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Lonely Hearts and Lofty Ladies shares the history of aircraft nose art

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When it comes to home-grown decoration of military aircraft, Matthew Burchette knows it all -- from topless cherry-picking pin-ups of the '40s to the consumer-culture imagery of the present. And the high-flying Wings Over the Rockies air and space museum curator will share his knowledge during a free lecture at 2 p.m. this Sunday, September 16, at the Aurora History Museum.

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"Basically, it's just a short history -- I literally start with the ancient Greeks and their use of symbols on their shields, go very quickly through to the heraldry in the Medieval period, which transforms into heraldry as we know it," explains Burchette.

Such artistry took several interesting turns over the last hundred years, from the cartoonish imagery and film-star focus of World War II nose art to the politicized self-expression of Vietnam War airmen. There was even a partial extinction of the designs during that era, as the outward display of political disagreement led to a crackdown on self-expression.

But with the Mid-East wars of the last two decades, patriotism as a morale booster brought the art form back -- especially after 9/11. It isn't just the supportive feeling of pro-American imagery that's come forward, though. Mirroring a shift toward consumer culture, Burchette says that commercial brands are now appearing in the aircraft art of today.

"Not until very recently did corporate logos make their way into nose art," says Burchette, speaking specifically to a NeverSummer logo he saw recently on a Colorado serviceman's aircraft. Burchette will go into these historical and cultural shifts in greater detail during his lecture, when he'll also share imagery from the last century.

For more information on "Lonely Hearts and Lofty Ladies: A Short History of Aircraft Nose Art," go to the Aurora History Museum's website.

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