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PPG Paint Job Keeps Spy Plane Slippery Slick

PPG employees Andrew Troller, Connie Griesemer and Rickey Shump, from left, helped with the A-12 restoration.


Say you’re restoring an A-12 Oxcart, the legendary eye-in-the-sky spy plane operated by the CIA during the height of the Cold War. It needs some high-tech aerospace coatings for the refurbishment. Who you gonna call?

It only took one call, and a local one at that, to PPG Plant Manager Tom Meyer, according to the folks at Huntsville’s U.S. Space & Rocket Center, where the A-12 was awaiting its new livery. Meyer promptly arranged for PPG to donate military aerospace coatings to repaint the venerable Oxcart.

“PPG has a great relationship with the staff at USSRC, and we are honored to participate in the preservation of this historic aircraft,” Meyer says. “PPG has donated coatings for several aircraft-restoration projects. We appreciate being able to contribute our aerospace expertise and resources.”

The spy plane’s original livery, or overall insignia of color and graphics, was nondescript, given its undercover mission. PPG Global Segment Manager Duane Utter, a military aerospace coatings expert, worked with the Space & Rocket Center’s curator to give the plane a high-gloss finish that would help it stay fresh in its new outdoor home. PPG donated nearly 90 gallons of a high-gloss military topcoat in midnight for the livery and four additional colors for markings. The company also contributed 30 gallons of military epoxy primer.

“We couldn’t have a better donor, advisor or friend than PPG,” said Holly Ralston, executive director, U.S. Space & Rocket Center Education Foundation. “Taking care of artifacts as large as the A-12 Oxcart is a tall order, but PPG’s people and paint are consistently up for the challenge here at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.”

The A-12 program had its first flight on April 30, 1962. The last mission was in May 1968. Though short-lived, the A-12 pioneered new stealth, speed and altitude capabilities. It reached a top speed above Mach 3 and an altitude of 90,000 feet. Only 12 of the aircraft and one trainer were produced, with seven aircraft and the trainer still in existence.

The A-12 Oxcart is on loan from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

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