There is something about a red airplane. It can be sitting perfectly motionless but it will catch your eye.
Randy Pflanzer, from Indianapolis, agrees.
He says he gets a lot of attention when people see his candy apple red F-1 Rocket.
“It took me about two years to build and I have been flying it about two years,” he noted, using a soft cloth to wipe the gleaming finish when we caught up with him at EAA AirVenture earlier this year.
The paint color is from the automotive world, according to Pflanzer.
“It’s done in colors pulled out of Chrysler automobiles,” he says. “All these colors — the red and gold — could be used on the family minivan. You can see that they go together very well.”
What you probably won’t see on a family minivan are the flaming skull details. The flaming skull is on the tail, and the cowl clips are skulls.
For Pflanzer, it was a way of setting his airplane apart from others on the ramp. He knew the only way to do that would be with nose art or a design on the tail.
“I investigated nose art but couldn’t find anything that satisfied my sense of style, so I focused on tail art,” he recalled. “I started searching for designs that incorporated a skull and crossbones or a pirate theme. I’ve always been attracted to the Navy F-14 squadrons that uses the skull and crossbones on the tail, so I researched the Internet looking for skull designs in either decals or vinyl.
“That’s when I ran across a company in upstate New York that makes custom mirrors for Harleys shaped as a flaming skull,” he continued. “The light bulb turned on! I called him up and asked if he would make me a couple of clips about an inch tall and two inches long. He said yes and sent them to me. I then asked the aircraft painter to duplicate this design on the tail using an airbrush. That’s basically how the design came to be.”
The flaming skull rocket is the fourth airplane he’s built.
“It’s also going to be the last one I build!” he said. “It is very fast — I can wring 195 to 200 knots out of it!”