Duncan’s Latest Charter Fleet Addition Is A Keeper


This week, Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) specialist Duncan Aviation revealed its latest company-owned aircraft, and it looks like a real “catch.” The now-refurbished 10-year-old Pilatus PC-12/47 turboprop single clearly shows the dedication Duncan Board Chairman Todd Duncan has for fishing and the outdoors. But the 4,000-hour PC-12 got more than just a creative new paint job. Along with some heavy maintenance, it also received a fresh interior with natural colors and leather as well as hydrographics and “pops of color.” And for charter trips with fishing and outdoorsy destinations in mind, Duncan invested in a significant Garmin avionics upgrade. With 34 locations nationwide that provide a range of aviation services, it was the Lincoln, Nebraska, facility that got the nod for refurbing the Pilatus.

Duncan commissioned famed wildlife artist Derek DeYoung to come up with a scheme that reflected his love for freshwater fishing. He and DeYoung settled on emulating the “experience” of a Northern Pike. DeYoung explained his creative process: “I don’t just glance at a fish. I try to find nuances and colors that maybe not every Pike has. A fish’s colors and patterns change with the lighting.” After much back-and-forth, they settled on an iridescent purple nose, fading to green with ivory spots that morph to “warm yellow” toward the aircraft’s belly.

“It was a real team effort,” Duncan said, “and [the Duncan Aviation Paint Team] stood behind their word. They pulled it off. Having the creative talent behind you and the ability to do something different is the most fun a guy can have.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.


  1. So much for PR efforts to portray airplanes as effective and efficient corporate business tools.

    I’ll never forget early in my corporate piloting career arriving back home from a 3 city tour which began with a 5 am takeoff and ended with a 6 pm landing after which the company president said as he thanked us for our work, “I could never have made the business deals I made today without this business jet.” The airplane was painted quintessentially understated off-white with quintessentially understated trim colors – the quintessential paint scheme of quintessential successfully harnessed business aircraft.

    Duncan has impressed me with their competent maintenance, paint job quality and customer service. But if I were looking for advice on a paint scheme to protect an aircraft from the corrosive effects of the elements while at the same time exuding dignity and avoiding flamboyance offensive to stakeholder, I might choose Todd Duncan’s paint shop, but I would not choose Todd Duncan to give me paint scheme advice.

    • I’m sure that if you requested a paint job that exuded dignity and avoiding flamboyance, you’d see a far different scheme suggested.

      But if your use case was to fly backcountry fishing expeditions? You’d have far different requirements.

    • Just a reminder: not all airplanes are intended to be prosaic, dignified “business tools”. Some are well dignified by being the livery equivalent of literary onomatopoeia. This Pilatus livery does that rather nicely.

  2. Wow!!! What a visual flying test pattern. In the ‘90s, I flew a BBJ. Simple paint job with a blue and grey stripe. We flew worldwide and not wanting to cause attention to ourselves. That said, to say the least, the paint job on the jet was nothing ostentatious.

  3. Almost anything is better than those lame curved “swoosh” stripes – but not this. By “hydrographics”, do they mean watercolors?

  4. “art” is the eye of the beholder. IMHO this piece of art is not to my liking. too “busy”, and furthermore I didn’t get the artist’s intent. I thought it was an odd or even poor attempt to emulate the colorings of a giraffe.

    • I didn’t get it either, but I’m not a fisherman. After reading the artist’s comments, it began to make sense.

  5. Love the innovative approach. In most cases the livery will have exciting appeal to the intended audience. A little kiddo lucky enough to go fishing with his dad using this thing will always ask “are we taking the Pike Plane to go fishing today”? As an AMT I feel the color patterns might obscure some information we might have otherwise missed on inspection so my tastes are certainly more bland. Congratulations Duncan !

  6. I’m all for creativity and self expression, and I’m sure that looks pretty cool from across the ramp, or from any perspective anywhere close enough for one to understand what they’re looking at. Problem is, that fish paint scheme is actually camouflage, and as such it does a great job of breaking up the outline of the plane. I have to wonder how well it can be spotted and moreover recognized while in flight.

  7. Regarding the repeated assertion that this is “camouflage…” Unless this airplane is spending a lot of time underwater you could hardly be more mistaken. I’ve only read two studies on aircraft visibility in flight, but each of them reported that contrast helps visibility. Hence in this case since it has colors considerably distant in the spectrum from “sky” it should be easier to spot than most. It’s also worth noting here that in each study white was found to be the hardest color to see. The easiest by the way being the high vis orange and or green/yellow.

    As far as its suitability for “business” purposes; unless the customers of this business routinely meet the aircraft at the airport, they will most likely never see this paint job. Consequently it doesn’t seem like a valid consideration. If however this aircraft is a customer facing asset then yes I’d have to agree – unless the business is a fishing or outdoor concern. Since we don’t know any of those things, it seems a bit harsh to designate it as inappropriate.

    That being said, I’m not a fan. But then again it’s not MY multi million dollar airplane. Dude can paint it how he likes. I applaud the expression of individuality and willingness to do something different. It’s not attractive to me, but my opinion wasn’t part of the process – nor should it have been. If it pleases the guy who paid for it – who are we to say anything?

  8. I just reread the caption on the photo – and noticed this is to be used for fishing charters. I still don’t like it aesthetically but it makes perfect sense business wise now. If folks are willing to pay to charter an aircraft to go fishing, this livery is the kind of thing that will appeal to them. It’s a reasonable business choice. But dang that’s one goofy looking airplane.