‘The Spirit of Ronald Reagan’ gets nose art

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U.S. Air Force photo/Megan Crusher

Ms. Shayne Meder, U.S. Air Force retired and nose art artist, was on hand for the unveiling of her original nose art on a 452nd Air Mobility Wing C-17 Globemaster III, dubbed The Spirit of Ronald Reagan, at a March Air Reserve Base ceremony Feb. 19.

The ceremony host, Col. Russell Muncy, 452 AMW commander, was joined by U.S. Congressman Ken Calvert, California’s 42nd District, to reveal the nose art, a U.S. flag on which Ronald Reagan’s portrait was superimposed.

Just before the unveiling, Muncy presented Meder with his commander’s coin to thank her for “going above and beyond normal expectations and perform in excellence.”

Meder volunteers her time and resources to paint military aircraft nose art as her way of giving back following her 20-year military career.

“We are proud to be associated with such an outstanding patriot,” Muncy said.

Nose Art history

Nose art is a decorative painting or design on the fuselage of a military aircraft, usually chalked up on the front fuselage, and is a form of aircraft graffiti.

Begun for practical reasons of identifying friendly units, the practice evolved to express the individuality, often constrained by the uniformity of the military, to evoke memories of home and peacetime life, and as a kind of psychological protection against the stresses of war and the probability of death. Its appeal, in part, came from nose art being officially approved, even when the regulations were against it.

Because of its individual and unofficial nature, it is considered folk art, inseparable from work as well as representative of a group. It can also be compared to sophisticated graffiti. In both cases, the artist is often anonymous, and the art itself is short-lived. In addition, it usually relies on materials immediately available.

Nose art is largely a military tradition, but civilian aircraft operated by the Virgin Group feature “Virgin Girls” on the nose as part of their brand. In a broad sense, the tail art of several airlines, such as the Eskimo on Alaska Airlines, can be called nose art. The same can apply to the tail markings of present-day U.S. Navy aircraft. Exceptions include the VIII Bomber Command, 301st Bomb Group’s B-17F Whizzer, which had its girl-riding-a-bomb on the dorsal fin.

(History taken from ceremony script)