New Livery For the Starfighter Aerospace’s Aircraft

The new "aggressor" paint scheme gives to the F-104 a modern look. ( Image by Luigino Caliaro)
The new “aggressor” paint scheme gives the F-104 a modern look. ( Image by Luigino Caliaro)
During a recent visit to the Starfighter Aerospace facility at the Kennedy Space Center we had the opportunity to photograph the new paint scheme applied to the company’s F-104 Starfighter. Starfighters Aerospace has for some years now made hundreds of thousands of F-104 Starfighter fans around the world happy by keeping a handful of these beautiful jets in the air, the last flying examples anywhere. But these aircraft cannot fly on air show appearance fees alone, and need to work for a living in order to stay aloft. Starfighters Aerospace is a serious business which offers its unique aircraft as a platform for a variety of aerospace flight testing services from basic research to systems evaluation. They serve both the public and the private sector, and have been successful enough with their programs to have expanded their fleet of F-104s to nine, with three currently operational out of a planned-for seven.
We took this opportunity to have a chat with Piercarlo “Capone” Ciacchi, a former Italian Air Force Starfighter and Frecce Tricolori pilot, who is now Director of Flight Operations for the Florida based company.

WN: Piercarlo, what’s ahead in the next 3- 6 months for the company?

Ciacchi: The core business of the company is Research & Development and Department of Defense support, which will be also the main activity in the next months. The company is also developing a specific sub-orbital flight training plan for different commercial space entities.

WN: When do you expect the entire fleet to be fully operational?

Ciacchi: The [three] Canadian CF-104s are already operational. We are expecting to initiate the Functional Check Flights on the Italian F-104s momentarily.

WN: Who picked the new paint scheme for the aircraft?

Ciacchi: The paint scheme for two of the four Italian aircraft  (F-104SASAM and one TF-104GM) has been chosen for specific missions for which they will be used. Two more of the Italian aircraft have been painted in plain grey for a different type of mission. The graphic design has been provided by Mr. Dario Righetto, Italian graphic designer and Global Marketing Director for Graphistudio, Arba, PN, Italy.

Image by Luigino Caliaro
Image by Luigino Caliaro

WN: Was it a request of the Military to have such a pattern?

Ciacchi: See above

WN: Which company painted it?

Ciacchi: Starfighters maintenance.

WN: Are you planning to paint the entire fleet with such a scheme?

Ciacchi: No, the Canadian aircraft are will keep the original Starfighters paint scheme for the time being.

Three of the company's CF-104 Starfighters tucked into tight formation at Joint Base Andrews in Clinton, Maryland during the now biannual air show. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
Three of the company’s CF-104 Starfighters tucked into tight formation at Joint Base Andrews in Clinton, Maryland during the now biannual air show. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)

WN: Accordingly to the new missions the company will perform, do you plan to assign each aircraft to a different mission?

Ciacchi: Aircraft one for telecommunication work, aircraft two for NASA work, etc… The seven operational aircraft will be used for different missions. Only a few of the tasks require the specific paint scheme. The others will be swung according with maintenance cycles.

A view of the hangar with he former Italian Air Force TF-104 in the foreground. Notice the markings of the 4 Stormo still visible. ( Image by Luigino Caliaro)
A view of the hangar with he former Italian Air Force TF-104 in the foreground. Notice the markings of the Italian Air Force still visible. ( Image by Luigino Caliaro)

WN: How do you see the 104 performing against modern jets?

Ciacchi: Excellent. In the high speed, high altitude scenario, the Lockheed F-104 it is still the most capable aircraft commercially available.

WN: Will the Starfigther’s attend any air shows in the US?

Ciacchi: Yes, air shows will be limited, but present. Most of them will be in the south east US, closer to our home base.

Three of the company's CF-104 Starfighters tucked into tight formation at Joint Base Andrews in Clinton, Maryland during the now biannual air show. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
Three of the company’s CF-104 Starfighters tucked into tight formation at Joint Base Andrews in Clinton, Maryland during the now biannual air show. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)

Click HERE to read our previous article about the Starfighter Aerospace.

More pictures by Luigino Caliaro.

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7 Comments

  1. Hi everybody,

    Congrats on the new colourscheme. I have a simple question: Is there any chance, that Starfighters will come to Europe for some shows? I’m from The Netherlands and member of the IFS (International F-104 Society) and I know that there are a lot of F-104 fanatics and a lot of ex-104 drivers, would be delighted to see you perform.

    • I don’t think they will be ever be able to make it across the Atlantic, unless a big sponsor will put up the money :-). Simply too expensive for Airshow, even here in USA.

  2. Having served in the USAF during the time these were flying, I would love to see them again. Do you have any air shows scheduled in 2014?

  3. … I’m hoping some of the model decal companies like Twobobs are hard at work gettign these markings down for us modelers.

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