Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do BEFORE my images and graphics arrive?
Step One: Mission Plan
All of our graphics are printed on thin sheets of vinyl which have a very sticky backing. The image is peeled off and stuck to any flat surface.
Think about the location for your graphic. Measure the area a few times. Remember, measure twice cut once? That’s important here. Next, determine the surface texture. The images do not do well on certain surfaces. They fall off into a little ball. Once the back sticky side touches itself it will NOT come apart.
We recommend these surfaces to place your graphics on:
Smooth high-gloss painted surfaces are ideal for an image!
For larger images, eight-foot or bigger, clear acrylic sheet plastic is also ideal like in the picture below.
Painted Drywall with a high gloss or eggshell surface is a great surface too. Flat painted walls are not a good surface for the sticky side because of the paint texture.
Any glass surface like mirrors or windows is also ideal.
Flat metal surfaces are a good place for a stickup.
We’ve had several customers mount images on sanded wood surfaces. Most painted the wood surface with high-gloss paint.
Temperature-controlled environments have been ideal for keeping images on surfaces. One custom image remained in place for over eight years!
Surfaces that are not recommended:
Wait at least 15 days after freshly painting a wall or surface before placing an image over the new paint.
Textured walls will not hold your image. Any “orange peeling” texture will not hold the image for more than a day or two.
Unpainted drywall does not have the correct surface texture to keep the sticky side down. It will fall off!
Stone surfaces like brick or cinderblock have been problematic. Porous surfaces will not hold the image.
These vinyl images are not made for being outside. They will not stick to your car!
Every Carpenter will tell you: Measure twice – Cut Once!
Take time to figure out where you want the image. Measure the surface a couple times before removing the graphic from the backing. Any image over six feet long will be two and a half maybe even three feet tall at the tail. A thirty footer is eight feet tall at the tail… yes, one customer ordered a thirty-foot aircraft… that’s how we know!
Images over eight feet in length are printed in sections. Each image connecting edge has a 1/16 inch overlap which helps line up the image sections.
Every image has the length and width on the lower right border to help in measuring the surface area.
Step Two: The Clean Up
All vinyl images adhere best to CLEAN surfaces. All surfaces collect dirt, dust, and lint which is easily cleaned off. Wipe down the selected surface with a damp cloth. Do not use any cleaning solutions or soap on the surface. Cleaning agents or solutions will not let the adhesive set well against the surface if solutions are used. A damp cloth is ALL you need.
Step Three: Get a Wingman!
For BIG images over six feet long, you will need another pair of hands. Get a wingman! An eight-foot-long image is a handful and very awkward trying to put it up. A ten-foot-long image comes in two sections… one custom image was printed in five sections. Six footers or bigger will require two people to get the image on a surface. Discuss how you will spread the image across the surface. Brief your plan then fly your plan.
Step Four: Put it up!
The BEST way to apply an image to a surface:
Starting at the tail, peel the image partially off the vinyl sheet, about six inches of the image is a good starting point. Locating the measuring marks on the surface, firmly push the partial tail area onto the surface. Rolling the vinyl carrier forward UNDER the image separates it best from the backing. As you move forward, firmly push on the image with a damp cloth or wallpaper squeegee. A sheepskin-type paint roller is ideal for pressing images into a surface. Rolling up the carrier into a scroll moving toward the nose allows one person to place the image firmly on the surface while the second person rolls the carrier backing under itself into a scroll.
3M makes a great vinyl wall adhesive that can be applied to the surface accepting the image. There is a squeegee all wallpaper applicators use to remove bubbles and wrinkles which can be bought at Home Depot, Lowes, or Walmart.
If you make a mistake, peel the image off and try again. Don’t let the sticky backing touch itself as it will not come apart.
Once the image is up, post pictures! We love seeing how our customers show off their aircraft. Popular places for Wall Pilot aircraft have been hangers (naturally), aircrew “I Love Me” rooms, and private movie theaters.
Post your aircraft on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter so we can see how you’re showing it off. We want to see it!
How are graphics shipped?
All images are shipped from the printer rolled up inside a long box and sent out to customers via UPS Ground. Each image is rolled up with the image facing OUTWARD to protect the vinyl and adhesive. The boxes are long and very sturdy. Yes, a few don’t survive the transit. If your print is damaged during shipping, let us know and we will send you a new one.
Why aren’t the images shipped in hard cardboard tubes?
