How to Make Your Prop More Visible
Every year a few people don’t see a spinning aircraft propeller and accidentally walk into it. This either kills them or seriously injures them.
Obviously there is an ongoing need for teaching people who are new to aviation, to stay away from spinning props, but fortunately there are ways of painting a propeller to make it much more visible.
This is the safety paint scheme that has been adopted by the New Zealand Air Force for their primary flight trainers. It would probably be a good idea to paint all props this way, but this is especially a good idea for props on airplanes that can be expect to be around people who are new to aviation such as ride giving airplanes, and trainers.
This privately owned Rans S-7 has been painted with a very attractive (but very high visibility) paint scheme. Notice that the paint next to the hub on the left is white, and the paint next to the hub on the right is black.
What happens when you see this prop running at speeds ranging from idle up to perhaps 1800 or 2000 rpm the prop appears to be wobbling back and forth. The improvement in visibility over other paint schemes is dramatic.
To get a mental idea of what this looks like, think of the spinning children’s toys that appear to wobble because of the way they are painted.
Unfortunately due to the scan rate of the video camera used to photograph this plane, this doesn’t show up.
At speeds ranging from idle up to the speed at which the entire disk becomes just a blur in the human eye, this paint scheme is dramatically more visible than other paint schemes.
The next obvious improvement to this paint scheme would be to paint the outer most segment a high visibility white or yellow on both tips. This would still leave you with very high visibility apparent wobble at low speeds in the center of the disk, while keeping the best possible visibility at higher prop speeds.
Airplanes like pushers that have the prop well away from the pilots field of vision should probably paint both sides of the prop this way, while airplanes where the pilot has to look through the prop need to have the side of the prop facing the pilot painted flat black.