Nose artist Jerri Bergen: Cowlings are her canvas

November 27, 2012

  • Image 1

    Jerri Bergen painted her first nose art (the genre includes fuselages and tails) on the 1966 Mooney M20C owned by her and her husband Chris. Photo by Corina Marie Howell.

  • Image 2
    ‘Annabelle’

    A request for “a girl in a bikini” resulted in this classic design, hand painted to the right side of the fuselage of this vintage Fairchild PT-19. Photo by Jerri Bergen.

  • Image 3
    “Blue Feather’

    Tony Gadis’ Globe Swift sports the iconic blue feather featured on the cover of Illusions, a book by pilot and author Richard Bach. Photo by Jerri Bergen.

  • Image 3
    ‘Boo-Man Choo’

    Ray Hofman, the new owner of this P-51 Mustang, renamed it in honor of his son, nicknamed “Boo-Man.” The lovely lady is his wife, Janna. Photo by Jerri Bergen.

  • Image 4
    ‘Hell Hath No Fury’

    The crew chief requested a nose art design similar to one of Jerri Bergen’s existing designs for this U.S. Army Apache helicopter currently on active duty. Photo by Jerri Bergen.

  • Image 5
    ‘Impulse Buy’

    Ryan Gullett bought this Tri-Pacer after promising his lady-love that he wouldn’t buy another airplane until he'd sold at least one already sitting in the hangar. Photo by Jerri Bergen.

  • Image 6
    ‘Lovely Lisa’

    Col. Kevin “Zeus” Kennelly, U.S. Air Force, honored his wife Lisa on this MC-12W, a converted Beech 350-ER King Air. “Zeus Thunderbolt” refers to the aircraft’s specialized equipment. Photo by Col. Kevin “Zeus” Kennelly.

  • Image 7
    ‘Lucky Lady’

    Mark Thompson’s aircraft boneyard was the location for a music video featuring this derelict Lockheed Lodestar, hastily transformed into a bomber complete with nose art. Photo by Jerri Bergen.

  • Image 8
    ‘M-Spear Ranch’

    Painted on Geri Silveira’s Piper Pawnee, M-Spear was the brand of the family’s cattle ranch in Fallon, Nev. The original M-Spear ranch was in Uruguay. Photo by Jerri Bergen.

  • Image 9
    ‘Mad Manx’

    Owned by Bill Hathaway, this one and only Ercoupe of the “Royal Manx Flying Corps,” honors the Isle of Man’s most famous residents—the Manx cat breed. Photo by Jerri Bergen.

  • Image 10
    ‘One for Maxine’

    Pat Kelley, currently building an RV-10, wanted a vintage “orange-crate-label feel” to the artwork that honors his mother Maxine, whose favorite hobby was gardening. Photo by Jerri Bergen.

  • Image 11
    ‘Puddy Gatos III’

    A doctor who recently lost the last of the family’s three cats to old age, Dennis Robinson memorialized Veeking, Peeka, and Uggums on his Cessna 172. Photo by Jerri Bergen.

  • Image 12
    ‘Special Delivery’

    For this King Air, Doug McNamara liked the girl dropping the bomb because his aircraft was used to launch anti-sub sonobuoys for Patuxent River Test Center. Photo by Doug McNamara.

  • Image 13
    ‘Stewards of the Sky’ drawing

    Jerri Bergen begins each painting with a sketch. Pilot Terry Harchenko chose this design, drawn on a napkin, for the tail of his Cessna 188 Ag Husky. Photo by Jerri Bergen.

  • Image 14
    ‘Stewards of the Sky’ finished art

    The finished art for the Cessna 188 Ag Husky: Terry Harchenko, owner of the airplane, wanted the artwork to reflect the importance of agricultural aviation. Photo by Jerri Bergen.

  • Image 15
    (Untitled Aeronca)

    For Jeff Morris, the vintage 1940s look of the buxom blonde lady was perfect to adorn the nose of his Aeronca L-3B. Photo by Jeff Morris.

  • Image 16
    (Untitled B-25 Tiger)

    Jerri brought this badly faded, six-foot Tiger back to life on the fuselage of a B-25J Mitchell owned by Yanks Air Museum in Chino, Calif. Photo by Jerri Bergen.

Some artists paint portraits, others prefer landscapes. Jerri Bergen, however, paints noses—of aircraft. Traditionally, nose art is the decorative art that was painted on an aircraft mostly by military mechanics and pilots involved in yesteryear’s conflicts. A unique genre that reached its peak during World War II, nose art is enjoying a revival thanks to artists like Bergen. A former computer information systems manager at McDonnell Douglas, Bergen started Victory Girl nose art studio in 2006 with her twin sister Terri, who enthusiastically supports her work as does Bergen’s husband, Chris.

Bergen’s passion is to help preserve military aviation history and memorialize the stories of today’s pilots through art. To date, she has created art for more than 100 aircraft and at least a couple of hundred jackets.

“Nose art is my passion,” said Bergen. “I love it not only for the artwork, but for the story each piece of artwork has to tell.”

Take a moment to nose around this selection of Bergen’s artwork.