PPG Donates Coatings to Restore Flying Saucer in Mars

Coraflon air-dry system coatings to refurbish famous flying saucer that has been a fixture in downtown Mars, Pennsylvania.


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PPG has donated its Coraflon air-dry system coatings to refurbish the famous flying saucer that has been a fixture in downtown Mars, Pennsylvania, since the early 1980s. The new coating system is expected to last a minimum of 15 to 20 years.

The spaceship, which measures about nine feet in diameter and weighs nearly 2,000 pounds, was removed by crane from its perch in the Mars town square near the end of March. Oesterling’s Sandblasting and Painting in nearby Butler, Pennsylvania, sandblasted and recoated the saucer, with the Mars Historical Society choosing the silver-metallic color.

PPG recommended Coraflon for its durability and texture. The system is formulated with an advanced fluoroethylene vinyl ether (FEVE) fluoropolymer resin to provide decades of corrosion protection and brilliant chalk- and fade-free color on skyscrapers, storefronts and other high-visibility architectural applications. 

The restored flying saucer was reinstalled on May 23 in time for the Mars Exploration Celebration and sponsored for the first time by the PPG Science Education Council. The event is an extension of the town’s Mars New Year celebration, which was held in March. A new year begins on the planet every 678 days.

Jackie Kulfan, PPG proposal and contract manager and Mars resident, got the idea to donate the PPG coatings after the last Mars New Year celebration in 2017.

“I saw a photo from two years ago with Chris Clutter, secretary of the Mars Area History and Landmark Society, standing on the spaceship and painting it with a roller,” says Kulfan. “We are pleased to help protect and beautify this iconic town landmark, which is located about 25 miles north of PPG’s global headquarters in Pittsburgh.”

According to Gregg Hartung, mayor of Mars, a resident built the spaceship as a gag by welding the ends of two fuel tankers together and adding a top. Now a roadside attraction, the flying saucer has been the backdrop for a handshake between an American astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut following their journey to one of the early space stations. It was also filmed for a British Broadcasting Company documentary.

Mars Exploration Celebration is a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) event that is hosted in conjunction with NASA. Attractions will include a flight simulator, robots, rockets and a professional drone show featuring 100 drones flying over Mars.

“Greater Pittsburgh is our headquarters community, and we remain committed to increasing the educational, cultural and recreational opportunities for our employees, customers and neighbors,” says Sharon Bird, PPG TrueFinish marketing manager. “By investing in educational activities like the Mars Exploration Celebration, we help grow today’s skilled workforce and develop tomorrow’s innovators in fields related to coatings and manufacturing.”

Visit ppgtruefinish.com.