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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Abbate

Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 1

An MH-60R Seahawk assigned to the “Pioneers” of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 1 at NAS Patuxent River was transformed into a work of art June 26.

The Fly Girl Painters, a volunteer group of aircraft artists from Riverside, California, devoted more than 65 hours from June 20-26, putting their creativity on this unique canvas.

“This is our way of giving back to the military,” said retired Air Force Master Sgt. Shayne Meder, founder of the Fly Girl Painters. “I donate my services to support our military men and women who risk their lives every day for our great country.”

Meder served in the Air Force for 20 years before taking her art talents to local museums where she worked restoring aircraft. She said each aircraft design is unique, with various ideas presented by the requesting command.

For the MH-60R, VX-1 submitted Meder a drawing of a tattoo.

“We took the design, laid it out in illustrator and applied it to a scale helicopter to make sure it fit on the aircraft,” Meder said.

Although they worked through the night and even on the weekends to complete the project, they found that working around Sailors was a great experience.

“All the Sailors at the squadron were very nice,” said Roxane Bond, an aircraft mechanic and member of the Fly Girl team. “They kept us motivated and complimented us on the work as it progressed.”

The final piece, a large squid clutching the helicopter, covers the complete tail of the MH-60R. The intricate design was well received by VX-1 who expressed a great appreciation for the painters work.

“The team was extremely professional and it was fun to watch the process unfold right in front of us,” said Capt. Wade Turvold, commanding officer of VX-1. “We really appreciate all of their hard work and long hours that they put into this aircraft. We look forward to showing it off.”

The Fly Girls said they take great pride in their work, which they view as a tribute to the U.S. Military. Their ultimate goal is to provide a unit with an aircraft they can be proud of.

“Being creative on one of the coolest canvas there is — it’s quite rewarding,” Meder said. “Seeing how much people really like what they get is great. Our next goal is to take a ride in a helicopter that has our design on it!”

Since 1999, the Fly Girl Painters have painted more than 50 active-duty aircraft, including 40 H-60 helicopters. For more information, visit www.flygirl