Local veteran/artist donates mural to March Field

  • Published
  • By Capt. Scott Terra
  • 452 AMW Public Affairs

March Field’s 729th Airlift Squadron has C-17 pilots, loadmasters and now at least one honorary 'wallmaster.' Retired Master Sgt. Shayne Meder has officially outdone herself by completing a 9-by-18-foot mural which beautifully depicts an aerial refueling between a 452nd Air Mobility Wing C-17 and KC-135. 


The mural, located on the operations group briefing room wall, and directly across from where her next creation is scheduled to begin in the near future, is actually the latest in a very significant list of contributions Meder and her fellow artists, Scott Donnell (husband) and long-time friend Roxane Bond, have made to the military aviation community. 


Encouraged by her grandmother, Meder started painting as a child and hasn’t stopped. Prompted by a love for all things airplane, she enlisted in the Air Force and enjoyed a very rewarding career as an aircraft maintainer. By 1994, Meder successfully merged her two passions when she started to work with the museum at Castle Air Force Base, Calif. 


“I found my calling while at Castle,” Meder said. “The volunteer work I did at their museum allowed me to run with my painting skills and love of aviation, and create some lasting and historical work.” 


There, she provided the much needed technical expertise and enthusiasm necessary to complete several massive projects, which included her first; a B-17, then a B-52 and an F-4E. 

“My personal favorite is the F-4E Thunderbird,” said Meder. “In the 1970’s it had been part of the Air Demonstration Squadron and we worked in concert with long-retired members of that prestigious team to finish the job.”    


Several prolific decades later, her brushes have graced everything from fellow Airmen’s tool boxes, to ammo cans, to hangar doors. Almost equally inspiring as her artistic ability, is the fact that she does this gratis, for free, compelled by nothing more than a love of God, country, fellow Airmen, all flying machines, and of course, paints, brushes and blank canvases! 


“I give my time and efforts as a way to honor military aviation and as a retiree to pay tribute to my military family,” Meder said.     


Wall murals aside, her primary purpose is to preserve and restore aircraft as well as add unique nose-art. She has maintained long-time involvement with the March Air Field Museum, serving as their restoration manager from 1997-2005. During her tenure, more than 35 planes and helicopters were preserved and/or enhanced for future generations to enjoy.   


Though in a constant state of high demand, she and her team readily make every effort to lend their expertise to individuals or groups seeking help with their military-themed projects. All they ask in return is that the necessary supplies be provided. Incidentally, they seldom turn down flight invitations, especially when the aircraft adorns their creative touches. 


“Once we decide on a date, and are provided the necessary supplies, my team and I try to make quick work of it,” said Meder. “It doesn’t matter if it’s nose art, a tail flash, a mural, or a whole craft, each project is given 100% of the best we can give!”


Since retiring from active duty, she hasn’t strayed far from a flight-line, and in 2005 she began work for Wings and Rotors Air Museum, at French Valley Airport in nearby Murrieta, Calif. She, of course, encourages visitors, and always makes time to talk airplanes and art with just about anybody who happens by. 


Much of her story, and examples of her work, can be viewed online at www.Flygirlpainters.com, www.facebook.com/Flygirlpainter, and on Instagram @Flygirlpainter, including many of the heavy airlift and air refueling aircraft she has painted that are currently residing on March Field’s tarmac. 


“My website and social media sites include many aircraft still in active military service, including Betsy,” said Meder. “Betsy is one the 56 Navy MH-60 Seahawks helicopters that I painted. Adorned with the classic patriotic theme of American flag and Bald Eagle, I consider her my Flag Bird.”