All photos above by Palle Nørby Christensen (Thanks Palle!)
“The one that got away”, would be an appropriate titel for this one. The story of this one is possibly the most weird and strange of the designes I´ve done so far, and the outcome was equally weird and strange. The story begins sometime the the early summer of 2017, when I was contacted by an employee (who shall remain nameless) from Helicopter Wing Karup. The wing was about to say farewell to their Westland Lynx helicopters and wanted a farewell paint scheme applied to one of them. I got the distinct sense that this project was very clandestine, and that not the entire chain of command that was aware of the projects existence, let alone have given the thumbs up for it. To me however, it sounded like a perfectly fun project and just a thing I wanted to do, now that it was a year since I did my first paint scheme for a RDAF aircraft.
I was told that I could do pretty much what I wanted, and decorate the entire aircraft if I wanted to. So, once again I sat down in front of the computer and tried to get my head around this new project and come up with a fitting design.
My initial thought was to do a cartoonish farewell paint scheme, with a Lynx in a hammock suspended between two icebergs. The Lynx should be in the orange jumpsuit worn by the Lynx crews. Below is the first draft.
The direction I was going didn´t appeal to the guys in Helicopter Wing, so that ment start over again (as is usually the case). I was being told that a polar bear should be included and that there should be some references to both polar regions and deserts. So, I decided a good place to start was to draw out a Polar bear. I wanted to aim for a graphic style, rather than photo realism, in order for the paint job to look different at a distance rather than up close. When I had drawn out the Polar bear head, I figured that it would look cool if the polarbear seemlessly transitioned into an ice covered sea on the tailboom. Below is a sample of the design elements I had made and worked with in this project.
I tried it out and it seemed to be working pretty well. The Helicopter Wing liked it too, so I proceeded to the starboard side…The colors of the Lynx fitted the desert environment nicely, so instead of the Polarbear I added a Lynx, and instead of the icy sea, I added a desert scene.
With some star constellations and some Aurora Boralis the piece was done…and approved by the Helicopter Wing.
All was good…until:
Shortly after the design was done, I was told it would be applied by a local grafitti artist. I contacted him, and we talked back and forth about the various element, and everything was just fine. It didn´t take many days before I learned that the painter had started applying the design to the helicopter…and that he was “inspired” by my design. I thought that it was strange to be inspired by my design, now that it was something I worked out with the Helicopter Wing. The paint was applied and when I got the first photo, I was perplexed, to say the least. The guy had taken my design, had made it in to a sort-of photo realistic, highly saturated mess. Not long thereafter, the grafitti artist was interviewed on TV and told how he came up with all the different elements, and how his design fitted the helicopter and what not…Needless to say, I wasn´t all that impressed with how the painter handled that situation. Infact I thought, grafitti artists had a pretty strict code about stealing ideas. Anyway, You can be the judge of how “inspired” the painter was of my design at the very top of this page. Soon after seeing the outcome of the painters work, I got in touch with my contact at Helicopter Wing Karup…It was a great relief to learn that they were as surprised as I was about the outcome, and was equally perplexed about how the painter was unwilling to paint the design that were chosen.
It all blew over pretty quickly…I was fuming at first, especially because there was a distinct possibility that this would be the last time I would have my paint scheme design on a real aircraft. Lucky for me, that wasn´t the case…
I owe my contact at HW Karup to say that this little writeup have been approved by him, that there´s absolutly no grudge between me and HW Karup. The main purpose of this write-up, is simply to tell a story which i think is unique in many ways.