Red Airplanes: A Glimpse at the Beginnings of Avianca’s Signature Red Livery


What is more captivating than a loud and smokey flying machine… A colorful loud and smokey flying machine.



After I became fascinated with airplanes as a whole, the far and few airlines that broke the standard norm of white fuselages quickly started to stand out, as their liveries added an additional stimulating element to those already enticing man-made birds. Unbeknownst to me, these showy liveries were giving me my first lessons in reading and geography. I remember blue for KLM and red for Avianca of course. A country from across the ocean, and our neighbor Colombia. Federal Express’ purple top is another one that made an impression on me early on.


Colombia was the first foreign country that I visited as a child, and I came back with a snap-fit red 727. Of course, crowded Bogotá had something for everyone, including models of the hometown airline, which at the time couldn’t be found in my native Venezuela.


Every time I see an aircraft wearing Avianca’s dolphin-style livery of the nineties, nostalgia seeps through my skin. What a bunch of nice memories, from that simpler time in life when everything was new to me, that livery instantly brings.


Today, I look at a very particular model to celebrate this so-important-to-me livery. Douglas DC-4 HK-1309 by Aeroclassics in 1:400 scale, wearing the first red livery that Avianca implemented. The DC-4 was the aircraft that enabled Avianca to expand internationally in 1946, and the airline operated a total of 27 examples between that year and 1975, the majority former military C-54s built for the U.S. Army Forces during WWII. The DC-4s were long gone by the time I showed up in this world, but thanks to these models one can appreciate and learn the history behind the things that have come to shape one’s life.



Jorge A. Zajia