The sleek metallic base coat that our Sweepstakes 172 received back in September 2016 was a highly effective platform for the decals touting its many improvements—but visibility was another matter. Craig Barnett, founder and chief executive officer of Scheme Designers in Cresskill, New Jersey, knew that when viewed from the sky, the all-over gray aircraft could easily disappear against most backgrounds.
“This year I wanted to explore high-visibility schemes for VFR flying,” said Barnett. His design combines striking geometric shapes with a brilliant red accent color (“Rocket Red” by Sherwin-Williams Aerospace Coatings) to grab attention.
Barnett said he favors a split base design—half one color, half another. A dark base is practical and aesthetic: A dark belly doesn’t have to be cleaned as much, and the airplane looks slimmer, longer, and hence faster sitting on the ground. The red accent color stands out against landscape or water.
KD Aviation handled the final paint application at its shop at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, New York. Co-owner Don Reese and his team completed the job in just more than three weeks—speedy when you consider the design covers nearly 60 percent of the aircraft. When we picked up the 172, airport neighbors were driving by to get a last look at the airplane before it left New York.
What’s left for this immaculate airplane? When you read this, we will have installed a second Garmin G5 in the instrument panel. Garmin’s STC for its electronic flight instrument permits it to be used as a replacement directional gyro or horizontal situation indicator. As both G5s run off the electrical system and are equipped with four-hour backup batteries, we will have removed the airplane’s vacuum system.
Finally, our goal is to install a Trio Avionics non-technical standard order autopilot. The STC Group aims to have an STC for the autopilot in July. That brings us right up to EAA AirVenture, when you’ll find out who the winner is.
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