For more than 30 years, the iconic Flying Lady has adorned Virgin Atlantic aircraft high in the skies. Virgin Atlantic recently announced that 2019 would be the last year the graceful Flying Lady takes flight. Don’t despair, globetrotters. The airline’s plans are already underway to debut five new flying icons to the world.
Meet The Five Flying Icons
Who are the five flying icons that will soon be spotted on Virgin Atlantic’s A350-1000 aircraft? Let’s meet Virgin’s new faces.
According to Virgin Atlantic, the five flying icons are meant to represent a diverse range of men and women that make up modern Britain. Oscar dazzles the skies in his rainbow leotard, a nod to Virgin Atlantic, and the aviation industry’s, glamorous historic image.
Zadie, in a bright red leotard and beaming smile, is the namesake of contemporary English author, Zadie Smith.
Looks a little familiar, doesn’t she? Redhead Rey is a nod to the original Flying Lady, the design that took inspiration from Peruvian artist Alberto Vargas’ illustrations.
Daley is named after British former decathlete Daley Thompson. Virgin Atlantic, which aims to have a 50/50 gender balance in its leadership roles, has also pledged to increase diversity and inclusion within the airline business.
Soaring in majestically with her windswept hair is the final flying icon, Meera. You can expect to see her on A350-1000 aircraft in 2020.
Looking Back At The Flying Lady
Believe it or not, the Flying Lady wasn’t initially painted on Virgin Atlantic aircraft. The airline’s blog, Ruby, reveals that only the Virgin logo appeared on their aircraft noses, even on the day of Virgin Atlantic’s first-ever flight!
Business magnate Richard Branson wanted to paint the aircraft’s noses. As mentioned earlier, he was inspired by Alberto Vargas’ illustrations of pin-up “Varga Girls” that appeared on many American WWII planes. The Vargas estate granted Branson permission to use the inspiration of his illustrations on Virgin Atlantic’s aircraft.
Drawing The Flying Lady
Artist Ken White drew the very first Virgin Atlantic “Flying Lady.” However, the Flying Lady often differed in appearance depending on her aircraft. Applying decals, enamel, and paintwork to certain pieces of aircraft was often trickier than it appeared. This often resulted with the Flying Lady appearing in different sizes. She might be a little smaller on one aircraft and have more creases in her features on another.
The Flying Lady also experienced subtle changes in her design over the decades. The earliest version of the Flying Lady wore a neckerchief and a cape, of sorts, with the company name “Virgin” on it. Later versions featured the Flying Lady displaying the Union flag in her design.
The Flying Lady would even receive a real-world inspiration model. In 2010, burlesque model Dita von Teese became the “face” of the Flying Lady on Virgin Atlantic flights nonstop from London to Las Vegas.
Cheers to the Flying Lady on her well-deserved retirement, and welcome our new fab flying icon five!