What’s in a name?

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My RV-8Naming Contrary Mary

How did my RV-8 come to be called ‘Contrary Mary’?

Early in the construction of my RV-8 I needed to decide on a paint scheme. I wanted something that would pop, the traditional white base with some kind of accent strip(s) wasn’t going to cut it. Lots of RV-8 has pseudo-military paint schemes so I gravitated to that concept early on in the process.

So it was that I was flipping through a copy of Air & Space magazine while on vacation in Florida and on the very last page, there was an article with a small black and white picture describing a P-51 Mustang from WWII called ‘Contrary Mary’. The airplane was bare aluminum with a checkerboard nose, both of which I like, and it caught my eye because my youngest daughter’s name is Mary.


RV-8There was only one other RV-8 flying at the time with a checkerboard nose. It is one of the older ones flying, owned by Danny King in Fort Worth. His airplane is called ‘Beautiful Doll’ named after a Mustang from the same outfit as ‘Contrary Mary’.

I thought it would be fun to honor a Mustang from the war and my daughter at the same time – the die P-51Dwas cast!

The real Contrary Mary was flown by Lt. Col Roy Caviness from the 78th Fighter Group, 84th Fighter Wing in Duxford, England – hence my N number is N784DE.

Since an RV-8 definitely doesn’t have the same profile as a P-51, I modified the paint scheme to better fit the design of the RV-8. Actually there’s not that much paint on my airplane, it is mostly polished aluminum – another story all together.


Mary and her RV-8It’s a great conversation piece and like any paint scheme you put on an airplane you spent years building, it should be well thought out.

Plus Mary likes it!






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