Warbird nose artist at museum

On Feb. 17, as part of its February Open Cockpit event, the New England Air Museum welcomes Connecticut native Gary Velasco, who has developed a reputation as one of the finest “nose artists” in the business.

“Nose art” refers to the caricatures painted on wartime aircraft, an art form popularized during World War II. Velasco recreated the nose art on the museum’s B-29 Superfortress “Jack’s Hack.”

Born and raised in Stamford, Connecticut, Velasco has been drawing since the age of 9. His art career began with interior home painting as well as murals in dozens of restaurants throughout Connecticut. Velasco’s love of World War II aircraft led him to experiment with the idea of marketing reproduction aircraft panels with vintage nose art markings. After extensive research on the subject (Velasco has collected over 7,000 original vintage war time nose art photos), he started with several pieces, marketed them well, and orders started to arrive. Demand was so high that in 1995 he established Velasco Enterprises Fighting Colors Collection. The business grew to the point that he needed a larger facility, and in 2002 the business was moved to Virginia.

Velasco was commissioned to paint the nose art of many vintage warbird restoration projects, including the B-17 Memphis Belle, the B-24A Diamond Lil, and the New England Air Museum’s B-29 Jack’s Hack. His first book “FIGHTING COLORS, The Creation of Military Aircraft Nose Art” was published in 2004.

Velasco will be at the New England Air Museum on Sunday, Feb. 17 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to meet with visitors. Also on that day, visitors will be permitted to climb into the cockpits of up to 10 vintage aircraft, as well as get an up-close look at the museum’s newly restored Douglas A-26 Invader, which saw service in the European theater in World War II. Aircraft to be open include the North American F-100 Super Sabre, a DC-3 airliner, several helicopters and more..

The New England Air Museum is in Windsor Locks, Conn., adjacent to Bradley International Airport. It is owned and operated by the Connecticut Aeronautical Historical Association, a private, non-profit educational institution organized in 1959. It is the largest aviation museum in New England.

For more information: 860-623-3305 or NEAM.org

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