Pilot Projects: 8 Artistically Painted Airplanes & Jets




Airlines large and small are artistically painting their aircraft in flying colors to ensure the view from outside is as nice as the one from your window seat.

Shakes On A Plane


It’s a bard, it’s a plane! To help celebrate the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth, British budget airline easyJet has rolled out a distinctly decorated Airbus A319-111 emblazoned with the legendary English playwright’s visage. The brilliant orange and white jet is the centerpiece of easyJet’s promotional campaign supporting the establishment of an annual national William Shakespeare Day on the literary icon’s birthday, April 23rd. A curtain call for Flickr user Joshua_Risker for the eloquently Elizabethan image of Sir Will above.


One curious feature of the promotion was the enlisting of the UK’s oldest living “William Shakespeare”, aged 91. Those interested in riding the Shakespeare plane will be pleased to note easyJet will be running special “on-bard entertainment” (their pun, not mine) flights from Gatwick Airport across the carrier’s network in the UK and Europe this summer. We’re guessing the Twelfth Night is fully booked.

Raising The Bar


In 2009 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover model Bar Refaeli practiced a little double coverage when her bikini-clad likeness was plastered across both sides of a Southwest Airlines 737. While the Israeli beauty herself approved of the SIxSW promotional gimmick, the airline reaped a whirlwind of controversy when some passengers felt the imagery was, shall we say, less than family-friendly.

Painted On Porpoise


When Japan’s Amakusa Airlines decided to paint their entire fleet to resemble the company’s dolphin mascot, the firm’s accountants kept their composure… the “airline” only has one plane! Amakusa managed to make the most of their resources, however, as their workhorse twin-engine Bombardier Dash 8 turboprop was arted up to resemble a mother dolphin and her two babies – one on each side. Everybody now: “Awww!”


Amakusa Airlines may be small but when it comes to social media they punch far above their weight. The company’s Facebook page gleefully promotes the plane’s extreme makeover with a marketing focus on Japan’s so-called airplane geeks. Riding the dolphin was never more fun… well, almost never.

Flying For Dummies


You may not have heard of Kulula Airlines but this South African (no, not Hawaiian) carrier is doing its best to get the word out. Painting its planes a vivid shade of Toxic Waste Green is one way to get noticed; turning a Boeing 737 into a full-size flying infographic is another.


While infographics are cool in their own right, there’s something to be said for the TMI factor. On the other hand, in the event of an unfortunate incident searchers might appreciate assistance in a little exercise we like to call Black Box (which is actually orange) Recovery. A tip of the hat to Flickr user Johan Hetebrij for the slightly disquieting photo from which the above image was derived.

Bringin’ In The DOH


Low-cost carrier Western Pacific Airlines was only in business for three years but they definitely left their mark on the so-called “logojet” scene, employing over a dozen colorfully painted designs that not only looked distinctive but helped bring in some extra cash. One of the most memorable was the Simpsons Jet, a banana-yellow Boeing B737-300 bearing the familiar faces of America’s favorite animated family. Hmm, did they fly to Flanders? Stupid Flanders!

Dreamtime Dreamliner


Launched in 2013, the Wunula Dreaming 747-400 was the fourth aircraft in Qantas’ Indigenous Flying Art series. Qantas has made the news overly often of late for all the wrong reasons – a bleeding snake stuck in the wing, for instance – so a snazzy paint job paying homage to Australia’s rich pre-colonial culture can only be an improvement.


It may just be the most memorable, though, thanks to the use of searingly brilliant colors and an authentic historic design: the plane is in effect the world’s largest moveable piece of Aboriginal art. No one could roo the day they book passage!

Ich Bin Ein Bearliner!


Japan has a CatBus, Germany counters with a BearBus… and we don’t mean Southwest Airlines’ Bar Refaeli Special, either. This smarter-than-the-average-Bearliner is an Airbus A319-100 operated by Germanwings, a Cologne-based budget carrier owned by Lufthansa.


In case you weren’t aware, the bear is Berlin’s official animal. Cool as this swept-wing sunglasses-wearing soaring Sugar Bear is today, we wonder what reception it would have received from the locals (and their occupiers) during the 1948 Berlin Airlift.

Cola Air Wars


When it comes to the Cola Wars, thinking big is a must and when it comes to commercial passenger airliners, thinking big means the Concorde. At least, it did back in 1996 when Pepsi-Cola paid the joint French-British consortium that built the swoopy SSTs an undisclosed amount for a mere 16 days of unique branding exposure. Kudos to Flickr user Mikael Persson for the dynamic image of a carbonated Concorde in flight over Stockholm on its way to Paris. Wouldn’t it be cool to be on board… and ask the stewardess for a Coke?


One does not simply re-paint a Concorde in corporate colors, of course. The aircraft’s archetypical white paint was specially formulated to withstand heat generated by friction with air moving at over twice the speed of sound. The end result was only the fuselage was painted blue while the wings remained white, plus lettering and logos. Was it worth it? Consider that Pepsi is still fizzing today while the Concorde more or less fizzled out.



 
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