We get asked this a lot. The reason is the major freight companies like FedEx, UPS, and DHS don’t like tubes! The big reason is the bar code scanners cannot read a code wrapped around a tube. Another reason is tubes roll around during transit from printer to customer. Most of the major shipping companies charge an extra $15 for shipping tubes. We didn’t want to charge customers an extra $15 just because of tubes. The boxes our images come in a very sturdy. Out of the thousands of images shipped, two a month get crushed somehow and we’ll print you another graphic if it happens. Insurance picks up that tab. Expect us to ask for pictures of the beat-up box and the vinyl aircraft print so we can file a claim.
Where does Wall Pilot find the image profiles?
This is another question we get asked a lot. We have profiles going all the way back to World War I! Want a lozenge-covered Triplane or green Sopwith Camel?
All of our artists have extremely comprehensive libraries. When I asked how one artist drew a MiG-23 Flogger in 24 hours, he told me while in Europe a Czech MiG-23 Pilot Manual became “available.”
Some of our profiles come from the many online blueprint websites. The-Blueprints.com is a famous one many use. We are pathological about details though. We usually use three or four sources for our drawings.
Our best source has been customers. Many have incredible pictures of aircraft they flew or worked on. One Crew Chief had over a thousand KC-135s pictures! If you have detailed pictures send digitized copies to us at the Wall Pilot email addresses.
Whenever Wall Pilot creates a custom graphic, we’ll send a draft to customers to look them over. Some are reviewed several times before going to print. Same with the unit patches. Custom artwork requires pictures and we’ve been sent some incredible historical photos. We want your feedback on our graphics! It does not offend us if you say the patch is the wrong shade or the pilot looks too skinny. We’ll find the right shade of red and fatten up the pilot!
A custom print will take about two to three weeks on average to complete depending on the number of changes asked for. Some have taken longer because we had to start from scratch. A customer asked for a helicopter I had no idea existed so we had to do a lot of research. This is also why our custom-made images are more expensive… labor of love on each one… preserving history one aircraft at a time.
How are images printed?
We have been blessed with a great printing company! Their warehouse is just shy of a football field in length! One of their printing machines can make a 130-foot-long by 40-foot-tall image!
All of our artists use Adobe Illustrator exclusively. The graphics we create are sent to the printer as a .pdf file. Each image has the main graphic and what is called a cutline around each.
Our printer has a graphics expert review each image, sending them to their main computer. The printing process takes only 30-35 seconds to print an eight-foot image and patches! You can see one printed on our YouTube page.
Once printed the vinyl sheet is taken to another table where a razor-sharp cutter uses the cutline file to go around the image. This cutter penetrates the vinyl only about 30% through the sheet.
One final check of the image is made before it goes into a shipping container, the hard cardboard box, and then it’s picked up and shipped via UPS Ground.
How detailed are the images?
The 14,000 graphic images we have on file are very detailed! In the two images below you can read the stenciling on the AIM-9M Sidewinders for prints six feet in length or larger.
Each of our artist continues to “upgrade” our graphics as we learn more about each aircraft, weapon, or pod. We find really good blueprint drawings online and update our images accordingly. There are literally hundreds of Facebook aviation groups and they send us really great information too. See for yourself…
How do you move the image?
The best way to move the image is to replace it back on the vinyl carrier. We don’t expect most people will keep the vinyl backing so…
Another really easy way to move the image is by sticking it on a plastic shower curtain! Shower curtains are a cheap carrier for moving your print from one place to another.
Once you have it on the shower curtain, roll the curtain with the image facing OUTSIDE toward you, not inside like one might think, just like it was delivered to you.
Does Wall Pilot ship overseas?
Of course we do, but overseas shipping costs may be a bit pricey. As an example, shipping to Australia may cost $30 to $40 USD. Typically England runs about $24 for a four footer. The shipping may be more than the print itself in cases and we just want our overseas customers to understand that. We continue to search for less expensive ways to get prints to our overseas customers.
Recently VAT taxes have increased… a LOT. We cannot do anything about that VAT. VAT taxes must be included in the pricing of graphics. Sorry folks, no way around death and taxes.
One thing we really want at Wall Pilot…
We want your stories! We are going to start a podcast based on the stories we hear from our customers. The stories we have now are incredible… F-15E WSO over Robert’s Ridge and a Vietnam Wild Weasel Thud pilot with a MiG Kill to name two.
Type up your stories and send them to us. Google Documents has a really good voice typing function so there’s no excuse for not sending us your stories.
We may call you to be on our podcast if you have a really compelling story.