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Pilot Products: Aircraft paint protection

For bug season and beyond

Postflight duties during bug season involve painstakingly wiping insect splatters from aircraft leading edges, but a new product makes that chore easier.

Pilot Briefing July 2020ToughGuard is a two-step surface protector that smooths aircraft surfaces at a microscopic level and defends underlying paint from bugs, sun damage, dirt, and grease. It also provides a high-gloss finish that makes paint look better. I recently applied a coating to the AOPA 2020 Sweepstakes RV–10 and was favorably impressed with the result.

ToughGuard is made for aviation and specifically approved by Boeing, Airbus, Embraer, and other aircraft manufacturers. I got a one-airplane application from Craig Barnett of Scheme Designers that came in a 2-ounce tube and 4-ounce bottle.

Applying it required some elbow grease. I first had to wash the airplane to remove all dirt, dust, and wax. Then I mixed the “step one” fluid with a gallon of warm water and rubbed it onto the airplane. The directions call for “agitating” for between seven and 10 minutes, so that’s a lot of rubbing. Then I rinsed the airplane again and let it dry as directed.

Part Two is a protective sealant that looks like white sunscreen. You apply it sparsely (in “dime-sized drops”) and then rub it in by hand, or with an electric buffer. I don’t have a buffer, so I did it manually. Twice, as directed. After letting it dry for an hour, I went over it again with a terrycloth towel.

The surface of the airplane shined—and the directions call for letting it cure for at least 12 hours before flying. That’s enough time for the resin to bond with the aircraft paint.

ToughGuard claims to protect underlying surfaces for two years. I have no idea whether it can really do it for that long. But the next day, when I wiped the airplane down after a particularly buggy evening flight, the insect remnants sure came off easily. And anything that helps protect the Sweeps RV–10’s striking paint job from the elements is well worth the trouble.

PRICE: Prices start at $100 for a typical general aviation airplane. The product is only available via the Oregon company’s website.


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Dave Hirschman
Dave Hirschman
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.

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