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Glow in the Dark

Jim Roberts

EAA

Spectators at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh’s Wednesday night air show enjoyed a unique treat: the debut of Kyle Fowler’s Long-EZ night act, featuring a revolutionary “paint-on” light system. Kyle describes his act as “a spaceship coming to Oshkosh,” complete with theatrical music, pyrotechnics, and an aircraft with blue-glowing leading edges.

Last year, in anticipation of the 2022 air show season, Kyle became intrigued with LumiLor light-emitting paint. At the 2021 International Council of Air Shows convention, he met Teresa Arredondo, president and CEO of ArtCraft Paint. She was looking for a performer to sponsor, and Kyle was surprised that she was interested in a “small-town Canadian redneck kid.”

When Kyle described the LumiLor system, he recalls, “At first she looked at me like I had two heads.” But then she declared, “There’s no way somebody else is going to beat us to be the first ones to put this paint on an airplane.” Teresa’s team of artisans proved up to the challenge.

To set his Long-EZ apart from the crowd, Kyle wanted a paint scheme that was nonsymmetrical. Flight Lines Design came up with the scheme, and paint work began in February 2022. Two months later, he premiered the new look at SUN ’n FUN, minus the LumiLor effects, which were yet to be perfected. The airplane returned to the shop for completion, and today Kyle says, “I love the way it looks. It’s absolutely amazing!”

EAA

When asked about the project, Teresa recalls that they were breaking new ground in aircraft painting and suffered some setbacks at first. The first two attempts on the lighting failed, but the third was the charm. She says, “Pretty much what Thomas Edison did with the lightbulb, we did with this aircraft.”

According to the LumiLor website, their product works with electroluminescence, an optical and electrical phenomenon in which a material emits light in response to an electric current. Teresa compares it to a copper wire with plastic sheathing. Copper lies under the leading-edge paint, which is covered with a clear coat. When Kyle flips a switch, current in the copper produces a bright blue glow.

A more successful collaboration is hard to imagine — a pilot with a vision and a woman with the drive to bring it to fruition. Teresa immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico as a 13-year-old and began work in the strawberry fields in Santa Maria. She told herself, “I know I’m good for something better.” As an accomplished seamstress, 33 years ago she applied for an upholsterer job at ArtCraft. The owner at the time told her it wasn’t a job for a woman, but she persisted. That same owner later sold half the company to her, and today she is the sole owner.

Teresa’s pride in ArtCraft and her adopted country are summed up in her observation: “If it’s not happening in the United States, it’s not happening anywhere else.” And this week it’s happening at AirVenture!

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