agreed on the finishing touches of the exterior paint design.

The final scheme, which is white and red, with metallic gold and silver trim, has been evolving over the last three months. On January 25, Barnett, who also aided the AOPA Pilot staff in the paint scheme of last year's Millennium Mooney, created 10 Bonanza-based preliminary drawings, with color variations to get the process started.

During a typical paint scheme design process, Barnett will spend time listening and getting a feel for each new customer's preferences with respect to design and color selection. After this initial meeting, a number of preliminary designs will be created and posted on a page on Scheme Designers' Web site. Each customer gets a page devoted exclusively to his or her evolving paint layout and design. This feature gives each customer exclusive access to the process, and a degree of privacy as they work with Barnett toward their unique airplane paint goals.

In AOPA's case, after Barnett's preliminary drawings were posted on AOPA's page,, each editor weighed in with their opinions via e-mail.

After sifting through the opinions, Barnett refined the ones that had elicited favorable responses. On February 7, the editors (including me, Associate Editor Steve Ells), and Barnett met one afternoon and discussed the new schemes. This meeting resulted in four more variations that were posted on February 14. These designs further fine-tuned the scheme. A pattern was beginning to emerge.

Within the next six weeks, there were two more tune-ups. Finally, on March 20, the design was locked in place. The lower half of the fuselage will be red and the top half will be white. The line separating these two colors will dip slightly at the front of the airplane, only to rise up to the midpoint of the fuselage before it continues aft to split the tail nav light lens. A thin bright red line slightly below the split line will accent the lines of the red/white division, and two wider accent (trim) lines that flow aft above the split line. The upper accent lines will most likely be two hues of the same color - perhaps gold and light gold, or gold and silver. And there is still some discussion about the location of the Sweepstakes Bonanza logo, but this is a small detail that won't slow down the renovation process.

What do you think of the new N number? Do you think you could rattle off N2001B without too many problems if you end up being the lucky winner?

Murmer Aircraft Services at Houston-Southwest Airport (AXH) in Arcola, Texas, will apply the paint. Bill Murmer, Steve Tolson, and their staff have been painting Bonanzas for a long time, and have worked with Barnett on previous projects. A high-quality paint job requires a dedication to the details as the old paint is removed (the Sweepstakes Bonanza was last stripped and painted in 1979), the metal cleaned by acid etching, and prepared for painting. After the application of a metal surface treatment (Alodine), two coats of epoxy chromate primer are applied. If any minor surface prep work, or minor corrosion work is needed, Murmer's policy is to include up to five hours of each before painting. Being an FAA-approved repair station, this company is also qualified to perform additional work in conjunction with paint jobs.

The topcoats of color are always polyurethane, with four coats everywhere, except for the leading edge surfaces, which get six coats. None of the antennas are painted, but the wheel wells, tires, and brakes all get cleaned and painted. All wing and stabilizer root seals will be replaced with new seals after the paint has set up. Murmer's paint jobs carry a full two-year warranty for adhesion, corrosion, and gloss retention. This warranty is fully transferable and has unlimited hours. The painting process should take four weeks and is tentatively scheduled to begin in mid-June. This starting date is a guess since no one knows how long it will take to obtain FAA approval for the Meggitt MAGIC EFIS system. No one has ever installed a MAGIC system in a single-engine airplane before. Stay tuned for further updates.

Click on images for a larger view.
Click for larger image Click for larger image

Meggitt Avionics