"Southern Gas II"- A 40th Air Refueling Squadron KC-97 Leaves Thule, Greenland"

by Mike Boss
Gouache and Casein on Arches Board
10" X 15"
From the Collection of Preston Foster, Metropolis, Illinois

In 1974, my late friend Harold ĺ─˙Patĺ─¨ Lewis asked me to paint a Boeing KC-97 departing Thule, Greenland c. 1957. I hadn't seen the painting for almost 40 years. In spring of 2015, I revisited the painting and was sort of shocked at the nice quality.

Since 2010, I have been in contact with Steve Smith of The Thunderbolts Project and I asked him about auroras in the northern latitudes. It sort of quietly came to me...a second painting was in order.

Steve emailed some stunning aurora images and the following description of how the colors work or change.

ĺ─˙Regarding aurora colors, they're caused by the gas that's interacting wtih cosmic rays: red from oxygen at high altitudes, then green from oxygen lower down, along with blue from nitrogen. Up around Greenland, you're more apt to see green, since the cosmic ray energies closer to the poles are greater. That allows the particles to reach deeper into the atmosphere and interact with gases lower down. I'd say a green/blue aurora would be nice, maybe like this one over Tromso Norway.ĺ─¨

Not being one to find the ĺ─˙rightĺ─¨ photo to trace, I built a 1/144th scale plastic kit and did the drawing with the overlaps of the plane's details where I thought best. The painting fell together slowly but well. Somehow I think navigator Pat Lewis was on the mission.